Thursday, July 29, 2010

How to Amuse Yourself When it's Raining in Singapore

Take photos and blog about it.

We arrived here in Singapore 2 nights ago (business trip for Dom) and I spent yesterday outside by the pool. Magnificent weather.

Today...not so much.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The New House

We bought a house today.


We are officially homeowners TOGETHER. This makes divorce so much more difficult ;-) Kidding!

Anyway, Dom bought a house several years ago in San Francisco before we met, so this isn't our first home, cause you know I inherited the home when I married Dom, but it is our first home purchase together.

But here's the thing...

The house is in the place I never thought I would ever live again.

You see, nothing bad against Oregon, Oregon is beautiful and there's lots of amazing things about it, but Oregon just doesn't get me, you know? Oregon is like the ex-boyfriend that was such a great guy, he never did anything wrong, you just broke up because you weren't right for each other. That's Oregon and me, just not right for each other.

New York on the other hand was the illicit fun filled love affair, that was never meant to be a long term relationship, but was one of the best relationships you ever had. Again, nothing wrong with this ex either, you just knew you weren't going to grow old together, so you made the most out of it while you were together until it was time to move on.

And then there's San Francisco, I've spent very little time with San Francisco but I can see the potential and it will HOPEFULLY be my long term life partner.

Yes, I'm comparing cities to relationships, I think it's a good analogy.

Back to the house.

Luckily we didn't buy this home as a primary home, we will live permanently in San Francisco and this Oregon home will be more of a vacation/summer home, because you see, Oregon is awesome for kids. Wait, let me write that again because it deserves capital letters, OREGON IS AWESOME FOR KIDS.

I may not get along with Oregon now (don't even get me started on allergy season) but I'm glad I grew up there and not in the city.

I was a proper county kid. I made mud pies, climbed trees, built forts (tree forts, hay forts, WOODSTACK forts, forts are awesome) rode bikes everywhere, found swimming holes, stole apples from neighbors orchards, was forced to mow the yard, help lay bark-o-mulch, and stack wood, went camping and fishing, shot guns (I refused to go hunting though) went out in the woods to cut down our own Christmas tree, took day trips out in the boondocks to cut down trees for fire wood, rode 4-wheelers, went sledding in the yard, had a slip n slide in the yard (and put it on a hill and added soap to it in the teenage years, which is totally awesome), and the scars up and down my legs to prove my carelessness while participating in said activities. PROPER COUNTRY KID.

Dom, on the other hand, grew up in London...enough said. So, let's just say he's really, really, really excited for our new Oregon house. Probably more excited for the Oregon house then the San Francisco remodel. He has such grand ideas as felling trees on the property (there's 5 acres and too many trees), making firewood from said trees, building a kit car, buying boy toys (4-wheelers, dirt bikes, lawnmowers) to put into the garage, etc etc.

As I mentioned I've participated in all of these activities in my youth (ok, not building a car but my grandpa built a '69 Mustang and know was there sometimes when he was building it, that totally counts) and while it was fun as a kid, as an adult I'm just not a country girl anymore. I like the city. I like getting dressed up to go out to dinner, hiring someone to clean my house, a plethora of restaurant choices, walking to the grocery store, expensive handbags, designer stores (even if I don't buy anything from them, I just like them to BE there) boozy brunches and public transportation (because you can't drive after a boozy brunch!)

But the kids, the nonexistent children, they will love Oregon. And you know, my parents, one sister and her family are all there, which means babysitters! ;-)

So here's to you future children, I hope you enjoy the house! And to my darling husband, congratulations on officially owning a country home, you can now let your inner redneck free.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

$10 Pumpkin Puree

As I've said before I'm not a huge fan of cooking...but I kind of like baking. Every once in awhile I'll make red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting from scratch or some other ridiculously tedious homemade goody...just for kicks.

Two days ago I decided I wanted to make some sort of delicious treat with pumpkin. Now, I know it's not Thanksgiving time and thus pumpkin pie time, but it honestly never occurred to me that I wouldn't be able to find pumpkin puree just because it wasn't holiday season.

Boy was I wrong.

I went to 6, yes 6! different grocery stores to find one stupid can of pumpkin puree. I apparently also didn't take into account the fact that perhaps Aussies don't covet the pumpkin pie the was Americans do...because I found the pumpkin puree in the "American" section of a fancy grocery store. Do they not make pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving and Christmas? (And guess what else was in this section, Pop Tarts and Baconnaise, I've never seen a bottle of Baconnaise in my life, how is that American?)

