Adventures in Oz

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Moving On

April 26 marked my two year anniversary in Australia!!  Boy has the time flown!  The group of friends I have travelled around Australia with, spent Friday night drinks with and overall have bonded with over the past 2 years have been a group of expats from all over (Scotland, Ireland, UK, US) and we are all on secondment to Australia for the most part (meaning we signed 2 year contracts).  The economic situation in Australia seems to be deteriorating as they appear to be bracing for a recession…or at least that is the message we are getting from the firm.  Over the coming months there will be some big moves by the group – including myself but I’m not ready to disclose that!

One of our friends, Nicola had the brilliant idea for us to get together and take some pictures in front of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.  I think we are going to have some printed as keepsakes.  I’m amazed (cause it’s not like me) to make such great friends so quickly…this group is also outside of my comfort zone, we really are an eclectic group of personalities but it works and we have alot of fun.  It’s also out of my comfort zone because I don’t typically befriend my coworkers but when starting in a new country you have to make exceptions ;-).

The next few weeks will be sad and full of good byes but I will cherish the memories!

I was sick so this day was not my best, the flu was kicking my butt so I was thankful to even make it off the couch.

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May 22, 2012 Posted by | regular | Leave a comment

Fifty Shades of Grey: A Book Review

I wasn’t going to do a book review on Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James for one reason….my mom!  My mom reads this blog and I blushed at the thought of the response I was going to get from her!  But on the other hand I didn’t want yall to think I stopped reading, so here goes!

Here’s the Amazon product description:

When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms.
 
Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success—his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires.

Erotic, amusing, and deeply moving, the Fifty Shades Trilogy is a tale that will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever.

My Thoughts

My friend Kaleena recommended this book- when she could not longer have skype conversations with me, was going to bed early to read and was missing stops while on the train, I knew there was something intriguing about this book and was likely just what I needed to get over my reading rut.  It just so happens this was the book selected by my book club as well so I was able to kill two birds with one stone.  I am shocked that no one in my book club liked this book!  This speaks to how different my tastes are (seeing how I haven’t enjoyed the last 3-4 books selected that others tend to rave about) and I LOVED THIS ONE!  This book read so quickly and was so interesting that I read the whole trilogy in less than a week.  This book had me wanting to call out of work and nearly got in the way of my weekend getaway to Melbourne.  Ok, let me know hold you in suspense any longer.

Ana Steele is a college student and a boring one, this girl has no social life and is very inexperienced when it comes to men.  Her life will change with one request for a favor from her roommate- conduct an interview on her behalf (as she is suffering from the flu).  Ana stumbles through the interview, she is flustered by Christian’s good looks and is trying to stick to her roommate’s script.  You can feel Christian’s confidence beaming off the page and can vividly picture his good looks!  Christian pursues Ana (to what extent is not clear until the very end of book 3!) and introduces to her a world that none of us could see coming!  This book has been dubbed “mommy porn” but it is actually classified as erotica.  Let me break this down…there is alot of sex, over the top sex, sex that will have you blushing in public places and looking around to see if anyone is looking at you.  But beyond the sex there is a story line.  Ana’s character starts to grow and develop in book 1, she falls in love and really comes into her own.  Christian is a hand full, he is a very dark man with a childhood that he has not overcome even as an adult man.  I admire Ana for sticking with it, relationships are hard enough even without this level of baggage.  Ana’s inner goddess (the bad girl) and her conscience (the good girl) also play a key role in this book.  I really like how the author captures Ana’s thoughts as she makes decisions and explores her sexuality.

I give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.  The half of star missing is due to how it’s written.  It is very much in a college student/high school student’s voice.  There are lots of oh my’s and the like throughout the book.  At times the vocabulary becomes predictable and could be a bit more mature.  That is not a deal breaker for me, you can easily get past this as the story line is gripping!

I know quite a few of my facebook friends jumped on board and read this book as well, have you read it?  What did you think?

April 22, 2012 Posted by | regular | 4 Comments

Supafest 2012

I am patting myself on the back for blogging about last weekend before another weekend rolls around!  I had a very busy weekend last weekend, not my usual self who likes to squeeze in a large amount of quality time with my couch!

