Thursday, March 17, 2011

Homeward (and Asia) Bound

We wrapped up 2010 with a trip back to the US to see our amazing family and friends! I can't think of anything more wonderful... except for a stopover in Thailand on the way back to Australia to ring in the new year! Yeah, that happened as well. Case in point, we had a wonderful Christmas vacation!

We left the summer heat (and rain- flooding post to follow) in Brisbane to return home and celebrate Christmas in the winter, like its intended. Santa, Christmas trees, egg nog and (fake) snow do not unify quite as well with the holiday season when its 105 degrees outside. Australia is smart to promote the surfing Santa. As soon as we stepped off the plane in Los Angeles, I made a b-line to starbucks and ordered an egg nog latte. Yummy. Don't judge, I only get it once a year (sometimes twice).

We spent our first days back in Texas hanging out with many of our amazing friends. Huge thanks to our wonderful friends who opened your homes to us, shared your cars with us, and allowed me to dance in your living room. Yes, this happened. And I love you gals even more because of it.

Doing what I do best. No, not singing. Close. Dancing.

Being an awesome dancer is hard work.

Outside of my amazing dancing spotshots, I did a terrible job with the camera throughout our Christmas time in the US. Lesson learned. Trust me, I'm more sad about it than anyone. Looks like I'll have to vividly detail out the remainder of our trip so you can create mental pictures of the fun times we had. Our fun (dancing) times in Dallas had to come to an end. Our families were calling. And some of our family members were calling us from London. A very snowy, snowed-in London. Jeff's mom and step dad were struck by terribly bad (or perhaps terribly awesome) luck and had to spend Christmas and the days surrounding in London. I pulled this picture from Mom S's facebook. Looks miserable. Only kidding Mom S. We missed you more than you'll ever know!

We were able to spend some wonderful, quality time with Jeff's grandparents. Sure do love and miss you both! We also shared several fantastic days and nights with Jeffs father, step mother, and siblings. We enjoyed every minute with all of you. Thank you for everything!

We departed one Texas town and journeyed to another. We arrived in New Braunfels on Christmas Eve, just in time to celebrate with my family. Again, we had such a wonderful time, and I miss and love you all more than you'll ever know. Fortunate for me, I was able score a couple photos of Jeff and our adorable niece, Caroline. Can you say Best Friends Forever and Ever. Uncle Jeffy & Caroline. It warmed my heart. Quite possibly the cutest combination of two individuals ever created. Personal opinion of course.

Merry Christmas. Now we're off to Thailand...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

2010 catch-up: Our perfect weekend in Melbourne

We've arrived! And right in time for the annual Melbourne Cup Horse Races (think fancier Kentucky Derby). This was our first trip to Melbourne and it was perfect. This city is known for its "four seasons in one day" and that's exactly what we experienced. We arrived on Friday night and enjoyed the evening out with some friends. We then woke up Saturday and got appropriately dressed for our day at the races. We attended Derby Day, which is the day of racing for the younger horses, and more importantly ladies, black and white day. Please check out the amazingly perfect shoes I found for Jeff at a second hand store! If only I could have found a similar pair of heels for myself the weekend really would have been perfect. Regardless, I'm very proud of this purchase. Thankfully I did find an extremely large hat, perfect for the races.

Got to love perfect finds at second hand stores

We began the day with clear skies and a light breeze. Perfect outdoor, race day weather. Also a perfect day to dress in all black and white and wear an extremely large hat.

Jeff and I at the train station headed to the races.

As we arrived to the race track, the weather was getting a bit hotter, however dark grey clouds were looming (aka day ruining clouds) in the distance. Quite quickly, 'distance' became straight overhead, and then 'straight overhead' quickly became permanent cloud cover and rain for the remainder of the weekend. Perfect day for non-stop rain. Absolutely perfect.

We powered through the rain, thankfully finding shelter under various, random tents throughout the race grounds. I also found my boss and co-worker under one of the tents. I was amazed to actually run into someone I know... as that's very rare for us, especially in a different city. This provided for a good time, and I got to spend some quality (drinking) time with my boss. Perfect.

Jeff's perfect outfit. Sans the rain poncho.

More friends, more rain, more beer

Enduring the rain... cheering on our horse, Americain. Appropriate, I know. Irony, its a French horse.

A picture of our horse, not winning.

