Sunday, October 30, 2011


In the last week, I have been rejected from two different teaching jobs. I was not even selected for an interview for either of these jobs, which was really disappointing. Granted, I do not have teaching certification (they call it 'registration' here), because I am waiting on my criminal background check from the FBI in the United States (which was mailed from Oz in early September and according to the FBI will still take another 3-4 weeks to process!), so I'm sure that is not helping matters. As I reflected on my situation I realized that I have NEVER been rejected from a job or school related application, so I'm sure that could be one reason why this is so hard for me. Salisbury was my number one choice for undergrad, UNC for grad school, Riverside for my first job, and Mt. Carmel for my second job. Looking back, it seems I have been very fortunate in the past, and clearly it will be different this time around. With my degrees, experience, and recommendations from former employers I expected to be a very competitive candidate for teaching jobs, but it seems that my American education and work experience might not interest the principals in Australia.

On the plus side, I'm really enjoying my temp job. The first week was a bit rough...getting used to working 9-5 and not being able to be outside while working made me realize why I enjoy being an athletic trainer. I'm working for a non-profit and was even invited to their Annual General Meeting last week, which made me feel like I'm really part of their "team". The people I work with are fantastic and they have created a variety of tasks for me to work on in order to prevent boredom, which is much appreciated! I am biking to work now as well and I'm learning to LOVE it. On warm days it's a little annoying to be sweating when I walk into the office but not sitting in traffic or waiting for the late tram makes up for it. 

Another exciting highlight of this week was buying tickets to head to Sydney for the weekend in a few weeks. This was a birthday surprise from Erik and I'm super excited to see the sights of Sydney!! It will be my first visit to an Aussie beach too, since we are a bit far from the coast here in Melbourne. We are also still debating our Christmas destination. We were pretty set on Thailand, but with the crazy flooding in Bangkok we have yet to pull the trigger to buy our tickets. Bali is an option but it's rainy season there, and we haven't ruled out just flying to one of Thailand's islands, most likely Koh Samui, and saving Bangkok for another time. Malaysia and Fiji are on our list as well, as we can get there relatively inexpensively from Oz.

The only picture I have to share this week is our bargain produce from a trip to the Footscray Market yesterday. A 10 lb bag of potatoes for $3, apples for $1.49/kg (that's $0.67/lb!), and zucchini for $0.99/kg ($0.45/lb!) were the highlights. $19.15 for all of these yummy fruits and veggies!

Of course the expense of other foods over here compensates for the wonderfully cheap produce. We were going to make a trip to the USA Foods store today, which is a least a 2 hour round trip adventure from our house, but the weather did not cooperate. Fortunately our parents have helped in that regard, as we received lots of goodies from the States last week including Crisco (finally proper cookie baking can commence!), Franks hot sauce & Ranch dressing packets (so that I can actually make a REAL buffalo chicken dip), Nestle semi-sweet chocolate chips, peanut butter M&M's, and a bag of my favorite chocolates in miniature form. After learning how much they've paid to ship things over though, I think we'll sacrifice the long trip to the store or even pay to have things shipped from the store this time around. If we had known that shipping would be so expensive and that some of our favorite foods would be so hard to find, I think we would have put a LOT more food in our container. :)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Baking, Birthdays, Beer, and.... SNAKES!

