My Life Abroad: The Adventures of Two Birds
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Fri
12
Dec '08

Lainey’s Top Ten

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged and we’ve just been going full out over the last couple months with so much going on here. I’ve been doing community work and with Thanksgiving and a visit from Candace for a couple weeks – I’ve been overwhelmed.  

Movember

Movember’ went off well, Birdie’s team raised over $2000 by growing Mo’s for the month of Movember. Birdie has yet to shave his off even though the rest of the group shaved theirs off on the last day of November. I don’t mind his moustache so it doesn’t bother me he looks like a biker.  Here’s the before and after!!

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Thanksgiving

Our annual Thanksgiving was great, family gathered together to celebrate the third Annual Thanksgiving in Australia and we had some wonderful food as always. It was nice to have Candace visit during this time and she really got to see how we live. Meeting all of our closest friends and family was a good experience for her.

Candace does Melbourne

One thing about Candace is that she is pretty independent – I remember when I first moved here I cried the first time I had to get on a tram by myself. Candace really made the most of her two weeks here. I did take her out to do a lot of fun things but she sure did a lot of stuff on her own. Soon pictures from Candace’s trip will be available on my pics page for everyone to see. Already miss you Candy – can’t wait for you to come back out! Here are my favourite pictures of Candaces trip, which will hold you over until I get off my lazy butt and make a new album!

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In researching things to do in Melbourne I came up with a Top-10 list and I thought I’d share it here for anyone thinking of coming on a holiday to Melbourne. Whether you are coming from Perth or from overseas, these are the fun things to do in Melbourne year-round:

LAINEY’S TOP 10 MELBOURNE SIGHTS 

  1. Healesville Sanctuary. The Healesville Sanctuary is a spin-off of the Melbourne Zoo located on the outskirts of the city in Healesville, Victoria.  Healesville the town is a quaint little get-away with wonderful shops, restaurants, and country scenery.  The Sanctuary is all Australian animals, those indigenous to this continent and it makes for a full day of entertainment from Kangaroos and wallabies, to koalas and kookaburras. If you can’t find your way out of the city, a trip to Melbourne Zoo is also a wonderful day trip.  You can find out more online at http://www.zoo.org.au/HealesvilleSanctuary

  2. Melbourne Arcade Walking Tour. Purchased online, the Melbourne Arcades Walking Tour is a 4-hour jaunt around the Central Business District of Melbourne, travelling through some of the hundreds of laneways that weave through the city.  From wonderful little boutique shops and restaurants, chocolate, wine, and more – this makes for a wonderful experience of the city itself.  You can purchase tickets for the Walking Tour online at www.walkingtoursmelbourne.com.au 

  3. Eureka Tower Skydeck. The Eureka Tower is the tallest residential building in the southern hemisphere and the tallest in Melbourne, of course.  The 88th floor has a wonderful view of the city. Open day or night this experience is a great way to see the entire city on a budget! www.eurekalookout.com.au 

  4. Balloons over Melbourne. For those that can afford this experience, it’s well worth your time to take a hot air balloon over Melbourne. ‘Balloons over Melbourne’ was the smoothest ride I’d ever been on!  Following the ride get treated to complimentary Champagne and breakfast at the Botanical Gardens in Melbourne. Buy your tickets online and see some great aerial photos from other trips to the Yarra Valley http://www.balloonovermelbourne.com.au 

  5. The Victoria Market. The Queen Victoria Market (a.k.a. The Vic Market) is one of Melbourne’s most treasured and wonderful experiences.  A cavalcade of vendors comes out of the woodwork to offer everything from clothes and shoes to genuine Ugg boots, akubra hats, and indigenous art.  Fruits, vegies, and meat markets are also on hand.  This is a full day experience so come prepared.  Sunday is the best day to visit! More about the Vic Market can be found online at www.qvm.com.au 

  6. The Moonlight Cinemas. The moonlight cinema in the Botanical Gardens is such a fun and memorable experience in Melbourne. First of all the Botanical Gardens is a beautiful place to visit – the moonlight cinema shows a great movie (new and old) Tuesday through Sunday. Laying on a grassy hill at dusk you will see the hundreds of bats leave the gardens before the show begins.  Bring your blanket, picnic basket and bottle of wine or rent a bean bag for extra comfort. Get your tickets for the moonlight cinema and see the list of movies at http://www.moonlight.com.au 

