Posts Tagged ‘vocabulary’

This weekend we enjoyed a night out with friends watching the Melbourne Storm — currently first on the ladder — take on the 2nd place Brisbane Broncos.  It was our first live rugby match and we loved every minute of it.  The experience can be summed up as follows:

Learning the rules of the game

One small scuffle that was squashed before it could become an all-out brawl.

Very few hoaky mid-game marketing stunts…although there were cheerleaders and a mascot.

Ended after two seemingly short 45-minute halves.  The clock doesn’t stop except in rare occasions unlike NFL (Gridiron, as they call it here) where it seems there is a TV timeout after nearly every play.

Really solid, large-necked, big-legged, strong-armed men running at each other with ungodly amounts of force and speed.

Un-adulterated brutality.  Imagine NFL without the pads.  So Brutal. 

Great seats at a really cool venue, AAMI park, pronounced “Amy“.

Bundled up in our warm, hooded, winter jackets we felt like we were at a football game at home.

Yes, VICTORY for the Storm!


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This past weekend we ventured to Little Creatures Dining Hall in Fitzroy on a recommendation.   This neat little eatery/drinkery is almost unnoticeable on bustling Brunswick street but as soon as we stepped into the doorway, we knew it was our kind of place.

We came for good food, of course, as our recent dining-out adventures have been less-than-impressive, but we also appreciate the whole experience of where we eat.  I hope this doesn’t make us sound snooty but for us it’s also about atmosphere. This warehouse-turned-beer-and-dining-hall had a great under-stated feel to it; simple with a touch of vintage.  Comfortable.  Casual.  Hip.

We perused the menu; breakfast served all day and otherwise simple lunch options.  (Have I mentioned how much I love creative menus?)

I started with a skinny mocha and Ryan chose a White Rabbit beer, the name of which I can’t recall.  I do remember, however, that it was over-priced or “dearer” (as Australians would say) than I’d expected.  We shared chips with garlic aioli and they were crisp, skin-on, yummy-ness.

Ryan really enjoyed his homemade chicken meat pie and I agreed that it was good, as far as meat pies go.

My ham and brie piadina was ordinary, at best.  I felt like the food on the whole was a bit pricey considering the quality but we really enjoyed the atmosphere and as I said, it’s about the overall experience.  While we might not make a special trip out to Fitzroy to dine here again, we would consider stopping by on our next shopping outing on Brunswick street.

Little Creatures Dining Hall on Urbanspoon

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Kia Ora is the native Maori people’s greeting.  It literally means “be well” but as we discovered, it is also used as “hello” quite regularly in New Zealand.

Not more than a year ago, I complained to co-workers, friends, family — and basically anyone who would listen — that I hadn’t been to a new country in over two years.  Towards the end of college I created a goal for myself to visit a new international destination every year and in recent years, that goal was out of reach and I was distraught.  I am laughing at myself now. Little did I know that Australia awaited and from Australia we’d visit amazing places and yes, New Zealand!

The next several posts will be about New Zealand, where we spent one glorious week, travelling around the countryside in a small deathtrap -er, I mean, car.  But for now, this post will serve as a brief taste of what we saw.  And as the Kiwi’s say, it was “Sweet As!” (Translation: Awesome!)

Our trip boiled down to fun facts around numbers:

  • 0 – Number of bad meals we ate
  • 2 – Number of minor arguments along the way.  “Good on us,” I say in my Australian accent
  • 3 – Number of B&Bs at which we stayed.  Our upcoming posts will highlight all three.  It’s also the number of rainbows we saw throughout our drive, including this one below:

  •  4 – Official days of vacation (although we were there for a whole week but Ryan worked the first several days).
  • 4.5 – Pages in my passport that have room for new stamps.  Good thing I’m due a new one soon.
  • 5 – Number of John Deere tractors we saw pulling boats.  Yes, 5!
  •  12 – Hours of driving across the North Island.  We contemplated doing a guided tour or taking the train but in the end, we did a DIY driving and B&B tour planned courtesy of Laura’s travel department 🙂 Our route is below and if anyone is planning to visit the North Island, I would highly recommended the route we took. 

