Sunday, November 30, 2014


Yesterday we hosted a "Friendsgiving" dinner at our apartment building for our fellow American friends (and non-American friends who wanted to see what all the fuss was about). Since we essentially skipped Thanksgiving on Thursday, it was so much fun to finally celebrate/eat. Peter and I (read: Peter) did the turkey. We weren't sure how easy it would be to find a turkey here but turns out our local grocery store, Woolworth's, had plenty. 
Here's our turkey after defrosting for a day or two. 
My main contribution to the turkey was chopping up fruits and vegetables to stuff inside. 
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we had football on in the background. 
The turkey all ready to go in the oven. I mixed together some butter and herbs to spread on top. Second contribution! 
After triple checking our temperature conversions (our recipe was in Farenheit), the turkey went in the oven at about 1:30 pm. Our oven is brand new and we had never used it for anything more serious than an oven pizza, so we read the manual and figured the turkey would need to cook for three and a half hours. 
We moved the turkey and all of our supplies down to the apartment kitchen and dining area around 3:30 pm. We noticed at this point that the turkey, after only cooking for about 2 hours, looked pretty done. Peter checked the temperature and it was in fact ready to go. We couldn't believe how fast it cooked and we kind of panicked, as people weren't set to arrive until about 5 and we didn't plan to eat until 6. So, we just covered it in foil and kept it in the oven on a low temperature for another hour or so (and crossed our fingers). In hindsight, most of our guests probably wouldn't have known if it was overdone, as it was their first Thanksgiving experience. We still don't know if we just bought a freak turkey that cooked really quickly, or if perhaps the fact that the oven was new influenced cook time. 

The turkey actually turned out just fine after all. 
The finished bird, ready to eat...almost. 
Peter carving the turkey, and Katie photobombing. We may or may not have watched several YouTube videos on how to carve a turkey in the hours before this photo was taken. 
One of our Australian friends, Bec, made this adorable fruit turkey! 
The most amazing buffet ever. 
The whole group before digging in. 
My (first) plate. 
Peter got a little eager and broke his plastic fork on his first bite. The strangest part about our apartment kitchen is that you have to supply all of your own utensils. I suppose they're worried about someone swiping them, but most people probably don't have enough silverware to feed more than 5-10 people. Therefore, we ate with plastic silverware, plates, and cups. Classy!
The best part! We had an apple tart, pumpkin pie, and pecan pie, all SOOO good. The pumpkin pie was a novelty, as most of our non-American friends had never tried it. 
It definitely felt strange to be celebrating Thanksgiving yesterday, as it was 95 degrees. We hung out on the deck for a bit before cleaning up. I think I could get used to a summer Thanksgiving! 
Beautiful sunset
Late last night, we snuck up to the top floor of our building with our friends Matt and Lauren, and enjoyed the awesome views of the city! It was a perfect end to a great day with friends.
Friday, November 28, 2014


We are having a predictably uneventful Thanksgiving day here in Australia. I'm a little sad that I wasn't able to watch the annual dog show and the Macy's parade, but we do have football on right now so Peter is happy for that little slice of home. Actually, it's Black Friday here, and it's the first year in a long time I haven't gone shopping, or at least ventured out to witness the madness first hand. Two years ago, my sister and I went to Walmart in Springfield, Missouri (where Peter and I lived at the time) and observed an epic girl fight over bedding. I'm not sure there's anything at Walmart that I would line up for hours to get at a mediocre discount, let alone fist fight over. Especially bedding. But it was entertaining nonetheless.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, here are a few things I am thankful for today- in random order:

1) Amazing friends and family, both near and far.

2) While we miss our family and friends, we are thankful for technology/social media to keep us up to date with everything that's going on at home. Although my Dad's most recent Instagram post doesn't make it any easier to be a million miles away. There is nothing I wouldn't do for a slice of this cake right now: 

3) The opportunity to embark on this two year Australian adventure. Neither of us could have guessed in a million years that we would move to Australia and we are extremely glad we did. In fact, I would go so far as to say it's the best decision we have ever made. Aside from hanging out with kangaroos and exploring a new country, we've already met lots of great people and learned a lot.  

4) This Buzzfeed list that captures my love of the aforementioned dog show. 

5) The continued weakening of the Australian dollar...hello 15% raise for Peter! 

6) Our health and happiness; corny but never to be taken for granted today or any other day. 

7) Our apartment building- it has made us feel at home from the day we moved in and has everything we will ever need in one place.

8) The fact that we are making a trip home in January! Not excited for the weather, but excited to see family and friends and shop at the real Target.

9) This blog, which has allowed me to document our lives in Australia both for our family/friends and for ourselves to look back on in the future. I've also met a couple of friends through the blog, which is an added bonus!