  7. Phillip Island: Penguin Parade Wildlife Park. Phillip Island itself is a fun experience; there is a wildlife park available to see all types of wildlife but what you go to Phillip Island to really see are the “fairy” or little penguins.  These little penguins come up at dusk each night to the beach to make their way to their burrows in the dunes, a ritual that has been followed for thousands of years.  This is a very unique experience and from the viewing deck you can see them all waddle in. This is a full day with the wildlife experience during the day and the penguin viewing at night but completely worth it! Find out more online at http://www.melbournetours.com.au/penguin_viewing.html 

  8. Great Ocean Road: The Twelve Apostles. Port Campbell National Park is a bit of a drive but once you get to this majestic spot you just have to take it all in!  This is the most wonderful natural experience ever!  The drive from Melbourne along the Great Ocean Road is about 4+ hours and a beautiful drive. The Twelve Apostles giant rock stacks are a central feature of the spectacular Port Campbell National Park. The forces of nature gradually eroded the softer limestone, forming caves in the cliffs which became arches and when they collapsed, the rock islands as high as 45 metres were left isolated from the shore. This is free and a must-do while in Melbourne. Find more info online at: http://www.greatoceanrd.org.au/Destination_View.aspx?homepageid=5 

  9. The Colonial Tramcar Restaurant. This is the one thing I haven’t been able to do yet, but I am planning on very soon.  The Colonial Tramcar Restaurant is an old time tram car that has been converted into a dining car – it takes off Thurs – Sun through the city for a full dinner service while winding the streets of Melbourne.  Old time colonial features and I’ve heard it’s a really fun experience. Buy tickets online at: http://www.tramrestaurant.com.au/ 

  10. The Melbourne Aquarium. Last but certainly not least the Melbourne Aquarium is in the heart of Melbourne and has a wonderful brand new display of penguins that cannot be missed!  This display has only been in for a couple months and splits views of snow and water for all to see.  The penguins jumping in and out, they come right up the glass and wave at you – it’s just incredible!  Additionally everything else that an aquarium should have is available here. The jellyfish display as well as the shark and stingray tank is absolutely wonderful. Take the time to come out and see this one!  Info available online: http://www.melbourneaquarium.com.au/

Sun
1
Jun '08

Ballooning recap…

Got a recap picis from our ballooning exhibition in March with the family.  This is the picture that was taken by the balloonist and its a great one, thought I would share.

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Pictured left to right: (front) Dad Chris, Mum Barb, Mom Mady (back) Adam, Lainey & Birdie. 

What a great time we had floating like a feather over Melbourne – it was one of the highlights of my life doing this – and being afraid of heights really only made this more fun.  I recommend this is a must do for everyone!  Go while on vacation or go to your favourite region/city!

The Lemon Detox Diet

I know that some are skeptical about this lemonaide detoxing… a liquid diet is difficult to do but the intent of these types of detox diets are to clean out your insides, your colon, intestines, etc.  Birdie and I did a 10-day detox about 2 weeks ago and all I can say is that as difficult as it was – we are both feeling great!  We each lost in the neighbourhood of 4-5 kilos each (10-11.5 lbs), and were left feeling great. This isn’t something you do too often, but it is great when there is a build up of toxins in the system.  As for my fybromyalsia, I have been without pain now for about three weeks and I am hopeful that this type of detox can keep my body clean and healthy.  Recommendations to try it if you want to rid yourself of all the bad toxins!

Thailand, 13 days and counting

Starting to get excited about our trip to Thailand.  It’s only 9 more working days – I’ve already gotten out the suitcase to start gathering summer clothes to pack.  It’s late Autumn here and very very cold so the break to a tropical desitnation is going to be excellent.  Look back in two weeks for pictures of the resort and our family holiday in Phuket!

Back in the U.S.A.

