Happy Thanksgiving!

This year has brought lots of changes to our lives. With all the excitement, adventure, and new experiences it isn’t difficult to think of so many things to be thankful for. But here is a list of the top 10 things that have made this year so very special.

I’m thankful for:

1. Melbourne coffee for tasting so damn good EVERY TIME.

2. Pumpkin puree brought back from the states by me hubs for giving me a small taste of Thanksgiving in Australia.

3. Mom and Pa for loving and taking care of our babies (and basically being super rad parents).

4. Google phone and Skype for making it easy to stay in touch with our friends and family.

5. Early morning power vinyasa class for working out my body and mind.

6. 10 minute walk to work for NOT being LA traffic.

7. 30 years of unbelievable experiences for setting me up to handle anything life throws at me.

8. All my amazing friends both new and old for bringing laughter into my life.

9. My free-spritired brother for teaching me life is best lived when you do what you love.

10. My loving life partner for making every moment so special.

Pilon (one bonus one): Roo, our Aussie fur baby for giving no lick kisses and cuddles when we need them most.

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This is not (American) Halloween

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays back in the States. Since I was a little kid I’d get excited about dressing up as something different every year. This year was no exception. The Halloween culture as the US knows it hasn’t reached Australia in full force yet. Dressing up isn’t mainstream, so clearly my North American friends recruited our Australian and Irish friends and went all out anyway. The theme this year? Super heroes of course!

 Super Heroines!

Me as Black Widow from the Avengers

Joe as Professor X, also looking like a rasta man from the future

Strange stares and comments from people on the street reaffirmed that we were the odd balls here. Finding the only Halloween party around at the Espy Hotel was like the opposite of the Mean Girls Halloween party. In this case, it seemed that no one got the Halloween costume memo. Everyone was dressed half dead and creepy. Walking down the streets to escape the heavy metal and goblins galore, we were called sluts, turned away from a bar (the bouncer actually said, “Sorry, this is a private function”), and told by a homeless man to be careful with my guns. Although we made fighting the bad guys (in this case creepy costumes) fun, this was no American Halloween.

6 Months of Date Nights in Melbourne

Six months ago we said goodbye to the LA traffic and all our beloved family and friends. On April 24th we arrived in a new city, started new jobs (and a new job search for me), met new friends, and opened our lives to new experiences down under. Despite the exciting thrills of this new adventure, we’ve had our share of home sick moments. While longing for our friends, family, dogs, pink berry, Trader Joe’s, and sunshine we have also found new favorites in Melbourne.

Back in LA, Joe and I noticed that work-life, friends, and family commitments were taking over our once prioritized “alone time”, so we introduced a monthly date night, alternating months on who takes charge of the planning. Date night is usually a surprise, and can’t be overruled by that Brady Bunch favorite “something suddenly came up” excuse.

Our date night routine took a slight detour in our transition to Melbourne. But now that our only excuse not to go out and explore the city is that, “sorry, I’m lame today” our date nighting tooshies are on the prowl again. The only limitation… our budget challenge. Everything has to be under $100 unless otherwise previously approved (by the other half).

With a city with so much to offer, the possibilities are endless. Six months in to our stay here, we’ve been able to discover a few fun (and on a budget) date nights Melbourne has to offer:


Month: April
Planner: Joe
Location: Number 8, South Bank – Crown Casino
Activity: Dinner and walk along the boardwalk
Cost: $100
GTK: The South Bank fire balls go off every hour on the hour plus a great view of the city from the other side of the Yarra River.

Month: May
Planner: Ivette
Location: The Night Cat , Fitzroy
Activity: Live music and dancing
Cost: Free entry! $100 to spend on cocktails and appetizers
GTK: Limited seating available. Arrive early to score a spot on the comfy (yet grody) couch.

Month: June (date day)
Planner: Joe
Location: The Hardware Societe and  Royal Botanical Gardens, CBD
Activity: Delicious brunch and Botanical Gardens walk
Cost: $50 for coffee, killer atmosphere, and tastebud tantalizing brunch, Free garden discover walk!
GTK: The garden walks operates on a different timetable each month, check out their calendar for up to date events.

Month: July
Planner: Ivette
Location: Red Bennies, South Yarra
Activity: Burlesque Night
Cost: $19 (living social deal for burlesque night + two drinks), $75 (pizza and champagne)
GTK: The night ends with lots of dancing, bring your dancing shoes.

Month: August
Planner: Joe
Location: The Comedy Club at the Athenaeum Theatre
Activity: Comedy Show
Cost: $90 for dinner and show for 2 – we paid $45
GTK: The entertainment book has a 50% off deal. Book in advance if you want dinner too.

Month: September
Planner: Joe and Ivette (we share our anniversary month)
Location: Ezard, CBD
Activity: 8 course tasting menu
Cost: $300 (waaaay over our date night budget, but worth the splurge for a special occasion)
GTK: Don’t eat for about a week in preparation for this feast.