Sunday was SUPAFEST!  We bought our tickets in October anticipating this was going to be a HUGE concert…and it was but could have been bigger.  P Diddy, Missy and Rick Ross were scheduled to perform and didn’t.  The promoters didn’t sell enough tickets to pay P Diddy so he cancelled, Missy says she was never booked, and Rick Ross says the promoters failed to pay him.   At least P Diddy and Missy’s cancellations were announced, they never even bothered to tell us Rick Ross didn’t get on a plane!  Anywho…let’s get on with it…it was a FANTASTIC CONCERT!

Big Sean opened the show.  I have never seen him before but he is a LITTLE man!  He was quite entertaining (see picture above right – and peep the paparazzi getting that on camera!!).  The show started at noon and of course most people weren’t on time.  I feel sorry for people who start concerts in Sydney!  He had a large crowd, I’m sure he is used to opening but the stadium was no where near full.

Naughty by Nature performed and they are one of the two performers that I can’t say I ever imagined paying money to see but they put on a good show.  They also played some Tupac songs, I had no idea Trench was best friends with Tupac!  They did however show their age by asking what the crowd’s favorite song in the 90s was, most of those in front were in their teens/early 20s and it is highly doubtful they remember much other than jungle gyms in the 90s.

And then there was Lupe Fiasco.  He is an artist and oftentimes that can translate into weirdo!  He put on a great show and I knew more songs than I thought!

I mentioned there were two…well Ice Cube was the other artist that I never imagined paying money to see.  I’m a southern girl and as a result I like southern hip hop, the only person who tickled my fancy was Tupac, otherwise I’m not a big fan of west coast music.  Amazingly, the Sydney crowd was though!  He is certainly a legend and much respect must be paid…I just hope he grew this afro for a special occasion (ie. performing in Sydney) and he doesn’t rock that in the States!

Between each of the performances the djs played music, and it was good music…new releases!  I know yall are reading this and thinking what else would they play, but the Sydney night life is stuck in the 90s, lots of R&B and no club music…this was such a change in pace!

And of course there were shenanigans like this (look left).

I was really excited to see Kelly Rowland perform and THRILLED at her natural tresses.  I’m going to have to google some pictures to figure out if it’s all hers but either way she is representing for the curlies!

Kelly did her thing, I’ve seen her perform with Destiny’s Child (after the break up) so I knew she was going to entertain…but let’s talk about THESE DANCERS OWWWWWWWWW!   Sorry, that got away from me.

As the only woman on tour, Kelly was holding it down!  And she performed one of my favorite songs, Motivation.

Ludacris performed as well but this was less exciting for me since I saw him at a music festival for my birthday last year and he headlined.  This show was the same as last year’s, just abbreviated.  He still performed all my favorite songs and represented Atlanta like a champ!

Seeing Trey Songz in concert never gets boring!

Better yet he makes me scream like a high school girl.

 

But I try to control myself because he actually belongs to one of my besties…like Usher belongs to me (ha!).  Ok, moving on…

 

My favorite performer of the night was T-Pain (gasp!).  He stole the show for me!  I have never seen him performed and he had it feeling like the club.  It also didn’t hurt that he came on stage and announced he was hungover but was going to fight through and perform anyway!  He rapped (without the autotune), sang, danced, etc it was alot of fun to be a part of it.  I have heard he puts on a good show but this was my first time seeing him!  I will certainly pay to see him again if the opportunity presents itself.

The headliner was Chris Brown, I’m not sure I agree with that in this line up, but he was!

I have never seen Chris Brown perform live but he seemed off his game, yes he can dance but he seriously looked like he was on drugs!  And I also don’t spend time following Chris Brown in the press but he seems to have recently gotten a heap of new tattoos, maybe he’s going through something.

What a great day!!!   It’s been awhile since I’ve had this much excitement on a Sunday!

April 20, 2012 Posted by | regular | Leave a comment

A Bit Of Girly Time

Lately my Saturdays consist of going to the gym (or not) and spending the rest of the day on the couch recovering….thus nothing to blog about.  This weekend I decided to switch it up a bit.  I got up early to run my errands and went to the Rocks with the intention of buying some Aussie gifts to pull together a few care packages.  There were always weekend markets there and I typically take my visitors to get their souvenirs because there really is some great stuff there.  My Dad recently had a birthday and I forgot (yikes!  hopefully he forgives me), my brother has a birthday coming up and of course there is Mother’s Day.  Looks like I’m going to be keeping AU Post in business.  I got some great things but won’t elaborate so I don’t ruin the surprise!