When Erik's birthday rolled around in late September, we were living with very limited kitchen items, so I could not make a proper birthday cake for him. I wanted to find a rainbow chip birthday cake recipe (his favorite), because I knew for SURE that I wouldn't find the rainbow chip box cake mix or frosting here in Oz! With my birthday arriving last week I decided to make the cake to celebrate both of our birthdays together. The cake turned out pretty well, though it was a bit buttery, and I think that butter here might be stronger or more concentrated than the butter in the States. It was the most intensive baking operation I've undergone in a while, and it reminded me how much I've missed baking the last few months!
In honor of our surname!
Erik is excited to FINALLY get a birthday cake.
Mmmmm, rainbow chip deliciousness!
The day after my birthday (much of which was still my birthday in the good 'ole USA), we went to a Microbreweries Showcase in Federation Square, which is basically a big indoor/outdoor area in the center of Melbourne near the sporting complexes. A few of Erik's co-workers told him about the event and I was on-board right away! One of the things I've struggled with here is picking out the "right" beers to drink, so this was a chance to taste MANY different beers for a reasonable price. Tickets were $25 and that included 20 samples of beer (sample sizes were very generous and several places did not even ask for our tickets) from the various breweries. The $25 also included a ticket for a free meat pie (an Aussie staple)...don't worry it's not as gross as it's actually quite good. Apparently this event occurs twice a year and we will definitely be going back. Erik actually enjoyed several of the beers as well, and I think he just might be on his way to discovering the goodness of beer! :) 
Fed Square

Yesterday was our first really warm day here in Oz, and as we were about to go off on our respective running adventures (no, we do not run together...he is too fast and I am to slow!), we saw a gecko peeking out of some bushes near our house. In my head I thought "hmmm, if he's out then other reptiles must be starting to come out as well," but I didn't say that out loud (if you are unaware, Erik is a little bit afraid of snakes).  Low and behold, about 20 minutes into my run, I saw a slithering creature about 10 feet ahead of me on the path. He had no interest in me though and headed straight from the path into the grass on the side of the trail.  It did cause me to pick up my speed a bit, but overall I wasn't adversely affected by my first encounter with an Aussie snake. Let's hope the rest of my snake encounters are just as boring. :)

Sunday, October 16, 2011


On Wednesday our 20 foot container was FINALLY delivered to our house, exactly 3 months to the day that it left our home in Elkridge!

I really cannot explain how exciting it was to watch the truck pull up, knowing that we were about to see all of our belongings, often referred to in the last few months as our "stuff"! Over the last few months we have watched and tracked our container as it sailed down the Atlantic Ocean to the Bahamas, over to Europe and through the Suez Canal, then up through the waters of Southern Asia and finally to Australia. We sent most of what we owned, as I did some research before we made the move and discovered that things would be much more expensive to buy here in Oz. Much of our furniture is Ikea and most of it has been around for close to 10 years (or more!), so our thoughts were to get 3 more years of use out of these things and then leave them here when we return to the US.

As we began to unpack, we found some funny things that made in on the ship that were NOT supposed to make the trip. We sent a rice cooker and a fondue pot, both of which are useless here. The 2 attachments for the Kitchen Aid mixer made the trip even though the mixer did not, as appliances run on a different voltage here and we learned before sending everything that even though our kitchen appliances could work here, running them would cause damage to the motor(s). I sent lots of US stamps (luckily they are "Forever" stamps, ha!), and both of the titles for the cars we sold in Maryland were in our file cabinet that was shipped (hmmm, that might have saved me a trip to the MVA!).

I was most excited about our kitchen utensils, cookware, and the box full of toiletries that I stocked up on before the container was packed. The shipping company advises against shipping liquids due to the extreme temperatures that occur while the container is at sea, but I stocked up on hair products, miscellaneous toiletries, and some make-up, packed them into large Zip Lock bags, and they all made it over safely! My shampoo/conditioner is more than twice as much here and mascara is $16, so thank goodness for my pre-shipping shopping trip. :)
Just try to ignore the mess and focus on my smiling face. :)
At this point we are about 75% unpacked and I think that the last 25% will take a bit longer to accomplish because I will be starting work tomorrow! I've accepted a temp job at a non-profit organization where I will be making phone calls and updating a customer database. The job is supposed to last 4 weeks, and I'm hoping to earn some money for our Christmas vacation, destination still TBD. I have not been to work since mid-June, so this could be a rough week!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Beauty of the Bike

