Friday, April 29, 2011

such an easy way to help

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There were devastating storms throughout the southern United States last night leaving  hundreds dead, hundreds more injured and entire communities literally flattened.

Family and friends are all okay and I can’t begin to explain how grateful we are for that. 

I know money is tight for everyone right now, but there is still a really easy way to help- donate blood.  Donations are needed year round and disasters like this can really wipeout supplies.  20 minutes and a little prick and you literally save lives.  AND you get Nutter Butters!

Helloooo!! Free cookies and you’re a hero = win. win.

You can find your local Red Cross chapter here.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

long weekend

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Thanks to ANZAC Day and the Easter holiday falling on the same weekend, we had 5 days to enjoy the Hunter Valley wine region and the Blue Mountains.  Thanks to the rain and dense fog on Monday and Tuesday we saw absolutely nothing of the latter.

We had wonderful weather in the Valley though and a great time time there.  We arrived late Friday afternoon to our precious little B&B and had a blast touring a handful of boutique vineyards on Saturday…

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We headed over to the Blue Mountains on Sunday morning, but by the time we arrived my head cold was in full swing and I chose to stay at the hotel while Pablo and the wife took a stroll through the little town of Katoomba.  She dutifully took the camera and apparently made the joke “better take a picture of this view in case it rains the rest of the time we’re here”…

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Famous last words since of course this is the one and only photo we have of the Blue Mountains.  We had planned on setting out the next morning to see all the beautiful sights they  have to offer and woke up to this both Monday and Tuesday mornings…

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Yeah.

So after a full day spent in our somewhat creepy hotel (think: The Shining) we left directly after breakfast on Tuesday to make our way back to Sydney.  Soggy, wet Sydney.

Even with the weather and my horrible cold, it wasn’t so bad.  I read 2 books (highly recommend both “The Bird Sisters” and “The Poisonwood Bible”) and got to spend time with the only 2 people in the world that I could actually enjoy being cooped up with.

Pablo leaves tomorrow (boo!) and we’ve decided to take advantage of our last weekend in a city where we’re free to roam around before heading to our compound bound life in Jo’burg.

Longest weekend we’ve ever had and I took the fewest photos ever, you can thank both the bad weather and the good wine for that…

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

the daily(ish)

Thank you random sign at the bar in Melbourne…

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I have seriously always wondered why it was called a “honeymoon”.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

the daily(ish)

I call this one Beauty and the Beast…

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Ugh- the fruit bats around here are just too big!!  Shivers down spine…

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter

Wishing everyone near and far (mostly far) a very happy Easter Sunday!  It is a day of great rejoicing  in my faith and I’m so happy to have two of my favorite people in the world with me today.

I plan on rejoicing and eating lots of sweets.  It has been a long 40 days, but I’m so proud of my teeny tiny sacrifice because it helps me to remember how great His was for me.   For everyone.

Hope the bunny or bell or whatever brings you chocolates and goodies was good to you!

the daily(ish)

The Maori may have called it a kete and used it for putting fish or gathered food in it…

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but I would totally have used it as a cute clutch.  I mean look at the design change on the back reflection.  I want one!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

the daily(ish)

Pretty little flowers at the Botanical Gardens…

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Thursday, April 21, 2011

the daily(ish)

The perfect goodbye from El Diablo…

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both sweet and annoying. 

Seriously, how many times did I say we weren’t taking your giant beer bottle home for you?

Also, can you please come back? We miss you!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

the daily(ish)

I’ve heard it pronounced a few different ways, but I guess this finally answers that questions…

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Now I’ll feel better correcting those who say GY-RO.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

the daily(ish)

Seriously so happy to have Pablo here with me…

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19 years of friendship and he’s still my favorite guy in the world!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Melbourne

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Pablo arrived in Australia on Thursday morning and by Friday evening we had him on yet another flight.  We seem to be unable to help ourselves from doing that, but he seems to be the master or jet lag so it works out.

We had a great little dinner at a local spot in Melbourne Friday night and were up early for an entire day on the Great Ocean Road.  I mean the “entire” day.  It was an over 13 hour tour but totally worth it…

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The Great Ocean Road is just a gorgeous stretch of costal highway with breathtaking views at every turn.  We also got to see koalas in the wild, feed some wild although extremely friendly parrots and take a brisk little jaunt into a lovely rainforest…

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Awesome day.

Since we packed it all in on Saturday we chose to have a leisurely Sunday in Melbourne… had a great brunch, walked about, caught a street performance from the comedy festival, took a streetcar ride around the city  and ended our time with a couple of beers on a rooftop bar.  Oh, how I love those kinds of Sundays. 

Thanks to a national holiday and Easter colliding we’ve got a 5 day weekend ahead of us and we’re heading out on a road trip to the Hunter Valley wine region and the Blue Mountains.  Should be so much fun!

