Tuesday, December 23, 2008

a little christmas

a little christmas
Originally uploaded by haydnfj
Merry Christmas from Australia! We keep the tree miniature although it does have quite a formidable collection of ornaments.

Haydn and I depart for Queensland the night of the 23rd, so our presents have been opened and we ordered some Thai food. A quiet family Christmas before all the festivities begin.

We don't have windchills and huge drifts of snow, but we could have some traditional Queensland humidity and shark warnings.

Decking the halls...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ralph, on the Blair Street beat

Originally uploaded by haydnfj
As I was walking up the street to meet a friend for a lift to work, trotting along towards me about 6 houses away from his residence, was my little neighbor dog Ralph. It had been drizzling out a bit earlier and ol' Ralphie was a bit wet and matted. He really is a great dog to have around to take a moment and say hello to.

And what do you know, when I got dropped off at home tonight, there he was on out the front of place just hangin' out and came over for a little pet.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Our 4th Annual Thanksgiving Down Under

For me, November 27th this year was merely 'Thursday.' But I do not miss out on Thanksgiving whatsoever in Australia, we just roll it to the weekend and use it as an oppotune way to introduce others to the wonders of this feast. I do always enjoy giving the little historical overview of the holiday, I must admit.

This year was slightly different from past ones...we started a bit earlier, eating at 5. This allowed our friends who lingered (ie, those of us who wanted to keep drinking wine and watch videos) to go for round 2 at about 10pm.

I have always relied on cans of Libby's Pumpkin Pie puree to help me make the pies, and this year I brought back a big can of it from the US. I thought it was so big as to make two pies, but instead it was just all ingredients for one pie in a big can. So I had a bit of a panic and thought I'd challenge myself to make one by scratch.

I did some googling and decided on this recipe from what looks like a now-defunct online mag about all things Iowa. I liked the simplicity of it and the ingredient that gives it a bit of a kick: bourbon! I also found it rather fitting that it was by a chef at a restaurant in Iowa City called Devotay that I used to walk by daily during my junior year at college when I lived on Linn Street. It was too posh for college students, but I did like to glance at the menu once in awhile.

As it turns out, it's a recipe I can highly recommend. We served the pies up as a taste test and the 'from scratch' version was the crowd favouite, which I will attribute to less preservatives/chemicals and things in my recipe. It was lighter and maybe a tad sweeter. Much more labor intensive tho -- cutting up a pumpkin is hard work.

This year's meal:

The pumpkin becomes puree

About to get to work

Jimmy and Matt ready the bird

How to Make Gravy

Ta da!


Kitchen Mistress

Dan, Jimmy, Lisa

Matt, Emilie, Tara

Trouble: Joeley & Lisa

Fresh air post-meal

And, with that, another Thanksgiving comes and goes. We will have to wait another year for stuffing.

- chunkytoast

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Way back on vacation

Haydn and I have been back for a full week now and of course, like most good vacations, it seems like eons ago. Like, we were in a paralell universe. I guess we kind of were -- the states during election fever! Since the Brewers couldn't time my visit with a world series appearance, it was good to be around during the buzz and blows of the campaign.

But really, it was about time with family and dear friends. Reunited with family I haven't seen in years, seeing Tom and the wonderful Jen tie the knot and throw a great bash. Taking a couple of day trips to get some small town flavor. And catching up with friends from all eras -- old school, college, grad school...

Let's go to the pics, shall we?

Amazing dinner in Narita, Japan. We thought we'd be at the airport Holiday Inn, but ended up in a really nice town that gave us a good 24 hours in Japan with great sights, wonderful food.

And on to Wisconsin...Mineral Point to be exact. But oddly enough, we can't recommend the pasty at the Red Rooster Cafe (open at 5 am in case you're up early or out late) the Reuben however was diner perfection.

Scenes from the wedding:

The old stomping grounds on campus

The little school house in Fall River, dating back to the 1860s when kids really walked 5 miles barefoot in the snow!

A visit to Chicago, complete with the view from Laura's...

Chicago was good times around the northside with old friends and all night-Mexican -- thank you Lazlo's and everyone who made time to accommodate our random windows of visiting.

There are many, many more photos and you can check them on my Flickr:

Fun times with friends and fam

More wedding pics

-- chunkytoast

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Meet Frankie

We've been back in Sydney nearly a week now and I have pics and trip updates to post but the weekend has gotten away. A portion of the weekend went to a couple of drinks at the Annandale Hotel with friends. We were fortunate enough to meet a friend's new Kelty puppy, Frankie. He's all paws, floppy ears, and blue eyes. Adorable and definitely worthy of a Daily Puppy headline!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sydney Harbour Bridge of Hope

A few months back I went to the Opera House steps to meet up with a bunch of expat democrats for this photo. It is part of a Democrats Abroad project in support of Barack Obama.

