My Life Abroad: The Adventures of Two Birds
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Jan '13

A Summer Christmas Visit

Even after all these years I still can’t get used to the Summer Christmas.  I don’t know if it’s just the 100F (41C) degree heat, or that people still sing Frosty the Snowman, White Christmas, and Let it Snow.  All in all we survived what they call Down Under, the “silly season”.  Mom was out again for another holiday, 3-weeks this time and it was nice to actually spend some quality time with her this time around.

IMG_1165We started off by heading out to the moonlight cinema at the Melbourne Botanical Gardens, were we watched an less than average film and it sprinkled on us the entire time…  it was no B-52’s at a muddy winery – but it was fun!

This year was the first that we were assigned Christmas Dinner at our house, so we decided to keep the plastic tree in the attic and go cut a real one this year.  The 9 footer fit in our living room quite well (I might go a foot shorter next year – they are really hard to decorate when they are that tall).

We spent about three days making Christmas cookies – they were soooo yummy – I’m not sure why I’m saying “were” because we have heaps left over in the freezer!  Did you know you can freeze your Christmas cookies – they last forever and they taste yummy even when frozen.    We made everything from Gingerbread reindeer, to oatmeal cranberry, pumpkin with a kiss, rice krispie treats (rice bubbles for you Aussies), all beautifully delicious.

On Christmas Day we usually do a morning brunch of seafood.  Pretty much all of the significant cities in Australia are on the coast so seafood is a big deal here – and of course it is very good!  We did some cold king prawns with dipping sauce, and Oysters Kilpatrick.  It was a nice break from our Dinner prep.  I should rephrase that – they call it Christmas Lunch here, and we served around 2pm.

Birdie’s family came for Christmas Lunch, his parents, and my brother- and sister-in-law with the niece and nephew.  We tooled around for a while, had a drink and watched as Birdie finished up with his new smoker – smoking a Turkey and a Ham.  A bit of Rotisserie Pork on the BBQ and we were overloaded with meat!  I try to make a more traditional Thanksgiving dinner for our annual get together, and usually we have Christmas at the parents.  Birdie tried to do a more traditional spread with long bean and asparagus wrapped in prosciutto, roasted tomato’s and vegies, Rod made my favourite Italian Sausage Stuffing (my Mom’s recipe), and I made a pumpkin pie and a cheesecake. Believe me when I say it was more food than we 9 could eat!!

The full photo album is here: 

The kids opened their gifts and there was a horrible wrapping paper disaster in our living room but alls well that ends well.  Everyone was tired and happy at the end of the day.

I did plan a bit of activity around Mom’s trip this year.  She got to go to our 12-week scan and see the baby move around on the ultrasound, we spent more quality time just hanging out than really going off to do too many things – that’s the way I like it.  We went to see our first Opera together at Opera Victoria – Madame Butterfly – which was spectacular!  And I took her to see her first Play – War Horse – which was even more spectacular!  And on Boxing Day (that’s the day after Christmas – traditionally when gifts would be given to the servants), we went to the Gold Class Cinema, had lunch and watched Les Misérables (fabbbulooous)!  On our last day we had high tea and devonshire scones in Sassafras and then had dinner with Mum and Dad in the mountains.

We wrapped up our visit with a bit of baby shopping and we are excited to be coming back to the US in October next year with the baby to see everyone!

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday and that you enjoyed our pictures!

Dec '10

Our trip to California

Family and Sierra Nevada Brewery

Going home to Chico was fun as always, we got to see so many friends – it seemed like everyone came out of the woodwork for the night.  Some that never come out to the bars even… and thank you for that everybody.  I had a great time.  The Sierra Nevada Brewery was great, we always love going there, and we met up with my friend Liz, her boyfriend Cody and baby Gavin. The cheesecake was yummy!!  We also made a special trip to see Kahlua, Marie & Leanne.  As always the Sierra Nevada Brewery was great, on our second trip with John and Jackie, and Dustin we tried the beer sampler of all the Sierra Nevada beers in a short taster glass each. 

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NBA Basketball 

During our trip we went to a few Sacramento Kings basketball games, and we had some nosebleed seats, and some floor seats.  We also got a close up of Andrew Bogut (the Australian player on the Bucks).


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Christmas at the Hay house

We’ve spent the week shopping, and going out for some fun dinners while in Sacramento.  With Mom and friends, we’ve had a good time! Were settling down a little for Christmas then back on to the shopping, and all the after Christmas sales.  We had Gramma, and my cousin Lavette, my brother Adam and girlfriend Kat, and Mom, and the dog Raider (yes Mom is a Raiders fan). It was nice to be home with the family this year for Christmas, hoping to catch up with a bit more family and some friends before we head on to New York City for New Years Eve and 5-days of sight seeing.  Stay tuned for pics of our New Years Eve events!

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Our Christmas Day


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Merry Christmas everyone!

