Aussie Bites and grapes!
When I woke up this morning, I felt the opposite of what I felt over these past few weeks. I got up early to exercise, did my full P90X Plyometrics workout (minus the bonus part, because I get more excited about going upstairs and showering...and the bonus is very boring) brimming with energy. I had enough time before class to make an egg (2 whites and one whole) and mushroom scrambler, clean up, and pack my snacks for the day.
Aussie Bites and grapes!
I sampled one of these Aussie Bites at Costco yesterday, and I could not believe how delicious they taste. Sure it helps that they are called "Aussie Bites", but they could be called anything and I would still love them.
They have a pretty rockin' list of ingredients, too. My brother and I are hooked on them right now. He's staying here overnight, and then he's going back to the city in the morning with Libby.
As for the monster in my closet, this is my laundry that I haven't done since I got home. The pile to the right is a bunch of clothes that I am giving away, and its gargantuan brother pile is my laundry basket. I moved it into my closet today so that I wouldn't have to look at it, but unfortunately it's not one of those things that will shrink by ignoring it.
I'm going to study for my first organic chemistry quiz, and then I'm going to sleep. I'm so glad that I finally had a good day!
I blame the remnants of jet lag (apparently it takes one day for every time zone you cross over to recover, in which case it will supposedly take me about 17 days for my body to return back to normal), the cold gray January skies, and my post-holiday depression (at this point, I really can't list any positives of a long-distance relationship) on the fact that I've been like this since I returned back to the states (refer to photo below):
Just like a dog.
All I want to do is sleep. I've done two P90X workouts since I got home, and I didn't even have the energy to get through half of the second one. Everything I do is exhausting. I'd worry about myself, except I know that I am this way for the reasons that I listed above.
With that said, I realize it's now time to socialize again, exercise again, and get out of bed when my clock says AM instead of PM. Many people experience post-vacation blues and live in cold winter regions, so I really need to quit this pity party that I'm having with myself. I need to live again.
My classes resumed last Tuesday. I never have class before noon (which enables my ability to pretty much sleep as late as I want), but I'm not sleeping in tomorrow. I am getting out of bed several hours before class and am exercising. I will do the same thing the day after that and the day after that. No excuses. I will never feel better if I don't get back into my routine.
At least I have this creature to make me feel better:
Jon dropped off Libby last Tuesday, and he's picking her up again tomorrow. She's been with us for a full week, and we've had so much fun. As always, she lives on my bed. She's an automatic mood-booster.
Although I sleep a lot, I still make sure that I get good food. The first time that I went to dinner with my parents after I got home, I told them that I really wanted to get sushi. We went to Sushi Kushi San3 in Vernon Hills. The original branch is in Lake Forest, but this one is much closer to us.
The three of us split a massive plate of six different rolls. I can't begin to tell you what each roll was, but I know that I liked them all. All the way to the right (above), you can see that they gave us a side of tempura flakes as an added garnish. YUM.
I also deviated from my normal cereal routine this weekend and made an egg scrambler for brunch (I can't call it breakfast, since I didn't wake up early enough for that). I whisked two egg whites and one egg yolk with a few drops Worcestershire sauce. I sauteed two large mushrooms (finely chopped) and then combined it with the egg, shredded arugula, and mozzarella cheese. It was the perfect combination for me. I thought about making an omelette, but scramblers are always more satisfying to me for some reason.
I also peeled a grapefruit like an orange and placed it on my plate. It was all too much for one meal, but I managed to get it all down after a while with the help of the dogs Cody and Libby. I could never imagine that dogs would like grapefruits, but I guess you learn new and interesting things all the time.
Guess what else we did over the weekend? We took the dogs to the dog park to play in the snow.
What a pretty golden retriever!
We went into the woods, which we don't always do. I'm sure it's nice in warmer weather, but I think snow always makes things look prettier.
So, I guess I got SOME exercise over the weekend. I'm just excited to pull myself back together and become a healthier and happier person again. I miss that. Bring on tomorrow!
More New Years Eve Pictures
Our friend Claire posted more pictures from New Years Eve, so I made sure to post them for you. That was such a fun night.
I didn't photograph all of my food during the trip, but I did get some good snaps during my last week in Melbourne. If there's one good thing about being in a big city, it's that you can find all sorts of food.
