Sunday, March 29, 2015

Weekend Recap

We are just wrapping up a fun and relaxing weekend. Actually, I'M wrapping up a fun and relaxing weekend. Peter has unfortunately been working pretty much the entire weekend, so I'm not sure he would call it particularly fun or relaxing. 

On Friday night, I met my blogger friend (now real life friend) Courtney from Alkeks Abroad. She and her husband Travis moved from Texas to Brisbane around the same time Peter and I moved to Melbourne last year. We connected online through blogging and have been keeping up with each other's adventures ever since. Courtney and Travis were in Melbourne for the evening on their way to the Great Ocean Road, so we finally met up in person and got some drinks! Sadly we didn't get any pictures, though.

On Saturday I met Katie for brunch at Rustica Sourdough in Fitzroy and had an awesome avo toast with tomato, feta, and ham.
We spent the afternoon walking around Fitzroy and doing a bit of shopping. We passed this window display, which I thoroughly agree with:
This Minnesota Wild jersey was displayed in a thrift shop. So random that it's there and even more random that they decided to put it on a mannequin. 

Since it's basically a crime to pass up Gelato Messina when in Fitzroy, we stopped for some ice cream. 
My white chocolate raspberry concoction. It was sooo good. This place is the real deal. 

Today I met a few friends for drinks on Ponyfish Island, which is a bar under the pedestrian bridge linking Southbank to Flinders Street Station and the CBD. It was a beautiful 73 degree day, perfect for an afternoon drink. 

Now we (mainly just me) are just catching up on the Real Housewives of Melbourne. This is a short week, as Good Friday is a public holiday in Australia. Next Monday is also a holiday and Peter will work from home all next week. We were considering a quick getaway, but flights were approximately 4 times the usual price because of the long weekend, so we are leaning toward staying around Melbourne and maybe taking a day trip instead. We'll see what happens!
Thursday, March 26, 2015

Queen Victoria Night Market

All summer, the Queen Victoria Market has hosted a night market on Wednesdays complete with tons of food and merchandise stalls. Usually I'm the first one in line for any kind of food festival, but somehow I didn't make it over there until yesterday-the last night market of the season. I met my friends Laura, Jasmine, and Genevieve for dinner and it was predictably packed. This is the closest thing to the Minnesota State Fair I think I'll ever witness:

So many options! 

Our first stop was the fried potato on a stick booth. I don't think that's the technical name but that's what it is. I got salt and vinegar, which was amazing. 

These were surprisingly filling and I wanted to eat so much more but was already pretty full and didn't want to skimp on dessert (the most important part of any meal). So, we went straight to Taki's (doughnut) Balls:

The Nutella doughnut balls were about the greatest thing I've ever tasted in my life. 

There was approximately $20 worth of Nutella in this bowl so I didn't feel so bad about paying $10 for it. Can someone educate me on the reason Nutella is literally $200 for a teeny tiny jar?

After our super-healthy dinner, we wandered through some merchandise stalls and found the coolest hats ever:

It seems like every sort of event or festival here is complete with these lights, which I love!  

There was so much to look at and so many food options I wish I hadn't waited until the last night market to go! Now I have to wait until next summer, which is beginning to feel like a longgggg way off. Today was windy and only about 66 degrees. 

That brings me to this observation: yes, it can be a little chilly in the winter here. But I'm talking 60's chilly, not actually cold. PUFFER COATS AND SCARVES ARE NOT NECESSARY. If I had a dollar for every person I saw today sporting sub-zero appropriate winter gear, I would be rich. That's not even the most ridiculous thing I've seen, though. We had one really warm day last weekend, I think it hit about 92 degrees, and while I was sweating it out in a tank top on the tram (aka a sauna when it's hot out) the lady across from me was wearing a fleece zip up and a scarf. A SCARF IN 92 DEGREES. I do not understand this phenomenon. End rant. 
Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Netflix Down Under

Netflix Australia is finally here! For the last approximately 8 years, Australians have been either a) illegally streaming Netflix online or b) doing something other than binge watching all six seasons of Gossip Girl. Somehow. But now we can officially and legally stream Netflix every day all day. There were rumors that the Australian catalog wasn't going to be very extensive due to licensing issues and such, but we actually have quite a few movies that aren't available on the American version. The list of TV shows is a bit less impressive, but we do have Homeland, which Peter is excited about.