After I met Lucy (pictured left) for lunch.  For alot of my friends its a big deal to come across the bridge to the lower north shore (where I live) because depending on where you live this could take up to an hour on public transport….even though I’m just 20 min from the city by bus (if that).  But there are real benefits to living north of the city, it’s BEAUTIFUL, there are beaches and you really feel as if you have left the city and can relax.  Lucy likes to come explore this side of Sydney so  I picked a restaurant down the street from my house.  We enjoyed a great seafood lunch, a bottle of wine and hours of catching up (including venting about work which I needed).

No day is complete without desert so we headed further north to Manly for a bit of Max Brenners and some beach time.  We enjoyed our desert, walked along the beach and sat and watched the sun set.  I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately over work (more on that in the coming weeks) so I really needed this bit of girly time.

I hope yall had a great Saturday!

April 18, 2012 Posted by | regular | Leave a comment

Exploring the South Coast

It’s been awhile…let’s not focus on where I’ve been…that’s boring and it’s the usual song and dance…work, work and more work.  Last weekend I took a few extra days off and enjoyed a long weekend down the south coast of New South Wales with some of my friends.  One of the partner’s offered his house in Potato Point, NSW to one of my friends so she rounded up the troops and we all took advantage of some much needed time out of the city.

We tried not to dwell on it but this is/was likely our last road trip with the usual crew as many of us are moving on or back home in the coming months.  Tom & Hayden are pictured right and they the other American couple, we’ll definitely keep in touch and organize reunions when we are all back in the States….they leave in June.  That’s a sad thought but there will be lots of partying leading up to the departures!

This is Jen and Nic pictured left, both are from Scotland.  Pictured right is Reggie and Lucy, Lucy is from the UK. 

We are truly the united nations and people tend to stop us when we are out and they hear all the accents and ask what in the world are we all doing together!  I love it!

So back to the weekend…we all got up early on Good Friday so we could get out of town before all the traffic started.  For my folks in Atlanta who complain about traffic, you haven’t seen anything until you drive in Australia!  The highways turn into two land roads through country towns where you are forced to wait at lights and go through round abouts….it is truly an infuriating experience if you have to deal with traffic.  Thank God we made good time and stopped along the way at a coastal town for a bite to eat.  It was a five-hour drive down the coast and some of the views were breath taking!  No wonder (approx) 90% of this country is populated along the coast!   Friday night we went to a Mexican restaurant (that was recommended by the partner), it has a surf theme and I should have gone running for the hills when I saw all the surf boards converted to chairs!  I wouldn’t say it was gross but it was bland and just not good.  Nic was challenged to finishing one of the massive platters of food and a sundae and in return Jen was going to pay for her dinner.  I’m not sure why but she stepped up to this challenge and watching her nearly made me lose my dinner.  But with a small bit of help from some friends she managed to clean her plate, have her picture taken for the wall and earned a sticker that said ‘Certified Porker’ (ha!). 

I would like to say there were some grand activities happening over this 4 day weekend, but we lounged around the house, experienced the best restaurants in potato point (there weren’t many), we ate alot of cheese (the area had a large number of dairy farms), we drank, played board games (the flavor of the month was ‘apples to apples’ have yall played…if not go out and get one!), we drank, and we laid out on the beach.  We had great beach views from our house, the waves were great and its sort of therapeutic watching the surfers!  This was a much needed break and I really enjoyed the company.  I honestly never thought I would have such good friends at WORK!!!  I hope yall had a great Easter and were able to kick back and relax!

April 13, 2012 Posted by | regular | Leave a comment

Love is in the Air

I love when the seasons change! I’ll be the first to admit that Spring and Fall (or Autumn as the Aussies call it) are my favorites. My Spring I am so sick of winter and dying to get in a summer dress and the same goes for Fall. While this summer hasn’t been that bad – no 100+ degree days this year where I thought I was actually dying but there was a great deal of rain. I just love the in betweens!

