Thursday, 27 November 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today we celebrated our third Thanksgiving! It is one of our favourite holidays as there are no obligations to decorate the house, wear special clothes or buy gifts. Basically you just need to eat and be thankful. Tonight we were invited next door for a turkey dinner with Margaret & Daryl and their friends Chris & MaryBeth. Chris brought along his excellent home-brewed wheat beer and Daryl roasted an awesome juicy turkey on the bbq. We finished the meal with a traditional pumpkin pie and a not so traditional packet of tim tams. The kids all played really well together, however at one stage 2 of them were found naked in Ava's bedroom playing dress ups! We watched a bit of the American football and then came home to watch the Charlie Brown Thanskgiving special.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Sugar Plum Fairy

On Sunday we headed downtown with Alexis and Lilia to Thalian Hall to see a performance of The Nutcracker. It was Lucy's first big outing to a theatre/cinema/live performance and she was excited (ie standing in her bed at nap time shouting that she wanted to go to the ballet NOW!) Dressed in a pretty pink butterfly dress and matching buttergfly shoes, she was a little overwhelmed by the crowd of people and was curious that the lights were switched off during the performance. She was extremely well behaved during the first half and sat very still. However the second half she was less co-operative and needed to go to the bathroom half way through! She lasted until 5 minutes before the end of the show which worked out perfectly as we could get away before the crowd. So my purple sugar plum got to see the sugar plum fairy and she thought it was magical!

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Product of the week - Olde time candy

Our source for this candy is Cracker Barrel. They have a store attached to the restuarant that sells all sorts of strange and interesting things, mostly around holiday themes. But they also sell a lot of candy that used to be sold everywhere but has gone out of style. We tried these coconut style candies and whilst good where not great enough to make us want to purchase them again.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Andrew's Pizza Wilmington opens

Andrew's Pizza Wilmington opened on Saturday 22nd November 2008. And we even have the matching t-shirts to prove it!

The bricks in the dome were still pretty wet from construction so most of the heat from the fire was used to dry out the bricks rather than to heat them for cooking. Also it was about 2 degrees celsius outside and given that there is no insulation around the oven, it didn't get very hot inside. And the wood was wet.

All that sounds pretty bad but we were still able to turn out a couple of okay pizzas. First course was a pesto pizza (with home grown basil!), second was a more traditional pizza with cheese, ham, tomatoes and corn and lastly we had a dessert pizza, half with nutella and banana and half with peaches and honey. The main issue with the pizza was that the base was soft and not always cooked (a sign the oven wasn't hot enough) Andrew was happy with his secret dough receipe but there are still some cooking techniques to be perfected.

Also we have to get some tools as I am not allowing my springform cake tins to be used anymore nor is it wise to be using a spade as a pizza peel. We also have to get a supply of firewood as the couple of bags from HT we grabbed were mouldy.

There's still a lot of construction to be done but at last we have reached an exciting milestone!

Thursday, 20 November 2008


Yesterday I went to a funeral.

When we moved to the US we were looking forward to getting involved in a community and attending events. One of our goals is to be invited to a Southern wedding (we're still waiting on this and there are hopes for one next year) but I hadn't really thought about funerals.

Last week my friend A's 19 year old son was killed. He was robbed for his paycheck and cell phone. His body was found at one of the elementary schools which was subsequently closed for the day. A's two younger children attend that school.

An African-American funeral is an experience! The funeral was held in Burgaw (my first visit there) and it was the first time in my life I have been conscious of having white skin.

We spent 2 and half hours in the church (this is before the cemetery and the wake) praying, singing, listening and clapping. There were hundreds and hundreds of people. 60 teenagers answered an altar call.

And at the end we all filed past the open casket, one by one, a sombering reminder of our own mortality and a reminder of our need to get right with God.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Fresh spots

A lot of restaurants along Market Street in Wilmington have billboard signs with changing messages. Outside Whitey's this week it says "Fresh spots". Fresh spots to sit? Fresh spots to eat? Freshly painted areas to eat in?

What are spots?