10) Dessert

We have a big "Friendsgiving" dinner planned for Sunday, which should be lots of fun. Off to pick up the turkey now! 
Wednesday, November 26, 2014

10 ARIA Award Observations

I'm currently watching the ARIA awards, which I think is the Australian version of the American Music Awards. Here are my outsider observations:

1) It's really, really odd to live in a country where you don't know who the famous people are.

2) The host looks like Ron Burgundy. 

3) They're obsessed with some girl named Jessica Mauboy, who kind of reminds me of a cross between Katy Perry and JLo. 

4) Long, rambling, often obnoxious acceptance speeches are universal. 

5) There's a really old man named Molly who seems to be a big deal. 

6) One Direction is just as big over here. They performed and Harry Styles looked like a circus ringmaster. 

7) This award show is not nearly as glamorous as the American ones in terms of venue and dress. 

8) Someone other than Keith Urban won the country category. So there are at least two country singers in Australia. Who knew? 

9) Katy Perry is currently touring in Australia and made an appearance at the ARIAs to present an award. She posed a valid question: "why do you guys eat the thing that's on one of your flags?" Speaking of kangaroos, of course. It is a bit odd...

10) There was a commercial during the show that advertised a sale on Nickleback CDs...ONLY $20!!! Good luck with that. 

* A random music-related observation: Australians seem to be really into Redfoo, who is apparently in the band LMFAO. I didn't know this until I moved here, despite the fact that it's an American band. He's a judge on the X Factor, which is a lot more popular here than it is in the US, so I think that's where he gained an Australian fan base?

All in all, it was fun to catch a glimpse into the Australian music scene, and I really liked a few of the performers, especially Chet Faker. Google him! 
Thursday, November 20, 2014

Night Noodle Markets

Last night I met friends at the Night Noodle Markets at Birrarung Marr, right next to Federation Square. It's a huge Asian food event with over 50 trucks and stalls. Yesterday was about 90 degrees, and it was still extremely hot when we went at 6:30 pm. I would have killed for a hair tie, as my hair weighs approximately 21,827 pounds and sweatily stuck to my neck the whole time. Notwithstanding the weather, it was a lot of fun, and once the sun went down, it was borderline comfortable. 
This crowd reminded me a little bit of the Minnesota State Fair. Minus the obesity. 
Beer garden
Some of Melbourne's best restaurants had stalls, but the lines were extremely long and we were all pretty hungry, so I just jumped into one of the shorter lines. I was a little bit nervous that a short line would equal bad food, but I had satay chicken skewers that were pretty amazing!
Loved these beautiful lanterns.
One of the highlights of the Night Noodle Markets is Gelato Messina, home of the best gelato basically anywhere. We waited in line for about 15 minutes and when we hadn't moved an inch and still couldn't see the beginning of the line, we decided to call it a day and hit up The Lab Nitrogen Gelato instead. I had a raspberry chocolate gelato contraption that was so good I'm thinking of going back for seconds tonight. The Lab is one of those places that rotates flavors weekly, so if you find one you really like you have to hurry back before it's gone. Which I'm totally ok with. 
Had to take a picture of my friends' gelato as well. Luckily for me, Sylvie hardly ever finishes her desserts and only ate about half of the Nutella praline gelato on the left, so being the nice person I am, I offered to finish it for her. 

Peter and I are planning on going back to the Night Noodle Markets this weekend, as he hasn't been yet and I want to try some more food! 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Week in Pictures

A bunch of random photos from the week: 
My friend, Michelle, left to go back to Germany this week, so we had a going away dinner at Jinda Thai on Thursday. Loved their menus! 
The whole group saying goodbye to Michelle...we will miss you! 
Gin and tonics for Alyssa's birthday on Friday. 
Added some raspberries to the second round. 
Red solo cups in the street...just like college! Unlike college, my hangover-recovery skills are weak these days, and I didn't get much accomplished on Saturday. 
We had a delicious steak dinner on Saturday night, courtesy of Peter's mad cooking skills. 
Steak, mashed potatoes and corn. 
This morning we had brunch at Picnic in South Yarra, one of our favorite places that we originally stumbled upon while extremely jet lagged on our second day in Australia. 
They make an amazing avo smash with basil pesto. 
It's 55 degrees today, which is pretty cold compared to the 80-90 degree days we've had of late. I had to steal Peter's jacket while waiting for the train. I've officially become a wimp. Also, this is potentially one of the least flattering photos ever taken of me. 
We went to the market after brunch and I spotted this semi-disturbing sign. It reads: 100% real young goats sold here. So, are the goats sold at the other stalls fake, or...? 

