Tuesday, October 23, 2012

This is the First Day of My Life Part 2 and Other Updates

After nearly 6 weeks of being back in California, MOTH and I fly out for Aus again on Thursday.  I know for some expats coming to the States is a jarring experience and they can't wait to get back to their new home country.  Not so for me- the pull of California grows stronger every time I come back.  Nae and her boyfriend PB&J leave today for 30 fun hours of flying to South Africa- it makes our "long haul" trip back to Australia seem puny in comparison!

A minor technicality:  MOTH and I are actually not legally married yet.  That was a fun surprise to read in the mail last week!  There was a problem in how the marriage license was filled out and we got a letter last week letting us know it had been rejected.  We are so pissed at our wedding coordinator for not looking the form over before turning it in because she had said to us a few times that she would handle the paperwork after we stressed to her that our officiant, my godfather, had never performed a wedding before.  Consequently, when I went to get my new drivers license yesterday, I wasn't able to update to my married name so I am still Dana Old Last Name whereas I was hoping to be Dana Old Last Name New Last Name (no hyphen).

Oh, and by the way, I don't know about this whole being married thing anyway.  It seems so serious!  And referring to MOTH as my husband makes me want to throw up.  We have a family friend who is in her early 20s and she said she couldn't wait to call her husband her husband, but for me, I think I'd prefer to call MOTH my Boyfriend Who I Married.  I'm all for being with the guy forever and ever, amen, but I just hate the more serious title.  I never used "fiance" unless I thought I could get a deal or a freebie out of saying it and I don't want to now have to start using the word husband.

Obviously I really love MOTH and I really want to be married to him but I think this is all coming to the surface because MOTH is staring 30 square in the face and I'm not long behind him and I'm starting to worry about getting old and all the responsibility that comes with that. So being married is actually great but what being married means in relation to what stage I am at in life is pretty fucking terrifying. I can't be the only one who has felt that way, right?

I guess it was pretty timely then, when while on our honeymoon, MOTH and I met a couple who was celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary and they gave us some advice- they have 3 kids and 4 grandkids and they said the key to it all is to never get old, just keep having fun and acting young and you will be.  And I think they are on to something because about two weeks before our wedding, my parents celebrated their 36th wedding anniversary and I think part of the reason they've made it last for so long is that they follow that couple's advice, too, and haven't let themselves get old: just two days ago, we all went to the annual Bridge School Benefit and my parents totally rocked out to Jack White and Guns N Roses! I hope we're that cool at 60.

So to recap for the too long, didn't read crowd:  I'm unofficially married and afraid of getting old, but I've been told that as long as I don't act old I won't be old.  Here are some recent pictures to prove that I probably won't have any trouble with that:

 The Scorpion Bowl at my Bachelorette Party. LC asked them to make it extra strong for me and boy did I feel it the next day.  I couldn't even get any of my wedding related chores done and only really recovered in time for the Rehearsal Dinner!

 I wore wedges for the ceremony but after that I slipped in to some Cons to dance the night away in!

MOTH and I stayed at a cabin just down the street from my parents' place for a few nights after the wedding.  On our last morning, my family came to pick us up and we played in the kids play area for awhile. Here's a picture of me and my Dad having some fun!

Monday, October 15, 2012

This Is the First Day of My Life

On September 29th, after a 2 and a half year engagement, we finally did it!  We just got back from our honeymoon in Mexico yesterday and I now have about a week left with my sister before she and her boyfriend head back to South Africa and MOTH and I have 10 days left with my parents.  I will try and update more soon, but for now here is a sneak peek of the day:

Monday, July 2, 2012

This Winter is Lasting Forever, At Least for Tonight

Brrrrr!  Man oh man has it gotten chilly down here within the past few weeks!  It makes for a refreshing time standing on the train platform at 6:45 each morning.  Even after 7.5 years here, it still seems crazy to be this cold in July.  Everyone from back home is posting about beach days and their 4th of July plans and it makes me crazy jealous, but life around here is going well.

MOTH and I have been having some fairly mellow weekends.  We have become obsessed with this tv show, Sons of Anarchy.  We got through the first two seasons in two weekends so I told him we needed to take a break from it or we'd be all caught up to season 5, the current one, in no time.  We now have said we'll watch one season in July, one in August, then save one for the honeymoon in October. Have you guys seen this show?  It's about a fictional motorcycle club in Northern California.  I love the characters and the plotlines are always super intense.  My sister said she's been hooked on it since the beginning but I don't remember ever hearing about it before.  Anyway, it's one I'd definitely recommend.

We're lucky because our little house has a combustion stove heater and we've got a firewood connection by way of Steve's great uncle so nights when we are home early enough and on weekends we get it going and it makes the house so warm and cozy.  We pull out camping mattresses and eat dinner and watch Sons on my laptop in front of it.  I was home sick today from work-had the worst headache all weekend and thought I was getting a cold-and MOTH will be home early so I'm hoping he'll get the fire going for us because my nose is freezing right now.

We're back to eating low carb through the week as it's the only thing that really seems to help us shed the weight.  Dieting through winter sucks as all I want to do is eat comfort food!  But hopefully it'll pay off with a couple less pounds on the both of us in time for the wedding at the end of September.  If anyone has any low carb sites to recommend or any recipes to share, I'd appreciate it!