Anyway, once I finally found my pumpkin puree after 2 days of searching I then discovered that it was $10! Ten Dollars for 1 goddamn can of pumpkin puree! ...but I paid it anyway and left with my pumpkin puree, after 2 days of searching I was going to make these cookies no matter the cost!

And just because I'm thinking of these right now, one
day I will do a proper linguistics post, but these are relevant Aussie speak:

I say can, they say TIN
I say cookie, they say BISCUIT

In the end, my cookies turned out absolutely delicious, i used this recipe with a few added spices because the review said they were a bit bland.

Yum! Don't they look like little nuggets of deliciousness? Yeah, I thought so.

And just because this amused me when I was in the grocery store. Rice Krispies are Rice Bubbles! Heehee

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Booktastic: The Wasp Factory

The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks

This book was really short so it only took like 2 days to read it. It's mildly disturbing in that the main character is a 16 year old who has murdered 3 members of his family. He also tortures animals and there's some hermaphrodite...ness.

Weird book, but I totally dug it.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I Hate the Gym

Me and the gym are not friends. I think she is an evil bitch and she...well I don't think she likes me much either. At least it's a mutual hatred.

Whilst living in New York we attempted on several occasions to get ourselves into some sort of exercise routine, but Dom was traveling A LOT and it made it hard. Honestly exercise really only works if you make it ROUTINE, part of your everyday life, just something you do, like check your email.

Unfortunately, Dom's life, and in turn my life, doesn't work like that. So, excuses, excuses, we finally joined a gym here in Oz. And...we're trying. Trying to go to the gym more often, trying to get our asses in better shape, we're trying.

I have all the time in the world to go, I have all the time in the world to exercise...but I HATE THE GYM. The motivation to go is just not there. I would love to get me some more defined arms and a nice taut tummy before I ruin it all with a pregnancy, but apparently I don't want those things THAT much because if I did I think I would go to the gym.

Anyone have any motivating tips to get me off to the gym? I'm thinking the Zumba class might be just the ticket, but unfortunately it's at a gym much further away (though it is at Bondi, my favorite place to shop!) which just gives me ONE MORE EXCUSE not to go. Help! How about this, I'm GOING TO GO to the Zumba class on Thursday, everyone ask me on Friday how my Zumba class went so that I can at the very least hang my head in shame if I don't go...or have to come up with a really good excuse =)

My Confession

I am not the neatest person in the world. My father just fell out of his chair laughing at that statement I'm sure. He spent 18 years trying to get me to clean my room...unsuccessfully. As I became an adult I was certain that one day that "cleaning" gene would kick in (my mother is ridiculously tidy, I was hoping that I would inherit that) like I was just a messy kid but when I had my own house I would definitely keep it clean. Turns out that's just not the case. At 28 I still can't keep my house clean for more than a day and have resigned myself to the fact that it's better for both Dom and me if we just hire a cleaner to come to the house once every two weeks rather than relying on me to clean. I'm not dirty messy, I don't leave dishes lying around the house and I keep the kitchen relatively clean. But I am...let's call it untidy. Case in point is the shoe issue.

All of my ex-roommates reading this will now fall out their chairs laughing as well because they know about the shoe issue.

I can't seem to keep my shoes in the closet or wherever they're "supposed" to be. In all of my old apartments they all somehow ended up under the coffee table, I guess that's where I like to take off my shoes. You could at any time count on there being at least 4 pairs of shoes under that coffee table. BUT...they were totally out of the way, no one tripped on them, they weren't in the middle of the floor.

Dom on the other hand liked to keep his shoes in the middle of the floor (along with this pants, but that's a whole other story). After I tripped over Dom's shoes repeatedly in the middle of the night and yelled at him not to put his shoes in the middle of the floor, Dom picked up the habit of putting them under the coffee table as well (good Dom =) and we'd end up with like 7 different pairs of shoes under the coffee table.

I found it quite amusing honestly. Sometimes when I'd get around to cleaning up the house I'd laugh out loud at the absurdness of having to make repeated trips with your arms full of shoes to the bedroom from the living room. All from under a coffee table. And it would also be really funny after I'd put shoes away and Dom would go to the coffee table to grab his shoes and then upon finding no shoes would be like "Where are my shoes?". LOL, like that's where they "should" be and he couldn't think of where else to look.

Unfortunately our coffee table in this apartment doesn't have the sort of space under it that our old coffee table does, and thus the shoes have nowhere to go and it looks like this:

That's totally ridiculous. But please notice that 4 out of 7 belong to Dom!