So anyway, let’s get to the point. Last weekend (see I promise I’m doing better, not even a full week yet!), I went to one of my friend’s engagement party. This is my first Aussie engagement party (although she is American and just marrying an Aussie) but things are done differently here. She was having the party in Centennial Park (a massive park) and Reggie was asked to DJ.

It was so good to see some of our American friends and meet some new people (Hamish’s family and Hamish & Tay’s co workers), it was a great crowd, there was fantastic music (as always), and it was good to just stand around, eat, drink and run my mouth!

Tay works for a catering company and this cake was melt in your mouth delicious!!! The whole affair was top notch and well thought out, the weather cooperated and it wasn’t too hot but just perfect to be outside. Tay even had a waiter out there serving drinks!

I was a little slow on the uptake getting a beef hot dog (hey they started cutting the cake) but that’s what happens when you are a non pork eater in a pork eating world!

There was even sack races! Now THIS was hilarious! There were grown people out there jumping around trying to beat the kids…and I shouldn’t even mention the fact that Tay strong armed a little boy and he fell flat on his face! If it wasn’t her party that would be an issue…but he popped up like nothing even happened!

This was a kid friendly event, which was nice and these kids were well behaved…and of course they LOVED Reggie!

On a side note- I learned the wobble at my birthday party and could not recall that dance for the life of me at this engagement party…I need to go spend some time on you tube.

March 15, 2012 Posted by | regular | Leave a comment

Getting Some Culture

Today I worked a half day and met Kaleena to tour some museums.  I haven’t been in a musem in AGES but I had so much fun!

We first planned to go to the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) but it was closed for renovations.  Boo!!!  But it did make a perfect excuse to get some gelato.

Our next stop was the art museum but on the way we passed the police musem…not quite sure this is the exact name of the museum but you get the picture.  There was a convict in the window…of course we had to take advantage of this and get some pictures with him before going on the tour.

Here are some shots from the old court houses.   Check out the wigs in the picture on the left….looks like 100% wool!

And there’s something about prison bars that makes you want to hop behind them and get a picture!

These weapons were actually used in crimes!  I was shockd at the number of homemade weapons…I guess that is what you get from a country built by convicts or when you outlaw guns (just kidding..no offense to the Aussies out there).

And then there was this wall of mug shots, some of these women look ROUGH!  I bet you can’t pick them out from the men!

Here’s a picture of one of the cells, there is no telling how many inmates shared this tiny room with light (we were almost scared to walk in it was so dark).

And for some reason they decided to stuff and keep the first police dog.  I guess even in the moment they had the foresight to know he would make history!

Coming across this was certainly one of the highlights of the tour!

From here we headed over to the Art Museum (yet another place I haven’t been to previously).  This was a worldwind tour we only had 20-25 minutes before the museum closed.  Here are some pictures of some of the more interesting displays.

Here’s a japanese tea room.

February 23, 2012 Posted by | regular | Leave a comment

Free Birthday Cruise

While we were planning for Kaleena’s arrival, I noticed that Captain Cook cruises offers a free coffee cruise on your birthday!  You have to use the coupon within 7 days of your birthday but that was perfect since mine and Kaleena’s birthdays are only 4 days apart!

I’ve been trying to work half days and spend some time with Kaleena each evening…I was thrilled to be able to sneak away from the office and enjoy a gorgeous day!

I ordered a guide for Australia, it’s a great iPad app to be honest and I’m using it to help me plan my upcoming vacations!  It has some great facts so let me tell you about the Sydney Harbour.  The Sydney Harbour is a drowned valey covering 55 sq km.  In 1770 Captain James Cook (I’m assuming the cruise company is named after him!) thought the Sydney Harbour looked like a safe anchorage and called it Port Jackson but he never entered the harbour.  Seventeen years later Governor Arthur Phillip landed the first fleet in Sydney Cove on January 26 (now named Australia Day).

This cruise lasted 2 hours and included an informative narrative about the harbour, its history and where the celebrities live.  Once we got half way through the cruise they served us afternoon tea.  Afternoon tea is growing on me and may also be the cause of a few extra pounds :-/.

I’m not sure if this is THE skinniest house in Sydney but it certainly got honorable mention on our cruise…and it came at a hefty (multi million dollar) price tag.

