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Posts Tagged ‘America’

Today is 9/11 back home in the US.  In the 10 minutes I had the TV on this morning I saw footage after footage of the towers falling.  Instead of focusing on those horrible moments in our world’s history I thought I’d post these photos I’ve been holding onto for awhile.  They were taken the last time I was at Domaine Chandon in Yarra Valley with my dad and today seems like the perfect time to post them.  We will never forget.

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Within an hour of arriving to Perth, we both knew we liked the  charming city.  Now we’re not too easily woo-ed.  Okay, we loved Brisbane and would practically give our right arms to live in New Zealand (if our families could come), but we pass in and out of a lot of towns and rarely do we have a good sense about a town right away.  Our initial hunch about Perth, however, was spot-on. Perth is lovely.

There is a funny thing about Perth.  It feels like a city but almost one that’s half asleep.  I don’t mean this in a negative sense.  In fact, it reminded me a lot of Des Moines.  Home.  There were a few “sky-scrapers” but the business district was surrounded by parks, a river, and the ocean.  Okay, not EXACTLY like Des Moines.

Several people told us that Perth is a little country city.  Some would say the same about Des Moines.  Someone else said Perth is a ‘mini-Melbourne’. It did feel a bit like our host-city.  There were laneways with little cafes and fun street art.

Where we ate: We had some great meals.  Our favorite was at Jaws Sushi which served Kaiten Sushi, literally meaning “Rotating Sushi”.  I described it as ‘sushi on a conveyer belt’.  It’s the undeniable Midwesterner coming out in me.

Where we stayed: We stayed at the Pan Pacific which was average but a typical business hotel.  It was within walking distance of restaurants and the train station.  We did, however, have a nice view.   On the 4th of July we watched out our hotel window as there was a big fireworks display right over the river.  Apparently there are a lot of American companies and US expats in Perth so we got to celebrate America’s independence from the other side of the world.

Where we toured:  Besides going to Fremantle on our first day the only other “tourist-y” thing I did was to visit King’s Park and the Botanic Gardens.  More to come in an upcoming post.

Misses: We missed a few places, unfortunately, due to lack of time.

Cottlesloe Beach, a beautiful beach (some say it beats Bondi) with pristine water, sculptures, and cafes.

Rottnest Island, a no-car island with bikes, snorkeling, cafes, and quokkas (lil animals only found on Rottnest).

London Court, a small shopping street with unique and historic architecture.

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One year ago (give or take a few days) Ryan and I got a bit dressed up…

Stood up in front of God and our family and friends…

and committed our lives to each other.  Magical.  And then we celebrated.  And danced…

Three short days afterwards we headed to make our merry home in Australia, which meant our wedding reception felt like a going away party too.  Read our very first post about our adventure to Australia.

We marvel at all our life’s blessings in this first year of marriage.  It has been wonderful and amazing, full of conversations and learning more about each other, non-stop laughter, home-cooked meals, never-ending games of Rummy (most of which I win), nights out with friends, and traveling together around this half of the world.

Speaking of travel, to celebrate our very first anniversary we are currently at the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland!  Here’s to avoiding being eaten by sharks and poisoned by jelly fish so we make it to year two.  Happy Anniversary to Us!

*Amazing wedding photos were taken by Wendi Riggens

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It’s the week of Christmas and we’re in denial.  I guess the first step to recovery is admitting the problem so there you go.  It doesn’t feel like Christmas could possibly be just a few short days away.  It’s true this Christmas there are a lot of differences to our previous Christmases.  It’s our first Christmas as a married couple, our first Christmas away from family, and our first Christmas in Australia.  Heaps to deal with.

Aubree, one of our ex-pat friends here in Oz, made the observation in one of her recent blog posts that Holidays in Australia just don’t seem to be as big of a deal as they are back home.  It certainly feels that way.  But I’m beginning to think that the holidays don’t seem like as big of a deal here to us because they just don’t feel like the holidays.

Six Reasons Why it Can’t be Christmas

1. I just started listening to Christmas music this week.  Back home the Christmas music for me starts blaring in the car and on Pandora the day after Thanksgiving, at the end of November.

2. I haven’t spent time with my favorite men from “Love Actually”, Hugh Grant, Rodrigo Santoro and Colin Firth, and consequently have not yet had myself a good holiday cry.  “A pity,” I say in my best British accent.

3. It’s too warm to be Christmas.  Outside it’s 70 degrees and sunny.  There’s no bleak winter sky or icky ice and snow.  And I’m wearing shorts.

4. I haven’t had one cookie exchange although my mom did send us some cookies all the way from her cookie exchange in the US.

5.  Ryan and I haven’t had one argument about me losing my mittens.  Last winter we probably discussed my mittens no less than once a day.