  

Month: October
Planner: Ivette
Location: Romantic and secluded lake at the Royal Botanical Gardens
Activity: Picnic in the rain
Cost: $20 for some vino and nibbles from our pantry
GTK: Don’t trust the Melbourne weather forecast. Always bring an umbrella!

Bonus Aussie 6 month Anniversary Date Night: October 24
Location: Our balcony
Activity: Grilling on the barbie
Cost: $25 for salmon and veggies, $35 for some Moet Chandon bubbles
GTK: 6 months in… so far so good.

6 months down… 18 more to go!

Spring Tease

Feels like I’ve come out of hibernation! The warm sun was shining on us in Melbourne today! Going from winter in LA (ok, ok… I know it’s not that bad) to winter in Melbourne was probably not the most strategic timing decision for a person who loves warmth and summer sun. After a full year sans summer, my transparent skin and dusty sunglasses are really ready to come out and play!

On my walk to work, I could have sworn that I must have misread the outlook of a nicer day on the daily local forecast. Like a weather Oreo, the sunny afternoon was the glorious goodness in the middle of the day between frigid morning and crisp afternoon! I’m only hoping that this wasn’t one of those irrationally optimistic days between winter and more winter just teasing us with the promise of blooming flowers and sun dresses to come.

I’m looking forward to the sun shining a little longer each day as the southern hemisphere says hello to my much awaited warmer climate!

Happy 7th of July Housewarming party!

It was finally time, time to invite our new friends into our house, only made warm by the 30-some bodies in the apartment and not the small heater trying to override the frigid weather outside. We (I mean Joe… all the credit goes to Joe) asked our guests to dress “American” in honor of the 4th of July holiday that just passed. I flew in on the 4th, so the day didn’t actually seem to exist for me, so it was nice to feel a little patriotic while creating star-shaped watermelon slices for my fruit salad! This was our début as hosts in our new city… and I think it was a success (although the cleaning of the aftermath was less desirable).

Impressed by our international friends’ keenness to mimic our American fashion (or lack of), we awarded best-dressed to our Aussie friends Pat and Sean! In close second, Ally from Ireland who found an incredibly patriotic American Flag tie-dye skirt for the festivities. But anyone who shows up to our party wearing a Obama jersey purchased in Ghana while on a bike tour around Africa wins in my book. We also had hearty servings of baseball caps, sweat pants, and sports jersey’s. Apparently this is what we look like America! Here are some pics to indulge you:

 

One month away, one month here

It is hard to believe we’ve been in Melbourne for a month! We left our house, our friends, our family, and our pups over a month ago. Coming home to a cold and empty apartment leaves things feeling very unsettled. I suppose it takes a while to rebuild everything we had back home, but I wish there was an easy way to pop-up our life, like one of those self erecting camping tents, but just in a different location.

Our shipment should arrive in another couple weeks, so I’ll have my pots, pans, and picture frames to make our new place feel a bit like our old. Living without the material comforts of home and being away from our families (friends included) means it’s just us… the hubs and I to bother each other, lean on each other, and grow closer as we figure out our new life. I am incredibly lucky to have my best friend beside me through it all and experience the frustrations and excitements together… and skype and google voice (p.s. U.S. friends, you can text my old number for free!) to stay connected to home.

 

Left side is the right side

Learning how to drive on the opposite side of the road was like reprogramming my brian to do the exact opposite of what I have done for the last 14 years of my life. We ventured out into the city in Gerardo’s manual car (thanks G!) to survive the dreaded apartment inspections around the city.  Something everyone moving to Melbourne should be prepared for is that apartment/house hunting is different here. Unlike other places where buildings have leasing offices open during business hours, or a private landlord who will meet you at a mutually convenient time to let you check out a property, here in Melbourne the renter is at the mercy of the real estate management companies. Agents schedule 15 minute windows for the inspection of their properties. Meaning, that you have to run from house to apartment to apartment within a matter of minutes, sometimes across the city only to find that the inspection was canceled with no previous notice. You can imagine how having a car might facilitate this process!

So back to the left side of the road. This might seem obvious, but the stick shift doesn’t move, you do! So now, not only do you have to concentrate all your energy on not hitting the curb on a left hand turn, hook turning right (this challenge unique to Melbourne streets), changing gears with your left hand, turning the blinker (not the wipers) on with your right, but you also have to figure out where in the world to go! Feel free to take pleasure in my inability to turn the blinker on (yes, it happened many times). Check out the video of my first time driving in Melbourne!

I think I got the hang of it by the end of the day (although it was mentally exhausting!). After 7 or 8 house and apartment inspections  there were still no promising housing prospects. But how bad can it be when this is the potential backyard:

Taken at St. Kilda Beach, Victoria, Australia

A day full of apartment inspections and driving (with no incidences) on the left side of the road deserved some celebration, so Gerardo and Diana (not pictured) came to the rescue again. Pop the bubbly! We’re in Melbourne!