Thursday, 30 October 2008

Socially correct

One of the social norms here in the US is to "not wear white after Labor Day". [Labor day is typically regarded as the end of summer. However here is Wilmington is was hot until 18 October (which is about 5 weeks after Labor Day)] It seems like a strange convention to stop wearing a certain colour. It seems that here in the South that you shouldn't wear white shoes during fall/winter (excluding sneakers and bridal shoes). I guess it is about dressing for the season, with white being a cool colour for summer.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

The dome is up to the 7th layer of bricks!

Again, check it out at Andrew's website.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Product of the week - Wooden tongs

Sometimes it is the small things in life that make the biggest difference. And this is a case in point. For the past 18 months we have been struggling with our toaster. It doesn't raise up the toast sufficiently to enable the bread to be removed without burning several fingers. I had resorted to just tipping the toaster upside down and hitting it, hoping the toast will land on the plate. That is until we discovered wooden tongs! Ahh yes, I said it was the simple things. $6 at Williams Sonoma and no more burnt thumbs. It even has a magnet on the back so that it can conveniently stick to the fridge. Thank you, thank you!

Monday, 27 October 2008

I have one word for you - PIZZA!

The pizza oven dome is under construction! After a couple of late nights (due to inspiration and motivation) the first arch is completed and so are 4 brick layers of the dome. It seems like everyone in Wilmington is spurring Andrew on. He can't leave the house without someone asking him how it's going and there is a long list of people hoping to make it to the P-list (the opening pizza party!)

Check out all the photos at

Friday, 24 October 2008

A milo moment

Here is Lucy enjoying her ice cream and milo (a rare commodity here but Grandma was kind enough to bring us 2 huge tins). Lucy received her treat, a few days ago, for keeping her big girl undies clean and dry for the whole day! Whilst we have been experimenting with potty training for a while we finally got serious last week based on the fact that we aren't planning to do any travelling for a while. Hopefully we have turned a corner! However constantly asking "do you need to go to the toilet?" is irksome and in many ways I would rather change a nappy. I am also quickly learning where the toilets are located in each of the stores we visit as well as keeping a potty in the car. Lucy is responsible for carrying around her pink handbag full of spare undies and pants.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Future Ginger

Lucy likes to dance. Especially at restaurants. After she has eaten her meal and is satisfied. And she has the moves! To all kinds of music. Courtesy of Miss Jen, her daycare teacher. Lucy provides free entertainment to other guests in the restaurant and she often gets applause! And she is still very shy!!?! Maybe dancing her way of expressing herself.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Goodbye Grandma!

Grandma is off to see the Grand Canyon before flying home to Australia. Lucy didn't want to say goodbye but she ended up running up to Grandma, grabbing her hand, kissing it and running away. She already misses her reading partner!

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Product of the week: English muffins

We didn't realise it but we could readily access English muffins in Harris Teeter. Whilst in Boston these muffins were always served at breakfast bars and we relished them. Upon returning home we have bought, and eaten, a couple of packets with strawberry jam and clotted cream. Yum!

Monday, 20 October 2008


We've been busy with Grandma over the past week! We visited the beach (it was 90 degrees!), took a carriage ride, visited the aquarium, and did some gardening. However most of the time has been spent, much to Lucy's delight, in the lounge room playing/reading/drawing with Grandma.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Robbie Seay Band (live!!!)

Occasionally something exciting happens in Wilmington! The other night the Robbie Seay Band came to play a benefit concert which we were helping to organise. They are a great band and we had a fabulous time. Check them out at here and listen to their latest single 'song of hope'.

I also experienced a cell phone wave for the first time! It was very funny - I guess people don't carry cigarette lighters anymore but pretty much everyone had a cell phone!

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Product of the week: Israeli couscous

I guess life is back to normal? Well not really because Grandma is here and we are busy, busy, busy (but at least we have now unpacked from Boston). Just got back from a morning at the beach, complete with a Lucinda meltdown upon leaving.

Anyway, this week's product of the week is Israeli couscous. The white round beads are like small pearls and thus larger than regular couscous. At the MFA last week they were showing an Assyrian exhibition and thus their cafe was serving Assyrian style food. As a result I experienced a wonderful Israeli couscous salad complete with pomegranates, mandarins and pistachios. It was divine. Israeli couscous rocks!