Friday was the 3 month to go mark....eeeee!!!  We're both really nervous but comfortable enough to say that to each other and we're both really, really excited.  The budget is a hot mess.  It's about 3x more than I had originally hoped to spend, BUT we can afford it, nothing is going on credit or anything.  It's just we were hoping to keep things low key and cheap.  The day will still be low key and no one will be able to tell we spent as much as we have because it's all going in to boring infrastructure type stuff...bringing in fancy portapotties, heating, lighting, hiring a shuttle since there's no parking, etc, etc.  Oh well, on the day I think we'll feel it was all worth it to have a really fun party with a lot of the people who mean the world to us.

We've sent out the invites over the past two weeks and it's been super exciting to get RSVPs back already.  So far there's only been yeses and I can't wait to get the full picture of who can make it and who can't. It's been a good mixture of people who have responded- my old surf coach and his wife, an old family friend, a neighbor, a bridesmaid, some people who live within 20 minutes drive of the venue, some who will have to drive 6 hours, some who will have to fly 15.  Let me tell you, there is probably nothing more flattering in life than having these wonderful people willing to give their time and their money to come share our special day with us.

The whole registry thing is really throwing us.  I've always thought doing the whole scanner gun thing that you see in movies looks fun but most people here do wishing wells where they straight up ask for money.  It's just a different cultural thing and I've told my friends here that that would go over like a lead balloon in the States, although in our situation money really would be easiest.  Because wishing wells are so popular here, no home stores or department stores have really set up registry systems and because we will have limit luggage space, we can't exactly register for a bunch of stuff back in California.  We finally found that a large department store called David Jones does do registries, but the system is a bit clunky- our guests can check our list and then they email DJ's their top 3 gift preferences (wtf?  I guess it doesn't get updated daily so their first pick might've already been bought) and then someone will email them back to tell them what gift they can buy and then they email back their credit card details.  And for the luxury of having this clunky system, they also have to pay $14 for registry upkeep and shipping and whatnot I guess.  I hope, if people want to give us a gift, they skip the hassle of this system and give us money as we will then go buy homegoods with them or put it towards our trip to visit Nae in South Africa next year, but Mom says some people just really, really like to give tangible gifts.  We'll be pleased with anything we do get.

Work has slowed down and gone in to this kind of groove that I'm getting the hang of.  In other words, I didn't sink!  Now that I'm in the groove though, it's nearly time for the whole process to start again and for us to start gearing up for the next intake of students.  Luckily this next semester will only be 70 students from two different schools as compared to the 160 students from 8 different programs we had in this round.  Because I know what to expect as far as work flow leading up to the next groups' arrivals, I feel much better prepared to handle it.  I think I'm doing a decent job and I like the women I work with.  Tomorrow I have my 3 month review and I think it will go well.  I have a list of things I feel I could've improved on from the last intake and a list of things I think I did well in.

With all that being said, MOTH is now home and it's time for me to warm my fingers and toes in front of the fire.  Good night!

Friday, May 25, 2012

I Wake Up Exhausted, It's Not Morning

So no posts for a month and a half from me.  The first three weeks of that time I was probably just lazy or didn't have much to say but then we had this planning meeting at work and I don't think I've had a lunch break since that day.  I've been going in early or staying back late or both most days.  Some days I've been in at 8am and not left til 7 or 8pm and with a nearly two hour commute on either side of my day I've just been dead on my feet.  I thought at the start of the job when I wasn't getting home until 715 that I didn't have a life, but for the past few weeks I've been home at 9 and I walk in the door, have a Lean Cuisine, take a shower, and pass out.

This craziness should pass in about a week and a half and then it'll go back to "normal"-aka 12.5 hour days instead of 14-15 hour days.  We have about 150 students who have arrived or who are arriving shortly and all the work that goes in to getting them here and settled is incredible.  Tomorrow (Saturday) I'm up at 5am to drive to Sydney and go on an all day field trip to Featherdale Wildlife Park and the Blue Mountains.  It should be fun, but it's a long day.  The people I work with are all nice and helpful and have made me feel comfortable. I feel bad any time I make a mistake because even though we aren't saving lives, they are taken pretty seriously and with my long days and lack of sleep and stress, I've been making a few of them.  I hate that!  I like to be the best at whatever I do.

Last week, LC got married and I was in her wedding.  When I was at my old job, I had originally planned to take the Friday off and do wedding prep stuff with her.  With all the kids arriving right now, I told her I couldn't take the day off.  Because I had worked so long on the other days last week, I thought for sure I'd be able to take off by 4-4:30 and spend her last night as a single girl with her, but just as I was hoping to leave a bunch of work got dumped on my desk.  I couldn't help it, I went outside and cried.  I called her and explained the situation and she understood (good friend) but I felt like such a bad bridesmaid.  I don't mind working back or coming in early most days because I know stuff needs to get done, but that day I had just had enough.  I ended up being at work until 7 and then when I got to the our home train station our car battery was dead so I didn't get home until 10:30 that night.

Trying to plan a wedding and taking on this new job is hard.  There has been no wedding planning.  In 4 days, we will be 4 months out from the wedding-I should be planning.  I'm not sure this was the right time in my life to take this job.  I had this feeling in my gut that it wasn't the right time, but I didn't want to disappoint my parents. At 28, I still want to be their good, responsible kid.  I chide MOTH for being the same way, but at the end of the day, letting them down kills me.  The job is fine and I'll like it lots more when it calms down a bit, that's not what I'm saying, but the timing of it is off.  I guess it's sink or swim time and I'm doggy paddling my hardest.  The rescue ship is in sight and I'm sure I'll be fine.