There is great value in owning a bike in Melbourne, and not just for off-road biking adventures. Without a car, we rely on bikes for getting most places. We discussed a few times recently that we might go down to the city to check out Costco. I'd heard that Costco stocks a few American-style foods, so I was excited to do some investigating. Erik looked at the map and decided that we could bike there. I was absolutely apprehensive at first, stating that it was all the way in the city and I wasn't sure that was a good idea. However, when I looked at the other option, public transport, and realized that it was rather inconvenient to get to Costco that way, I gave in. Turns out that there is a bike path almost the entire way from our house into the city! How cool is that?! I'm glad that Erik "won" this decision so that we were able to discover this great way to get into Melbourne. I'd estimate that we biked there in about 30 minutes, faster than we would have arrived by public transport! The bike path actually goes right by the dock where the container ships are being loaded and unloaded, which I thoroughly enjoyed watching. I didn't have the camera, so no pictures, but I will share a few pictures of a bike ride I took a few weeks ago on my way to Erik's work.

Part of the Maribyrnong River Trail that would be so much more attractive without the huge power lines!
This is right outside of Erik's building. Ugly power lines messing with this nice view too!
On our way back from the Costco trip (we did NOT end up joining, but are considering the option if we can find someone with a vehicle who might be willing to drive us there occasionally...I think it will be worth it just to get the bags of Mexican-blend cheese!), we made our first trip to the Footscray Market. At the market we picked up lots of yummy fresh fruits and veggies for pretty reasonable prices.

We got all of those goodies, plus 4 ears of sweet corn and another tomato that we ate for dinner last night, for less than $20. Not a bad deal, eh?

That sweet deal makes up for the $16 margarita that I had last week when we went out to try some Mexican food at Mamasita. :)  Liquor is not cheap in Oz, so I understand why drinks are more expensive, but I honestly never thought I'd pay $16 for a drink. I have to say that it was a fantastic margarita though, and I would definitely order it again! There was a line out the door when we arrived, but we decided to wait a bit for a table and we were glad we did. The best thing on their menu was the corn on the cob that is flavored like it's sold on the street in Mexico. It was heavenly! The guacamole was a hit too, even with Erik, who isn't the biggest guac-lover. It was a fun night out and I think that we will most certainly head back to Mamasita in the not-too-distant future. If you come visit us, maybe we'll take you there! ;)

Friday, October 7, 2011


The weather has been relatively nice as of late, so Erik and I often go for a walk after dinner to "explore" the surroundings of our neighborhood. Last night we turned what we intended to be a 20 minute walk into almost a 2 hour walk, but it was enjoyable and we "discovered" a path that we had never been on before. One of the beauties of living close to the Maribyrnong River is that there is a trail along the length of the river, which is easy to get to from our house. I regularly run on the trail, but I have been wanting to bike the trail because I can go much farther with less work on the bike than I can with just my own two feet!

This afternoon I decided to head out on my fancy old pink Trek to discover what lies ahead on the trail. Near our house, the trail is mostly packed sand or dirt and it is super smooth biking, so much so that you *could* probably manage the trail with a road bike. I assumed that most of the trail would be this way. WRONG! After I got a few km (yes, trying to work in kilometers here instead of miles!) into the bike ride, the sand turned to gravel, which then turned to rocks and sticks and mud. Let's just say I was happy that Erik had taken me mountain biking through Patapsco a few times when we were living in the 'Ridge. Not that this compares to Patapsco in terms of difficultly, but being that I had ZERO idea what was up ahead of me I most certainly would have turned around after the first rough patch without that previous experience under my belt.
The view from my bike when the path was easy to ride!
Overall I really enjoyed the bike ride and I'm excited to bike the path again with Erik once his mountain bike gets here (on that note we have received confirmation that our things are going to be delivered next Wednesday, exactly 3 months to the day that they left our home in Elkridge!). When I was on my way back home, I did notice a sign that said the trail was closed!