Twenty years and two reunions later… live goes on.  Back in the U.S.A., our trip this year is quite a big event for me.  Since I won two airline tickets to San Francisco on the radio station in Melbourne earlier this year we have set a great plan for a big one month trip all over the U.S.  We won tickets to see The Veronicas in San Francisco on 10 June, and the radio station is putting us up for 3 nights in San Fran which includes a day pass to do some free sightseeing.  The rest of our itinerary is as follows:

10-13 July – San Francisco, Ca 
15-17 July – San Jose, Ca
17-19 July – Chico, Ca
20-24 July – Drive Highway 1 & San Diego, Ca
25-27 July – Yosemite Family Event
28-31 July – Sacramento, Ca
1-3 Aug – Nevada City, Ca (NU Reunion)
4-5 Aug – Sacramento, Ca
6 Aug – Nevada County Fair, Grass Valley, Ca
7-8 Aug – San Antonio, Tx (The Alamo)
9-10 Aug – Houston, Tx (KO Reunion)
11-12 Aug – Dallas, Tx
13 Aug – LAX (Fly out to Melbourne)

We are so looking forward to our trip and both reunions.  As the chairman and organis er for the NU Reunion in Nevada City I am hoping to have a good time and pull off a successful Reunion for everyone.  My reunion in Houston will be more of a time to catch up with old friends as these are the kids I grew up with – I couldn’t be more excited.

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Mental Status: No fybromyalsia pain for three weeks and a great tropical holiday in the works – we’re stoked! 
Favourite thing this week: Jason Mraz new CD “We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things” is out this week, excellent album with his exciting new style.  See my ‘Music’ selections on the sidebar for more info.
Book this week: The Appeal by John Grisham.  So far an excellent read, sorta a similar story to Erin Brockavich with a twist of political deception and big business in the United States.  So far a great read!

Mon
26
May '08

20th Annual Cider Festival

apples_50.jpgGoing back to the place we got married for our anniversary dinner this year was fantastic – and that’s how we found out about the Cider Festival they hold every year.  We decided to make the trip back out to check out the festivities.  They had all kinds of cider (mostly alcoholic variation), apple juice, apple deserts, handmade candied apples, pork and applesause sandwiches, a folk band, dancers, apple brandy, and cider making demonstrations. 

All-in-all there was a bit to do and see.  They had the entire winery property opened up for the public, many picniced around on the grass and throughout the vineyard.  We decided to walk around and check out some of the cool things they offered. 

The demonstration of the machinery was also interesting – very old large equipment used to crush the apples to the core (literally) so that they could make their fabuolous cider, it was very yummy.  I have one picture in here of the machinery, I think that they guys said the machinery was second hand back from the early 1900’s.   Here are the rest of our pictures:

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dance2.jpgI wasn’t sure if I was going to like the cider so it was apparent that we needed to do some taste testing.  We started out with some Sparkling Cider, which was beautiful!  Aside from the sparkling there is “Scrumpy” which is a flat version of cider without the bubbles – a bit darker in colour and tasted a lot like spiked apple juice.  It was also good. 

We went on to try some of the eats, with a sheapards pie each and a homemade brownie to go – we watched the candied apples being made from the cooking of the sugar right down to the dipping of each apple and the kids sucking them down!  It was quite interesting to watch, and they looked yummy and fresh but we definitely passed on this treat.  The dancers were pretty cool, doing some old celtic dancing with bells on their knees and sticks in their hands.  Incredible picture I took – as they jump you can see that no foot is touching the ground!  Also note the beautiful vineyard in the background – yellow like during our wedding – it was beautiful.  This was definitely a fun day.  Lots of families were out and enjoying everything. 

Our next Holiday

Well, we are starting to get ready and excited for our trip to Thailand, I’ve never been to Phuket before so I can’t wait. Want to spend some stress-less time with Birdie and relax a bit.  I’m feeling very anxious lately.  Maybe because our trip to the U.S. is coming on so quickly, the Reunion is looming and I have to get things organised this weekend and start selling more tickets.  I’m really looking forward to everything but there is a certain stress with planning of such a large event. We are also attending my Reunion in Houston at Klein Oak High School where I went to 9th and 10th grade – most of those kids are the ones I grew up with from the age of 10.  I’m probably looking forward more to the reunion in Texas than the one that I’m planning ~ only because I’m so excited to see friends from so long ago.  I’ve reconnected online with most of my Texas friends and I’m really looking forward to seeing them again.