This probably reads like a drunk person wrote it and I'm sorry if my thoughts have jumped around from this to that or if I haven't really explained myself coherently or in detail.  I'm too tired to be writing at the moment, but I wanted to update the blog so you knew what had been going on.  It probably sounds like I'm having a big whinge, which I kindof am, but I'm just still trying to adjust to this new lifestyle.  We talk to the kids at orientation about culture shock and I've gone through Aussie culture shock here plenty of times and reverse culture shock when I go back to California and I guess this is a version of culture shock- commuter lifestyle culture shock.  Hey, only 15,000 more train rides until retirement!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Don't Let Your Inhibitions Guide Your Way (Update)

I started reading back through the blog last night and it was a lot of fun.  There were things from last year and the year before that I had completely forgotten about and reading about them again made me laugh and smile.  One of the posts I came across was my 30 before 30 list.  When I posted, I had 4.5 years to complete the list, now I have less than 2.  I just wanted to post to let you guys know how I'm tracking.

1. Get married. (I'm engaged so well on my way to this one-September 2012)

2. Find steady employment.

3. Lose weight, I won't specify a number, but it's intimidating.  I started Weight Watchers this past Monday, hopefully that does the trick.

4. Travel to South Africa.  We were hoping to do this next year, but it might have to wait another 6 months-year since we now may have plans to travel to CA next summer instead (see below in travel to Julian goal)

5. Finally travel to Melbourne.

6. Finally travel to the Gold Coast.

7. Visit 2 new states in the U.S.

8. Paddle an Outrigger Canoe.  We did Stand Up Paddleboarding in Kauai last year which was pretty similar and Super awesome.

9. Save enough money for a down payment on a house. Maybe after the wedding?

10. Buy starter and learn how to make really good San Francisco style sourdough bread.  I researched this and didn't find anyone in Australia that had the starter, but I should look again, as this place near wear sells San Francisco sourdough.  I bought my first loaf this week and MOTH and I are hooked, it truly is SF sourdough!

11. Learn how to make my own barbeque sauce.

12. Attempt to make mozzarella cheese at home.

13. See a movie at a drive in theater.

14. Keep this blog going for at least another 2 years.

15. Do the majority of my shopping at farmers markets and try and eat more locally grown foods and foods that are actually in season for where I live. Only eat chicken that has been ethically raised.    I did this for a long time, but our farmers market is really expensive and doesn't have a whole lot of product, plus there isn't a ton of organic produce and a lot of the produce is already bagged and looks like the sellers went to the grocery store the night before, bought the stuff, and then were trying to pass it off as locally grown.  We do only buy organic chicken and milk these days and as much organic produce as we can.

16. Go on a long bike ride along the CA coast.

17. Buy a beach cruiser.  MOTH got me one for Christmas 2011

18. Go camping more often. Camp in the mountains near Julian again, like we used to every Memorial Day Weekend growing up.  I camped twice last year, that's gotta count as more, right? From zero to two?

19. Plant a fruit and vegetable garden, maintain, and harvest it.   Have done this, or attempted to do this, the last two years.  We've planted, we've maintained- there hasn't been a whole lot to plant as our soil wasn't very good at the last place we lived at and we had a super wet summer that killed everything off just as they should have been fruiting.

20. Get a dog (or 3, plus a cat, some chickens, a goat, and one of those little teacup pigs).  We were so close to this one, but with our commute, I don't think it's fair to leave a dog here by itself for 13 hours a day.

21. Read Michael Pollan's 4 books: In Defense of Food, The Omnivore's Dilemna (I'm halfway through this one), Food Rules and the Botany of Desire.

22. Smoke pot, but only if it becomes legal in California! (Seriously, how did I get through high school without ever trying it? I'm a good girl is how!)     It didn't get legalized

23. Go on a whale watching trip in Monterey Bay.

24. Visit Julian and my God Parents again.   This should happen next August as one of my godsisters is "pre-engaged" and has said the wedding will happen there then.

25. Go apple and/or berry picking.  Hopefully this can happen when I'm in Julian next August.

26. See Blink 182 in concert.

27. Third time's a charm- finally see Brand New in concert.

So so far I've completed 7 goals, 1 has been knocked out as it's still illegal, plans are in place for, 1 has been knocked out for now since we don't want pets we can't take care of properly, 6 are in the works to happen in the next 12 months or so, and 12 I really need to start thinking about.

Anyone else done one of these lately?  If so, I'd love to see them.  Or if you commented last time that you had started one, I'd love to know how you are tracking.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Now You're Just Somebody That I Used to Know

* I started this post before Christmas and never got around to finishing it until now so sorry if it seems out of the blue. I'm not in the thick of these feelings now, although there is a bit of lingering hurt, I just hated having it sit there incomplete.*

I read this quote in a magazine recently that really resonated with me. In fact, I tore it out of the magazine and now keep it on my car's dashboard as a reminder (or at least I thought I had, I just looked for it to use it here and it looks like it's become a victim of one of MOTH's car clean outs).  Basically its message was that just because you used to be friends, doesn't mean you have to continue to be friends simply because you have known each other a long time.  You should only continue to be friends with people who make a positive contribution to your life.