One of the days while Al was at work, I moseyed over to Spud Bar for lunch. There are lots of locations around Melbourne, and there are two in Western Australia (I'm not sure if those locations are near Perth). Here, everything revolves around the potato, and everything comes out fast. However, you won't find your potato deep-fried in oil like so many fast food places. Instead, you can choose from dozens of healthy toppings and menu options. You can also sub a sweet potato if you desire.
I ordered the Tuna Melt, which was shredded cheese (but not an excessive amount), tuna with spring onions, corn and egg mayo, shredded cabbage, carrot, peas, and tzatziki sauce over a baked potato. I didn't know how these flavor combinations would go together, but I really enjoyed it. The cheese wasn't overpowering, so it didn't compete with the tastes of the tzatziki and the tuna. I was also full before I even finished half of it.
The front windows to the restaurant were removed since the weather was so nice, so I sat at the bench along the front and felt just like I was sitting outside. I also enjoyed my book.
A few days later, I walked to the edge of the city to meet Al for a drink after work. We went to Riverland, which is my favorite pub in Melbourne. They have a huge beer garden that looks out onto the Yarra River, and it is always packed with people with good weather. There were no chairs for the two of us, so we sat on a bench.
After that, we took a tram closer to his area so that we could eat dinner. I told him that I saw some hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurants that looked really good around there, so we chose one of those called Ecco. As I suspected, it was perfectly Italian. They asked us if we wanted sparkling water or still water (they will always ask you that in Italy), the decor was very simple (just like a restaurant in Italy), and the pizzas were just as authentic as any good pizza you could eat over there.
I ordered a wood-fired white pizza called Bresaola e Miele Tartufato, which had fresh mozzarella cheese, bresaola (cured beef), grana padano (a hard cheese similar to parmesan), arugula, and truffled honey. It was one of the best pizzas I've ever had. The combination of the truffled honey and cheese could have been enough to make me go back for this every night. Also, like most thin-crust Italian pizzas, you can eat the entire plate without feeling stuffed.
Al got a basic margherita pizza with prosciutto. He also finished everything that he ordered without feeling too full. We felt the way that we should feel: satisfied.
The next morning, we took a day trip to the Mornington Peninsula so that we could visit the T'Gallant Winery for lunch. It took us a little over an hour to get there from Melbourne.
I was so excited to get there and have a relaxing lunch with Al while looking out onto the vineyards, but I soon learned that that was impossible. T'Gallant has a cellar door, but their main attraction is their restaurant that caters to people of all ages. As soon as we got there, we were dodging small children, strollers, swarms of family gatherings, and a lot of hungry people waiting in line to order their food. Unfortunately, it was not the idea I had for an afternoon at a winery.
We couldn't find anywhere for the two of us to sit outside, so we sat in a depressing dining room off to the side of the kitchen. While Al held our seat, I went to order our food. I waited in line for twenty minutes, and I quickly learned that I wasn't able to stand anywhere without being in somebody's way. I couldn't begin to count how many times I was asked to move. It was extremely irritating, but I was eventually able to get to the front of the line and order.
Al and I split a large pizza. Half was zucchini with pine nuts and arugula (mine) and the other half was a margherita (Al's). The food was good, but I still can't say it was worth the aggravation (nor was it as good as the pizza from the night before).
We visited the cellar door for a quick wine tasting after lunch. I enjoyed the wine (and also bought two bottles with a 50% discount thanks to Al), but the person pouring our wine didn't talk to us at all or give us much attention. He was busy talking to another couple, and it didn't seem like he wanted us there. That was a bit of a bummer.
I wish that it could have been a better experience. I would have liked it a lot more if it wasn't so touristy. I loved, however, that their wines have Shakespearean names such as Romeo and Juliet. Their labels were gorgeous, but I think I'd rather to go a retailer than have to go back there again. Maybe it was just a bad day to go there.
Afterwards, we drove to Arthur's Seat, which is a hill that overlooks the ocean. We walked out to the popular lookout point. It was very pretty, although it would have been better if there were not so many trees in the way. Luckily, we ended up seeing some perfect views of the ocean on the way down the hill.
That's all for Melbourne recaps!
Hi friends! I split the rest of my trip into two posts. I didn't capture all of the touristy things to do in Melbourne here since I've been there quite a few times, so I linked some of my previous Melbourne posts to help give you a better idea of the city if you don't know very much about it.
The Rest of Melbourne
Marry Me Kerry (St Kilda)
Cute White Animals
The Start of the Holiday
He's Going to Melbourne!