  • 17 – Number of sheep I fed, including 1 adorable baby lamb named, Allie.  Pictures to come in an upcoming post. 
  • 20 – Teams competing at 2011 Rugby World Cup!  How did we not know that Auckland was the host city of the matches?  PS, the US has a team but I’m pretty sure they are not expected to win.
  • 776 – Pictures taken
  • 834 – Total number of kilometers driven
  • Immeasurable – Number of unforgettable memories and priceless experiences

The amount of different scenery we saw during our trip was amazing.  From beautiful pastures to rolling hills…

To rivers and forests….

…Oceans, cliffsides, caves, and mudpools (all of which will be shown in upcoming posts)

I visited the Villa Maria Winery — which claims to be NZ’s most awarded winery– in Auckland by myself one day when Ryan was working.  On the lawn there was this very modern sculpture with a beautiful saying.  I took a picture at the time because I appreciated the art of it but going through our pics upon our return, this seemed like the perfect way to summarize our time in New Zealand.

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Meat pies, beer, 101,000 crazed fans and the Hawthorn Hawks are all key ingredients for a great weekend at the G – short for MCG – short for Melbourne Cricket Ground.  Ahh, the great Melbournians and their love of shortening words until they are just a letter.  The G is the largest gaming ground in Melbourne, a city that prides itself in being a sports capital of the world.  It can house, from what I have been told, 101,000 fans and it hosts an array of sports from a rare rugby game, to a beloved multi-day cricket match, and, of course, the Melbourne favorite – Australian Rules Football games (footy).

Footy is a game born in Melbourne and enjoyed in their winter season.

I barrack for the Hawthorn Hawks, meaning I am a fan of that team and when you are a fan of a team you are destined to become a member, paid supporter, of that team.  I went to this weekend’s game and it was the Hawks vs. the Bulldogs.  The Hawks are 3rd on the ladder and if I am right, which I usually am, they will be in the grand final this year versus the Magpies and we will WIN!!!!!

And in case you were wondering how the game of footy is played…imagine a mix of rugby, soccer, and American football where the players don’t wear pads, run nearly half marathons every game, and tackle each other at full speed.  Injuries such as broken legs, arms, jaws, and even fractured pelvises regularly.

Click here to see a quick sample of footy in action.

It is a brutal sport and it is a sport every American can grow to love – I have!

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Since most of our travel has been dedicated to outside of our lovely state of Victoria, we decided to hang around this past weekend and visit the Yarra Valley.  You might not suspect that Australia has a ton of wonderful vineyards.  The Yarra Valley, a beautiful, scenic, land hosts over 120 vineyards and is less than thirty minutes from our place – lucky us!

There are plenty of paid day-tours through Yarra Valley but we decided to save ourselves some money and planned our own diy tour.

We started at Domaine Chandon, which is famous for its sparkling wine.

We took a tour and learned all about how sparkling wine is made. A fascinating part of the tour was viewing the “Tasting Room”.  This is the room where wine connoisseurs gather to taste the wines from each of the grapes that have been harvested and decide which grapes will be included for just the right mix for the next batch of wine.

After enjoying our tour we headed to a smaller winery down the road, called Coldstream Hills, where we tasted several wonderful wines and had a nice chat with one of the workers who told us that we’ll do better in Australia if we can take all the jabs at America with a sense of humor.  I don’t think we’re doing too badly.

At Coldstream I fell in love with a Chardonnay so, bottle in hand, we left Coldstream Hills for our next stop, the Yering Station.  “Station” means “ranch” or “farm” in Australian English.

The Yering Station is another well-known vineyard in the Yarra Valley, famous for its wine and food.  We were starting to need a little sustenance in our tummies after our wine tasting so we decided to grab a bite to eat.   The station had a several fine-dining bistros and restaurants but we opted for something a little more low-key.

We ventured up some stairs to the lofted Matt’s Bar, and shared a light lunch of toasted sourdough, housemade dukkah, Yellingbo EVOO, honey soy sesame chicken drumettes, a lemon poppyseed muffin, and our first ever Yo-Yo!