Flautas, Tamales and Stuffed Peppers

Finding Mexican food here in Australia is a pretty daunting task!  Luckily Mom was good enough to bring Birdie some fabulous Mexican cookbooks this trip.  We started with making some special dishes for Birdie’s parents after Mom and Adam left.  We made pork tamales, chicken flautas and stuffed peppers:

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If you’ve ever been invited to our house for dinner, you’ve most likely been exposed to our favourite – Mexican food!  These new recipies are just lovely and although it was hard to find Mesa (Polenta) to make the tamales, and even harder to find corn husks (believe it or not) we finally got all the ingredients to make this lovely treat. We used green chili sauce and they were wonderful.  Birdie used burrito flour tortillas and stuffed them with seasoned shredded pork, veges, cheese, and hot sauce to make a wonderful fried “Flauta”, and finally the red peppers stuffed with a potato, herb, and cheese mixture topped things off.  All yummy!

Kadam and Mom

Looks like Kat & Adam (Kadam) are going to be visiting Mom this weekend in Sacramento.  I am glad to see that they are getting up to visit for Mothers Day.  I’m sure they have other things planned as well but Mom is really looking forward to their company.   It’s not long now and we’ll be there wearing her out – not to worry!  Now that they are back home from their Australian vacation they seem to be getting back to normal.  Adam has a bit of gab and pics on his blog, be sure to check it out: http://www.rugturd.com/

 

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Mental Status: It’s Mother’s Day this weekend, and we are back to Kellybrook Winery for a nice lunch to celebrate. Also looking forward to Blair’s big Poker Night!  We’re looking to win big!
Favourite thing this week: Back out to doing training within Victoria – glad to be out of the office again!
Upcoming events: Thailand trip 16 June, and the U.S. 10 July.

Thu
24
Apr '08

My Walk to Work

Southbank and Flinders

This morning the trams weren’t running from the major downtown train station out toward the St. Kilda and Southbank areas.  I ended up walking about 6 city blocks to get to work this morning, along with heaps of others.  Thought I’d take a few snapshots along the way – these are things I pass every day on my way to work – although, usually on a tram not by foot.  I actually work in a very nice part of Melbourne where the Victora National Gallary of Arts, the Victoria Barracks, and The Arts Centre of Melbourne are located.  Here are a few fun shots and descriptions from my walk to work this morning:

vic-arts-centre_50.jpgThe Arts Centre

The Arts Centre is the flagship of the performing arts in Victoria. It stands for performance and its iconic spire locates the performing arts at the centre of Melbourne’s civic and cultural precinct.

Comprising the Theatres Building, Hamer Hall and Melbourne’s iconic outdoor performance space, the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, the Arts Centre programs a diverse range of performances and events to deliver the best national and international performing arts experience.

It does this by having a performance program which combines the best of Australian performing arts organisations with a broad range of international performances.

These performances are supported by important visual and performing arts collections and a wide-reaching education program which extends the Arts Centre’s reach throughout Victoria and beyond.

The Arts Centre also celebrates artists and fosters creative opportunity, serving as a focal point for the development of imaginative new work and supporting artists to create innovative productions in a vibrant creative environment. 

This is one of the most recognisable monuments in the Central Business District, it is one of the things I noticed most from our balloon over Melbourne a few weeks ago.  It’s quite beautiful in person! 

You can find out more about The Arts Centre online at: http://www.theartscentre.com.au/.

National Gallery of Victoria (International Collections)

Since 1861, the National Gallery of Victoria has been displaying art works for the enjoyment of the community. In the mid-1990s, the gallery acknowledged that its St Kilda Road building could no longer successfully meet the demands of its growing collection and extensive exhibitions schedule.

The Victorian State Government agreed to an extensive redevelopment of the site, and also contribute towards the funding of a second NGV building at Federation Square.

