Thursday, 31 January 2008

Busy bees

It's the end of January already. We are so busy living life there isn't much time for blogging.

Yesterday Lucy and I spent the day outside playing in the sand pit. It was nearly 70 degrees so we were in tshirts soaking in the sun. Once again I can only say the weather is extremely variable! And it was so nice outside yesterday we ignored the computer and just played together! Today however we will be spending time indoors reading books.

We are all tired this week as last night we had a games night with bible study at our house playing Scattergories (it is amazing how many categories were US-centred!) and the night before attended the Yahweh Center Third Annual Blue Ribbon banquet with Michael Reagan guest speaking. I got a cool flower arrangement from the table (note that it is a double vase). Each garden club member donated a unique arrangement and there were truly some amazing ones there. Michael Reagan was very inspirational and I bought his book 'Twice Adopted'.

Tomorrow Lucy and I are going to a dress party and Sunday is Super bowl night.

Now I just need to find 3 consecutive days to potty train Lucy!

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Product of the week - York peppermint patties

After coming across a recipe for Home Made Peppermint Surprise Brownies I realised I needed to buy some York Peppermint Patties. Luckily for Andrew Costco sell them in 200 piece wholesale boxes. York patties are similar to peppermint patties in Australia except these ones are a lot smaller (about the size of a 50 cent piece) They are dark chocolate on the outside with a soft sugary pepperminty white inside. They are very good and very addictive. I only needed 16 patties for the recipe so we have quite a few left over. The brownies were excellent so I guess I'll try to make a few more batches before all the patties get eaten.

Monday, 28 January 2008

Australia Day (but not a long) Weekend

We celebrated a cold and wet Australia Day at Outback Steakhouse!!!! Of course they had no idea that it was Australia Day but that didn't stop 25 of us getting together for an 'Aussie meal'. Lucy and Rory waved their flags, bunted a balloon and scoffed down chips from their highchairs. We all got dressed up - Lucy in an Aussie shirt, Fiona in a Hawthorn shirt and Andrew in an Australian Open shirt. The group had been thinking of organising a cricket game but it was good that nothing eventuated as it was 30 degrees (0 celsius) and very wet!

We decorated our house with flags with a big one on the flagpole (built into the side of the garage) and little ones on the mailbox and in some pots on the verandah. The three of us watched the tennis and made lamingtons together. So overall we had a good time. If only we had the day off tomorrow! We'll just have to wait for Independence Day!

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Cross cultural mission

It's time for another look at cultural differences.

Good things in the US:
  • Saturday mail delivery
  • 4 lane highways
  • Pottery Barn
  • Walmart

Bad things about the US:

  • High fructose corn syrup
  • the number of 'holidays' they celebrate that require gift giving, dressing up and house decorating (next 2 are Valentines day and St.Patricks Day)
  • 'Zee' instead of 'Zed'
  • Walmart

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

We don't use those sorts of words in our house!

  1. Andrew came home from work the other day, I was doing something in the kitchen and he asked me to put something in the trash! In the trash! Don't you mean the garbage bin or the rubbish?

  2. We were sitting at the dining table and Andrew asked if we had any napkins. I said NO. And we don't have any serviettes either!

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Product of the week - Baileys Mousse Dessert

I create Product of the week blog entries in big slabs, save them and then release them to you my audience once a week. So sometimes it can be a while between testing the product and writing in detail about the product. Why am I telling you this? Because I bought this product Baileys Mousse Dessert in October last year, ate it within 2 days of purchase and now I can't remember anything about it. Anything except that it was excellent and if I ever see it on sale again I will be buying it. If you find it, try it. You'll like it!

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Temperature range: 0 - 4 degrees celsius

It was supposed to snow after midnight but we lucked out. It is pretty cold at the moment but we are snuggly warm with the heating on, hot chocolates in hand (Williams Sonoma of course) and hours upon hours of tennis to watch. We get lots of coverage of the Australian Open on ESPN2 so we have seen lots of the five set matches including Federer, Fish, Blake, Hewitt and my favourite match Kohlschreiber vs Roddick. And given some of the crazy scheduling of matches we have been able to watch them live during the day! So its been fairly quiet here apart from some nail biting tennis. We made a 12 egg pav for church luncheon today, followed up by some fresh custard that Lucy and Andrew made together. We also braved the rain and cold yesterday for an Indochine feast with an excellently behaved toddler. But apart from those adventures we've been camped upstairs in the TV room cheering. Amazing Race finale in 1 hour!!