I didn't see anyone else on the path while I was riding, but it was the middle of the afternoon on a Friday so presumably most people are at work during this time. I'm quite sure that people still ride it despite the sign, as evidence by the orange fencing that has been cut down next to the sign. :)

From the path there is a really cool view of Melbourne's Buddhist Temple:

And the most random thing, by far, that I saw on my bike ride today:
Surfing, anyone?
As of now we have no formal plans for the weekend, but hopefully we'll do some more exploring and I'll have more fun stuff to share soon!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Other Side of the Road

Last night Erik and I attended our first Grand Final party.  The Grand Final is basically the equivalent of the Super Bowl (though Meat Loaf as a performer probably does not live up to some of the high profile musicians who have performed at the Super Bowl), with the two best teams in the Australian Football League playing for the AFL Championship.  The party was hosted by one of Erik's co-workers and was certainly a multicultural event, with representatives from the USA (we were referred to as Yanks), Italy, Ireland, and of course Australia.  We attempted to make chicken dip with Aussie ingredients (which means no Franks wing sauce and no blue cheese or proper ranch dressing), and I think it went over quite well.  It did not taste totally "normal", but it was a good first attempt.  We had a great time watching the game (Geelong won over the often-hated Collingwood Magpies, which was fun for us because that was a rematch of our first footy game), eating amazing food, and enjoying great company.  

When the time came to leave, the wonderfully generous host (and also a colleague of Erik's), Jess, offered to let us have her car to drive home.  With public transport it would have taken us about 45 minutes to get home at that time of night, and it would be less than 15 with the car.  Obviously Erik drove since I had been enjoying a few drinks during the course of the game, but then again even if I had been sober I don't know that I would have been ready to jump in the car to drive.  Of course I instantly walked to the wrong side of the car to get in as a passenger!  Erik did pretty well, though he did almost turn into the wrong lane of traffic once. :)  It was very strange for me sitting in the car on the left side and not having a steering wheel in front of me.  I kept pressing my feet into the car floor as if I could control the gas and break (no, I was not drunk!).  The car is a manual, so shifting with the left hand is a very strange sensation according to the hubby.  Also, the blinkers are on the right side of the steering wheel instead of the left.  Jess let us keep her car until midday today, which was awesome because we used it to go grocery shopping this morning.  I cannot begin to explain how wonderful it is to fill a trunk full of groceries instead of having to try to manage carrying several bags on a bike or on public transport.  I must say that this morning Erik displayed great confidence in his driving-on-the-other-side-of-the-road skills, and I was impressed with his abilities.

Later in the day we ventured out on a bike ride to Williamstown, which is affectionately known as "Willy" by many of the residents.  Initially I wanted to live in Willy because I read a lot about how it was one of Melbourne's best suburbs, but Erik thought the bike from school would be too long.  After today's bike ride, I understand his stance. :)  Here are a few images from our trip:
Normally we might not get so excited about being close to a container ship, but when basically everything you own came into the country this way, it makes you have a greater appreciation for the hugeness of the ship!
Our modes of transport these days.  Erik's bike is new and is a "fixie", meaning that it has only one speed (which is HARD!).  My bike is an old school Trek hybrid bike that we found in a classified ad online.
Williamstown Beach
Hobsons Bay with the CBD in the background
Last week was a really fun week for us in general.  In addition to the Grand Final party, we had a great time (not necessarily a great score) at Trivia Night on Tuesday, which is beginning to become a bit of a regular thing.  We got involved in trivia through a friend of a friend sort of thing and ended up becoming actual friends with some great people who formerly lived in DC and moved to Melbourne a few months ahead of us. 

On Thursday we headed over to Richmond, a suburb known for great food, to have our first Vietnamese dining experience in Melbourne.  We met one of my friends, Ben, and his wife, Amber, at a place called Thy Thy 1 (yes, there is also Thy Thy 2!), and the food did not disappoint.  I met Ben in 2004 on my Contiki tour of Europe and had not seen him since.  It was really great to catch up and also to hang out with a few "locals", and I hope that we can get together with them again soon!