Sunday, May 31, 2015

Botanic Gardens and Baking

Yesterday I went to the Botanic Gardens with my British friend Emma since she hadn't been and it was a nice day. Well, it was a nice day when we arrived, being Melbourne it got grey really quickly and then later rained. #MelbourneWeather. It was fun though and now that I've been a few times I can finally say I know my way (sort of) around.

The main lake in the gardens

Last night we decided to make caramel shortbread and of course it's delicious, but we boiled our caramel for a bit too long and ended up making more toffee than caramel. We had a little leftover so I decided to make them into shapes and then freeze them. I made two hearts, a fish, a "bird" and a blob because I couldn't think of anything else.

Toffee shapes

It may not look super appetizing but it really is. Healthy, no, but delicious, yes. Then we had melted chocolate leftover as well so we poured some over a chopped banana and that was also absolutely delicious.

Then today I baked some banana muffins/cupcakes and I'm very pleased with them. I used to make a whole recipe and make the banana bread but we never were able to finish it so instead I made half the recipe and made them in a cupcake tray.

The other day we bought some stuff from the alcohol store and I got a box of six bottles of my chardonnay for $17 and you can't beat that. I will miss the price of wine when we leave here.

That's about all for now. I'm in work on Wednesday but I'm sure I'll post before that.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Happy Anniversary to Us

Well it's been one year since we got married and it certainly doesn't feel like that, kind of feels like yesterday. But here we are. Because Australia is essentially a day ahead of the US we were going to celebrate yesterday and get a few drinks, but we were tired and I think I have a cold so instead we stayed in and watched Spooks. I think it was a pretty good night because I love Spooks. And Mr. Darcy is in it. Well, not Mr. Darcy, but the actor who plays him (duh). Although I don't know which version of him I prefer... to be decided.

We wanted to watch Eurovision, which I have literally been waiting for for weeks, but when it aired live it was 5 a.m. here so, you know, no. Then, when it was on later that night we were out and I forgot to record it (oops) and then I saw who won and I was really upset and didn't want to watch for like two seconds, and then obviously changed my mind because, you know, Eurovision. Finally, we decided we wanted to watch the BBC version with Graham Norton instead of the Australian one and spent some time trying to get it to work, and then the internet was so slow we couldn't watch it. BUT it's being fixed and we'll watch it tonight. Finally. And even though I know Sweden won (thanks BBC and your dumb push notifications) I still think it'll be great.

The other day I stopped into the op shop for the first time in a while and set up some times to go in, so I have three shifts there planned in the coming weeks and I'm looking forward to it.

Today, I had work and it was pretty successful and I'm just hoping this kind of cold, maybe allergies, whatever thing I sort of kind of have goes away. But if it doesn't I have lemsips (is that the plural version? Lemsip drinks? A lemsip sachet? Whatever) now so I will be healed while drinking yummy, lemon-y scented, drinks with drugs in them.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Krista Leaves and Canberra

I know it's been a while since I posted, but with Krista here I didn't have a whole lot of opportunity to write a post. Then after she left we went to Canberra and we just got back today, so be prepared for a long one. I'll try and keep it short though as to not bore you to sleep. Or death.

So we had a couple of really nice days while Krista was here, so we walked along the pier on the really warm and sunny day, then had a couple of beers at the restaurant there, and then saw the penguins that night which was a lot of fun. They are so incredibly cute, but because they come after the sun goes down and it's very dark I didn't get any good photos.

Last Monday we went to the wildlife park in Adelaide which was absolutely amazing (again). We didn't have fantastic weather, it rained a little, but we had alright weather while we were actually at the wildlife park and that's all that matters. We both got to hold a koala twice because we stayed for two koala holding sessions, and in between saw all the other animals and fed the wallabies. I took a ton of photos but I'll just put the highlights.

This wallaby was a little overzealous (he
wanted the food in my hand)

Lucy the koala! 

I'm basically the wallaby whisperer 

It was a lot of fun and I was reminded just how great it really was. There was this one bird, it's called a cassowary, and they have a horn on their head and look terrifying, who literally reached through the fence and grabbed my map out of my hands and tore it. I nearly had a heart attack.

The devil himself... and my map

After the wildlife park we just saw more of Melbourne and went to the National Gallery of Victoria two days in a row (it's massive and took forever to finish) and that was all fun. Wednesday was Krista's birthday so we went out for dinner at this Mexican restaurant and then went to this bar so she could try various Australian beers. On Friday morning she left and it was sad to say goodbye but great to have had such a great week.

We've been wanting to go to Canberra for ages, so we decided to go this weekend so we could go to the airport with Krista and see her off and have somewhere to go ourselves. It was so much fun and we saw tons of wildlife. I'll try and keep this bit short too, but we'll see how that actually goes.

Once we arrived into Canberra we checked in and then decided the first thing we were going to do was to go up to the Telstra Tower on Black Mountain. The tower itself isn't all that interesting, but you get some beautiful views from the top. We went up and walked around a bit and then had some lunch in their cafe.

