Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Thanksgiving and the Marine Corps Ball

Its weird to do things in Australia for the second time. That means we've been here for awhile now. But we live in another country . . . you only do things once when you live abroad, right? Its just a little strange to think we've been here for going on 15 months- it really doesn't feel like that long.

This year we repeated our now Thanksgiving tradition of bring the glory that is the greatest American holiday to the Aussies. Although, we realized later that by Aussies we apparently meant 4 Aussies, 2 Brits, 2 Lebanese, and a Papua New Guinean. Laurel works in a very international office. The only downside is we have to do it on a Saturday since Laurel, strangely, doesn't get Thanksgiving day off. Regardless, we had a blast, the weather cooperated (it stormed that morning and night, but not during the day) so we could eat outside in the sun. Just like last year, we grilled the turkey, and if possible, it was even better this year. Mmmmm, turkey.

We got too excited to eat and forgot to take pictures before, but here is the spread after everyone had already filled up their plates at least once. We made turkey, roasted vegetables, mashed potatos, green bean casserole, and dressing. Our guests brought an absolutely amazing potato salad with bacon and chives, homemade chocolate-drizzled profiteroles, a tiramasu with raspberries, and lebanese treats. Needless to say, no one went home hungry.

In the similar vein of things we have done for the second time, the Marine Corps Ball rolled around again. This is a really big event for the Embassy here. Everyone goes. Its kind of the one thing that's not required to attend, but yeah, its required to attend.  We had a lot of fun though. Here are the two of us, with Laurel modelling her new dress and hair fastenater. Fastenater are the must have accesory for every Aussie girl going to a fancy party. Hats are soooooooo last season.


Kissy picture alert!

The flags being presented before dinner.

And a couple more pics of us to round off the night. Hate to waste a good photo-op.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Spooky cupcakes

We had a near disaster for Halloween. It was the day of Greg's first cricket match, since Halloween is not really a big deal here and they schedule other stuff on what should be pseudo-national holidays. So, Laurel had a plan to carve a pumpkin with her workmate Helena, who had never carved one before. The grocery store stocks pumpkins just for Halloween, or as they are called here, "American Carving Pumpkins" but apparently its a very limited supply. Once the display is bought out they do not restock. That's it. We discovered this the hard way when we went to purchase our ACP on October 29th and were greeted by emptiness and horror . . . which we guess is kind of appropriate considering the season.

Like we said, disaster. Fortionately, we had a back-up plan. When we first arrived here we found a specialty cupcake book for supercheap called "A Zombie Ate My Cupcake!" by Lilli Vanilli. It was time to put that to good use. So, Laurel texted Helena if she would be interested in making spooky cupcakes instead of carving a pumpkin. she replied, no questions asked, "Yes!" Helena is awesome. We bought a shocking amoung of supplies to make four different kinds of cupcakes on three different bases. Here are the choclate ones cooling. Please note the tasmainian devil pot-holder we bought in Hobart on the left.

Here's Helena, expertly preparing the vanilla cupcakes. You may recognize her from such epic events as "Thanksgiving" and "Iron Chef: Pumpkin Battle."

Eww, eyeballs! The eyeballs were made by mixing gelatin and coconut milk and then using a paint palette set (thoroughly cleaned first) as a mold. The "eyes" were then painted with a food coloring mixture to make blue and green eyes.

The eyeball cupcakes were compled with marzipan "worms." Creepy. These were consistently the last cupcakes eaten at both our offices. 

And here are the other two kinds of spooky cupcakes- bleeding brains and ghosts! The ghosts were Laurel's favorite. They were made from meringue with a marshmellow in the middle to give it structure, and chocolate chips for the eyes. The brains were made from dyed buttercream icing, and a raspberry drizzle sauce to simulate the blood. A zombie treat!

Ooooooooooooh, scary!!! The ghost is coming for you! Oooooooooooooooooooo!

Here is the whole finished product! Greg and Laurel's co-workers were very happy the next day. Greg had brains, Laurel had a mummy. They were delicious.

Happy [Belated] Halloween from Australia everyone!