It seems that spots are fish! And they are prevalent along the coast here. Bon appetit!

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Product of the week - Reese's cookies

Ahhh another product of the week, another Reese's product! Since we moved to the US Andrew has hardly eaten peanut butter cups. Which is surprising given that he was willing to pay $2.50 for 2 in Australia. In any case I made him try these Reese's cookies just for that you readers.

The reaction: a good chocolate biscuit but with little peanut flavour - the chocolate overpowers to such a degree it is difficult to tell its a Reese's product.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Pizza Oven Progress

Half the weekend was devoted to the pizza oven. Well half was devoted to building the pizza oven and about 75% of the weekend was devoted to talking about and showing off pictures of the pizza oven!

The second arch is complete! And progress has been made building the wall around the dome. Andrew is picking up the welded flue today from the metal shop. Work will slow down while the roof structure is being determined - metal or wood for the frame? (I personally told Andrew to use whatever was easier. There is no fire risk due to all the insulation)

Saturday night saw us having a lovely dinner at the Jessens with the Bearmans and Alexanians. Everyone was talking about having Christmas pizzas but I was trying to hold back expectations (we don't even have a pizza paddle, pans, bowls etc with which to make pizzas!)

Friday, 14 November 2008

Thanksgiving Craft

We hosted a crafty playdate at our house this morning! We made two turkey themed crafts for Thanksgiving. The first one involved painted hands, glue and lots of pieces of foam. The second one involved a stick and some creativity to get the colour to come through on the turkey's feathers. We had lots of fun and surprisingly it didn't take long to clean up.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Flapjack breakfast

We had breakfast/brunch at Cracker Barrel this morning (don't call it 'crackers' mummy, it's 'cracker barrel') Despite talking about it all week (you no go to cracker barrel daddy, you do work) Lucy had a meltdown in the carpark. Not a screaming plank meltdown but one where she didn't want anyone to talk or look at her. She even wanted to go home before we ate. However 45 minutes later after she had eaten a significant amount of food (note: I fed her breakfast before she went) she was a lot happier and was able to burn some sugar off in the park. Not the hostess with the mostess.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Product of the week - Pie crust cutters

From the ever wonderful Williams Sonoma come these pie crust cutters in the shape of fall leaves. Last week Lucy and I went to a brunch with our mum's group and we took along a pumpkin pie. We made pastry leaves to put on top of the pie and they looked very cute. The pie itself was made of pumpkin, real pumpkin, not from a tin ie I peeled a pumpkin, cut it up and cooked it. That doesn't seem strange to me but the mum's were amazed! They were even more amazed that I used butternut squash. But they all agreed it tasted good. It took a lot of work to make it from scratch so I think next time I will take their advice and buy a couple of cans of organic pumpkin. The whole concept of pumpkin pie as a dessert is still a strange one to us Australians as evidenced by the leftovers in the fridge that have remained uneaten for the past few days.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Anniversaries and pizza ovens

Thanks to everyone who voted in the poll last week! The clear winner was 'Go back to our honeymoon spot (Brampton Island, Australia near the Great Barrier Reef)'. Unfortunately we won't be able to get back there this year, nor will we get to Hawaii. All spare money is being coralled for the pizza oven and its accessories. I'm hoping for our 20th wedding anniversary we can get back to Greece. Maybe I should start a travel fund now so that it becomes a reality!

And speaking of the pizza oven, the dome has been completed, except for a small hole at the top for a light. Andrew had to climb inside (yes through that small hole) to chip off lots of mortar at the top that had seeped through. He's now working on the second arch at the front. Then there's a lot of metal work, the rest of the brickwork, the tiling, the stonework etc etc. There's lots more to be done! However going to bed at 2am every night is not good for anyone, nor does it make for a happy home life so we may not make it to Greece if this continues for much longer!

Over the weekend we managed to squeeze in Cooper's 2nd birthday party. Lucy insisted that she give him the present and then promptly ran away from him. She ate lots of hot dogs, chips and cupcake icing but she especially liked the take-home party favour bags full of balls, bubbles and balloons. Happy birthday Cooper!