As I've gotten older, I've stopped being a friend collector.  At this point I feel like a person is either a good friend or they're not. Generally, I don't burn any bridges, I just let people fade into acquaintance (or less) status and I give people lots of chances.  We're all human, we all mess up sometimes and hurt the people we care about; me included, me especially sometimes it feels like.  But at some point, I do reach a breaking point and say "Enough is enough.  You've hurt me or let me down for the last time."

See, until I moved here, I didn't really know what it was like to have good girl friends. Girls who have your back 100%, girls who don't flake out on you, girls who don't gossip (at least not a lot or in a malicious way, because come on, when you are close to someone, you're bound to get on each others' nerves every once in a while and say something in frustration or the heat of the moment). I'm lucky to have found that in the girls I call friends here.  My life is pretty drama free these days, but if I were to need something, I've got a bunch of girls in my corner I know I could call for help.

From the time she was a young teenager, my sister was fortunate enough to always make really deep and awesome friendships with girls. As her life has changed, she doesn't keep in contact with all of those good friends anymore, but while they were in her life they were in her life and ready to go to bat for her and show up for her whenever she needed them. Her girls were her family when we weren't around. I was always jealous of that. Now, I have that on some level with my friends here, too.

My sister is ballsier than I will ever be in a lot of ways.  She, for example, called out someone who was being a fair weather friend.  The person made a request for her and backed it with a "do this for me because we are friends" plea and Nae flat out said to her, "No, we are not.  A friend has your back no matter what.  A friend shows up.  You are only my friend when it's convenient for you.  You are an acquaintance."  Ouch! Surely that must have stung the person a bit, but you know what?  Sometimes being a good friend is calling people on their shit.

Oh man, how I wish I could say that to a few people!  I think half of me would feel so empowered but maybe the other half of me would feel really crappy?  While saying that to her former friend/current acquaintance may have forced some re-evaluation on the acquaintance's part to try and work back towards a friendship, the people I want to say it to, it just wouldn't make a difference to.

And so I do things my way- I bite my tongue, I let myself be hurt and mourn the loss of what were once important friendships, I let my contact with that person fade, and I focus on all the people I DO have in my life that build me up.

Just because we aren't friends now, doesn't mean you weren't an important person in my life at some point.  And just because you've hurt me, doesn't mean I won't still look back fondly on a lot of the memories we made together.  While we aren't friends any more, I certainly don't want to be enemies either and I think biting my tongue and not expressing my hurt and avoiding potentially saying something that I can't take back is the best way to leave it, even if it doesn't bring any closure to things.

From Here to Infirmary

It's been a pretty eventful week.  We met the favorite cousin and her husband in the City last Sunday, even though they weren't feeling so great and we had a really nice catch up dinner with them.  Monday MOTH worked from home as he had pulled something in his shoulder/back and couldn't face the train commute.  I went back to the doctor that day for a skin cancer check and because I still had a headache.  My head hurt so bad on Friday at MOTH's birthday dinner, that I was actually sick in the bathroom...not cool!  I had taken two rounds of codeine pain killers and not even they could kill the headache.  The doctor on Monday said that this was normal and wouldn't even prescribe me real migraine medicine.  He is obviously a dud and I won't be going back to him!  I swear doctor's here act like I'm some hysterical woman when I go in to see them, but I don't think constant nausea, stomach cramps and other issues, vomiting and headaches are normal.

The last week of work flew by and I was trying to soak it all up.  I didn't have any nasty customers or any really difficult situations so that was a nice way to end things on.  I just tried to spend as much time as possible with my team mates and luckily we had a few minutes available time between most calls to be able to chat.

Thursday after work I packed for our trip to Wollongong.  The plan was I'd have my last day of work and be off at 2 and then I'd drive down to Neutral Bay, pick MOTH up around 4-4:30 and we'd head down from there.  I had booked us in to two different hotels (both were booked out for one of the weekend nights) and had looked up activities nearby (blow hole, stand up paddleboarding) as well as a bunch of places that were breakfast and dinner potentials.  I'm sure I've mentioned this previously, but in the 7 years I've lived here, I've still never made it south of Sydney and I was really excited to be heading out of town (a birthday gift to us from my parents).

MOTH got home around 9pm Thursday night and he was complaining because his thumb was infected and really sore.  He had asked me to grab him epsom salt so he could soak it and he did but it didn't provide any relief.  I was getting frustrated as it was now nearly 10:30 and he still hadn't packed or done the dishes.  He decided to cut his finger to try and relieve the pressure but it didn't and nothing came out but blood.  After he stopped bleeding, I told him I'd do the dishes and he started packing.  We finally made it in to bed and for the next hour and a half neither of us slept-MOTH because he was in so much pain that even the sheet brushing against his thumb was excruciating and me because MOTH kept tossing and turning.  He got out of bed and started wandering back and forth through the house.  I suggested he try and soak his finger again.  He said the pain was getting too much to handle so I called this nurse on call hotline and the recommended we go to the ER.  After waiting for about 3 hours (there were hardly any other patients there so don't know what took that long, but anyway) they finally drew some blood to make sure the infection hadn't spread, looked at the finger, gave him a shot of antibiotics and sent us home with a prescription for more antibiotics and some codeine.  I emailed my manager at 6:15am when we finally got home and advised that I would be late for my last day of work and actually needed to take it as a sick day, but I knew my team was doing something for me and I didn't want to miss it.