Dinner tonight, and for the foreseeable future, featured House of Cards:

In other TV-related news, there is actually an entire show dedicated to nail art. It's called Nail'd it and I most definitely will not be tuning in. I draw the line at watching other people watch TV
Saturday, March 21, 2015

Weekend Recap

We have had a pretty low-key weekend. We made tacos for dinner on Friday and then walked over to Brunetti in the city and enjoyed some desserts on the patio. I got the chocolate fondant cake (which was amazing) and Peter got a cannoli:
One of the great luxuries we have enjoyed in Melbourne is being able to sit outside after dark and not get eaten alive by mosquitoes. I think they do exist here, I've seen a few, but it's nothing like at home. This is great for someone like me who seemed to attract every mosquito within 10,000 miles back home.

On Saturday, Peter went to work and I got a few things at the Queen Vic Market. The market closes at 3 on Saturdays and you can often get really good deals if you go around 2:30. Of course, it's also one of the most stressful situations in the world, with vendors yelling prices at you and frantic shoppers trying to save a buck or two. I ended up getting chicken, peaches, tomatoes, and garlic before I got fed up with the crowd and left. I have never seen so many inappropriately aggressive grandmothers toting shopping trolleys in my life. 
I spent the rest of the day on Saturday doing laundry, which is becoming a little bit less exciting than last week, and watching 16 and Pregnant. It's definitely one of my guilty pleasures, primarily because it makes me feel like the most successful human being on the planet. Also, I can't decide if the teenagers or their parents are crazier. It's a toss up.  

Because my trip to the market was largely a fail, Peter picked up some items from the grocery store on his way home from work so we could make one of our favorite meals for dinner:
It's basically chicken, orzo, and vegetables in a creamy wine sauce. So good and easy!

Our Saturday night activity? Gogglebox. For the last few months I've been seeing commercials for a new TV show where you watch people watch TV. Yes, it sounds like the most boring concept for a television show in the universe and I even remember asking Peter why anyone would watch that, but it is actually ridiculously entertaining. Basically, you watch a number of different friends/families and their reactions to various TV shows aired that week. There was a hilarious old couple and a gay couple that just had the best commentary. I will definitely be tuning in again.

And that about covers our extremely anti-climactic weekend! Oh, and I added my Instagram to the sidebar of this blog, so check it out of you don't already follow me
Friday, March 20, 2015

We Got Mail!

We don't get much mail. This isn't exactly a bad thing, seeing as what we do get is usually junk or one of the few bills we don't pay electronically. But the other day I had a notification for a package at the concierge desk that turned out to be from my family!

Our family Valentine card, which was sent this year in place of a Christmas Card. My phone picture is fuzzy, it's hard to take a picture of a picture, but you get the idea. While Peter and I were home in January we had these pictures taken for the card and I think they turned out really well! It was nice to get a couple high quality shots of Peter and me together given that most of the pictures we take here are just one of us.
And of course, OREOS AND CHOCOLATE! These made the trip unscathed, probably because my stepmom packed them in bubble wrap-gotta protect the candy! The largest box of Oreos here just doesn't cut it, so it was good to have the "real" size for once! I think it's technically the "family" size, probably intended for more than two people, but Peter and I obviously already finished it.  
Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Moonlight Cinema

