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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Bird sounds!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! 

I found these videos of my favorite bird sounds... Kookaburra and Whipbird.  This whipbird sound wakes us up many mornings and sounds like a laser beam is in our room!  Really strange but super great! You'll hear the male and female calls... they always make them together and it's so cool!  The kookaburra laughs and makes me laugh, especially in the evening when we're out grilling... they love raw meat!

Here's a video of the kookaburras in our front yard having a laughing party. 


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Another beach, another beach, another beach...

This week was a fun week and was topped off with a visit to a beach, then another beach, then another beach and another beach..... 

This week David and I were invited to a nice dinner with David's colleagues at University of Western Sydney for a special event. It was nice chatting with people from France, Belgium, USA, Russia etc.  The dinner was awesome and the view was fantastic!  For 3 or 4 hours drive in any direction from where we live, it is like living in California.  Mild weather (about 70 to 75 degrees every day) with green and gorgeous flowers,  manicured hedges in every yard and horses and other animals looking happy and eating grass.  Check out these pics of the old orchard that is now a B&B/restaurant about 25 miles down the mountain from our house.
David and colleague

What a view!

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The 19th was David's birthday so Cullen and I prepared a special dinner for him... everything chocolate! Using recipes from my favorite site...... ... we found a mole sauce from scratch from San Miguel and a Stout Chocolate cake.  Yummy! I loved making the mole but making this from home with the variety of chilli's to experiment with will be fun!  This recipe uses about 10 different nuts and seeds that are toasted separately and when you eat the mole you can taste the separate flavors.
Chocolate mole with black beans

Birthday lunch...  butternut squash and 3 cheese pizza

Stout Chocolate Birthday Cake
Boys goofing off

On Sunday we hit the road and decided to visit the beaches North of Sydney.  We drove straight up to Palm Beach where there is a bay with boats and the road curls around to the beach side of this peninsula.  The beach was gorgeous with beautiful sand and great waves with clear water.  There was a new beach every 5 miles for about 30 miles and as we picked and choose the beaches to pull over and visit, they were all just perfect!  We have new favorite beaches:)  Before we headed home we sat at a surf club and had nachos and fries.  Although traffic is busy, it still just a little over 1 hour to get home. 

Countryside views on the way to the beach

Palm Beach bay

Palm Beach

Palm Beach

Whale Beach

Another beach

Another beach

South Newton beach

South Newton beach

Relaxing with a view

It was a great, fun day!  Next week we're heading to the south beaches of Sydney. 

The weather this week will be perfect... about 75 degrees.  Today I'm repotting my tomatoes and basil again... growing like weeds!  Miss you all!

PS - Yay! Wyoming kicked CSU's booty! 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Bondi Beach and Newtown

We headed to Bondi Beach on Sunday.  We arrived around 10:30am on Sunday and were surprised atthow big this beach was... and so many people!  We finally found the perfect parking spot and headed to the Coastal Walk on the south side of the beach to see the sculptures that on exhibit for about 4 weeks with this being the last day. (186 sculptures along the coastal walk)

Ceramic statues

Where to start??

Metal sculptures on the cliff.... cool see through eyes

Look how tall Cullen is getting!

David and Cullen liked getting a break from the crowds

Eucalyptus tree wave sculpture
We decided to sit on the beach and jump in the water to keep cool.  It was fun to people watch and listen to the waves.  The waves were gorgeous and the water was so aqua blue.  This beach is in a cove and is very large.  It seems to be the perfect beach for swimming, laying in the sun and surfing.  It's fun to watch the lifeguards drive up and down the beach monitoring the tons of people on the beach but they also have lifeguards in life boats and helicopters monitoring all of these people! They have live music and other fun events on the beach quite often.

After being in the sun all day, we thought it was time to move on so we headed to downtown Sydney and went to the big Paddy's Market in China Town.  We found some great mangos and some veggies that I'm not sure what they are or much less how to cook them!  This market has herbs, stuff for tourists, stuff for locals and all at great prices. 

Before we headed home we wanted to check out this neighborhood we've heard of... Newtown.  There were tons of people and so we parked and followed the crowds to a big festival.  Live music and vendors selling lots of apparel (dresses for women and T-shirts) plus all kinds of food booths.  This Newtown suburb of Sydney has ethnic restaurants, music and also has the all of the alternative lifestyles represented....  It was a fun place to visit but not sure we're so impressed that we'd make the effort to get back there with all of the other great places to see.  We thought it was like being on the drag near UT in Austin... interesting but don't want to hang there:)
Some bloke forgot he had a bike... rust and spider webs prove it was here a while!

Grafitti all around

Whoa! We had no idea we stumbled on this kind of festival!

Women's apparel at all the street markets we find... very cool.

T-shirts for sale
It's surprising to us that all we have to do is walk out the door and there are adventures and fun to be had.... and for free!!!  

We're looking forward to finding a new beach to explore this next weekend... Newcastle I think.  David's  birthday is this week so we'll have lots of fun to look forward to!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

It's getting warm so Christmas is almost here!

"It's getting warm so Christmas is almost here!" That is one of the funny phrases I heard this week.  45 days til Christmas in Australia and the fake trees are on sale along with the decorations, but we're saving our money to buy gas for the car so we can head to the beach with all the kids.  There is so much to do these days, being so close to the mountains and so close to Sydney which is the hot spot of Australia for sure!