Monday, 13 October 2008

Friday, 10 October 2008

Boston Bite 5 - the rest

This is the last Boston bite in this series. One of the fun things about New England in October is the fall colour/color. Last year we were able to travel the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville to see the reds and oranges and yellows and this year we were in the right place at the right time to see the same magnificent colours. There's nothing quite so delightful as driving along a country road surrounded by trees adorned with yellowing leaves with wind gently blowing the leaves around the car.

Another highlight of this trip was setting foot in 5 different states (MA, NH, ME, CT and RI) which brings our tally up to 16. There is some debate in our household whether the score should stand at 15 or 16 as in one of the states (Pennsylvania) we only set foot in the airport. But our original criteria was 'setting foot in the state' so I am going with 16.
One thing we noticed about Boston this time was that everyone was wearing gumboots (rain boots). It rained fairly steadily for the first 4 days and we were very sorry that we too did not have gumboots to wear around as our pants got very wet! Whilst it stopped raining in the other states we did experience some cool weather in Connecticut with the mercury getting down to 41F degrees overnight.

Here are some highlights from the rest of the trip that didn't quite fit into the other categories:
Visiting the dahlia garden in Elizabeth Park, Hartford CT

Visiting the Peabody Essex museum and Witch museum, Salem MA (the latter being highly overrated in my opinion)

Shopping at Stride Rite, Skechers and Hanna Anderson at the Kittery Factory Outlets, Maine

Crossing the Old North Bridge, Concord MA (this is where the first shots were fired by the newly formed American army)

Joining a Harvard tour, Cambridge MA

Exploring the art-nouveau jewellery exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston MA due to the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum being closed. Not quite the same excitement as the Hopper exhibit last time but we still fun all the same.

Watching some Imax movies - Grand Canyon, U2

Viewing the Boston skyline from our hotel room at the airport

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Boston Bite 4 - Kid Stuff

We planned lots of fun activities for Lucy during our sojourn. Here are some of them:

1. Seeing turtles and penguins at the New England Aquarium, Boston MA

2. Having a butterfly land on her head at the Butterfly Place, Westford MA

3. Riding the carousel at Bushnell Park, Hartford CT

4. Climbing on boats at the Herreshoff Maritime Museum, Bristol RI

5. Trying on hats and playing games, Concord MA

6. Drinking 'cinos (anywhere!)

7. Splashing in puddles in the Public Gardens

8. Visiting the Museum of Science, Boston MA

9. Visiting the lego shop at Burlington mall

10. Opening presents for the plane rides

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Boston Bite 3 - Food

One of our favourite topics! We like to eat well and are prepared to pay for it. We also do our research beforehand, though this does not always avert disappointment. Here are our top picks for the New England area:

1. Pesce Blue, Portsmouth NH
This was the best restuarant we've been to in ages. Fiona confirmed that she loves lemoncello, Lucy discovered that she loves arancini and Andrew ate a lamb sausage lasagne (lamb being one of the loves of his life). If you're ever in New Hampshire, visit this place! It's even mentioned in the book "1000 things to do before you die".

2. South End Buttery, Boston MA
AWESOME! Great brunch, great cupcakes, great atmosphere. As good as grind! [I'm waiting for the comments on this - cafedave you'll just have to come over for a visit to prove/disprove this statement but check out their website!]

3. Legal Seafoods, Woburn MA
This place got a lot of bad reviews on Chowhound (okay so now you know my restaurant source) but given it is so prevalent and has won so many awards we decided to give it a go. And we were extremely happy. Lucy's fish stick meal came with green beans, watermelon and french fries. This is one of the few places that gave vegies with the meal.

4. Ginger Bread Construction Company, Winchester MA
Lucy loved this place but personally I thought it wasn't gingery enough (and I don't particularly love ginger so this is a big statement, as big as 'as good as grind')

5. Basically British Tea Room, Warren RI
AWESOME! Scones, strawberry jam and clotted cream. Yes clotted cream. Imported directly from the UK. Love love loved it. Loved the antiques, loved the salads, loved the jasmine pearl tea. Loved the medium sized pot of clotted cream to bring home on the plane.

