Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tasmania- Salamanca Markets

So, before we start the Tasmania update, it occurs to us we completely forgot to tell everyone what our Christmas dinner was. It was untraditional, but still delicious. There are two kinds of Christmas dinner in Australia. The first is a hot feast, similar to the States with turkey or ham or a roast, but with some traditional British elements thrown in. The other, which is growing in popularity, is the cold seafood lunch consisting of prawns, oysters, lobster, and an assortment of salads. After all, it is summer here. We had steaks, chicken kababs, a mango and blueberry salad, tabouli, and a prawn and avocado salad. Delicious!
Now that that is out of the way . . . on to Tasmania!!
Every Saturday the Salamanca Markets are open in downtown Hobart.  They feature the typical assortment of fresh food, clothing, and arts and crafts items.  The stands are set up in the streets in front of a mixture of beautiful, historic buildings and new, modern architecture.  We were able to go on Sunday only because Christmas was on Saturday so the market had been postponed.  While walking around we found a restaurant called the Ball and Chain.  It featured mostly steaks cooked on a charcoal grill.  We went there for dinner and man was it delicious!

 Greg found a cool, custom cast-iron bench. He took a moment to ponder matters of great importance.

 This is Salamanca Place. More shops and restaurants, more modern style architecture here.

There was a giant chessboard with plastic pieces. Greg is currently using his kinght to launch a gambit against the black bishop on F4 . . . or, just trying to look and sound intelligent. And awesome.

Tasmania was originally discovered and owned by the Dutch.  It was named after the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman in 1642, and below is the statue commemorating his discovery.  Although apparently they didn't realize it was a seperate land mass from Australia for another hundred years.  There are still several areas and land features that go by their original Dutch name, including the mountains Heemskerck and Zeehaen.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Merry Christmas!!!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Greg has no idea he's currently surrounded by LASER CATS!!!

Our Christmas tree!  It's very fake, but looks surprisingly nice. We bought the Aspen Spruce #8- it's completely silver. We could also choose from green, black (Black Forest Fir), and gold. We figured with the silver we wouldn't have to spend the next month cleaning up tinsel. We also bought a string of blue lights, and were quite surprised to find out they blinked. No where on the package did it say that, and as of this time, we have found no way to disable this feature. Merry blinky Christmas!

Kitties love Christmas too. Thanks for the kitty toys, Elena and Tina!

We spent the rest of the day a Pebbly Beach with my friend Alex's Family.  Pebbly Beach is part of a national park and offers campgrounds, kangaroos, parrots, and other fun wildlife and beautiful scenery.  So much fun!

This is Alex's niece, Olive aka the cutest baby in the world.

This is a Goana. We presumed it was an Iguana and just couldn't understand the Australian accent, but no, apparently, its a completely different critter. This one was about two feet long and just wandering around the campsite. Alex's family remarked that it was a small one. And they STILL let their baby wander around?

Alex and Laurel feeding the local parrots. One was exceptionally hungry and took an entire cookie for himself. He was also the smallest and chased off the other parrots.

Our dinner was joined by a trio of Kookaburras looking for a grilled chicken handout. Alex's mom said this was very un-kookaburra behaviour as generally they consider themselves above begging. We believe it was a mom and two babies.

Christmas pudding!

They served the pudding with custard and cream, which we hear is tradition.  So yummy!  We want to send a big thanks to Alex and her family for a wonderful Christmas dinner!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Gingerbread House (Masterpiece)!!!

So one of the perks of doing Interior Design vs Architecture (interiors vs exteriors) is you get invited to Sales Reps events (the people who supply the products we spec), that include such things as free drinks, food, party favors (gifts), and competitions.  It makes the free overtime we work, and lack of respect our profession often gets a little more worth it.  With the holidays comes a greater than usual offering of such events.  Recently my firm was invited to particpate in a Gingerbread House Competition/Holiday Drinks event by one of our favorite sales reps.

