Friday, 26 September 2008


17 years ago Dad and I headed to Waverley Park to see Hawthorn beat the West Coast Eagles for our ninth flag. Tomorrow Dad heads to the MCG (alone, sadly for me) to see Hawthorn battle Geelong. It's been a long 17 years in the wilderness. Go Hawks!

BTW I've found a bar in Boston showing a replay of the game on Saturday so I'll join in with the Boston Bombers in cheering on the Hawks!

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Off to Boston

We're off to Boston for 10 days! We're hoping to see Harvard, eat lots of good Italian food and visit a couple of the other New England states (I think we can probably visit 4 other states to get our statistics up to 16 of the 50 US states) I've packed a few new toys for the plane ride for our active 2 and 1/3 year old. Last time we visited Boston Lucy was 13 months old, couldn't walk and couldn't talk! But she still remembers the ducks and has been asking for the 'Boston book' (Make way for Ducklings) as her bedtime storybook. It is going to be a lot of fun!

For all those Office fans out there Season 5 starts tonight!

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Future Elle

I bought a few cooler weather outfits for Lucy last week and asked her to try them on at home. To my surprise she was very co-operative and gave me a fashion show. Here she is trying on her new shark slippers! She tried on 5 different tops, 1 dress, 1 pair of pants, 1 head band and 3 pairs of shoes. She even made different mood faces for different clothes (happy, sad, angry) which made for even more fun.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Product of the week: Blue agave syrup

I found this blue agave syrup at the Co-op. It is a sugar substitute but given its very high fructose content I'm not sold on its health benefits. Turbinado sugar seems to be the way to go as it tastes good and is not highly processed.

Here's the facts on the syrup according to Wikipedia:

Agave syrup (also called agave nectar) is a sweetener commercially produced in Mexico, from several species of agave. Agave syrup is sweeter than honey, though less viscous.... To produce agave nectar, juice is expressed from the core of the agave, called the piƱa.The juice is filtered, then heated, to hydrolyze carbohydrates into sugars. The main carbohydrate is a complex form of fructose called inulin or fructosan. The filtered, hydrolyzed juice is concentrated to a syrup-like liquid a little thinner than honey and ranges in color from light to dark depending on the degree of processing. ... Agave syrup consists primarily of fructose and glucose. One source gives 92% fructose and 8% glucose; another gives 56% fructose and 20% glucose. These differences presumably reflect variation from one vendor of agave syrup to another.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Goodbye trees

We are in the middle of having 7 trees cut down in the backyard. One was dead, 3 were leaning and 3 were very tall with no branches & dangerously close to the house. I just looked out in the yard and I didn't notice that 6 of the trees were gone. But what I did notice was the one that was almost in the middle of the yard (and in the middle of a garden bed) was gone. It seems empty there now.

Pizza oven work continued over the weekend(!) The project for this weekend was to get some welding done. Lucy thought it was exciting to see fireworks in the backyard. Thankfully everyone is safe with all eyes, fingers and toes intact.

In between all the excitement Andrew and Lucy made lemon flavoured marshmallow. Lucy had great enjoyment licking the beater!

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Phone numbers

I have a very funny situation happen the other week.

I met the person with almost the same phone number as me except that the last two digits are interchanged. My number ends in 4336 and Heather's number ends in 4363. Upon seeing my phone number written down, the following conversation occurred:

Heather: I know you!
Fiona: How?
Heather: I get your phone calls all the time. My number ends in 4363. People ask to speak to Fiona and I just tell them sorry wrong number!
Fiona: Wow, that's amazing! At least now you know me you can give out the right number for me!

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Marker minute

All around North Carolina there are historical markers by the side of the road celebrating an event or person. Officially called the 'North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program' which has the somewhat bizarre slogan of 'history on a stick'. It does makes it fun on long drives to read them out and interestingly there are many markers to be found all around the city. Take for example the marker near the bridge to Wrightsville beach:

BABIES HOSPITAL: D-94; Pioneer pediatric hospital opened here in 1920 by Dr. J. Buren Sidbury. Also provided training of nurses. Closed 1978. US 74 at Summer Street west of Wrightsville Beach.

If you want to read more check out the website at

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Product of the week: Big red

Big Red is a naturally and artificially flavoured cinnamon gum.

In a new slim pack with improved flavor! Whoa, improved flavor! Was the old flavour not good?
Andrew tried the gum and thought it was "not as refreshing as other gums but a good taste anyway". Take what you will from that description and buy it at your own risk. He also added that readers should not to try more than one piece at a time.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Pizza Oven Update 5

The bottom layer of the pizza oven is in place! Yes the vermiculite layer is finished and the pavers have been laid. There is still a lot of finishing up to do around the structure but it is exciting to think about scheduling the brick cutting soon.