At a few minutes to 9, I woke up as I heard MOTH go out to our car and come back in.  I called out to him to see what was up.  When he called back to me, I could tell he was in tears and that really freaked me out. He said the codeine was only helping for about an hour and his whole hand felt like he was resting it on a hot plate and the pain was now radiating up towards his elbow.  I didn't want to wait in the ER again so I tried calling some local medical centers to see if they could get him in, they couldn't.  I called his Mom at work and she said go back to the ER and she'd meet us there.  I called my manager and told her I had to miss my last day completely and I started crying and asked her to apologize to my team if they had gone to any effort for me and that I was really sorry I couldn't be there.  She said they'd understand and to just focus on MOTH.

We got to the ER, about a 3 minute drive from our house, and the parking lot was packed and the entrance was swamped with people in suits.  I saw someone holding a sign for one of the local politicians and said to MOTH, "Oh great, so actual patients have to hike a mile to the hospital because some local politicians is here to make an announcement about something."  We did end up having to hike about a half mile away and at the bottom of a hill, luckily MOTH was able to walk it.  We found out it was actual the prime minister who was visiting the hospital and announcing that there were plans to build a new cancer center there.  Had I seen her, I would've recommended to her that she also add a new parking structure to her budget, haha!

This time we were called back within 20 minutes of waiting, which was good because I don't know that MOTH could've waited another 3 hours to see someone this time around.  The doctor decided they needed to cut his finger deeper to get to the infection and that they would also put in and keep in an iv port on the back of his hand and over the next few days we'd need to come in everyday to get an iv drip so Wollongong was out.  We were both really disappointed but focused on getting him better.  They gave him a local shot to numb the thumb and a morphine pill, even still his Mom and I heard MOTH screaming from across the hall; poor guy.  Shortly after that, he was feeling much better and said his hand was only slightly throbbing.  We came home and MOTH slept until the next morning, only waking for an hour to eat dinner and check in with his parents.

I did manage to get back in to work on Monday to say good bye to everyone and to clean out my drawer and hand in my swipe key.  I was pretty sad to be leaving, not the job but the people there (and the pay!).  I got lots of hugs and my team wrote the nicest messages on my good bye card.  They also got me a bunch of stylish office supplies I can use at my new job which was really thoughtful of them.

It'll be weird going from a team of 16 people, in an office of about 100 people, to an office of 3-4 other people max, BUT I'm looking forward to it.  I'm nervous and excited and can't wait to see what the role is all about.  I haven't gotten official confirmation, but I'm tentatively due to start this Thursday.  I'm using these few days off to play Nurse D, sleep in, and run errands like getting my work pants hemmed so I look respectable at the new job and sending my passport off to be renewed.  Hopefully nothing more "exciting" happens between now and then.  Wish me luck for Thursday!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

I Like Food, Food Tastes Good!

Here are some of the recipes I've been loving on over the past 12 months but have been to lazy to take pictures of and do full write ups on.  I'm chubby and I love these recipes; that's all the endorsement these recipes should need to for you to know they are good and you should make them.


Thai Cilantro Stir Fry:  Just yum, good week night recipe. Super easy to make if you just buy a bag of coleslaw and use that as the veggies in it.

Caramelized Honey Dijon Chicken:  Another tasty and easy week night recipe

Ground Turkey and Peppers:  This is a low carb recipe.  I usually add some soy sauce to it for more flavor.

Persian Meatballs with Orange Sauce and Spinach:  Sounds weird to have meatballs with orange sauce, but it works, even my Dad likes it, which I was surprised by.  I substitute the ground meat for ground turkey or chicken.

Black Bean Soup:  I made this for dinner tonight, but reduced the broth a little this time to just make it more like straight black beans.  I don't know where to find Serrano chiles here so I just threw in a can of diced green chiles.

Not Overly Bad Nor Overly Good for You

Sweet and Spicy Honey Grilled Shrimp:  I omitted the sweet chili garlic paste, but that was the only thing I changed.  I would eat these every day if I could, if I could remember to prep them 24 hours in advance.  They really do need to marinade that long to be great.  We bbq'd them and had they with asparagus.  Seriously, let me say it again, I could eat these every day for a few weeks and not get sick of them.

Not So Healthy

Chicken Flautas:  You can't get Rotel here but it's just a can of tomatoes and a can of green chiles.  I also don't add the jalapeno and I don't use chicken thighs that have the bone in or skin still on them.  I don't tend to follow recipes exactly but for the amount of thighs they are telling you to use, I don't think there is any way you can get 24 flautas out of them.  If you did, they'd be the most miserly filled flautas in the world.  We probably make about 12 each batch.  You gotta make sure you top them with guac and sour cream.  We were eating these about once a week but our diet doesn't really allow for it these days (I type as I'm in the midst of currently baking 4-5 dozen of those chocolate chip oreo cookies I posted about earlier!).

Pasta with Bacon and Mushrooms (and Chicken, we add the chicken):  this is our go to weekend recipe when we want to indulge but don't want to go out to dinner.  I bam it up a little by adding a grilled chicken breast to it (I cook that in the pan first and then follow her recipe as she says to)


Chocolate Bliss Cheesecake:  The name says it all!

Glazed Lemon Cookies:  These are pretty easy to make.  They are a drier, more shortbread like cookie than I normally make but one of the girls at work said it reminder her of something her dad used to make her and she's requested them a few times.  They are like a sweet burst of sunshine in your mouth.