This weekend, we're going to Bondi Beach where it is supposed to be 33 degrees celcius (a perfect 91 degrees farenheit).  We'll head to the beach for the day and sit in the sun and play in the water (between the flags where the sharks are NOT) and then we'll head home and BBQ and sit outside where the weather will be a perfect 70 degrees or so.  Yum!

A pic of Bondi Beach.  Hopefully it won't be too crowded yet. 

While we're at the beach, we'll visit the Sculptures by the Sea.  Sculptures are exhibited along the Bondi Beach coastline where we can walk and see the sculptures along the ocean.  I'm so excited to see art outside!

More news.... David made it back safely from China and is preparing for a trip to Vietnam.  He took some amazing photos and we can't wait to show you those pics.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

My boys...

This blog was easy.  I think about our boys every day and have their picture on my refrigerator, and a framed pic of the three of them on our kitchen table so I can see their little faces every day.

Living in Tucson.

Swimming hair..  well, and just .... long hair

This morning as Cullen was getting dressed for school, I thought about how he is a pretty cool teenager.  We get on each others nerves sometimes but mostly we enjoy bugging each other and having a good time.  As a 14 year old boy willing to move away from his brothers, grandparents, cousins, friends and give up his room, video games etc... well,  that's a pretty big step.  He eats all of my crazy foods that most teenage boys wouldn't like and just enjoys the ride of life!

Cullen's first day of Ozzy school

And then Tanner and Austen... on the other side of the world from us are doing great.

Tanner is living in the dorm and I'm sure enjoying all of the friends and freedom that brings, but he also has the lack of privacy (it's hard to be sick in a loud dorm... thanks Jessica for taking care of him!).  We'd like  to offer him a quiet, familiar place to come hang out and enjoy some home cooking! Tanner is making great grades and hasn't missed a class so we are super proud of him and his discipline to focus on school... so now if he can just get enough sleep and get well, ha.
Tanner's senior picture

We are so proud of Austen and his accomplishments.  He's working hard on his art and also putting in lots of hours each week doing his graphic art work.  He's living rent free in our house... but it's not as great as that sounds...  he has to live without a kitchen (just has a small fridge, microwave and toaster) and take care of the house!  We depend on him to sort our mail and go through it with us now and then, make sure the house is winterized etc.  He's got alot on his mind about his future and his own upcoming adventures and he's doing so great!
Austen's senior picture

We've come a long way from when we were all living together in France, playing Kappla and having friends over after school.  I'm so proud of the sacrifices and accomplishments of these 3 boys (and their Dad too!!).

Just wanted to share how proud we are of the strength and discipline the boys have shown to make sacrifices for their future and also for our family (and your future families!).  I love you my boys.... all 4 of you!!!
Playing poker in our cabin winter 2010
Snowshoeing at 10,000 feet winter 2009/2010
What a great time we'll have in just 1 month when they arrive in Australia! 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Gardening in Australia!

Gardening in Australia.... 

This borgeous flower blooms for just 1 day from a vine that grows in our tree.

Well what an adventure I've had the last couple of days with my garden here in Springwood NSW.  I figured that anyone with half a brain can garden in Australia since the weather is moist and the vegetation is so diverse.  Plants, ferns, vines (and even plants growing on the side of other plants) surround us so I needed to figure out how I could make my garden better without really knowing the plants.

It looked like a forrest and just totally covered with vines and ivy and all kinds of things so maybe that's how I should keep it, but then I realized that if I could clean out the leaves at least, I could either get rid of the snakes living under there, or duke it out with them!

The big tree in our backyard.
I realized I am (was) really scared to go out there.  Locals have advised me to be careful working in the garden.  After living in Wyoming where we don't have poisonous snakes and very little insects and no spiders I am afraid of everything and think all insects, spiders etc could be poisonous!  I didn't want David, Cullen or anyone else to think I was a wuss, but I was.

Now that I've faced my fears I can admit it all.  Overcoming my fears all started with finding the right boots at the right price. Thank goodness we stumbled on some boots that were somehow not purchased by the early birders at the garage sales.  For $2, I could feel good about getting in the garden.

My great boots!

Starting slow at picking at the leaves and all went well.  Jumping at every sound and buzz and movement made gardening vvveeeeeerrrrrryyyyy slow at first, but as I became more focused on the garden and less annoyed by them, it just didn't seem so bad.  I was ripping out grass and old ivy in no time (with the safety of my dishwashing gloves and my new boots). 

Seeing my progress made me enjoy it all even more!  I could see the ground and was uncovering some amazing plants!  I discarded the plants I didn't like (might get me in trouble later with the landlord) and tried to focus on the pretty plants that needed some attention.  Finally, a spider tried to get away from me but when I tried to look at him closer he just closed up like a piece of dirt and wouldn't let me see him (so much for aggressive spiders taking over my yard). 

Pulled out grass and lots of ivy.  Concrete pots and breathing room for the other plants.

The big tree in our front yard with so many ferns and plants all around it.

Just a couple of these in the backyard.

This tree is blooming in our yard and are seen often... so cool!

Pulled out the grass that was smothering these cool plants

After getting rid of the random grass, overwhelming ivy and trimming down the excess, the garden looks like something I could walk through one of these days.  I'll put some of my concrete pots out there and voila!
More work to do but as long as I have on my comfy boots.... now I just have to figure out how to work the irrigation system but at least I've found the water hoses:)