Andrew took a lot of photos for me to put up here, however the computer has run out of hard drive space so they couldn't be uploaded. You'll have to wait for the help desk (and you know how long that can take!)

Friday, 12 September 2008

Woody woodpecker pecks our trees

We are truly blessed by the number of birds we have in our yard. From cardinals to bluebirds to wrens, they all like to have a splash in our bird bath and nest in our trees. Over the past week we have seen two new birds around town. The first was a woodpecker as seen to the left. He made a huge mess of the dead tree by pecking holes in the bark which then promptly fell onto the driveway. There must have been at least 100 holes on that one tree. I was able to determine (from the internet!) that this is a Pileated Woodpecker. "Nearly as large as a crow, the Pileated Woodpecker is the largest woodpecker in most of North America. Its loud ringing calls and huge, rectangular excavations in dead trees announce its presence in forests across the continent."

Incidentally the other vistor we had was a small hawk (?) cruising the updrafts after the hurricane had moved on. A good sign for Hawthorn? Go Buddy!!

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Square eyes

Finally our TV watching marathon has ended! We watched quite a lot of the Olympics over the 2 weeks of competition and were feeling happy that we could switch off the box. BUT then the US Open started the day after the Olympics so there has been 2 weeks of tennisfest at our house complete with strawberries and cream. And we were so happy to see Federer win his 5th US Open in a row. This time last year we were there in the stadium! Unfortunately we had Liza Minnelli singing instead of the wonderful Harry Connick Jr but hey you can't have everything!

After a month of non-stop sport we are taking a break except to watch any Hawthorn DVD's that are flung our way.

Wilmington's transition to digital broadcasting occurred on Tuesday and so far so good!

Our 2 favourite TV shows begin in 2 weeks time after a 4 month hiatus - The Office Season 5 and Amazing Race Season 13. So we may just end up with square eyes after all.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Future Nastia

Gymnastics has been cancelled over the past few weeks (for just the usual things like Labor Day and hurricanes) so Coach Andrew decided to conduct his own gymnastics lessons at home. He set up a circuit in the lounge room (family room to Americans) and Lucy had great fun completing it. Here she is doing the beam and worrying about getting splinters!

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Product of the week: A1 steak sauce

We don't see many commercials/advertisements on TV thanks to mythtv (a home made tivo-like machine) But one ad that did squeeze through was for A1 sauce. Picture this: a guy is grilling (bbqing) some meat for his friends. He pours some A1 sauce onto the steak. Suddenly a drop of the sauce lands on the grill! Oh no, what is he going to do, he can't waste that bit of sauce. He licks the grill. Next shot, he's in the back of an ambulance with his tongue wrapped in ice and the catch phrase come up - "Yeah, its that important".

Well I hate to break it to you but its not that important and moreover the sauce is awful (Andrew, Katrina and I are in agreement on this). It contains some unusual ingredients including raisin paste and crushed orange puree but one drop of the stuff was enough to make us gag. Please please don't lick it off the grill, its just not worth it!

Monday, 8 September 2008

We're safe (just in case you were worried)

Tropical storm Hanna passed through Wilmington very early on Saturday morning. I have to confess that it was a little disappointing to wake up Saturday morning to discover that the backyard was NOT flooded (our backyard is so flat it floods EVERY time it rains) Whilst we had very strong howling winds, and hence many many pine needles and branches on the ground, we had hardly any rain. And in fact what we experienced was a tropical storm and not a hurricane. Fortunately the dead tree in our yard, next to the house, held up ok and didn't move much in the wind. We will be calling a tree removal place this week as it was fairly stressful trying to go to sleep thinking that we might be woken up by a tree falling on our bed. Hurricane Josephine has dissipated and Hurricane Ike has changed direction. Ike is particularly strong and has killed 58 people in Cuba and is set to hit the Florida Keys later in the week. These storms are scary and remind us how small and helpless we really are!

We spent Saturday clearing out the big pine branches and managed to fill several bins with needles. Sunday turned out to be hot and humid so Andrew was outside bricklaying and working on the pizza oven. He is laying the half sized blocks and soon will be ready for the vermiculite layer pour later in the week.

Friday, 5 September 2008

A flurry of hurricanes

Hurricane Katrina has moved south to SC whilst (real) Hurricanes Hanna, Ike and Josephine are on their way from the Bahamas. This is our first taste of serious storm activity since moving here and consequently we spent last night moving all of out outdoor furniture and paraphenalia inside. Andrew headed off to the hardware store and bought supplies including a generator. I headed off to the supermarket (along with half of the residents of Wilmington) to stock up on drygoods, water and powdered milk. So as of 1pm we are ready and waiting for the storm to hit tonight. Schools are closed today in anticipation. I'll be back Monday (hopefully!) to update you.