All in all we had a wonderful time in Melbourne and a wonderful day at the racetracks... albeit the horse we bet on didn't win. Either way it was a trip, I'd say, that was close to perfect.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

2010 catch-up: Anniversary trip to Barossa Valley

My half-hearted blogging efforts have finally caught up with me. There's so much going on right now in Brisbane and our lives, but I still have a lot to catch you up on... like from 2010. Yikes. So, in efforts to bring you to present day, I must quickly take you back to October 2010- and to our AMAZING trip to the Barossa Valley for our anniversary. To remind you, for my birthday, Jeff surprised me and told me he had booked us a trip to Barossa, so I had been anxiously anticipating this trip for 3 months time. Let me assure you, it was well worth the wait. Barossa was absolutely magnificent! We had an incredible time and I discovered a sincere love for Shiraz... and have therefore been drinking it ever since ;-)

We flew to Adelaide, which is the main city about an hour outside of the Barossa Valley. See map below for better understanding. We spent one night in Adelaide, which was lovely... spent the evening exploring the city and dined at a wonderful little restaurant with--- you guessed it--- delicious Shiarz from the Barossa Valley.

Jeff opted for a martini?!?

I ordered wine, duh.

The next morning we woke up and departed for the wine country. Jeff hired a driver for the day, who picked us up at 10am from our hotel (an adorable little bed and breakfast) and took us all over the Barossa Valley. We visited 8 different wineries and 2 cheese shops... not sure if I could describe a more perfect day. We had two more days in Barossa/Adelaide, so naturally we spent the second day visiting more wineries and cheese shops and wrapped up our trip with a drive through a lovely little German town and a final stop at the coast. For any of our visitors, planned or potential, I highly recommend stopping in at one of the Australian wineries and will happily volunteer to join you :-) See some of the highlights below...

Our arrival into Barossa Valley

It continues to get more beautiful...First stop- St Hallets

3rd stop- Two Hands

This is for Jeff's noze-brother friends. Recognize this disguise?

First cheese stop

Why thank you, I'll have one of each

And here it is... Jacob's Creek

Jeff at Jacobs Creek. Sad to say, definitely not our favorite.

Jeff being a great sport, trying a glass of 'Father-in-Law'

At the end of day 1...

Watching the sunset at our bed and breakfast

Fast forward to day 3... stop in the German town for a very large beer

Final stop at the coast.

Saying farewell to a wonderful trip...

Sunday, January 9, 2011

New Year, New Commitments, Better Blogging

Happy 2011 to everyone! Jeff and I rang in the new year on the beaches of Thailand (more details to follow in a later post), and I committed to him, and to all of the followers of our blog, that in 2011 I'd be better about updating the blog. We have lots of planned and potential trips this year, along with several confirmed and potential visitors... so this should be a fun year of blogging.

Here's to 2011 and my beach side promises. I've listed my other (million) new years resolutions along with Jeff's (two) at the bottom of the page... one guess who's the over-committer in this relationship...

Amy's New Years Resolutions
1. Stop complaining/self diagnosing (never going to happen, but I did this for Jeff)
2. Update the blog more
3. Join the gym and do exercise outside of just running
4. Learn to cook red meat (again, for Jeff)
5. Remember and acknowledge all loved ones birthday's
6. Be more diligent with writing back my US pen pal (CW)
7. Be more adventurous
8. Stop picking at myself (split ends, biting my nails... oops)
9. Be better with taking pictures/posting them
10. Live in the moment and take time to relax
11. Reach out to a different friend each month that I haven't spoken to in a while
12. Enjoy Australia and maximize each day here

Jeff's New Years Resolution(s)
1. Better work life balance
2. Remember and acknowledge all loved ones birthdays (sound familiar?!? And lets guess who will remind Jeff of birthdays and actually mail the card...)

Cheers to 2011!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Auditor by Day, Footy Player by Night

Jeff decided in his down time from auditing he'd enroll in the most full-contact, violent, pad-less sport available in Brisbane--- Rugby. Yep, that's correct, Jeff joined the KPMG Rugby Team. Fun, painful, and stressful times for both of us. Me, mainly stress. Jeff, mainly pain. The other, bigger teammates, mainly fun. Good news- the KPMG team won! Bad news- two players were carted off the field on stretchers. Good news- neither of them were Jeff. Bad news- one of them was almost me.