Honey Bun Cake:  MOTH's family isn't as in to chocolate as I am so I'm always on the lookout for recipes that are none chocolate that I still think sound yum; this recipe is one of those.  It's sweet and delicious warm.  Probably best during fall or winter though as it's a bit on the heavy side for a summer night, I think.

Happy Eating!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Open Up the Tired Eyes

View from our table at our favorite restaurant

Well, I did it!  I got the job!  I start in about 2 weeks.  They pulled some strings and were able to get me all the leave I need off for the wedding and everything.  Although it's a substantial pay cut, I think this job will bring me more satisfaction and happiness and I'll finally put that degree I got to some use.  Plus, I hope that this job will start me on a great career path and it's the type of job that I could do anywhere in the world through any university, which is part of the reason I chose teaching in the first place.

I've taken a sick day today because I woke up with a headache and my ears have really been bothering me lately.  I'm going to the doctor's later today to have them check my ears and discuss an ongoing issue I've been having:  for the past 3-4 years a few days a month I get really nauseous or have other unpleasant stomach issues and up until now the few doctors I have seen have said it was probably a gluten allergy.  When I cut gluten out, my life wasn't magically transformed.  And believe me, I know it would've been since my Mom cut gluten at the same time I did and her stomach issues have all disappeared.  After telling some friends about my symptoms, two suggested it might be this other problem that is fairly common in women.  I'm hoping when I speak to the doctor today and suggest that this might be the cause of my problems, they will refer me on to the right person and I can finally get to the bottom of this. I wish I was the type of person who could just "chuck a sickie" but I have so many days off where I'm actually sick that there are never very many days left over to use because I just want to lay in bed and watch Revenge all day.  (P.S. Are you guys watching Revenge?  I know it's cheesy and girly, but I'm totally sucked in!)

I'm hoping that I'll be able to schedule in an appointment next week for a skin cancer check, too, since they also offer that service at the medical center I'm going to this afternoon.  I've never had one done and with my Mom's history of having skin cancers removed, my love of bronzing, and the intense Aussie sun, they'll probably find more than a few things to cut off of me.  I just hope they don't find anything serious.  MOTH has a few sketchy looking freckles and moles that I've been on him for forever to have looked at so hopefully my appointment will motivate him to get it done soon.

Speaking of my MOTH...the big man turns the big 2-9 on Saturday.  Tomorrow we are going out to dinner with his parents and his brother to our favorite restaurant on the water (see the picture at the top of the page).  Have I mentioned this place before?  To be honest, I'm too lazy to read back through my last few blog posts to see if I have so if I have, sorry for the repeat!  It's called Fisherman's Warf in Woy Woy.  The decor is really cute and beachy and laid back and the huge windows overlooking the water open out so I always spend at least 75% of our meals with my head hung over the rail looking in to the water below.  We've seen tons of fish, starfish, and a few stingrays while we've sat there eating.  Last time a momma duck came by with her 12 ducklings and we saw two sea eagles fly by.  They also serve fish, chicken, veggie, and shrimp tacos.  I am obsessed with the shrimp ones.  The only thing they get wrong on them are they chop parsley to serve on top, not cilantro, other than that the whole place leaves me feeling like I'm in California having dinner.

Saturday night for his actual birthday, we are going out for teppenyaki with some friends and then probably hitting the bar for St. Patty's day festivities...I don't like beer, but I've never had green beer, and while I know it's just food coloring added to normal beer, I want to try one anyway!

Sunday, we are headed down to this fake Crate and Barrel place: Wheel and Barrow to do a mini wedding registry.  We weren't going to register anywhere since a) lots of our guests are doing serious travelling to come to our wedding so we weren't expecting gifts anyway and b)we didn't know where to register at for the people who may want to get us something since the wedding is in California, but we'd have to bring it back here to Aus with us.  This place looks good since it is just like Crate and Barrel and they let you register in store and then people can look at your registry online and buy stuff and they accept American credit cards.    We are then hopefully meeting up with one of MOTH's cousins and her husband for dinner in the City that night.  She loves all things wedding and has actually become a wedding officiant and we'd like to ask her if she'd do a reading at our wedding;  I hope she'll say yes!

Speaking of wedding related stuff, we ordered our invites over the weekend and approved the proof yesterday.  Wedding Paper Divas was having a 30% off sale so we jumped on it.  We had had a certain design in mind for the last 6 months but when I went on to personalize it the other day, I came across this other design that caught my eye and when I showed it to MOTH he loved it and had such a gut reaction to it that we knew it was the one.  We're using the flowers on the invite as our main wedding flower.  They are called craspedia or billy buttons/balls and they are an Aussie native.

We also put a deposit down on a house we are renting a few hours outside of Puerto Vallarta for a week for our honeymoon.  I can't wait to get there!

That's about all from here.  I thought for sure I'd posted the recipe for Chocolate Chip Oreo Cookies before, but going through all my recipe posts, I haven't.  I know throwing Oreos in to chocolate chip cookies sounds like overkill, but believe me, it's not, no one has ever complained and I get requests to make them all the time.  Make sure you use dark chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips, though, so they aren't sickeningly sweet.  I'll be making them tonight for my workmates since one of the girls has put in a request for them.  I will also try and take some photos of the coconut cupcakes with cream cheese frosting I've just started making over the last few weeks since they are amazing (and I'm not even usually a coconut dessert loving girl) and my workmates have requested them 2 times since I originally made them a month ago along with the recipe I threw together for them some time next week (I'm trying to bake everyone's favorites before I leave).