Oct '10

Our trip home 2010

Well it’s been a long year, actually two years.  With my illness, followed by my Mother being sick it’s been terrible being away from my family and friends at home.  We’ve decided to make the trek home for Christmas this year to spend time with my Mom and do a wee bit of travelling.  We are unable to do much visiting this trip, which we seem to do when we come… we travel all this way from Australia to the U.S. only to spend every waking moment driving all over heaven and earth to see everyone.  This time if you want to see us, you’ll have to come to Sacramento.  We are going to spend 2-weeks at my Mom’s house, to see her and spend time with her.  So I hope to see you and that you’ll be able to catch up and see us.

new-york.jpgRod has been getting excited about seeing the Sacramento Kings (his favourite), so we have already purchased tickets for several games.  We’ll spend 1-2 days in Chico where I was living before I moved to Australia, to see my old band mates and friends.  Other than that we will be homebodies, enjoying the Christmas hoildays with Mom, Adam, and Lavette & Gramma.  Our last week is a long planned visit to New York City, where we will be for New Years Eve… catch a broadway show, enjoy the sights, and probably the snow.  We’ve definitely been looking forward to a visit to NYC for a few years now.

This trip might be the last for a couple years, we’ll be starting our IVF in late January after the return from the trip – so I doubt we will be able to travel much during that time.  I hope to catch up if you have time, and look forward to seeing anyone that can spare the time to visit.  We miss everyone, but especially my little family at home.

My health is starting to plateau, and things are looking good so far.  I’ve tried to rid as much stress from my life as humanly possible.  Still seeing what seems like a billion doctors, I have now moved on to specialists in the area of Wegners – including my IVF doctor which has two other Wegners patients, one of which is pregnant right now.  Even at 40, and with no eggs myself, all my doctors believe I have a great chance of succeeding with a pregnancy now.  All green lights at this stage, my diabetes is very well managed, we have a donor egg, and we are ready to hit the ground running!  Fingers crossed everyone, at this age I’m gonna need it!

More details to come…

Dec '09

Recipe: Raspberry and Vanilla Bean Charlotte


This is a lovely ice cream cake I found in my recipie rag.  Thought I’d give it a go for our Boxing Day BBQ Lunch with the Eagles. 

For you Americans, Boxing Day is the day after Christmas and the name derives from from the Anglo-Saxon tradition giving seasonal gifts to less wealthy people and social inferiors. Until their distribution, these gifts were stored in a “Christmas box”, which was opened on December 26, when the contents were distributed. In the United Kingdom, this was later extended to various workpeople such as labourers and servants. Boxing Day is celebrated in Commenwealth Conuntries such as Canada, Australia, U.K., Greenland, New Zealand, and Hong Kong to name a few.  Basically it is a glorified public holiday, and biggest sale and shopping day of the year.


1 springform pan
1 pint of ice cream, defrosted in the fridge 1-hour to soften (I made my own: Vanilla Bean)
1 large Swiss Roll cake, cut into 8mm rounds
300 g frozen Raspberries
1/3 cup (75 g) Caster Sugar

To make the berry compote, place the frozen raspberries in a pan over medium-low heat. Add sugar and stir for 3-4 minutes until berries have softened and sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat, then chill compote in fridge.

cake3.JPGGrease and line a 20mm springform cake pan. Press the Swiss roll slices into the base of the pan, ensuring the base is completely covered. Line sides of the pan with the remaining slices, packing tightly but without overlapping. There will be some overhanging slices of Swiss Roll at the top.

If you are going to create your own ice cream, you can use chocolate or vanilla for this recipie. I start the ice cream in the machine as I am lining the springform pan.  If you are using store bought ice cream be sure to soften it by defrosting for at least 1-hour in the fridge before you begin.  Pour ice cream into a bowl and fold in 1/3 of the raspberry compote, then pour mixture into the cake pan. Trim overhanging jam roll, then press into the bottom of the ice cream.

Cover the cake pan with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 1-2 hours untilthe ice cream is firmly set, release the sides of the pan and turn the charlotte out onto a flat cake1.JPGplate. Spoon over the remaining compote, then serve immediately.  Serves 6-8


1  ice cream maker/machine
2  eggs
1/2 cup sugar (I use Low G.I. sugar and run through the processor until fine)
1-1/2 cups – whipping cream
1-1/2 cups – milk
1-1/2 tsp – vanilla bean extract

Beat eggs and sugar with a whisk until light. Add whipping cream, milk and vanilla.  Combine thoroughly.

Pour into the ice cream machine and churn for 20-30 minutes until desired consistency is achieved.

Dec '09

Recipe: Chocolate Covered Cherries and Strawberrys

choc.JPGHere’s an easy treat for Chrissy – take melted dark or milk chocolate and dip in your favourite fruit!  These are my treats for the family Christmas Lunch this year…


Yea, more recipies coming this Christmas season, and my Mother keeps complaining I post too many pictures of food on my blog – but food makes me “melt”.  Looooove chocolate covered cherries, and we are lucky enough to be able to find Maraschino Cherries here in Australia (Maxi Foods). 

Unfortunately they don’t have my very favourite: Chocolate Covered Cherry Cordials – which for you Aussies that haven’t tried them are: maraschino cherry surrounded by a liquid center covered in milk chocolate or dark chocolate. 

Cherry without coconut is unheard of in Oz, but I’m telling you it’s fabo!

How to make your own Chocolate Covered Cherry’s

     ~ 1 – 600 g bag tempered or melting chocolate
     ~ 1 jar maraschino cherrys

Heat chocolate in a pan on low until melted, or use microwave on increments of 1-minute until melted.  Dip fruit and lay on baking paper to harden.  Keep refrigerated until ready to serve! 


See Mom… looks yummy huh?