Friday, 18 January 2008

color fun with jello

Lucy and I headed downtown to the Wilmington Childrens Museum with some of the moms from our group. We had a great time shopping in the grocery store, cooking in the diner, camping in tents and playing in the rubber pit. The 'color fun with jello' session was a disappointment as the toddlers didn't have enough co-ordination to inject dye into huge jello moulds! In any case Lucy had a ball and is now peacefully sleeping.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

wet wet wet

We are in the middle of a tropical downpour which is unusual given the time of year (but it's a good thing because we are in a drought) It has been raining for about 5 hours straight now which makes driving difficult. I still have to consciously think that the windscreen wiper controls are on the right. However the really scary part about driving in the rain around here is the flooding. Wilmington is dead flat (apart from one small 'hill' downtown) and there are no gutters on the roads which means that water just pools where ever it can find a place to do so. And often this occurs on the road which makes it tricky to drive without aquaplaning across the lane. I try to drive in the left hand lane where possible to avoid puddles but unfortunately on the smaller roads there is no choice. Even Lucy said 'wow' when we hit a particularly big puddle on her side of the car this morning.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

It's still fishy around here...

We decided to continue our fish theme this week. Today Lucy and I made an 'under the sea' mural with crayons and fish stickers, we ate tuna casserole for lunch and we are playing with a sea creatures jigsaw puzzle. It is such fun!

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Product of the week - Monopoly

Whilst in Asheville (Western NC) we stopped into a famous old department store called the Mast General Store. It's full of hiking equipment, traditional clothing and 'old-timey mercantile'. We came across this National Parks version of Monopoly and decided we had to get it as the Great Smoky Mountains are in the position of Mayfair. There are 'mammals' and birds' cards, tents and ranger stations instead of houses and hotels, and the playing pieces include a camera, a canoe and a hiking boot. Don't get caught littering in the park or you'll receive a large fine!

Monday, 14 January 2008

A fishy weekend

On Saturday morning, Andrew and Lucy headed south to the Aquarium for the 'Daddy and me' program. They had a great time looking at the sharks, turtles and fish as well as playing with the toy eels in the playroom. Lucy had so much fun she fell asleep in the car on the way home but was easily woken up for a pizza lunch.

We went Outback for dinner, dining at the Outback Steakhouse. It's full of kitschy Aussie decor and it even has Fosters on tap. We called ahead for a table but there aren't reservations, just a place on the waiting list. This meant that we only had to wait 35 minutes for a table as opposed to the 75-80 minutes that walk-ins were told. The food was fine with very large portions. Funnily enough they had NZ lamb on the menu instead of Aussie lamb?? Now we've been there and done that. Won't be heading back here if there is such a long wait again.

The weather has turned cold again! We enjoyed the spring weather last week so much as Lucy and I spent a lot of time playing in the backyard, eating ice cream and wearing tshirts. It is just so variable here!

Friday, 11 January 2008

O TV, where art thou?

With the writers strike going into its 3rd month there is even less to watch on TV than usual. The Office is off the air and Top Gear is on re-runs. The only thing left is Amazing Race (12th season) which has only 2 weeks to go. So I guess in a couple of weeks time we'll be going sans TV for a while. Imagine all that free time, oh the possibilities!

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Food roundup

Grannys Country Kitchen
The last weekend of 2007 was quite hot (25 degree celsius) so we decided to head down to Carolina Beach. This was partly so that we could try out a restaurant called Grannys which is one of a few independent restaurants that is not part of a chain. We had a good Southern cookup of shrimp and grits, fried green tomatoes, scrambled eggs and fresh buttermilk biscuits. The food was excellent but for some quirky reason they served their beverages in styrofoam cups!?! Unfortunately Pops, an ice cream parlour up the road from Grannys, was closed for the winter but reopening again in April. We'll have to head back down south to check it out and maybe fit in a visit to the Grind.