I've only been to three of Australia's big cities (Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney). I enjoy them all for different reasons, but Melbourne is the star in my opinion. There is so much to do there, and the streets are always full of people. Unlike Sydney, however, it's very easy to get around. I could see myself living there.
During my time in Melbourne this time around, Al was at work Monday through Friday. He could usually get out of work earlier than 5, but I still had to find ways to entertain myself during the day. My exercise discipline was waning since we went to Port Vincent, but I still did it for a few of those days. I also went out and explored.
One of those days, I walked through the Royal Botanic Gardens and could not believe that I was standing in the middle of a city. I felt like I was in a rain forest instead.
I also went to the Shrine of Remembrance. I've only ever driven past it, and I always wanted to walk over and get a better view of this magnificent war memorial.
This is the astonishing view from Alastair's apartment. From where he lives, it takes about 30 minutes to walk to the city. His apartment is also down the street from a tram stop and also very close to a train stop.
Below is the business centre(/center) in his apartment building. I thought these desk/chair things were very interesting! I promised my friend Kate I'd get a picture in one.
Here's an educational fact about Australian cities (and something that Australians might find interesting about American cities): In Australian cities, the name of the city only applies to the business district (Australians call it the Central Business District, or the CBD). Imagine, for instance, if Chicago only applied to the Loop. I can't relate it to any other big city, but I'm sure that you get the idea.
Any part of the city that you would consider to be a neighborhood, such as Lincoln Park in Chicago or Chelsea in New York City, is considered to be a separate suburb in Australia.
From the Australian point of view, imagine if South Yarra in Melbourne or Darling Harbour in Sydney were "neighborhoods" of the city and not suburbs. Anybody in those neighborhoods would have a Melbourne address.
It's interesting how it works in other countries, isn't it?
I laugh when I think about how much these Australia posts will contrast with my snow post, but that's usually what happens when you travel to opposite ends of the earth when temperatures are at their most extreme. It's snowing here, and I just battled weather in Adelaide and Victoria that got up to nearly 41 degrees (105.8 degrees Fahrenheit).
Let's go back there, shall we?
One of my favorite parts about going back to Australia after not being there for a while is that I forget how funny Australians can be. For instance, where in the United States can you find a lingerie shop called The Booby Trap Warehouse? Across the Pacific and down south a bit, you can find one in Adelaide, Australia. I bought several bras from there. True story.
When we were driving back and forth between Melbourne and Adelaide (and to our New Years Eve destination), I found another reason why Australians are funny. I saw their country road signs.
Do you get it? Don't drive like a W-anchor? Wanker? Isn't that a great way to grab your attention when you're thinking about speeding down the road and tailgating and weaving around the cars like a complete wanker? I sure think so.
If you're a super-American like my mom and really don't understand the billboard at all because you've never heard the word "wanker" before (or don't watch enough Hugh Grant movies), then I can tell you that the word basically means "jerk". There are other meanings, so look here if you're in the mood for educating yourself in the art of British slang.
As I mentioned before, we had some very hot days in Adelaide. We spent a lot of time relaxing since that weather can make you pretty lethargic, but we got out of the house too. There were Christmas gifts to exchange, a few friends who were actually in town to meet, bras to buy at the Booby Trap, and beaches far as the eye could see.
I'm not sure if you know this about Adelaide, but they have outstanding beaches. During one of our afternoons, we drove over to Henley Beach. Glenelg is the most popular city beach, but we avoided it since we knew it would be impossible to find parking and space to even walk around on a day like this.
We walked over to Henley Square for lunch, and I got a real Greek salad. "Real" Greek salads have all of the essentials of any other Greek salad, but it's not mixed in with lettuce. There are also huge chunks of cheese, which made this girl very happy.
Later on, I met my friend Megan (read her blog Story Book Love Affair- it's all about books, and she's a fantastic writer!) at Lemongrass Bistro on Rundle Street (the most fun street in Adelaide). I've always wanted to eat here while I was living in Adelaide, but I never got the chance. The one time that we made reservations, I got sick a few hours before dinner.
Lemongrass has outstanding Thai food. You can order all different sorts of noodle dishes, but I was intrigued with the menu option that allows you to pick your combination of sauce, vegetable, and protein. I chose the Lemongrass (bottom left), which included mushrooms, capsicum (red pepper) and other spicy veggies. I chose the tofu as my protein, and I was not disappointed.
Megan ordered the Char-Grilled Chicken (bottom right), which was garlic, herbs, sweet chili sauce, chicken, and vegetables. We both loved what we ordered.