Canberra city

The hills are gorgeous

The tower itself

Lovely view of the lake and hills

After that we decided to drive to the Parliament House. We didn't actually expect to be able to get in, we just thought we'd go up to it and take a few photos and leave, but as it turns out you basically have free reign of the place. We walked all throughout it and went to both the House and Senate chambers, then went onto the roof and walked around a little more.

Senate chamber

House of Representatives chamber

Both chambers were frankly pretty ugly, but it was still really cool to see.

Flag on the roof

There were a bunch of parrots on the roof

After that we walked down towards the old Parliament House, which currently has a museum in it, but we didn't go in.

Parliament House (not the old one)

We drove from there to the Australian War Memorial, which has memorials for wars lining the whole street and a museum inside. The memorial are for things like WWI, WWII, Vietnam, Korea, etc. It was really cool, but since it was starting to get late we didn't go in the museum. We planned to go in the next day, but we ended up doing something quite different-- but I'll get to that. The War Memorial also had a ton of cockatoos and since I'd never seen a wild one before it was pretty awesome.

One of many cockatoo photos

War Memorial

Up close

We read online that by the Department of Defense you can see tons of kangaroos so we decided to drive there after the War Memorial, half expecting not to see any. But we were so wrong, we saw probably hundreds. It was fantastic.

Many kangaroos

Mama and joey

Hello, who are you? 

Hopping about

By this point it was starting to get dark and cold (very cold) and we'd been up since 5am so we figured it was time to call it a day. The next day we planned to do the museums and stuff, but it was such a gorgeous day out (not a cloud in the sky) that we just couldn't spend all day in museums, so instead I read about this nature reserve, called Tidbinbilla, and we drove there instead. On the way there we passed the Space Center and stopped off and that was definitely worth it.

One of the satellites

All of the satellites are so massive you can see them from the main road, 4km away. The nature reserve was so much fun and we saw tons of stuff. We saw five koalas, granted only one of them was "wild" but that was still awesome. I didn't get any good photos because they hide in their trees so it wasn't worth it. We saw tons of kangaroos and wallabies and did some walks by some gorgeous lakes. Supposedly there are a lot of platypuses, but despite our efforts we didn't actually see any.

Many kangaroos

Little wallaby 

The same wallaby posing for me

These wallabies were a little different to the ones we'd seen before because they were very dark and had redish ears and seemed a bit smaller. After a little research I think they're the black wallaby, which is a different type than the normal ones we've seen. It was a great day and on our drive back out of the park we got some amazing views of the hills and the sunset.

The drive back to the city wasn't a long one, but you did just see kangaroos hopping around everywhere. I have to say it made me a little nervous with them hopping alongside the road because you never know when they're going to jump out in front of the car, but luckily there were no disasters.

We then flew out early this morning and the weather was unbelievably cold. Our flight was supposed to leave at 6:15 a.m. but due to freezing fog it was delayed until about 7:15 or so. The temperature reached a low of 21 degrees fahrenheit (-6 celsius) just while we sat at the airport. Eventually the fog cleared enough that we could board and takeoff, but the weather was still well below freezing when we left. We did get some awesome views of the fog from the sky though.

It was a fantastic trip and to be honest I think I'd go back, even though a lot of people think Canberra is boring and not very exciting. I think we've seen enough kangaroos to last us until we leave, which is obviously no bad thing! However, there is no such think as "enough" koalas. Ever.

That's about everything for now, but now that Krista's not here and we aren't going anywhere soon I'll be able to keep on top of this blog a bit more. I think I've bored you enough.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Being a Tourist

Since Krista's been here I've been able to be a tourist again and do some stuff I haven't had the chance to do before. On the first day there was just a lot of wandering to kind of help orient her on where everything was, but yesterday we went to the Shrine of Remembrance and went up to the balcony where you get great views of the city, then walked along into the city over the river and saw Federation Square, Flinders Street Station and St. Paul's Cathedral. The Shrine of Remembrance has this massive gallery and museum/crypt underneath it which I hadn't been to before so we spent a really long time doing that. There were some bottles in a case there that were at Hiroshima so that was pretty cool.

Hiroshima bottles

Down in the crypt

After that we walked further up and went to the State Library of Victoria, which was actually really awesome inside. The reading rooms are pretty beautiful and really impressive. We walked across to Melbourne Central after that to see the cuckoo clock, which has lots of birds and some boys playing the flute and it goes on for about five minutes. Melbourne Central is really a glorified shopping mall but it's cool anyways.

Ceiling in the library

A reading room

cuckoo clock

Inside Melbourne central

The past couple of days have been really rainy and chilly but today is beautiful and a bit warmer so we're going to walk along up to Albert Park and then go to the Royal Botanic Gardens so it should be a lot of fun. We go see the koalas on Monday so we're both pretty excited for that, she's convinced she won't be able to give the koala back. I know the feeling.

The next few days are supposed to be really nice and then it's back to rainy weather, but at least she gets a few nice days. Either tonight or tomorrow night we'll go along the pier to see the penguins since it won't be raining. Even though she's only been here a few days I think she's seen a lot so far.