6.  And the real tragedy is that I have only wrapped two presents this year.  It’s really a lamentable fact for me since I love to wrap gifts and wrapped no less than 30 presents last Christmas.  And no, we’re not that generous with our friends and family, that also includes the presents we got for the family we adopted.  🙂

Well, knowing full well that December 25th will come, denial or no, we’re still preparing in the small ways that we can.  First, we’ve set up our tree we bought together last year.  I took a picture of it next to a wine bottle so you can see how miniature it is.

Second, we’ve decorated our tree with ornaments from home, although somewhat half-heartedly.

Third, the angel still reigns at the top of our tree (and yes, Mom, I put the angel on top myself).

But most importantly we remember what Christmas is really about, the birth of our lord, Jesus Christ.

We’re ever-aware that this separation from our loved ones is temporary and a tradeoff for a once-in-a-lifetime experience while there are so many who are separated from their family this Christmas due to war.  We send our humble thanks to them and ask that God be with them and their families at Christmas and always.

And we give thanks for all our blessings, in Australia and in the United States.  It’s true that this special day is best-celebrated with loved ones but we know they are with us in spirit and in heart and this year that is more than enough.

Merry Christmas to all.  Peace, love, and joy.

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I’ll admit that I was anxious about our trip back to the US.  As excited as I was to be in the wedding of one of my dearest childhood friends, I was afraid that being back on US soil would make it that much harder to return to Australia and see out the rest of the year.

Away we went: Melbourne to LA, LA to Seattle.  Though Seattle is still half a country away from Iowa, Seattle felt like home.  We both shouted excitedly when we passed American staples like Target (the real one), DSW, and Jimmy Johns!  We made an obligatory stop at Chipotle and dropped a large portion of hard-earned money at Target, Kohls and American Eagle.  Oh the joy of being able to go into a store, know exactly where to find it, what size you are, how/where to try it on, and not have to do any conversions in your head.

We spent a morning at the famous Pike’s Market and took some quick snaps at the original  Starbucks.

We caught a ferry to get to the wedding location and took in the great Seattle skyline.

The ceremony and reception were held near the Hood Canal at Alderbrook resort, which had to be one of the most beautiful, picturesque scenes for a wedding.  Here’s a shot during setup, the day of the wedding.

The bridal party stayed together at a nearby mansion called The Bend.  It was rented just for the wedding party and family and it was, in a word, FABULOUS.  Click on the link above if you want to see pics of the inside.

We took in the breathtaking views and got some great pics below from the wrap around deck in the pic above.

I can’t put into words all that this wedding meant to me.  Seeing a childhood friend get married, in such a beautiful setting, and when memories of our wedding were so fresh…the only word that comes to mind is blessed.

We left Seattle on Saturday and headed back to Melbourne.  I was pleasantly surprised that, when landing in Melbourne, both Ryan and I remarked how good it felt to be “home”.  Funny how that word can mean two different places.  And within less than 24 hours of being in Melbourne (and 8 loads of laundry later), we went back to the airport for our trip to New Zealand.  Our bodies and brains had seen better days but who has time to complain about anything when the next adventure awaits.

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Missing the Fair just isn’t fair

“Our State Fair is a great State Fair.”  Ok, I’m a sucker for the musical, State Fair, and not just for the wonderful music.  It’s because it’s about the “world-renowned” Iowa State Fair and it reminds me of that special time of year when fried food, big boars, butter sculptures, mean clowns, and mullets become the celebrated norm.  And it opens this weekend!

Needless to say, we’re both incredibly sad to be missing it this year.

The Iowa State Fair is a tradition, a fried-food adventure, and a clear marker for the beginning of the end of summer and it feels like it shouldn’t, no, it can’t happen without us there.  But alas…I’ve been assured that the fair grounds are in full swing prepping for the upcoming weekend.

Fried food is synonymous with the State Fair.  It’s part of the experience and we’ll miss out on it all.  I decided to check out the food list for 2011 — yes, painful, but true — and my heart sunk with every “on-a-stick” on the list (with the exception of hot bologna on-a-stick).  Mini-donuts, gyros, and corndogs are among our favorites that we’ll miss out on although nothing probably pains us more than not getting to sink our teeth into the infamous Pork Chop on-a-stick.

For dinner the other night, we created our own Pork Chop on-a-stick with this recipe adapted from the Iowa State Fair cookbook and served it up with sides of healthy coleslaw and corn.

The pork chops were juicy and delicious and helped to ease the pain just a bit but they couldn’t compete with the Iowa Pork Producers fare.

We’ve come to the realization that we’ll just have to live vicariously through all our Iowa friends and family visiting the fair.  So have a corndog (or four) for us, think of us when you’re on the Midway, and send us a picture of the big boar.  Seriously.

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