Kornerstone Pizza
This place had been recommended to us so we were eager to check out their wood fired pizzas. The pre-fab oven (both gas and wood) was very large and impressive. Whilst there was a very good range of pizza toppings we were very disappointed with the actual pizza produced. The base was so soggy and flimsy that a piece of pizza could not be picked up with a hand (as the pizza just flopped 90 degrees). It tasted good but its not good pizza if you can't pick it up to eat. Their butternut squash ravioli was great but again we'll have to wait for the Wilmington branch of Andrew's pizza to open to get some great pizza here in NC.

Cracker Barrel
Given the diabolical fridge situation we ate out a couple of nights last week. We ended up at Cracker Barrel one night as we had quite enjoyed the food last time. Unfortunately CB still allows smoking. Whilst we were seated in the non-smoking section, the table next to us was a smoking table. There was a wall between us but the smoke just drifted over the top. So we've decided to boycott CB until they become a non-smoking restaurant. iHop has just become totally non-smoking and hopefully it won't be long before more restaurants in Wilmington follow suit.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

More Christmas madness

I know this post is little late but I wanted to record some more of the differences in Christmas traditions between the US and Oz.
  1. It's cold (duh!)

  2. Christmas tree decorations must be colour co-ordinated (all red, all silver, all green etc)

  3. Every family bakes hundreds of Christmas cookies to give out to friends

  4. When attending Christmas events (including church services near Christmas) it is compulsory to wear red or an appropriately designed Christmas themed sweater

  5. Most houses are decorated with either a wreath on every window of their house (our neighbour has 15 wreathes with red ribbons on his house not including the front door) or a battery lit candle in every window (said neighbour has these as well)

  6. The lyrics to 'Let it snow' make sense in Seattle - "Oh the weather outside is frightful"

  7. Crackers are unusual to have at Christmas (mostly used at NYE)

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Product of the week - French toast

One of Lucy's favourite things to eat when we go out for breakfast on Saturdays is french toast. So I thought we should try out this frozen variety to see if it's any good. Lucy seemed to like these 'sticks' but they didn't taste at all like french toast.


I think we'll be sticking to regular toast going forward and save the french toast experience for Saturdays.

Monday, 7 January 2008

New Year roundup

We've all had the flu here and given the weather it is no surprise. The last Saturday of 2007 saw us at the beach in 25 degree weather. The water was freezing but that didn't stop Lucy running in and out of it whilst begging Andrew to take her in further. Following that mild weather we plunged into the cold with daily temperatures between -5 and +4 degrees. But then to finish off the week we've had weather of 22 degrees today. Yesterday we all lay out in the hammock in the sun and then rushed to the front garden when we heard the ice cream van drive around. It is truly crazy! Especially when we were buying dry ice from the supermarket to keep our milk cold in the esky while the fridge was being fixed. It would have been colder to leave it outside on the deck! The good news is that the fridge/freezer is now fixed so we are back to normal again. And we are all feeling a lot better.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Happy New Year!

We've made it into the new year, only 16 hours behind Sydney! We've starting 2008 in the dark ages as we now cool our food with dry ice (the fridge is bung and can't be fixed until at least Friday) but on the same day we reduced our car insurance to $950 for 6 months (vs paying the same amount per month).

In 2007 we spent 8 months, 3 weeks and 3 days in the US and I'll leave you to calculate how many days we spent in Oz (these seem so long ago). Here are some of the highlights of the past year:

  • January - Lunch at Kobe Jones with Kel and Lucy on a gorgeous Sydney day

  • February - Finishing the backyard garden and deck

  • March - Lucy's baptism and our last pizza party in Sutherland

  • April - Moving day (no more packing or sorting or stressing)

  • May - Lucy's first birthday in Airlie gardens

  • June - Long weekend in Charleston SC learning to cook gumbo

  • July - Watching mom's taste vegemite for the first time

  • August - Smelling the roses in our garden

  • September - Watching Federer win his 4th US open in NYC

  • October - A week in Asheville NC to see the Fall colours

  • November - Enjoying a wonderful Thanksgiving meal with our new church family

  • December - Eating at our third revolving restaurant (this time Seattle)