Tonight I went with some friends to see the movie Wild at the outdoor movie theater in the Royal Botanic Gardens. The Moonlight Cinema attracts a pretty big crowd so we arrived an hour or so early to get a good seat and eat a picnic dinner before the movie started. 
Lauren brought chutney, which is some sort of jam-like substance. I'm actually not exactly clear on what it is, but it was much better than the Marmite she made me try once that she swore was way better than Vegemite. Spoiler: it's not.
Katie preparing the cheese plate, a vital part of any picnic dinner. Katie's friend Hannah is visiting from the U.S. so we had another friend! 
Our feast
Katie's genius invention-a cup holder for her wine using Hannah's shoe. My friends are innovative. 
As we were eating and waiting for the sun to go down, a kookaburra landed on one of the speakers. I think this is the first one I've seen in the wild so that was kind of exciting! 
It was a bit chilly once the sun went down. And when I say chilly I mean 65 degrees. It is fall, after all.
Right before the movie started. 

I'm not a huge movie enthusiast which might be weird, but I generally find them too long. Wild was good though, and I enjoyed being able to watch on a blanket versus a movie theater chair. Mainly, I really just hate movie theaters so the outdoor setting was ideal! 

Wild is about a girl (played by the one and only Reese Witherspoon) whose life is essentially a mess, so she sets out to hike the Pacific Crest Trail by herself. My friends came away from the movie inspired to go camping, while I was more inspired to continue my 26 year streak of NOT camping. 
And for no reason at all, Katie holding a random tomato that she found in her work bag.
Monday, March 16, 2015

Food, etc.

Most days in Melbourne involve good food and today was no exception. For once, I actually made something decent:
Bruschetta for lunch! 

I met some friends for pizza tonight at Tazio downtown. Getting there was a bit of a challenge though. Ever since Melbourne adopted a free tram policy in the CBD at the beginning of this year, I've gotten measurably lazier. Previously, I couldn't justify spending $3.00 to take the tram a few blocks when I could walk for free. Now, I find myself hopping on the tram to travel embarrassingly short distances, like today for example. I grabbed the tram with the intention of riding it for a few blocks because I was lazy but that plan backfired almost immediately when the tram got into a fender bender with a car. It was a minor accident, but the tram driver and the driver of the car had to exchange information and assess the damage and it quickly became clear that we weren't going anywhere soon. So, I got off the tram and ended up walking those few blocks anyway. I'll take it as a sign.

Here's the margherita pizza I ordered: 
It was really good! Margherita pizza here is different than in the U.S. It's essentially just extra cheesy cheese pizza with basil sprinkled on top. It's good, but I still prefer the kind I'm used to with slices of tomato, basil leaves and mozzarella cheese. I just now noticed that I basically had the same thing for lunch and dinner in different forms. YOLO. 

After dinner we went to N2 Extreme Gelato, of course! 
I ordered the Tim Tam and Milo which was really good.

On a completely random and unrelated note, I love this koala stamp that came on an envelope the other day. So Australian! 
Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Week in Pictures

Last weekend was a long weekend due to Labour Day on Monday. I think it's pretty much the same concept as the American Labor Day, except of course with a "U". The Moomba Festival takes place every year during Labour Day weekend and consists of a lot of family-friendly carnival activities and rides, water sports on the river (wakeboarding, etc.) and the annual Bird Man Rally. Basically, people create "wings" and attempt to fly off of a platform into the river. The person who goes the farthest wins money for charity. We got to the event an hour early and it was already packed; I guess there's a certain entertainment value in watching people attempt to fly. There were some hilarious contraptions, including this person below dressed in a bird costume with about 30 balloons attached to his back. 
None of the contestants were able to fly all that far...go figure. Below is another contestant jumping with some umbrella-like device and the lifesaving boats waiting to swoop in. Apparently it's not easy to swim to shore with wings:
Overall, the Birdman Rally was super entertaining. I don't know how they choose contestants, but I'm considering entering Peter next year. I would do it myself, but the Yarra River isn't exactly clean, so Peter it is! 