It's been great and it's so wonderful to have her here! Off to do more touristy things!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Krista is Almost Here!

I'm so incredibly excited because Krista, my friend from Miami, arrives into Melbourne tomorrow morning and it's going to be fantastic. Unfortunately for her her itinerary is about 24 hours and her flight across the pacific is actually the longest flight in the world. Dallas-Sydney, 16 hours and 50 minutes. We're renting a car and picking her up at the airport and because she's flying into Melbourne domestically, from Sydney, and Australia is super relaxed with security, we can actually meet her at the gate which will be a lot of fun.

We don't have too many specific plans for when she's here other than going to see the koalas in Adelaide on Monday, something we're both ecstatic for.

In other news, Michael and I had over some Canadian friends he works with at work for dinner. We had my Nigella mac n Cheese and it was a lot of fun. We're heading over to their place for some drinks tonight, which is probably good because it gives me something else to do other than counting down the minutes until Krista arrives. 18 hours!

I'm also happy to report we haven't seen any ants since the invasion so I think we can safely say we win. Knock on wood...

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Fighting off the Invasion

The past two days have been quite eventful. Yesterday we went to lunch at this all you can eat Chinese buffet, which I really enjoyed. I ate my weight in food and then some, Michael basically had to roll me down the road because I just couldn't move. I don't recall ever feeling that full. We were planning on going to Ikea to get a few last things before Krista arrives next week, but it was raining and we were sleepy from our food comas so we came back to the apartment and had a short nap. When we woke up we decided we'd go Ikea after quickly cleaning the windows in the apartment. This was not a quick task.

We decided to take the screen off of one of the windows and thousands, I repeat thousands, a colony, an army, of ants just come crawling out of the frame. It was like something out of a horror movie. I've never seen anything so ridiculous in my life. We couldn't vacuum them fast enough so we just had to go around smashing them and killing them. By the time we were done the floor was covered in ant carcasses. Luckily, they weren't biting or stinging ants or anything because otherwise we'd have been in trouble. We managed to contain the thousands of ants and then had the task of cleaning up all of these ant carcasses.

After about half an hour of cleaning and pretty sure we got the majority of them I ran to the store to get some ant spray while Michael continued to clean, you know, just in case. When we realized how many there were we took the screen out to the balcony where they just swarmed. When I got back we sprayed the apartment and then went and sprayed the balcony and the screen. At least we knew the spray worked like a charm because we went out later to check the balcony, there were dead ants covering the whole balcony. It was quite a macabre sight.

Cluster of dead ants

Dead all over the railing

It was dark so that was the best I could do photo-wise. We sprayed again this morning and swept all of the dead ants off of the balcony. It was pretty crazy and rather unpleasant, but we conquered the ant invasion so hopefully we don't need to do it again. After fighting off the invasion we made it to Ikea and got some beer and cider from the liquor store next door, so it ended up being a successful day, despite the ant invasion. However, on the way to Ikea there was so much flooding on the road our tram had to stop and we had to get off and walk along to the next stop. The road basically looked like the Yarra River.

After that we decided to walk along the Southbank and then get on a tram at the other end to Ikea, but I'm glad we did because you get some really nice views of the city and the path is really nice.

Today, I went back to the liquor store to get some more cider (which was on offer) and another one of these wonderful bottles of Chardonnay I've discovered called Hidden Gem, which is only $3.

Then we massively lucked out with a sale at H&M and got some new cushion covers for $2 each and I got a pretty candle and a glass candle holder for $1 each.

Can't beat the prices for those. Despite the ants the past couple of days have been quite fun and successful and Krista arrives in less than a week now so I cannot wait. It's going to be so great to see her and I'm almost certain I won't sleep the night before like it's Christmas Eve.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Some New Books

Nothing new here, but in the past few days I've finished two books. I finished them so quickly because I enjoyed both so much. One is called Christmas in the Snow and The Summer Without You, both by British author Karen Swan. I liked them both, but Christmas in the Snow was my favorite. It follows these two sisters who live in London who find out all sorts of stuff about their family that makes everything they learned about their grandparents and everything a lie. But at the same time one of the sisters is a high level investment banker and all sorts of illegal and weird things are going on and the story takes so many twists you don't know who to trust and who not to until the very end of the book. I thought it was excellent, better than The Summer Without You, which had a rather whiny character who I did grow to like, but until then I found her annoying.

Today, once I finally finished my book, I cleaned the apartment a bit and vacuumed, something that certainly needed doing. It was a nice warm day so I opened all of the windows and got some fresh air in here too. Tomorrow night a friend is coming over for dinner so I'm pretty excited about that, I'll need to decide what to make.

Krista leaves for her visit in just over a week and I couldn't be more excited. Other than going to visit the koalas we haven't got anything else concrete planned, other than just seeing the city, so we'll see what we end up doing.

I think that's about all for now. I have to say I am missing Tasmania, it was a great trip and such a pretty state. Although, I guess I don't really miss needing to keep a fire going to stay warm since we weren't so good at that. I'll take my heaters!