Pics from our Melbourne weekend…

the daily(ish)

Awesome shirt with a gun toting panda that some guy in the lounge was wearing…

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I was almost caught when the Wife screamed out “who are you taking a picture of?!?” but it was worth it.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

the daily(ish)

Some of the traditional chanting at our Maori show in New Zealand…



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Seriously, in person it was intense. Our guide on Sunday was Maori and explained to us that their strategy for warfare was "scare them with crazy". No one wants to fight a madman so they tried to look as insane as possible with showing their tongue and the whites of their eyes.


Now keep in mind the Maori were cannibals and all fighting was done hand to hand with tools designed for cracking your skull open so they could eat your brains. No. Joke.


I don’t even want to imagine what level of “crazy” they were trying to scare people with because their “normal” seems crazy enough to ward off Freddy Kruger.

Friday, April 15, 2011

the daily(ish)

We’re going to have an apartment in South Africa! I’m soo excited. Let the meal planning begin…


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Christmas party feast from years ago…just one of the flat surfaces in our house covered in food.


Anyone want to send me some recipes? Keep in mind it will be fall there so think root veggies and hearty dishes.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

the daily(ish)

Really hungry?


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I would have stopped to see just how big that ice cream was, but I’m still in the middle of the never-ending Lent season.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

the daily(ish)

The owners of our little B&B in Waitomo were so cute…


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and very informative. Everything was labeled.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

kiwi-land

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Road trip weekends are usually some of my favorites.  No airport, no liquid limits, no planes and usually a far more relaxed schedule. I just think they’re a bit easier.  Of course that’s probably because I’m never the one driving on opposite sides of unfamiliar and windy foreign roads.

We left Friday afternoon for Waitomo.  Thankfully, it wasn’t too far away and after a few hours drive into the New Zealand countryside (only 1 or so in the dark- thank goodness) we arrived around dinnertime.

Waitomo is a tiny little town (the owner of our B&B introduced himself and his wife and already we had met 5% of the population) and famous for their caves or more specifically the glow worms that inhabit them. 

After a break-of-dawn wake-up call from the local birds who apparently had scheduled an all out fight club underneath our open window, we headed down for breakfast and then across the street to meet up with our cave guide.

Glow worms are actually not worms at all.  They are in fact flies in their larva stage…yeah, maggots.  But, as our tour guide pointed out, they probably couldn’t get 500k tourists a year to come see glowing maggots. 

Call them what you will, these little creatures create an experience like no other.  I was like we were on a boat ride underneath the milky way.  It felt like a Disney ride it was so incredibly beautiful…

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Pictures above are courtesy of our tour company, Spellbound, because these little buggers are practically impossible to capture in a cave so dark you can’t see your hand in front of your face.  If you ever go here you MUST book with them. Seriously perfect tour company- passionate, professional and intimate.

We floated down the small stream that runs through the cave staring upward with mouths agape at the sheer volume and magical beauty of these tiny little lights.  It was one of those experiences you have where you just can’t deny the awesomeness of our planet.

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It was also very cool to see how much night vision we actually have.  Our guide had asked us at a certain point to turn off our headlamps and asked if we could see our hand in front of our face.  Nope.  Then as we boarded the raft he asked if we could see him.  Nope.  After 30 or so minutes with nothing but the light of glowing maggot butts, we could see each other plainly.  Also awesome- the human body.

After our glow worm cave we had some tea and biscuits (aka- cookies, aka- none for me, aka- longest Lent ever) before heading down to our next cave.  No real glow worms to speak of since there wasn’t a stream so no food source.  It was an interesting cave as far as caves go.  I think I’ll recommend they switch the order though because the glow worms should definitely be the finale to this tour.

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We had a quick lunch when we arrived back in Waitomo and then made our way to Rotorua.

Rotorua (Maori for “second lake” as this was the second lake found by the local chief of the area tribe) is a pretty popular destination on the North Island.  It is home to the largest concentration of Maori people, the world’s newest geothermal landscape and about a million ways to make you want to pee your pants.  Seriously, daredevils need look no further than NZ to get their thrills.  From skydiving, to bungee, to being rolled down a mountain in a giant plastic ball- they know how to get the adrenalin pumping.

Seeing as we have a couple of mortgages and plan to have a family one day we skipped the dangerous attractions and took advantage of the other two.

We arrived on Saturday just in time for our evening cultural show.  It was pretty much a nightmare.  Rarely will the reviews on TripAdvisor send you far astray, but oh brother did they fail us here.  Tourist trap from hell.  Even through all the hokey crap and being herded around like cattle all night, my interest in the Maori culture is still very peaked.  These people were some kind of badass.

The only good part of the evening was the show (which was way too short)…

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Early the next morning we set off for our last tour of the weekend to the geothermal areas.  Well, actually all of Rotorua is because the actual town is built inside the caldera of a volcano.  File that under: things I could have lived without knowing.