I purchased my very popular Barack Obama badge that day, which has garnered loads of compliments and lots of words of encouragement -- from a perky shop girl at the Body Shop to a Scottish dude at The Kooks gig, it even gave the grumbly, stern fellow at the corner store reason to smile! The world wants to vote for Obama if reaction to my badge is any indication.

Check out the photos from all around the world.



Sunday, August 24, 2008

Golly gee, modernist design!

We took a little field trip to the northern suburbs today, where the topography changes to tall leafy trees and majestic pines and foothills in the distance. Our destination was the landmark modernist design Rose Seidler House for the the 50s Fair. The house is very much in the vein of a Frank Lloyd Wright in terms of simplicity, smart design, natural touches. It is nestled down from the road amid the trees and kookaburras, engulfed in greenery.

There were plenty of pompadours, puffy dresses, cinched waists, and classic cars for the event. There are still many people steeped in the 50s who are not old enough to have been there for the first time around. Always an interesting phenomenon.

Here are some pics I took on my phone when my digital camera battery went kaput.

Also check out the pics on this site: www.twentieth.org.au/rose_seidler_3.html

Love that fireplace.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Baked Spaghetti, more than a meal

Before Haydn heads off into a new busy busy job, I thought I'd take advantage of house husband's time and request baked spaghetti for dinner. My mom makes this often when I return for a visit and it's a hearty favorite. We had not taken it upon ourselves to make it here, mostly bc of the numerous steps involved (frying, boiling, AND baking) but the time invested is worth many meals. In fact, 5 meals with more to spare...

Comprised of hamburger, green pepper, tomato, onion and black olives, mixed with noodles and held together with good ol' cream of mushroom, H added a bit of tomato paste and tobasco for his own signature version. Then smothered and covered in cheese.

We were really excited for this meal and it did not disappoint. A Wisconsin State Journal classic recipe!

Monday, August 11, 2008

The family that runs together...

Well, actually, Haydn and I don't run together but we did run the same race yesterday. I completed my third City 2 Surf, Sydney's 14k 'fun' run from Hyde Park to Bondi Beach. And, after a dozen or so years in Sydney, Haydn completed his very first! We didn't train together due to the novice being a wee bit intimidated by the season pro, but I have a feeling the final result will be pretty close to the same. The official times will be posted tomorrow.

As for songs that got me up that hill this year, I'd like to salute Supergrass' 'Moving,' Doves 'Pounding,' and just-as-anthemic-as-you'd-expect Coldplay's 'Viva la Vida.' Very Brit-influenced.

My work had a pretty good showing this year too and we had an ample amount of team spirit. We definitely didn't have one of fancy marquees with organic sausage sizzles, Cooper's Green and complimentary massages (then again is Goldman Sachs really do that anymore, either?!), but having an ice cold Toohey's and a sausage on white bread was a fine reward at the finish line.

Here's some post-race action, or lack thereof...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Amigo Jim's, worth the wait

Originally uploaded by haydnfj
It was sooooo long ago that I wrote about "Mexican Coming Soon." Happily it finally did come, I would wager to say it was maybe 8 or so months ago and in the form of Amigo Jim's, a small little shop with not much more but a kitchen, counter, communal table and seemingly one CD - Buena Vista Social Club as I've heard it on all three occasions I've been in there. It's essentially a take-away place. And it is somehow related to Jim's Pizza two doors down. Now, this should be cause for alarm, why should a pizza place open a Mexican place? Well, Jim obviously knows the answer because the enchiladas are incredible!

The pictorial proof isn't pretty, but I think it shows all that is going on. It's not overload, it's a full enchilada atop brown rice and smothered and covered in lettuce, cheese, sour cream, guacamole and hot chili. I go with the "Bandito" degree of hotness which is mid-level. It's fresh, flavorful and very filling.

Haydn and I stopped in tonight on the way home to pick up enchiladas, it's fall here now and completely dark out by 5:15pm, so starting dinner at 7 or so just sounds like hard work. Tis the time of year to put on Ugg boots, turn on an old episode of Law & Order, and settle in for the night.


Monday, March 10, 2008

Wedding Bells

My dear friend Jacqui got married on Saturday, and while it made the news because of who else was there, it was most remarkable because of the sincerity, joy, and laughter that permeated the event. Louis and Jacqui are truly meant for each other!

It was a beautiful, sunny Saturday at a little inlet of the harbour...here are some highlights...

...and here's to happily ever after...