Australian TV

I found the holy grail of Australian TV. The other night, I couldn't sleep. I sat wide awake until 3 am and finally got so bored that I turned on the TV. The first show that came on was called Jeremy Kyle; essentially Jerry Springer. I've since learned that it's actually a British show. I still cannot, for the life of me, tell the difference between British and Australian accents. Which is funny because a girl I met from England thought I was Australian and said she couldn't tell the difference between Australian and American accents.

Anyway, this show was hysterical. The episode I watched featured a man and two women, whom he was accused of dating simultaneously. The embarrassing part is all three participants sounded like they were American. Presumably the ones who didn't make the cut on Jerry? The episode consisted of a lot of yelling and then ended with the results of the lie detector test, which vindicated the guy. Sort of. He didn't cheat with either of the girls there, but actually had a third girlfriend. It was quite entertaining and unfortunately didn't aid in my attempt to fall asleep at all. Apparently trashy late night TV is universal. 

Peter and I went to the noodle market again last night with some friends. I didn't take too many pictures, but there were cool acrobatic performances going on that I didn't see last time I was there:
These were like massive swinging pogo sticks. I have no clue how they got up there, or how they didn't fall off. 

It was crowded again, and the line for Gelato Messina was just as long as last time I went, so we got gelato elsewhere once again! Hopefully before the noodle markets are done I'll snag some gelato. 

I'll end this short post with a question for anyone in Australia: does anyone here eat frozen pizza? We've tried a few and they just weren't very good. I need some brand recommendations, because as much as I wish I didn't love frozen pizza, I do. 
Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Sushi Burrito

Fun fact about me: eating is my favorite hobby. You've probably gathered that if you've followed my blog at least a little bit. When I'm at home and crave a snack, Oreos win every time. Because it's semi (ok, extremely) socially unacceptable to buy a box of Oreos and eat the entire thing in public, I've had to find another option. Enter the sushi hand roll, or as I've dubbed it, the sushi burrito. 

They're super popular in Melbourne, sold on practically every street, and typically only $2.50 a piece. So, it's basically the cheapest thing you can buy in this town. Even the water I purchased with the roll above was $3.50.

I'm not sure if they're a thing in the US, but I've never seen them before we moved here. Greatest invention ever in my book. 
Monday, November 10, 2014

Target Differences and The Best Dessert Ever

The Target here offers many of the same things as the Target at home, but on a much smaller scale. One thing Aussie Target has that American Target is lacking? Surfing gear.
I was THISCLOSE to purchasing these surf leggings. 
A matching surfing body suit thing. Cute clothes are an extra incentive to try surfing! Also, one of my friends told me that there is a Target Outlet in some obscure suburb of Melbourne that has really cheap clothes. So that's on my incredibly long list of places to check out! And also, something the American Target should adopt.  

I went for brunch at Two Birds One Stone in South Yarra with some friends on Sunday. It was predictably hipster, and was apparently too cool for a sign out front, because I stood there looking between my Google map and the front of the restaurant for at least 5 minutes before a friend finally rescued me from my awkwardness. But I mean, who decided it was a good idea to open a restaurant and then not identify it in any way? Seems counterintuitive to me, but what do I know? Anyway, I ordered the usual (avo and feta smash on toast). This version was particularly good:
I've come across a few articles that list the best avo toasts in Melbourne, and I'm thinking of compiling my own.

Sylvie ordered this amazing meal, I think fritters of some kind:
We started out sitting inside at a bar type seating area and then decided to move to a table outside. Well, despite the fact that Saturday was 95 degrees, it was pretty chilly on Sunday and we were quickly on the hunt for a table inside again. We were probably the most annoying customers of all time, but finally got a table in corner, set away from the rest of the restaurant, which was nice! Persistence (or annoyingness) pays off! 

It's mandatory in our group of friends to finish every meal with a disproportionately large dessert, so we headed next door to Adriano Zumbo, which has to be one of the greatest dessert shops anywhere ever. This is not an exaggeration. I ordered the best chocolate cake I have ever tasted. I was also forced to order a macaroon to meet the credit card minimum of $10, which I wasn't that sad about. 
I highly recommend the chocolate brownie macaroon on the left.

It was the best and richest dessert in the world, and for the first time probably ever, I couldn't finish it! It pained me to leave this last bite on the plate, but I was one bite away from not being able to function, I-just-won-a-hotdog-eating-contest full. 
Not only was the dessert amazing, the ambience was really cool:
So, I continue my semi-serious quest to eat every dessert in Melbourne. I'm making embarrassingly quick progress. 


Welcome! I started Laura and Peter Down Under in July 2014 when my husband and I moved from the States to Melbourne, Australia for his job. I blog about expat life, our travels, food, and whatever else comes to mind. Follow along on our adventures Down Under!



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