6. Taranta, Boston MA
Excellent Italian/Peruvian blend of foods located in the North End of Boston. A fitting post-grand final celebatory dinner. We ate early to secure a table in this small but excellent restaurant. Gelato at a local cafe followed.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Boston Bite 2 - Literature

Out of New England come a large number of literary superstars - Twain, Beecher Stowe, Alcott, Thoreau, Emerson, and Hawthorne to name a few. We took the time to visit a number of their houses and museums, as well as buy lots of books! Thanks to the Harvard Book Store Lucy and I were able to stock up our shelves at good prices. The store sells 'remainders' at excellent prices so we just couldn't resist adding a few more pounds to our luggage much to Andrew's chagrin. Incidentally I've already read 2 of the 8 books purchased!

1. Orchard House in Concord MA, home of Louisa May Alcott
This is the house where 'Little Women' was both set and written. The story was based on Louisa's real sisters and parents and the house they lived in. We took a tour through the School of Philosophy (set up by Amos Bronson Alcott a transcendental philosopher and teacher) and through the family house. It is like walking through the book as so much is familiar. Due to Lucy's restlessness we were given our own private tour of the house - through the kitchen, study and bedrooms. When the tour guides found out she is sometimes called Lulu they were ecstatic. Louisa's sister Anna had a daughter called Lulu and when Anna died Lulu (at 2 years old) went to live with Louisa in Orchard House. So it was perfect to have a 2 year Lulu in the house again! Check out the house for yourself here. We purchased John Matteson 2008 Pulitzer prize winner "Eden's Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father" from the gift shop here.

2. Mark Twain's House in Hartford CT
Mark Twain commissioned this house to be built in 1874 and lived here until financial circumstances forced a change. It is a very ornate and modern house featuring 7 bathrooms, a telephone, a glassed garden area and a billiards room. We saw the desk in the billiards room where he wrote a number of his famous works. The billiards room ceiling and windows are personally decorated with cues and cigars, Twain's favourite items. Twain lived a very interesting life becoming the first global celebrity, even touring Australia on a lecture tour. Check out this website for more information.

3. Harriet Beecher Stowe's House in Hartford CT
Surprisingly this house is next door to Mark Twain's house! HBS moved here in her 60's (when MT was about 30) so there wasn't a lot of interaction between the two neighbours. HBS wrote her famous novel 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' in Maine before she moved here. The novel was one of the sparks that started the US Civil War to end slavery. If you haven't read it, do so!

4. Duck sculpture in the Public Gardens in Boston, based on Robert McCloskey's Make Way for Ducklings

Winner of the 1942 Caldecott Medal this awesome book tells the tale of the Mallard family who come to live in the Public Gardens in Boston. Last time we were here Lucy couldn't walk and we had to place her on the ducks. This time we couldn't stop her jumping on every single duck and she ended up with some very wet trousers! She had to say hello to Mrs Mallard, Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Oack, Pack and Quack!

5. Curious George Bookstore at Harvard in Cambridge MA
Lucy had a ball in this bookshop/toyshop near Harvard. She got a Curious George tshirt, a Curious George book and a small soft toy version of the monkey himself.

6. Walden Pond Concord MA where Henry David Thoreau lived for 2 years
Lucy and I drove through Walden Pond State Reserve on the way home from Concord. We saw Thoreau's walking stick and various other memorabilia at the Concord museum earlier in the day. Thoreau was a man ahead of his time urging people to 'simplify', a slogan still used today and now ironically embalzoned on tshirts in the gift shop.

7. Old Manse Concord MA, where Ralph Waldo Emerson penned 'Nature'

We walked past the Old Manse where Emerson wrote and Hawthorne lived for a time. It is right next to the Old North Bridge where the war for Independence against the British started. In fact Rev. Emerson (Ralph's grandfather) watched the battle from the study window.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Attention Sydneysiders - buy tickets now!

Sydney Open 08 - 2 November 2008

Now in its seventh year Sydney Open is the largest one day architectural event in Australia.
Inspired by similar events in London, New York and Toronto,
Sydney Open will unlock the doors to 70 of the city’s most prestigious landmarks, many of them accessible for the first and last time. So lace up those walking shoes and experience the buzz on our streets as we open some of Sydney’s best buildings!