Check out the awesome Gingerbread House we made!!!  It's a log cabin style home with pretzles sticks as the logs and a gingerbread foundation.  The shingle roof is made of chocolate pieces and pink edging (icing) for a little accent of color.  It also features a stone (crushed walnuts) foundation, chimney, and window sills.  Notice the interlocking log corner details?  And don't forget the log & stone porch.  That's right, that's what happens when you give designer a gingerbread house challenge.  Sadly, we didn't win.  But that's ok, it was fun.  And I still love the house we created.  Go team pvh!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Queanbeyan Flood

Before we came to Australia, everyone said, "The weather's beautiful there!  It never rains."  While this may have been true (Canberra at least has been in a 10 year drought), things have definately changed.  It has been raining heaps here at least since we arrived.  The dams are at 100% capacity for the first time in over a decade, and major flooding has been a problem and caused some areas to be declared natural disaster sites.  One of the big areas to be hit with flooding is Queanbeyan (pronounced Queen-bee-an), which is about 30 minutes South of us.  Below are some photos of the flooding and the (must be joke) article that was published with them.

What looks like a river, is actually a road in most of the pictures.  Crazy.

This is/was actually a road.  See the Give Way (aka Yield sign)?

The parking garage at the mall.

Another parking garage shot.  The sliding doors give you an idea of just how high the water was.


Torrential rain hit Queanbeyan in the early hours of Thursday 9 December

Victims were seen wandering around aimlessly, flannies soaked, woollen
trackies sagging, muttering 'Faaackinell'.

Flood waters devastated the area causing approximately $30 worth of

Three areas of historic burnt out cars were disturbed. Many locals were
woken well before their Centrelink cheques arrived.

The Queanbeyan Herald reported that hundreds of residents were confused
and bewildered and were still trying to come to terms with the fact
that something interesting had happened in Queanbeyan.

One resident - Tracy Maree Sharon Britney Madonna Smith, a 15-year-old
Mother of 5 said 'It was such a shock, my little daughter
Chardonnay-Mercedes came running in to my bedroom crying. My youngest
two Joachim and River slept through it all.'

Apparently, looting, muggings and car crime were unaffected and carried
on as normal.

The Australian Red Cross has so far managed to ship 4,000 crates of
Bacardi-Breezers to the area to help the stricken locals. Rescue workers
are still searching through the rubble and have found large quantities
of personal belongings, including Health Care Cards, Jewellery from
Kmart and Bone China from Big W.


This appeal is to raise money for food and clothing parcels for those
unfortunate enough to be caught up in this disaster. Clothing is most
sought after - items most needed include: flannelette Shirts, tight blue
jeans or spandex, singlets (blue & white) white sport socks, Ugg boots
and any other items usually sold in Hot Dollar or The Reject Shop.

Food parcels may be harder to come by, but are needed all the same.
Required foodstuffs urgently needed include: Microwave meals, Baked
Beans, Ice cream, Chips and Fizzy drinks.

Donations of $15.00 will be taken to buy a packet of winny blue 25s
and a lighter to calm the nerves of those affected.

Happy Thanksgiving!

So this is late but HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!  We hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and stuffed themselves full of turkey, just as we did.  Although we were unable to hold Thanksgiving on the actual day (Laurel had to work as did the rest of Australia), we did do a big get together on the following Saturday.  It was a very international affair and the first Thanksgiving for all of our guests whom were all Australian except for 2 Brits.  Nearly everyone was either a coworker of Laurel's or their partner.  It was great fun bringing an American holiday to new place!

We ended up cooking our turkey on the bbq since we did not have enough room (or time) to cook the turkey and all the sides in our oven.  It weighed in at 5.4 kilos and turned out great!  That's around 11 lbs for you non-metric followers.

Us working on the finishing touches...

Luna bug was not a fan of the commotion.  She is the lump your see in the bed.  Poor little bug.

Some decorations.  The redish flowers are called Kangaroo Paw.

Carving the turkey!  And Greg making a crazy face?  I think someone's having a little too much fun with that big knife...

The feast!!

So we were going to make a Pumpkin Roll, which is basically a very thin pumpkin cake rolled up with cream cheese icing, but the pan we usually use is way too long for our oven.  Either the ovens here are tiny or we just got that lucky.  Anyway, we ended up turning it into a 2-layer pumpkin cake with cream cheese filling.  Same idea, but looked more like an Oreo.  Still delicious.

Some of our guests.  Look at their happy turkey-coma-ed smiles.  Ahh Thanksgiving, how we love you...  I am happy to report they all came to play as additional sides/desserts were brought and multiple helpings of everything were had by all.  A great Thanksgiving success!