If I have time this afternoon, I'm hoping I might finally get around to a blog post with links to all the recipes I've been loving lately, too.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Like Hell We Are Anxiously Waiting

Just got news that I'm going to be interviewed for that position I put in for!  It'll either happen this Friday afternoon or early morning on Tuesday/Wednesday.

It's weird, I feel like if I get the job it'll change the trajectory of my life completely.  I had given up on this job when I didn't get it in July and had resolved myself to the job I'm in and resolved myself to having a job rather than a career.  Just recently, as I mentioned in the last post, we decided we would get a dog, too, and I was looking forward to that as a trial baby/fitness buddy/companion for me for all the time I'm here and MOTH is still at work.

Now, I'm overwhelmed with the possibility that I may still have a shot at a career (are you older readers laughing that at 2 weeks shy of 28 I had resolved myself to being stuck in a job?) that may have upward mobility within this company or at the very least within an industry I really want to be a part of.  I know it will change our lifestyle and not like you'd think...the new career would come with a pay check that is 20-30% lower than the one I get now and I'd be working more hours.  Plus, if we are both in Sydney and MOTH Dude still doesn't want to move to Sydney (which he has valid reasons for-it's expensive and we are trying to save for a wedding and then travel to South Africa) we both will be having crazy long days.  Like most working women, I know that I will feel the burden more as it will be me who is still expected to make dinner and do laundry after having a 12 hour day.

You've heard me mention it before and I think, again, I have what are called WPPs or White Peoples Problems.  I mean I really am in a no lose situation, I get the new job and start that career or I don't,  and thus, make more money in my same job and I get a puppy (perfect consolation prize in my world).

The new career prospect has also started a bit of dialogue between MOTH and I regarding his expectations of me work wise when we have kids.  This is big, scary, grown up stuff that we don't like to delve in to too deeply very often, but it was good to ask him what his thoughts were in regards to having kids-would I go back?  how long after having a baby could I go back?  and on what basis- full time or part time?

He comes from a very traditional family and his Mom stayed home to raise him and his brother before becoming a teacher's aide at the grade school they attended.  I explained to MOTH, as this new role would be entry level, I would want to stick with it for a while and then try and move up the chain.  To do this and keep me competitive in the job market would mean I would want to go back to work after 6 months maternity leave.  He said he didn't expect me to stay at home like his Mom did and although he wasn't comfortable with putting these hypothetical, future children in daycare right away, he hoped he'd be in a position where he could work from home at that point at least a few days a week.

Why then am I so anxious?  I can rationally tell you guys it is a no lose situation, but I'm still a bundle of nerves about it.  I think it's just me though as I've always been distrustful of change, even when it's for the best.  My Mom always has good advice and she always used to tell me nervousness and excitement are the same feeling just thought of in different ways so if you change your perspective, you're really excited.  I think I will listen to my Mom on this one and try and feel excited instead.

I'll update you guys when I know more.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Career Opportunities (The Clash)

So I'm back again and only with a day gap between posts-that hasn't happened in at least a year!

I'm hoping for your help;  I need some career advice.  Remember when I went for that dream job and I didn't get it?  Well, the most amazing thing happened yesterday.  The lady that I interviewed with back then sent me an email to let me know that that position had just become available again and that she encouraged me to have a look at the job posting again.  Not that that means it is a sure thing, but when does it ever happen that you put in for a job, don't get it, and then they contact you 6 months later suggesting that you try again for the job??  I'm really excited!

The help that I need from anyone reading this is:  I have to resubmit a cover letter and my resume.  What can I do to my cover letter to make it different from last time?  Do I just give a general overview of the last one to remind her why I am the best candidate for the job?  Do I change it completely and say different things?  (For background-the job is helping US students get settled in Australia in a uni program and fielding any questions they might have about life here, helping them get in to internships, showing them around the City, etc.  So on my last cover letter I spoke about the fact that I can relate to these students as I originally came out on a study abroad program myself, I faced and continue to face the same feelings of homesickness and of being foreign in a new country, that I have a teaching background, that I enjoy meeting and working with new people, and that I want to help make these students time here the best that it can be so they love Aus as much as I do).

I also did a mock up of a weekly newsletter that they send out to all of the students after my first interview- should I resubmit that?

Thanks in advance to anyone who has advice!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Guess Who's Back, Back Again? Shady's Back, Tell a Friend

I guess I actually have the best excuse in the world as to why I haven't posted in 6 months- I was out living life! So many things have changed since I last wrote but a lot of it was just normal life stuff that it really didn't need its own post.  I'll give you the overview of all that has changed since I've last been on, although sadly, I'm sure not very many people check in here anymore!

1.  I got a new car.  So glad to be done with my last p.o.s. and now I'm driving a newish Hyundai Tucson and it's comfy and fun to drive and makes my 2 hours of commuting in the car so, so, so much better!

