Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Royal Croquet Club

One of the best things about Melbourne, especially in the summer, is that there's always something going on. Usually a food festival, which is my favorite kind of event. Right now, the Royal Croquet Club has popped up next to Federation Square and features food, drinks, croquet, and most importantly, Gelato Messina. I went with a few friends last night and want to go back again before it's done! 
The ATM booth. Clever. 
Thankfuly it wasn't too crowded. 
Katie ordering lamb skewers. 
Sylvie got some kind of Asian salad (I think?). 
I got a pork burger that was really good! I could have eaten two more but at $10 a pop I refrained. 
Some Pimms, my favorite British drink! 
Sylvie taking advantage of the free water and contemplating whether or not she will get bored on her extended trip home to Belgium. It's ok, she assures us. If she gets bored in Brussels, she'll just go to Paris. Rough life, Sylvie. 
The holy grail of ice cream: Gelato Messina in a soup can! So hipster. So good. 
We didn't actually play any croquet, mainly because none of us really know how. 
It's been unseasonably chilly the last week and a half. Yesterday only hit about 70 degrees, but we stayed long enough to see the sunset anyway! 
Sunset over Princes Bridge on the wall home. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Series of Fails

Yesterday was just one of those days. Nothing Earth shatteringly bad happened, of course, but we did fail on a couple levels.

Fail #1- small fail, but after running to the bank in the morning, I wanted to see if I could catch a glimpse of Heidi Klum at Myer promoting her new underwear line (I think?). She was supposed to make an appearance outside the store, and I wanted to catch a glimpse. Because who would miss an opportunity to stand near a model and consequently feel shorter and chubbier than previously thought possible? Unfortunately, we arrived JUST after she left. No Heidi for us! 

Fail #2- Peter and I were in the market for some new, more colorful sheets (we currently only have white) so we headed to IKEA.  We didn't love any of the colors we saw, and there were only a few choices in the queen size anyway, so we decided to look elsewhere. The IKEA closest to us is in a shopping center, so after we finished buying a handful of random Swedish furnishings we didn't really need, we popped into the K Mart next door. Like Target, I don't think the Australian K Mart has any relation to the American K Mart, but it is essentially the same store. We headed to the bedding section and found only two sheet sets in the queen size- white and a bright aqua color. I'm not sure if everyone in the world is trying to buy queen size sheets right now or if there's some sort of worldwide shortage or what. Anyway, we decided to just go for the aqua, mainly because we didn't want to keep looking. Big mistake. As Peter observed, they look like hospital scrubs: 
We definitely underestimated the aqua-ness. Maybe white wasn't so bad after all! 

Fail #3- We have been searching for wall art to hang above the couch for awhile now, and this gem was on sale for $14. I tried to convince Peter we should buy it but he wasn't on board. So this was a tragic missed opportunity to showcase some of the greatest artwork in history, if you ask me. 

Fail #4- After returning from IKEA we decided to make spaghetti for dinner and I ran out to grab some Parmesan cheese from the obscenely overpriced supermarket around the corner. The kind we normally buy at our usual (moderately overpriced) grocery store was twice as much for half the package. I couldn't bring myself to buy it, so I just grabbed the smallest/cheapest package they had. All was good until I got home and realized I bought SHAKER CHEESE. AKA the ground up stuff that is sold in the US in those tall shaker tubes, which does not taste nearly as good as shredded Parmesan. I'm not even sure it's real Parmesan. As predicted, the taste was underwhelming. 

Fail #5- The only injury fail of the day, which is impressive seeing as I've been known the trip/fall down stairs. While eating dinner, I chomped down hard on the side of my mouth and it swelled up. So I spent the majority of the night icing my face.

Here's to hoping today is more successful! 
Saturday, January 24, 2015

Only in Australia

I was scrolling through Twitter the other day and came across this headline. You can't make this stuff up.

In all seriousness, I hope the cyclist is ok. After seeing a few full-sized kangaroos in person, I would not want to get tangled up with one!
Friday, January 23, 2015

Australian Open

On Tuesday, we woke up and decided to go to the Australian Open. Peter did a bit of work, and then we set out for Melbourne Park around 9:30 am. What a luxury to be able to walk a mile down the road and attend the Open on a whim! When we arrived, there was already a pretty long line waiting for the gates to open at 10. We purchased ground passes, which allowed us entry to all the matches except those taking place in the two main arenas. This was the best option for us, as we were too late to get tickets to any of the big matches at any sort of sane price, and this way we were able to see multiple matches.
We stood in line for a few minutes before the gates opened...crowds are my #1 fear/worst nightmare in life, so I was happy when the gates finally opened.