We packed up our bags the next day and drove to Port Vincent for New Years Eve. Instead of trying to explain where it is, I drew you a map (below). Port Vincent is the pink bubble, and Adelaide is on the other side of the water. The only way that you can get there is to drive around, so it took us about 2.5 hours to get there.
The land that juts out there and slightly resembles a boot is called the Yorke Peninsula. A lot of people who live in Adelaide also own homes there. It's an ideal place for fishing, snorkeling, diving or surfing.
Just for fun, I also "drew" you a map of Australia. The red bubble shows Adelaide, and you can just make out the Yorke Peninsula next to it.
Before I recap Port Vincent, I really want to stress the fact that you can't live in Adelaide without knowing several people with a "holiday shack". So many people own homes in the city, but they will also own a house somewhere else, such as Kangaroo Island, the Yorke Peninsula, Hindmarsh Island, the Limestone Coast, the Fleurieu Peninsula, or the Riverlands.
People often call them "shacks", because they are never as nice as their homes in the city. They may be in their Adelaide homes for 11 months and one week out of the year, but as soon as Christmas rolls around, the city empties out with everybody going to their holiday homes. These homes also have the capacity to sleep armies of people, because they often have bunk rooms. Those who don't get a bed can still sleep there; they just sleep outside in a tent or a swag.
Days are spent on the beach, curled up with a book, or watching ten hours of cricket. Nights are spent with delicious dinners made on the barbie and a few bottles of wine. This is the time to relax and enjoy time with your family and your friends. You may have to share one bathroom with 17 other people and wake up to mosquitoes biting your face, but it doesn't matter. All in all, I really admire this post-Christmas tradition that can never happen in the United States of America.
This was exactly like our time in Port Vincent, except the house our friends rented was a NICE shack.
We spent a lot of time at the beach. Our friend Bonnie rented the house, but she and her sister Cat also have a family home there with a boat. I went on the boat, although I never ended up going water skiing. I definitely should have!
After beach time was beer time and nail-painting time. By the way, you can't see in this picture, but our tent was set up on the deck around the corner. Yes, we slept in a tent for two nights.
Boys got their nails painted, too.
We had steak on the barbie.
Duncan's homemade potato salad.
It doesn't get more Australian than this!
The next day included more beach, lots of time reading, and watching people jump off the dock (I stole this picture from Lara- thank you!).
Then the girls went home to pretty themselves (this house had TWO bathrooms, fortunately), and New Years Eve officially started. Bonnie and Cat's family came by to see the house, and they brought a few appetizers in addition to our own. There was a ton of food.
There was plenty of beer, wine, and cocktails.
My favorite appetizer was smoked salmon on a baguette with capers. YUM!
Oh yes, I also enjoyed the brie very much.
I didn't have one of these, but I'm pretty sure these were appetizers of the Asian variety.
They brought their dog, too.
He got LOTS of attention!
Of course, there was more barbecuing.
Duncan and Claire!
The meat! Sausages and lamb (I think it was lamb).
Lara and I were in meatless moods, so we ate lots of potato and salad.
We also got a visit from the neighborhood dog. He came up to the house a whole bunch of times and attempted to persuade us in a game of fetch.
He usually won at least one of us over. How can you say no to a face like that?
He has owners, but they let him run around during the day and play with the neighbors.
Soon, the sun went down and the dancing began. I was up there once they broke out the Backstreet Boys.
We had a delicious pavlova for dessert with fresh berries.
There were sparklers.
We all had a wonderful time.
Including the blokes.
We drove back to Adelaide the day after that, and then we went back to Melbourne early the following morning. It was an exceptionally warm seven-hour drive, so I was very happy when we made it back to Al's apartment.
I just realized that I have no recollection of mentioning that Alastair moved to Melbourne last year after visiting me in Chicago. I'm sure you would have figured that out by now, but I feel pretty silly for not bringing that up. I have the tendency to just suppose that I already told people things, so I am very sorry if I forgot!
This terrible blogger has been back in the US for a few days, and she has a lot of catching up to do!
Before I cover more of my Australian holiday (yes, I said holiday), I need to show you what happened the day after I got back to Chicago.
This was my first big snow since 2009. I probably should have put on my jacket, boots and snow pants (....which I don't think I've owned a pair since perhaps 2000?) and rolled around in it like I did in my much younger days. Instead, I spent a lot of time looking at it (looking at the world after a heavy snowfall never gets boring) and getting it off of my car.
More posts to come!