A Yo-Yo is an Australian(?) eggless biscuit, or cookie, to us, Americans, that looks rather like a yo-yo.  It has a similar taste and texture to shortbread and can be filled a variety of different frostings and jams.  The one we ate that day was a raspberry yo-yo.  Yum!

From Yering Station we headed home since we had a full evening that night but we’ll be back to visit the famous Yering Dairy Farms and maybe hit up another three or four wineries out of the impressive 120.  Maybe we should try to see them all before we leave Australia, then again…maybe not.

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Many of you that know me know that when I get asked the question, “How are you doing?” I reply, “Living the dream,” and I have always believed that…even living in good ol’ Iowa. In that dream, however, I could never have imagined Gold Class movie tickets.

Gold Class – “What’s that?” you ask? It’s awesome, that is what it is,  and it’s what Laura and I did last Friday night.

You walk into the movie theater and you are directed to your very own queue (line) like you have a gazillion frequent flyer miles.  After you get your tickets you are sent upstairs to the exclusive Gold Class lounge where a waitress escorts you to your lounge seats.  (Laura’s note: Very posh)

Photo Courtesy of: http://blog.cotewrites.com/

Soon after, you are situated and have a chance to review the menus – yes, menus(!), which include anything from lollies to three course meals to alcohol, and, of course, popcorn!  After you order, you are asked at what time you would like your meal, lollies, alcohol and popcorn delivered during the showing.  (Laura’s note: Always hungry and rather crabby when it’s past our feeding time, we chose our start our three-course meal at the very beginning.)

Since I won the tickets by being an amazing person, ie: winning a team competition at our recent national sales meeting for work, I got to choose the movie. Of course, I chose Transformers (Dark Side of the Moon) 3D, which, naturally, Laura loved and I thought it was okay.  Haha.  After your order is put in and your bill is settled you are escorted to your seats in the small 30-seat theater.  When you’re seated, the waitress asks again if you want or need anything.

Now I say seats but I should be saying extreme lazy boys or giant red thrones. Within arms reach you have a table, a button when pressed brings a waitress at a moments notice and a wine chiller, oh, and the seat recline via an electronic rocker switch (awesome!).

The end result . . . an experience that is worth the money (Laura’s note: Especially when given for free).  It’s hard to believe that the US lacks behind Australia in the “excess-movie-outing-experience” arena.

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When we told our friends and family that we were moving to Australia, we heard it all.  We were told to watch out for the great white sharks.  Someone told us that Australia is home to 8 out of the 10 deadliest snakes in the world.  We were warned about the huge poisonous spiders.  And on the other side of things, others asked for photos of kangaroos and dingoes.  Someone (you know who you are) asked if we’d get a pet koala.  “No” was the answer to that question.

We have seen our share of animals since we arrived.  This last weekend at the Sunshine Coast we captured some photos of nature’s creatures to share with you all. *Note: no animals were harmed in the making of this blog post.

I captured a couple of shots of this kangaroo as he was hopping across the pedestrian path at our stay in Coolum.

I mentioned in a previous post that kangaroos were not afraid of us in the least.  While out for a walk I ran across a kangaroo family.  The female (flyer) or male (boomer) was with the little baby (joey) on the bridge but the other adult was hanging a bit behind.  And all three of them were staring at me.  Now, tell me it was not my imagination.

The other adult, feeling clearly protective hopped quickly over to the pair…

Then all three of them proceeded to give me what I recognized as the death glare….I’ve given it before.

So I hurried on my way back to the room to get ready for the night’s events.  Walking up to our room after that night’s festivities, we spotted this little gecko (?) on the wall of an outdoor stairway.  Ryan managed to get a few shots of him before the little guy scurried away.

The next day at the Eumundi markets (post to follow) we were enjoying some live music when we saw a crowd gather near the stage.  Apparently a snake had also come to enjoy the sounds of the band.  Can you find it?

Finally, on our last day as we enjoyed some coffee on the deck of the pro shop at the Hyatt, we had the company of two ducks.

Yes, we’ve seen plenty of ducks but never Australian ducks!  Those are entirely different.  Still on the must-see list: koala, great white, and emu.

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