It's a curse and a blessing that Dom is not a neat and tidy person either. The good side is that he NEVER complains about the house being messy (or the shoes) and he doesn't care that I don't clean and we get a cleaning lady instead. The bad side is that....well that we end up with 7 pairs of shoes in the middle of the living room floor instead of just 4. What am I going to do when we have kids?

I guess I'll get the cleaning lady to come once a week instead of every two.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Are You From New York?

In general no one here seems to notice that I'm American. As far as I can tell my accent distinguishes me as an American IMMEDIATELY, but apparently that is not the case... or maybe no one cares enough to comment. I don't know. Dom on the other hand, EVERYONE notices that he's English right away and comments on it. I find this funny because to Americans Dom and the Aussies have a very similar accent, sometimes people think he's an Australian when we're in America, but apparently to the Aussies they find his accent more distinguishable as English than mine is as American. I don't get it. And in fact sometimes I get lumped into being English as well, just because I'm with him i guess? Seriously, what? I do not sound English.


Last night was the first time since I've been here that someone actually said something about me being American, except they didn't ask me if I was American, they asked me, "hey, are you from New York?" Weird right? Dom and I were just coming back from our dinner cruise, not talking about New York, in fact I don't know what we were talking about, but it definitely wasn't NYC. Anyway, isn't that a strange question to ask someone? Was it our outfits? Honestly I have no idea, but I was like, um...yeah, I guess I am. And then they proceeded to tell us about how they went to New York once, except they stayed in JERSEY! And we had to go and be all New York snobs on them and tell them that Jersey is not New York, LOL. They probably thought we were rude...and you know what? We probably were.

We're still such New Yorkers sometimes.

Over the Bridge We Go

We're almost through this weekend and I haven't even posted about what we did last weekend. Bad blogger!

Since we knew Dom had a busy travel week coming up we had a pretty chill weekend, mostly just relaxin around the house. But, not wanting to disappoint everyone and be too lazy, we did manage to get off our asses for a short walk across the bridge. In the summer we plan to do the actual climb up to the top, but it's a bit chilly for that at the moment, so this will have to do for now.

The Bridge

Steps up to the bridge

View of our apt from the bridge

View of the Opera House from the bridge.

Us on the other side =)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Men and the Toilet

We agreed to be ready to go and leave the house at 2pm. At 1:40 Dom goes into the bathroom to TAKE A SHOWER. It is now 1:58, he hasn't even made it to the shower yet, because he is on the toilet...playing a game...on his ipad.

Why? Just...why?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Room With a View

Who knew such interesting things happen out on the harbor. I can honestly say when we decided on this place the only thing that entered my mind was how pretty the view was. I did not intend on having so much fun watching the boats all day. Dom, on the other hand, was uber excited about the boats, more so even than the view.

But, I am here most of the day and the boats have suddenly become interesting. There is such a plethora of different boats it's fun to see (I almost wrote that sea instead of see, haha) all the different shapes and sizes of boats out there!

The ferries are like clockwork, all day long, back and forth. And the "Sydney 2000" which will get it's own post one of these days as soon as we take a little ride on it. It's a dinner cruise ship and we've decided it's the busiest ship in the harbor because there's only one (all other routes have at least 3 ships that make the trips), and it's very distinct and easy to spot.

This is Sydney 2000, she looks different then all the other boats in the harbor, I think we're doing the cruise ship this weekend, I will let ya know how it goes.

Most interesting of all is the cruise ships and giant tankers. They are huge! Like massive, look bigger than Sydney huge, they take up THE ENTIRE VIEW when they're in the harbor, as in you can't see Sydney.

So, I've put together a little photo montage of the harbor, in all it's different stages of interestingness. In no particular order...enjoy.

Massive tanker.

Cruise ship just passing through.

Cruise ship at night. You can't even see the Opera House! Sorry it's blurry, it was night after all.

Cruise ship almost as tall as the space under the bridge!

It's also been quite fun, just to see how the view changes, with the time of day and the different weather, so of course we've documented the changes for your viewing pleasure.

View of Sydney at night, Dom being creative taking a pic with the wine glass in there as well.

Sunset. Yep, the harbor turns pink almost every evening.

Bats! Sorry it's blurry again, one day I will get a good pic of the bats that fly by each and every night when the sun goes down. They are creepy and big!

Double rainbow on a cloudy rainy day.

Sydney today, right now.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Restaurant Review

Alright, time for another restaurant review!

We've made an effort to go out to eat every weekend and also to get out of our neighborhood niche. This gives us a chance to explore the city and branch out since we're here such a short time and it also gets me off the hook from cooking a few nights a week, since we all know how much I love cooking. Here we go!