Friday, 7 November 2008

Weather update

The weather has been crazy lately as it cannot make up its mind as to which season it is. Here's a rundown:

13 October it was 90 degrees and we were swimming at the beach!

18 October autumn arrived and the temperature dropped to 60 degrees (with lows of 38)

1 November we are back at 75 degrees (and this is still the case today).

We are basking in these North Carolininan blue skies even though we know this weather will break soon. I think God gave NC a extra pinch of something special when he formed it.

Autumn, we are awaiting you!

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Southern slang

I saw a personalised number plate (licence plate) on a car the other day that said INHGHCTN. In other words, in high cotton. I'd heard this Southern phrase a few times and decided to investigate. Here are some definitions:
  • 'In high cotton' is a Southern term expressing the best of times and meaning that all is going very well
  • 'in high cotton' - to have a lot of money. Prominently featured in the country-western song "High Cotton" by Alabama . "When we were kids, we thought we were in high cotton if we had a dollar."
There's also a fantastic restaurant in Charleston called High Cotton. When we were there we ate at the sister restaurant Blossom as Lucy was with us and HC looked a little too fancy.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Pizza Oven update

The pizza oven is progressing well. Andrew is working out there every night and is now up to about the 10th layer of bricks. Things are getting tricky at the top so the number of bricks laid each time is small. Keep checking for up to the minute news.

And happy birthday for tomorrow Dad!

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Vote in my poll!

Given that in the US today is Election Day (with a capital E) I thought I'd give you a reminder to vote in my poll. For those of you using feeds to check the site, swing by and let me know how you think Andrew and I should spend out 10th wedding anniversary in December.

Product of the week - Fair food (elephant ears and funnel cakes)

Food at the fair! What do you imagine? Fairy floss (cotton candy), check; hotdogs, check; philly cheesesteaks, check; sno cones, check; funnel cakes, check; elephant ears, check.... wait funnel cakes and elephant ears???
The first photo is a funnel cake. Essentially strips of fried dough in a squiggly pattern, smothered in icing sugar or a topping or your choice (there is apple on the top half of this one)
The third photo is an elephant ear. Also fried dough, but in a single piece. Smothered with butter and then icing sugar.
Needless to say Lucy and Andrew devoured them!

Monday, 3 November 2008

Fun at the fair

The Cape Fear Fair and Expo is in town for a couple of weeks so we headed over to the airport to join the festivities. There was chainsaw woodcarving, cheerleading competitions, a livestock tent (full of rabbits, roosters and baby goats), sideshow games and rides, rides, rides. We thought the emphasis might be on agriculture and animals but really the focus was on entertainment for the kids. There were SO many rides and SO many games to spend money at. Fortunately the rides were covered by the admission price but it was surprising how many people wanted to shell out big bucks for the chance to win a stuffed animal!

Unfortunately we missed the kangaroos and tigers but we did have lots of fun. Lucy liked the police, fire, sheriff and national park stalls and even got a fireman's hat and a Smokey's friend bracelet. In the end Lucy did not want to go home but she was appeased by dinner at Cracker Barrel. Incidentally isn't funny how sometimes you keep bumping into the same people. At the fair on a number of rides, randomly placed throughout, we would end up being on the same ride as this particular family (who we don't know). We left at the same time (we bumped into each other at the exit) and then we walked into CB (10 minute drive away) and guess who was sitting at the table next to us? We should have introduced ourselves!

Whilst Lucy has been on lots of carousels (Hartford CT, Washington DC, Wilmington NC) she hasn't been on any other rides yet. She made up for it here having fun on the fire engine, wigglin' worm, carousel, ferris wheel, house of mirrors and the giant slide. She also went on a motorbike ride by herself but was so self conscious of all the parents staring at her she put her head down and stared at her feet for the whole ride. The operator was really worried about her so he stopped the ride to check on her but she just said 'more' so he started the ride up again and she put her head down again!

I'll leave you with a little video of Lucy and Andrew on the fun slide. Tune in for tomorrow's blog about American fair food - you can only imagine!!