Highlights of his first rugby game are below.

The team warming up. Jeff is #10

More warm-up or perhaps gymnastics?!?

Yes, I made him wear a mouth guard. I tried to make him wear a helmet, shoulder pads, elbow pads, knee pads, and shin guards. Thankfully his mom is in dentistry, therefore I won with the mouthguard.

Snapshots of the brutality... I pray we have daughters

This is not a huddle, this is the precursor to a dog pile

This is the aftermath of the game... and the winning team!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Mr. Manager

Does that handsome young man look familiar? Well, some of you may know him as Jeffrey, but as of October 1st he has taken on a new title... Mr. Manager! Yep that's right, Jeff was officially promoted to Manager! I am so very proud of him, as he has worked very hard for this promotion, and is definitely deserving of it.
Good work Mr. Manager!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Mom S has arrived!

5 months without us is a long time, I agree. Jeff's mom had reached her limit--- so she did what everyone else should do... jumped on a plane and came to see us! We were so excited for her visit and had an absolutely brilliant time! Thank you Mom S for coming to see us. Love you and miss you already. Come back anytime... the spare bedroom is waiting.

Once the search party tracked down Mom S at the airport, we wasted no time and were off to the New Farm Farmers Market. We enjoyed fresh strawberry juice, coffee, and lots of treats! Sadly I forgot my camera (sorry- Mom S arrived really early... she was lucky we were showered!), so I've posted some old pictures of the Farmers Market to help you visualize our morning adventures. I did remember my camera for many of our other excursions... so don't fire me yet.

As promised to all our visitors, we welcomed her with a champagne toast and a box fan for the bedroom. For those who know Jeff's family well, box fans are a must for a good nights rest. Couldn't deprive her of that while in Australia--- fan was assembled and ready before arrival.

Day 2, whale watching. No time for jet lag, that's for the weak. Jeff and his mother tend to get a bit seasick, so they heavily medicated themselves, and talked me into trying it as well. I've never had an issue with seasickness, but then again, I haven't had much experience with the sea. So, we traveled to the coast, sans motion sickness, and boarded a boat for an afternoon of whale siting. Everything started off quite lovely. We surveyed the homes lining the waterfront, spotting helicopters and other domestic necessities. Then, as we entered the sea, just as the fun was about to begin, I welcomed the pleasant feeling of seasickness, and was able to enjoy it the rest of the afternoon. Not fun. So, from what Jeff and Mom S told me, it was an awesome afternoon with lots of whale and dolphin sitings. Good news, I remembered my camera. Bad news, I was sick the whole time, so Jeff did his best to capture the moment.

The Gold Coast

Before the seasickness...

Male Model

Helicopter. We just ordered ours.

More of the Gold Coast

Maybe I should let Jeff have the camera more often...

Sike! Unfortunately we didn't see anything like this...

But we did see lots of whales break the surface of the water...

Jeff and I spent the next week chained to our desks, so Mom S explored Brisbane on her own. She was quite the champion when it came to direction and getting around the city! Didn't get lost once--- I still get lost, sometimes on the way home from work. She made all the necessary stops... Koala Sanctuary, Botanical Gardens, Museums, and Queens Street Mall. Eventually Jeff and I were able to break free from the chains and escaped work for some weekend beach adventures! Very thankful for our Houdini lessons a couple weeks ago.

We traveled to Coolum Beach on the Sunshine Coast and stayed at a beautiful resort there. Jeff had to work one of the days, so Mom S and I ventured down to the beach together, and ran into a very talkative lifesaver (Aussie term for lifeguard, yummy), Mike. Mike insisted we all take photos together, so we followed orders. Then after a 25 minute summary of his life, and a promise to send him a t-shirt from the US, we left Mike and trekked down the beach...

Mom S at Coolum Beach

Me with Lifesaver Mike

Mom S and lifesaver Mike

Mom S and me at the beach

Jeff joined us after work and the three of us enjoyed a wonderful evening and dinner together.

All good things must come to an end. A week flew by and before we knew it Mom S was on her way back to Texas. I tried to persuade her to stay, but Longivew was calling. We spent our last night together with an intense game of Gin Rummy. Mom S claims she's never played before... but somehow she put Jeff and I to shame. We've been practicing and are ready for a rematch. Love you and miss you Mom S! Thanks for coming to see us.