We had a wonderful guide, who was also Maori so he gave us a scientific as well as cultural view of the area.   It was a great morning tromping through the bush to see mud pools, toxic pools of boiling acid, the world’s largest hot springs and even a geyser…

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Oh and even a Green Bay Packer…

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Brandon Chillar (#54 linebacker) and his brother were on our tour.  We were the only people under 72 and the only Americans so we were hanging and chatting all day with them. Through the course of one conversation Julie asked “Just what do you do for work in Wisconsin?”  To which he modestly answered “I play football.”  Um, you’re a freaking starter for the Packers, aka- current national champs (although he didn’t play the actual SB due to injury).  He really was the nicest guy, very funny and might just be a reason for me to start watching pro ball.

All in all a pretty cool weekend in a beautiful country.  Wish we had more time in New Zealand, but the bestie is on his way to Australia so we’ve got to head back!

Pics from the weekend…

 

the daily(ish)

This Aussie kids show is creepier than the Wiggles…


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I had to ask the person in the lounge to turn the channel because every time I looked up from my computer I saw some freaky lawn care item staring back at me.

Monday, April 11, 2011

the daily(ish)

 

We actually saw a few of these “wicked campers” rentals around Ayers Rock…

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Each with something more “wicked”  than the next written across the back. 

photo credit: the artist formerly known as el diablo

the daily(ish)

This cloud came out of nowhere and just laid on top of the entire city the other day…


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At any moment I felt like aliens were going to come down, wreak havoc and Will Smith was going to have to come save us.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

the daily(ish)

A dingo stole my baby!!

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Can you believe I was the only one out of 5 people there that weekend that knew that phrase?!?  There were 3 Americans!  Unbelievable!

We didn’t actually see a dingo and I have to say I’m fairly thankful for that.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

the daily(ish)

So we meet again…

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That plate should really say “Eat Me! Love, Satan”.

I actually let this one stay in the room.  Seemed the thing to do since I’ve only got a week to go before Easter Sunday.  Take that, temptation!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

the daily(ish)

Lilies from our lobby…


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They remind me of the daylilies that will be popping up soon at our house.


Speaking of our house- you should totally buy it. Really.


Okay, if you don’t want to buy it you should, at the very least, pass along this link to every single person you know.


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The house is all dressed up and ready to be sold!!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

adios

We’re saying goodbye to yet another dear friend this week. Not really “goodbye” as much as “see you later” because thankfully this friend was kind enough to get a job back home.


Too many memories made and far too many laughs to recall…just know that you’ll be sorely missed!*



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*But not for long because you’re on a direct path to us walking our kids to school together! Muuuuuahahahahah!

cue the hobbits

Thanks to some work needing to be done there, we’re off to New Zealand for a week!

For our JR Tolkien loving friends …

-  No, we won’t be going to the south of NZ, so we won’t be perusing any Lord of the Rings sets.  Sorry.

For our worrying family members…

-  No, we won’t be going to the south of NZ, so we won’t be anywhere near where the earthquake hit a couple of months ago.

We’re looking forward to some gorgeous scenery, some divine New Zealand wines and some quality time with just each other.  Cannot wait! 

the daily(ish)

I am totally and utterly addicted to these shoes…


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Not only are they the most comfortable shoes I own, but whenever you buy a pair Toms provides a pair for a child in need. (Read: win-win)


You should totally get a pair.*



*Or you could buy me another pair (size 6, red) because I’m dying to get more, but they’re like triple the price in Australia and I’ve failed to order them in time to reach the BFF’s house in time for him to bring them. Boo.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

the daily(ish)

Not only a baby on board, but also a bitch…

 

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I suppose you need to be eeeextra careful driving around this car.

you know who you are

We recently were invited to dinner by one of the higher-ups here in the Sydney office. He used to do this same job in the 80’s and has since had a career that has had him living all over the world.


A snippet from our night…


Him: “This life will change you. You’re still the person you were before and you hope people back home realize that, but you can’t help but change.”


Me: “I just feel like I always sound like an asshole to everyone back home. You want to share your life with the people you love, but how do you avoid sounding like an asshole?”


Him: “You can’t. No matter what, you’re always going to sound like an asshole.”


Ouch.


As much as I want to convey how incredibly blessed I feel every single day for this opportunity, I’m sure I don’t do that great of a job. I’m sure I’ve made more eyes roll then I care to know about over the past couple of years.


I know we’ve asked so much of our friends and family and it’s really because of all you guys back home that have helped us so much that we’ve even been able to do this. We’re beyond grateful. Truly.


Even if I apparently can’t do anything to avoid sounding like an asshole, I hope you know how thankful we are to have you in our lives and everything you’ve done for us.


xoxo

Monday, April 4, 2011

the daily(ish)

Been wondering where to buy ginormous teddy bears?

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Look no further than suburban Sydney.