Find out which of Sydney's landmarks will unlock their doors to the public>>>
Tickets on sale Wednesday 8 October
Book online or T 02 8239 2211

Boston Bite 1 - Sports

Hey there, we're back from Boston and there is much to tell you! In our 10 days away we covered a lot of ground around New England and experienced many adventures. Today I'm going to focus on the sports side of things.

1. Hawthorn's magnificent grand final victory!

"We're a happy team at Hawthorn, we're the mighty fighting Hawks! We love our club and we play to win, riding the bumps with a grin, at Hawthorn!"
YES YES YES!!! Hawthorn won their first grand final for 17 years and we are very happy here! When I found out we were heading to Boston I quickly researched where to see the game. Luckily for me the Boston Demons football club was hosting an afternoon viewing of the game, giving strict instructions that NO-ONE was to give away the result (we were watching it 12 hours delayed). I was a bit nervous about attending - what if Hawthorn lost? I would miss out on spending a lovely afternoon in the Aquarium with Andrew and Lucy. But the thought of just finding out the result by text message was disappointing so I headed off to Tommy Doyle's Irish pub in Harvard Square to sweat it out. I got there half way through the first quarter to find standing room only that was 6 people deep! There must have been 150 people there! Given I was dressed in Hawthorn gear the organisers told me just to squeeze through the crowd and find a spot on the floor. I managed to do this and even scored a seat by half time. It was such good fun and by three quarter time with EVERYONE cheering Hawthorn I realised that they must have won the game as there were only 2 Geelong supporters in attendance. Not that this realisation made me any less anxious in the last 10 minutes! It was awesome to meet some Australians and to realise that conversations can be easy with no hidden agendas, no cultural barriers, and no fear of offense. I met a couple from Perth visiting their son at MIT, Nathan from Melbourne doing an EMBA at Harvard and sat next one of the founders of the Boston club who agreed with me that the umpiring was terrible! There were lots of diversions to raise money for the club like raffles, handball comps and the like but it was awesome to just be there, not know the result and just enjoy each minute of the game.

2. Attending the last Red Sox baseball game of the season at Fenway park

In some ways attending this game gave me that match day feeling that I was missing in Melbourne. We all got into Red Sox gear and joined the home town crowd in cheering on the team. There is an excitement in the air in walking into the ground with expectations for a win, a comradery with fellow supporters and an atmosphere of hope. We clapped and cheered along with everyone and booed the Yankees and although the Red Sox lost this particular game they were still heading into the playoffs. At the game the crowd was kept entertained with popular songs, to which they sang along, like Neil Diamond's 'Sweet Caroline' which is obviously a favourite and even had special crowd participation. Our seats were good ones in the bleachers, just behind the NYY bullpen where the pitchers warm up. Lucy got a little bored by the end and with the rain coming down we headed off during the 9th innings. Food as expected was extremely expensive ($4.75 for a hot dog) and apparently for the 23,000 seats available they sell 40,000 beers a game at $7 each!

3. Bike riding through Boston

We went on a fairly strenuous 2 and a half hour bike ride around Boston (not so strenuous for Lucy who as you can see fell asleep in the back - it was amazing as it was raining and foggy but she was able to sleep for about an hour). We started in the suburb on Brookline before heading to Fenway Park (above), through the Back Bay Fens and Boston Common, downtown to the Aquarium and the green space created by the Big Dig, through the North End and past the North Church where Paul Revere hung the lanterns, past the Museum of Science and along the Charles River Reservation.

4. Visting the America's Cup Musuem

Our pit stop in Rhode Island was the town of Bristol, home of the America's Cup museum and Herreshoff Maritime museum. Lucy and I are sitting outside looking at 'America 3' which was sailed by an all-female crew. We explored the museum noting with amusement the large display about 'winning back the cup in 1987' but not so much about Australia winning the cup in 83 (the first time in history it had been won by a non-American crew) There was a boxing kangaroo flag signed by John Bertrand and there were some Aussie Hall of Fame inductees (JB, Alan Bond and Ben Lexcen). Lucy enjoyed boarding some of the boats in the Maritime museum and sitting back in the Captain's chair giving orders.