Milson's - Lovely little Australian restaurant in Kirribilli, pretty upscale and expensive, but delicious and well worth it. We each had different entrees (appetizers) and mains and tried all 4 dishes. Everything was delicious! Plus they had really amazing bread and a really good wine that we ended up buying several bottles of around the corner at the Bottle Shop. Highly recommended for a fancy night out.

Cheng's on Fitzroy - Amazing Chinese! We've had a bit of bad luck with chinese restaurants, both in New York as well as San Francisco where we each ended up with food poisoning from 2 different chinese restaurants. So, we were treading lightly when we opted for chinese, but this place was absolutely delicious. It's just up the street from us in Kirribilli and they also do takeaway, so we've been here several times now and it's always superb. Highly recommended, both for dine in and takeaway.

Altitude - Fancy fancy Australian cuisine in The Rocks. This is where we went for Dom's birthday and again, like all the Australian we've had here, this place did not disappoint. We did a 4 course tasting menu and again we got different things so we could try them all and once again all 8 different dishes were superb. Highly recommended, but very expensive, so only recommended for fancy nights out. Oh, and when making reservations request a seat by the window!

Holy Cow - Indian restaurant in Surry Hills, which is close to where our apartment was when we came on our scouting trip, so it was nice to go back to that area, it's such a cute part of town. Great Indian restaurant that like so many restaurants here (all except very fancy places it seems) it was BYOB (B stands for bottle in this case, not beer) which makes meals SO much cheaper, it's amazing. Anyway, very very good Indian, highly recommended for good, cheap Indian food and if you're in the area I believe they do takeaway, which is a plus for those living in Surry Hills.

Red Zucchini - This is only 1 of 2 bad meals that we've had the ENTIRE time we've been here. This is an Italian restaurant in Neutral Bay, which is a fun commute for us because it's just 2 ferry stops away, and who doesn't like to go out to eat via a ferry =) This restaurant had fairly good reviews from several different sources, and it was the first Italian that we've had, so we were really looking forward to it. Unfortunately, it was less than stellar. For one the garlic bread, which smelled amazing, had NO flavor whatsoever, very disappointing. Then both our meals came, Dom got a meat dish, I got a pasta dish and we shared, both were The pasta sauce tasted like it was out of a jar, seriously and the meat we asked for medium and it came very well done. So...not recommended at all.

We're definitely in search of a good Italian restaurant, especially now that we've tried and failed with our first attempt. Anyone have any restaurant recommendations? especially Italian, but any recommendations are welcome!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Iron Lace

Here in Sydney there is a gorgeous architectural element that I have absolutely fallen in love with.

They call it Iron Lace.

These "terrace" style victorian houses can be found dotted all over Sydney. They date back as far as the late 1800's through to the 1920's when they started ripping them down and throwing them out in rubbish piles (that's right, I said rubbish). In the 1990's they started refurbishing them and going back to the old Victorian style, which means the lace is easier to come by. They're absolutely beautiful and so unique.

We have a house in San Francisco that we will be remodeling and moving into after we leave here and we've decided that we are going to buy some Iron Lace to put on our San Fran home. Taking a little bit of Sydney home with us =)

The problem with this is that there are SO many different styles to go through and it's not always easy to find matching panels or panels long enough.

So, the research begins.

I've been taking pics of designs I like as I see them around town.

And today we ventured out to a shop I found that buys and sells old lace panels and I've also found an iron foundry that can replicate the lace, so if we find ourselves short a few we could just have them made. I'm so excited to pick out a design and then start hunting down matching panels!

Booktastic: The House of Mirth

So, I finished this book about a week ago, but just hadn't gotten around to writing something up about it. I read:

The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

Honestly I didn't really like this book, it reminded me of Anna Karenina, which I also did not like. And not to give away the end of the book, and if you haven't read this book and want to then quit reading right now. Everyone gone who wants to be? Ok. She dies! The main character dies accidentally at the end of the book...and it bothered me. Seemed unnecessary and ruined the book for me a bit.

I think I was expecting it to be more Pride and Predjudice, you know, happy ending and all. Which seems stupid...why do I need a happy ending to enjoy a book? Sigh. I don't know...but I do!

Anyway, if you enjoyed Anna Karenina or Wuthering Heights (which I also didn't care for) you might enjoy The House of Mirth.

Next book is The Wasp Factory by Ian Banks.