Currently there are four interesting collections (free entry) at the NGV International:

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The Collection is now split between The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia at Federation Square, home of Australian art, and NGV International at St Kilda Road, the new redeveloped building dedicated to the gallery’s magnificent international artworks. Our visitors now have two wonderful NGV buildings dedicated to bringing art and people together. You can

The Victoria Barracks

the-victoria-barracks_50.jpgThe earliest buildings at Victoria Barracks were built by soldiers in the late 1850s, with the original bluestone buildings being constructed between 1856 and 1872. A large extension was made to officers’ quarters in 1917 but with the growth of service personnel and civilian staff at the beginning of the Second World War, space was at a premium.

Victoria Barracks was the administrative headquarters for the Australian Army but to ensure the close coordination of the three services necessary to the war effort, the Barracks also became the administrative headquarters of the Royal Australian Navy and Royal Australian Air Force.

As well, accommodation needed to be found at the Barracks for Ministers and staff travelling to meetings of the War Cabinet and the Advisory War Council in Melbourne.

In 1940, a five story red brick extension – ‘N Block’ – was erected behind the original ‘C Block’ to house the administrative headquarters of the Navy and the Air Force.

Today the Victoria Barracks is a beautiful monument on St. Kilda Road across the street from the Shrine and 6 blocks from Flinders Street Train Station in Melbourne.

The Shrine of Rememberance, Melbourne

shrine.jpgThe Shrine of Remembrance was built between July 1928 and November 1934 in remembrance of the 114,000 men and women of Victoria who served and those who died in the Great War of 1914-1918 – 89,100 of them served overseas and 19,000 did not return.

The people of Victoria felt that their debt to these volunteers, who had defended them at such great costs to themselves and their families, should be recognised by a worthy permanent monument of remembrance.

Although the country was faced with frightful unemployment and financial difficulty in the late 1920s and the 1930s, so great was the gratitude of the people that the huge amount required to build the Shrine was raised or promised within six months from the opening of the appeal in 1928.

The design for the Shrine of Remembrance was selected by competition among Australian artists and architects. Eighty-three designs were submitted and the winning design was by two Melbourne returned-soldier architects, Philip Hudson and James Wardrop.

The inspiration for the external outline came from one of the seven wonders of the ancient world – the mausoleum at Harlicarnassus to Mausolus, King of Caria in South West Asia Minor.

Prince Henry, the Duke of Gloucester and son of King George V, officially opened the Shrine before a crowd of 300,000 people in November 1934.

Since then, it has been a growing monument, with other memorials added to the site to mark the service of successive generations, such as the Second World War Forecourt and the Remembrance Garden – Post 1945 Memorial.   You can get more information about the Melbourne Shrine online at: www.shrine.org.au

Doncaster Shoppingtown Construction

Our closest shopping centre “Doncaster Shoppingtown” has been under construction for some time now, it is suppose to be the largest shopping centre in Melbourne when they are done which will include a 16-plex cinema! Hurray!  We went to check out the new wing that was just finished this week which includes some gormet stores selling chocolates, meats, nuts and beans, as well as a Bread Top (asian bread shop – very yummy).  There is an Ed Hardy store (the first I’ve seen here), and a couple other new glamours stores new to Melbourne. We took some snapshots of our weekend visit:

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LinkedIn – Job Networking Online! 

Definitely a new tool in the online job networking market and job search!  I seriously don’t think there are enough ways to connect online these days whether it be through Classmates.com connecting with High School mates, MySpace and Facebook for friend networking, or now LinkedIn.com.  With this new online tool you can enter your past jobs and connect back with past co-workers and colleagues, you can get recommendations, and it even provides you with an online resume with the basic details.  One click – your CV online in an instant!  Try it out at www.linkedin.com.   And when you do, add me as a contact!

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Mental Status:This is a three-day weekend, celebrating ANZAC Memorial Day (Australa/New Zealand Army Corps).  We are planning on doing nothing at all! And I couldn’t be more excited about getting lots of sleep.
Favourite thing this week: Started taking guitar lessons!
Album of the Week: Funplex: B-52’s
Upcoming events: Thailand trip 16 June