2.  We moved!  I don't remember what the final straw was that finally broke the camel's back and lit a fire under our bum to move from Budgewoi and the little shack there- it was probably either the black mold we were finding everywhere or the fact that it was raining so much that our driveway was constantly a mud pit that did it, though.  So we moved about 30 minutes closer to Sydney.  Although it has added about 15 minutes each way to my commute, MOTH Dude's work day has shrunk by nearly 2 hours since he doesn't have to drive 20 minutes to his parents' house, drop off his car, get driven to the station in the morning and do the whole thing in reverse on his trip home at night.  Now he walks to the station or takes a short bus trip.  This has been a god send!  Plus, we love our new little house.  It's got wood floors, 3 (tiny) bedrooms, a wood burning stove, air con, and in the backyard there is a fig tree, two mandarin trees, two orange trees, and we put in a garden of tomatoes, jack-o-lantern pumpkins, basil, jalapenos, bell peppers, spaghetti squash, and corn that are all going nuts!

We're allowed a dog at this place, too, and we are starting to look at pound puppies to rescue.  I always had pets growing up, though MOTH didn't, and I feel like it doesn't feel like "home" properly until we get one.

3.  I didn't get a few more dream jobs I put in for.  Didn't even get interviews!  I'm still at the same place and still not loving it.  The work is fine, I've gotten a way thicker skin and don't even get angry or upset when people are screaming down the phone line at me, what I can't deal with is the office politics.  I put in an application to get in to an Emerging Leaders Program and got rejected.  I asked for feedback and it was very general overview type of stuff, no specifics as to what was wrong with my application to keep me from at least getting interviewed.  I'm using the feedback constructively though and am working to prove I deserve to be in the program this next year.  I also hear I get a very good pay raise in July and because we are able to take leave at half pay, I already have enough leave accrued to take off 6 weeks for the wedding in September/October.  Because I'll continue to accrue days off between now and then, I plan on taking a day off per month on those months where there aren't other public holidays for mental health days-this should improve my mood significantly!

4.  MOTH Dude and I are both in weddings (other than ours) this year!  MOTH is best man for his old uni friend the Red Head and I'm doing bridesmaid duties for my friend I've spoken about before, LC!  We're very excited for both couples getting married.  After us in September, pretty much all of our friends will be married, at least all of our Aussie friends, and we will officially be old!  Haha!

5. I read a quote in September that said something along the lines of "The time you've known a person shouldn't be the only reason you consider them a friend" and then the blurb went on to say you should only keep friendships that enrich you.  I really took this to heart and evaluated a dying friendship that I had been holding on to and decided it was time to let it go.  I didn't contact the person and have some big dramatic scene.  I just chose to stop reaching out and tellingly, that person hasn't contacted me since September, either, so I feel more justified letting go. That's not to say that the whole thing wasn't or hasn't been painful but I gave myself a bit of time to mourn the loss and then I got on with it.  Now rather than focus on the loss, I focusing on all the amazing people I DO have in my life and whom I CAN count on.  We recently put together our address list for the wedding and it's pretty overwhelming and amazing to see, in numbers, just how many people we have that love us.

6.  More wedding stuff-I just returned from a super short and super expensive trip to California.  I was over from December 30th until the 12th of January.  In that time, we celebrated Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years all on one night, celebrated my Dad's 60th birthday, and got TONS of wedding stuff done.  My sister, Nae, was also in town and we hadn't seen each other in nearly two years so it was awesome to get that time with her.  Even though neither one of us is a girly girl, she really stepped up in to her maid of honor/horror role and was there with me through all the boring planning stuff.  We didn't even fight, we might have had a snippy moment or two, but there was no fights so maybe she missed me as much as I missed her or maybe we're just more diplomatic as we've gotten older and have learned to bite our tongues unless it really matters.

She and my Mom came dress shopping with me and we found the One!  (I won't post a picture of it in case MOTH Dude stops by here, but you can google it, it's Casablanca 1827 and I'm getting cap sleeves put on it and putting a belt around the middle of it.)  I love it and it was right in my budget. We also found the bridesmaid dresses and a dress for Mom and they are going to look great!  I kept MOTH Dude's Mom in the loop during planning as she only has the two boys and mother of the groom doesn't get a lot of fun jobs and when I sent her a dress she said it made her teary eyed and I was going to look beautiful.  That was really special for me to hear.

7.  Nae is dating a South African!!  They seem really well suited to each other- they like cooking and organic gardening and getting outdoors on adventures.  He seems like he treats her really well and has an amazing family who has taken her in already.  I think we are all nervous that we will lose her to South Africa, as well.  It is still early days, but I think he might be a keeper!  We are hoping he'll be able to get off of work to come to the wedding and that maybe even his parents will want to come out and party with us.  I'm not sure if he deserves a blog name or not yet, but I thought of a good one-I'm calling him PBJ since he has three names between his first and middle names and the initials are nearly the same and I'm sure, like Aussies, South Africans aren't huge fans of the PB&J sandwich combo.

MOTH Dude and I plan on taking a mini moon to Mexico for a week after the wedding and then we're saving up to head to South Africa to hang with Nae and safari in 2013!

Then we'll be really, really old and have to start thinking about terrifying stuff like having kids and what not...so glad to have another year and a half to prepare myself mentally for that challenge!

Anyway, I think that's everything.  I'll try and be more frequent in my posting.  We do have exciting things coming up so hopefully I'll have fun things to write about.  Plus, I still have about 15 recipes I'd love to share with you guys, but I've been slacking on my own food photo taking so I may just have a post with links to the recipes I've found and loved and how to tweak them to make them even better.

Happy Australia Day for Thursday! xx