Anyone have any other books to recommend?...I have a few from last time that I asked and that I will be reading shortly, and promise to read ANYTHING that anyone recommends.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Bushwalking, wine and kangaroos

The weekend began on Friday night, which was Dom's 38th birthday, he arrived home from NZ just in time for us to go out to a fancy dinner at Altitude, which has a gorgeous view of the other side of the harbor from our apt. In fact you can see our apartment from Altitude...which was amusing, I'm sad I don't have a picture of it.

Anyway, we got a fancy 4 course meal with wine pairings and at the end of the night Dom looked like this:

That is Dom going to bed with the cool tie I bought him earlier in the week, which wasn't for his birthday, because ties are boring presents for birthdays, but it's still a damn cool tie if I do say so myself. Anyway, he'd been running on 4 hours of sleep for the last week and he went to bed as soon as we got home.

The next morning we got up late and got on our merry way about noon. We had a very chill, relaxed drive to Hunter Valley wine country, stopping in a little town called BROOKLYN for some gas (petrol to Aussies).

Who knew there was a Brooklyn in Oz?

An hour or so into our journey we started to see these signs:

but still no kangaroos (or wombats for that matter) EXCEPT DEAD ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD! And amusingly enough, we saw one of those kangaroo crossing signs with a dead kangaroo RIGHT IN FRONT OF IT and then later down the road a wombat crossing sign with a dead wombat RIGHT IN FRONT OF IT! I figure they were admiring the pictures of themselves from the middle of the road...using the light from the oncoming car of course and just didn't have time to get out of the way. I almost took pictures, it was THAT amusing, but thought better of it, because who really wants to look at pictures of dead kangaroos and wombats?

Anyway, aside from the dead ones we hadn't seen any kangaroos and then suddenly we hit the kangaroo jackpot! A whole shitload of kangaroos...just hanging out...I squealed, literally squealed! I sounded like a pig...yes I'm awesome like that. Seriously, one of the coolest things about Australia so far is these goddamn kangaroos. Over the weekend we saw many more and I got excited each and every time I saw one. THEY ARE COOL.

Yeah it's blurry, whatever, they're still kangaroos!

Moving on.

Sunday we headed off for our wine tour. Now, we've done our fair share of wine tastings, both in Sonoma, California as well as Portland, Oregon and let me just say that the Aussie experience was somewhat different.

First and foremost, most people take a wine tour on a wine bus, this is brilliant for about 7 different reasons, the most important of which is that it keeps you from drinking and driving (or as they say here, drink driving). Also, YOU DON'T HAVE TO DO ANYTHING. The driver has your tour all laid out for you, so you literally just sit back and enjoy. All the vineyards are expecting you and set up special group tastings, which means EXTRA WINE! Seriously, we visited 5 vineyards and tried at least NINE different wines at each vineyard. In a word, AWESOME. Now, keep in mind that the tour lasts about 6 hours and starts at 10am, so for the first time EVER, I found myself dumping out wine that I didn't enjoy. They were just so generous with their wine AND ALL THE TASTINGS WERE FREE.
In both Cali and Oregon the tastings are anywhere from $5-$10 so i guess you feel like you paid for that wine and thus don't want to waste a drop and by the end of a day of wine tasting, YOU ARE WASTED. I gotta say I enjoyed this way better, we came home with a bunch of yummy wine and we did not end up totally smashed at 4pm on a Sunday afternoon. Not that I mind being smashed on a Sunday afternoon, a proper NYC brunch is not complete without ending up so, but we were supposed to go out for a fancy dinner at 7:30 and I wasn't sure I could muster up the energy for that after a heavy day of drinking.

We toured around in a "Cheers" bus

Monday, we packed ourselves up and headed back towards Sydney, stopping off for a quick bushwalk. Now, I don't know about you, but I had it in my head that a bushwalk would be different than hiking. For future reference, IT'S THE SAME THING. They just call it a bushwalk because they call their forests "the bush" for some reason. So, anyway, we went for a "bushwalk" in the rain, which honestly was more fun than it sounds.

Setting off on our "bushwalk"

Us and Mel (the car)

Random carving in the rock

We have a wide angle lens and like to take cool pictures of ourselves, what can I say the two faces in the camera gets boring and we are exciting.

See, I am "bushwalking"

Monkey Face Road led to Monkey Face Lookout, Australians have awesome names for things.

And that concludes our first trip outside of Sydney together, I didn't even mind the fact that it was the 4th of July and we did absolutely nothing that has anything to do with America whatsoever. In fact, I completely forgot it was even a holiday at home. What did everyone else do this weekend for 4th of July?