We headed straight to Hisense Arena, where Sloane Stephens, an American, was playing Victoria Azarenka. Luckily, we were able to get seats in the shade, which provided some relief from the 86 degree day. I had heard that last year during the Open temperatures reached 110 degrees and people were fainting, so I guess I can't complain too much about 86 degrees. 
Next, we headed to one of the outdoor courts to watch another American, John Isner, in his first round game. 
He's super tall. Look at him towering over the average-sized people! 
We got a front row seat and watched about half of the match, which Isner won. 
A tad bit sweaty at the outdoor courts. 

We then grabbed some (predictably overpriced) food and headed back to Hisense to watch the evening match between Venus Williams and someone I have now forgotten. I don't think she was particularly notable.
We sat in almost exactly the same place as we had during the morning match, but this time we were in the sun. I suggested a move to the other end of the arena, but Peter didn't want our view to be compromised by the official's chair, so we stayed. Hardcore tennis fans right here. 
Our fellow crazies sitting in direct sunlight at 4 pm. We refilled our water bottles about 800 times while in these seats.
Venus in action! She's my idol, partly because she's friends with Kim Kardashian. Also, she gave a funny interview after (pretty easily) winning her match. I took a slow motion video of her serve, which is kind of grainy, but you get the idea.
Before heading home, we watched Gael Monfils warm up on the practice courts. 
You know you've made it when people watch you practice something. New life goal. 
We had to get a picture by the jumbo tennis ball on our way out.

It was an awesome day and a totally new experience for both of us. Next year, we hope to secure tickets to a bigger match and perhaps buy a multi-day ground pass. I've heard most of the tennis players are staying at the casino across the street from our apartment, so I've been keeping my eyes out, but no sightings so far! There's a tennis court on the roof of the casino where they allegedly practice, so I've considered getting a pair of binoculars and trying to catch a glimpse, but haven't quiet resorted to that level of creepiness. Yet.

Anyway, it's been really fun to experience the excitement of our first Australian Open!
Tuesday, January 20, 2015


I'm officially old. Sunday was my 26th birthday. It wasn't as balmy as I would have liked my first summer birthday to be, but Sunday's 70 degrees was better than the usual -1573 which is a legitimately possible temperature on January 18 in Minnesota. So, heading out in a tshirt on my birthday was a present in itself. 

The day started with brunch at Pillar of Salt in Richmond with Katie and Sylvie. I ordered my usual avocado toast, of course. This one came with poached eggs and as usual, it was amazing.
My friends were nice enough to bring flowers and gift me with a super cute recipe book bearing the most fitting quote in the world: "people who love to eat are always the best people". I could not agree more. Now I just have to fill it up with recipes! Taking suggestions in the comments...

I came home to a box of (mostly) chocolate cupcakes from Little Cupcakes and a mango Boost smoothie, essentially my favorite things in the world. 
Peter and I ate them all within 24 hours. No shame. 

We were still a bit jetlagged and all I really wanted to do was eat dinner at home and stream The Bachelor, which is exactly what we did. 
Peter made an awesome steak dinner. 
And here are the flowers in full bloom the day after my birthday. So pretty!

This year, I felt like my birthday spanned two days, which is completely fine by me. After a day of celebrating in Australia, I woke up on Monday to a bunch of birthday messages and texts from family and friends back home, which was a pleasant surprise! I'm not sure how I feel about being in the second half of my 20s, but I haven't spotted any gray hairs yet, so that's a plus.
Saturday, January 17, 2015

Our Trip to Minnesota

Things have been quiet on this blog for the last week or so as we've been visiting friends and family back in Minnesota. One might wonder why we would willingly leave summer in Australia in exchange for snow and negative temperatures in Minnesota, which is a valid question. The answer: Peter had to attend a work meeting in New Orleans, so it made sense to combine his work trip with our first trip back to the States.

Peter left for his meeting last Tuesday, and Sam and I left for Minnesota on Wednesday. The flight home seemed much shorter than the one we took out to Australia, but somehow I was awake for all 15 hours. On our second flight from Los Angeles to Minneapolis, I had the pleasure of sitting next to a guy who spent a large portion of the four hour flight singing- loudly. He also cleared his throat quite graphically and proceeded to spit into the barf bag numerous times. Oh, and he spilled a glass of water on me. Needless to say, I was happy to FINALLY land in Minneapolis after a full 24 hours spent in planes and airports. Sidenote: during our travel, we lost 117 degrees. When we left Melbourne it was 102 degrees and when we landed in Minneapolis the temperature was -15. I wasn't quite prepared for the cold, and almost ran back on the plane upon feeling that first gust of freezing air.