It’s days like this that I feel like I live in paradise, if only I didn’t have to work and could just live the life of leisure on the beach…or harbour cruises all day!

February 19, 2012 Posted by | regular | Leave a comment

Bushwalking in the Element

Ok, I’m sitting down with the aim of spending the next few hours catching up on my blog.  Today is Kaleena’s last day in Australia (so alot has happened), we got up at the crack of dawn and headed two hours away to the Blue Mountains.  I have been before here and here but it is still one of my favorite weekend getaways.

This time we took the train and purchased one of the hop on/ hop off tours.

We had great weather for the start of the day, which was a relief, this summer Sydney has received record rainfall.

It just so happened that there was also a sculpture display in the rainforest, so we went on a 50 minute walk to see the artists’ creations.  Let’s just say it wasn’t exactly what we had in mind.

I’m not sure what this red thing is, but it won some sort of award….hmmm not sure about that.

This one has Peter Wabbit on the side of the boat….and the rabbits are naked…I think the bigger question is why is this on display in a rainforest!

This flower display was probably one of the best, these tiny flowers were ceramic!

And then we came across this….really wasn’t sure what was ahead of us on the other side of this message.

And this is pretty much how the afternoon walk through the sculpture display went, we never know what was awaiting us around the corner.

I guess this means that for $725 they will could cut down this tree and make a tv cabinet?  :-O.

A 50 minute walk through the rainforest wasn’t enough…somehow Kaleena talked me into going on a 40 minute bushwalk, I’m convinced this took us longer than 40 minutes because we had to navigate through the mud (which included scaling fences, walking on off the beaten track and balancing on tree twigs).  To make matters even better it starts to POUR DOWN about 3/4 of the way through the walk. 

After all this walking/running through the rain we worked up quite the appetite.  We came across this cute little cafe with AMAZING food, I wouldn’t have expected to find a place so contemporary in the middle of a small mountain town!

Did I mention the food was amazing?!?  I had the steak sandwich, the restaurant used local ingredients and made their own bread on site daily.  This sandwich literally melted in my mouth.

A day wouldn’t be complete without having some chocolate desert….we both agreed that desert goes to a different place…maybe a second stomach…this chocolate was to die for, which was clear because neither of us took the time to take pictures!

February 18, 2012 Posted by | regular | 1 Comment

It’s Our Dirty Thirty!

IT’S MY BIRTHDAY!!!  I can not believe I turned 30 years old today!  I don’t feel a day over 21 on the inside ;-).

One of my best friends from home came to visit, Kaleena and it just so happens that her birthday is four days after mine so we had a joint “surprise” birthday party.  We weren’t privy to the details of this party until the day of!  After the fact we received the invitations that were sent out…I really like it!

And there were even flyers!

Kaleena arrived from the US on February 10 and we ran around town seeing the sites and trying to fight the jetlag.  Saturday February 11 was all about party preparation.  A few friends recommended a (Korean) woman who could wash and straighten my hair…I was a skeptic because I have not had much luck with getting my (natural) hair done in Sydney.  Let me say she WORKED IT OUT!  There were actually two women who worked on blow drying and flat ironing my hair at the same time!  I know some of yall from the south are superstitious about having two people work on your hair but I was in and out in an hour!  Then there was nails and make up to sort out.

We were told to be ready and out the house by 645pm…with only fague directions on where we were actually going.  I was nervous about my hair turning into an afro so we hopped in a cab and wound up picking up Reggie and heading to one of my FAVORITE steak restaurants in Sydney, Kingsleys.

Some of my closest Sydney friends came out for dinner and we had a great time catching up…the excitement was in the air about the party and what else the night may hold.

It was a great opportunity for Kaleena to meet some of my friends…never hurts to have some familiar faces at your own party!!

Unfortunately Reggie couldn’t stay long…he had other party planning to look after.  I enjoyed my steak for the both of us ;-).

I really felt so special, I felt the love and there were butterflies in my tummy about getting to the party and seeing what Reggie has been up to the past few months.

The party details are to follow…but just to tease you there was a professional photographer so there should be some AMAZING pictures!!!

February 12, 2012 Posted by | regular | Leave a comment