We had a whirlwind of a week in Minnesota and fit in just about everything possible. I didn't take that many pictures, primarily because I virtually forgot about my phone while I was there, as it only worked when I was connected to WiFi. However, I'll highlight a few events from our trip during which I managed to take some pictures:

On Thursday I spent the day with my Mom and got to see the new house they moved into a few months ago. Here is the view out the back window: 
 We spent the day planning some details for her and my grandparent's trip to Australia next month. They will fly into Sydney and Peter and I will meet them there to explore for a few days before we all fly back to Melbourne. We're excited to check out Sydney and are also looking forward to having family here again for most of the month of February! 
I drove for the first time in six months and managed to stay on the right side of the road (not that the lines are very clear). I don't miss this. 

Peter arrived from New Orleans on Friday around dinner time and we went over to my Dad's house to spend the weekend there. While we've been gone, they remodeled their kitchen. It turned out really well! 
Largest fridge ever and three ovens! 
Induction burners (not entirely sure what they're used for). 
Coolest feature: the amount of time left on the dishwasher cycle is projected onto the floor. How awesome is that. 
Reunited with these weirdos, aka my sisters. 
One of my Dad's favorite hobbies is target shooting/gun collecting. He got a new (extremely large) gun a few months ago and was excited to show it to us. Here's Peter looking through to scope. It wasn't loaded, of course. 
My Dad bartending. 

On Saturday night, I got together with my college friends, who are so awesome they made t-shirts for me! In college we used to find any excuse to dress in matching outfits, so the tradition lives on! 
This picture is a little blurry, probably because I couldn't contain my excitement, but my shirt said "I'm back from the outback". All of theirs said "She's back from the outback". My friends are clever people. They even made Australia-themed food and drinks. 
From left to right: "shrimp on the barbie", "dingo dip", "kangaroo stew", and "down under dip". 
"Snakebite punch" which was finished within the hour.
Group photo! It was so great to see all my college roommates at once. It felt just like old times in the Six Pack (our college house). If I could move them all to Melbourne, my life would be complete. 
Pro tip: if you ever want a lot of attention at a bar, wear matching neon kangaroo shirts. We had approximately 2827292 people ask about them throughout the night.

On Sunday, Peter and I had dinner with a bunch of our high school friends. We had a blast and were so happy to see everyone. There are more pictures somewhere, but the only one that's appeared on Facebook thus far is this one of a couple of us girls:
More people I wish I could bring back to Melbourne with me!

I was able to visit my sister Ali at work and see her relatively new apartment. When we left for Melbourne she had just moved in and it's since been decorated! 
Ali peacin in her cube. 
Her super cute living room! 

We stayed with Peter's parents for the last few days before heading back to Melbourne. One of the joys of staying with in-laws is digging up blackmail worthy photos of your husband.
On our last night, we met some of Peter's extended family for dinner at Big Bowl, one of our favorite restaurants: 

Our journey back to Melbourne was about 32 hours long. The last of our three flights was cancelled, which added a couple additional hours of wait time in the Sydney airport. We arrived home around 3 pm on Friday and were asleep by 8. I took this sunset picture out the window somewhere between Minneapolis and Los Angeles: 

Even though it was painfully cold, we had a fabulous trip to Minneapolis and thank our friends and family for making time to see us! There really is no place like home. 
Monday, January 5, 2015

Wave Jumping in Torquay

On Friday, it hit 108 degrees in Melbourne. I'm not sure I've ever even been in 108 degree weather before. It was hideously hot, the kind of hot where the breeze provides no relief and is almost more oppressive than still air. There's really nothing that can be accomplished at that temperature that doesn't involve water, so we rented a car and drove the hour and a half down the coast to Torquay. If you remember from my last post about our visit, Torquay is a surf town and the official start of the Great Ocean Road. There are a few beaches to choose from, including one of the most famous surf beaches in the world, Bell's Beach. We decided on Jan Juc Beach, which is just down the road from Bell's Beach, but a bit better for swimming. Needless to say, it was packed. The water was warmer than the last time we visited, and the waves were bigger. We spent most of the time in the water, as fifteen or so minutes in the sun was enough to almost literally melt. Despite multiple sunscreen applications, we all got pretty burned, but had a blast wave jumping. 

Sam and Peter switched off wearing the GoPro on their head and Sam made a really cool video of the footage. I make a brief appearance, but I generally stayed behind them a few feet. I love the ocean, but have always been a bit scared of water, especially water with a current. I don't like to go deeper than I can touch when there are any waves to speak of. Sadly, while we were enjoying our day, a swimmer actually drowned a few hundred feet from where we were. They rescued him out of the water and attempted CPR, but unfortunately it was too late. So, I'll continue to wave jump in the shallow end!


I also took a couple of pictures: 

Sam and Peter heading for the water. 
This is a creeper pic, but the cutest family of surfers was posted up next to us. This boy was probably about 7 and was so eager to get in the water! 
The packed beach.


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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