I took this picture of St. Paul's Cathedral (across from Flinders Street Station) while running some errands this week. 
On Thursday, I met my friend Katie for dinner, as she just returned from a trip to New Zealand with her family. After hearing about her travels, I am more motivated then ever to book our flights. I've heard from so many people that New Zealand is amazing! 
We went to Peko Peko in Fitzroy and started with sushi. 
We then split this delicious soba salad. 
We intentionally didn't stuff ourselves at dinner because Gelato Messina, which I'm convinced makes the best gelato anywhere in the world, is conveniently located right down the street. We really have a knack for choosing restaurants within walking distance of award-winning dessert. Totally coincidental. 

The big news of the week: we FINALLY got a washer and dryer! Our apartment is rather...cozy, so we have been using the laundry closet for storage up until now. We finally decided we had had enough of dragging our clothes to the laundromat so we caved and purchased a washer and dryer earlier this week. 
Peter's golf clubs, rendered homeless by the washer and dryer, have now taken up residence in the bedroom, which I'm super thrilled about. Anyway, the washer and dryer were delivered and installed today and I've been happily doing laundry all day! That's a first. 
I have only had two little conversion mishaps so far. First, the user manual recommends running an initial load on the "quick wash" cycle to clear out any dust or debris in the new washer before actually putting clothes in. The directions specially say to add a small amount (30 ml) of detergent to the cycle. Seeing as I don't really know what 30 ml looks like, I dumped about half the lid in and pushed start. It became clear that I had added wayyyy too much detergent when soap began to fill the whole washer. Luckily, it didn't overflow and most of it drained out at the end of the cycle.
Here is the moment I realized I may have put in too much soap.

Next, I made a potentially more damaging conversion error. The washers here (at least the one we bought) have the option to manually select temperature. There isn't a warm or cold setting, it's just cotton, delicate, etc. So I chose cotton, which had about four temperature options. I decided 95 degrees sounded nice and warm so I went with that. I pressed start and the timer showed 3 hours remaining in the cycle. That seemed a bit long to me, so I decided to check with my friend Lauren to see if their cotton cycle ran that long. I'm glad I did! Turns out, 95 degrees would have almost boiled my clothes and probably shrunk them to infant size. So, after Lauren educated me on appropriate temperatures (something I somehow haven't managed to learn yet), I put my clothes in at 40 degrees, which is "warm". Shoutout to Lauren for saving my wardrobe! 

Now I'm off to move the golf clubs to the balcony...sorry Peter! 
Sunday, March 8, 2015

Family in Melbourne Part 2

We have been returning to "normal" life after getting to spend nearly the whole month of February with my mom and grandparents. Peter was able to work mostly from home last month, so he is readjusting to his regular work schedule now that the school year has started up. Our guests kindly hosted us for essentially every meal, whether at their hotel or in a restaurant, so our fridge pretty much sat empty all month. I've been reminded of what a chore grocery shopping is here, as I can only carry a few bags at a time. I avoid buying milk and juice at all costs. SO HEAVY. My friend Lauren finally broke down and got a granny trolly (probably not the technical name) to pull her groceries. I'm considering jumping on the bandwagon as well. 

Anyway, it was so much fun to be able to show my family around Melbourne. I've slowly been posting pictures from all of our adventures both around the city and in Phillip Island. Next I'll post about our trip down the Great Ocean Road-definitely a highlight of the trip-but for now, here are some more pictures of our time in Melbourne. 
My grandpa trying on authentic Australian hats at a shop in the Botanic Gardens. 
We took a golf cart tour around the Gardens, which was a good way to see everything without having to do tons of walking. 
The river cruise we took down to Williamstown. It rained on and off all day, but luckily the boat was covered.
The view of Melbourne in the rain, on our way back into the city. 
A cronut-type pastry at Adriano Zumbo. I think we should get an award for being last month's most frequent customers.
We enjoyed brunch at Two Birds One Stone, a cute little spot next to Adriano Zumbo. 
I ordered the avo toast, of course!
Their hotel in South Yarra was just down the street from a steakhouse called Squires Loft that was SO GOOD. 
Chocolate brownie mouse cake at Ganache Chocolate. 
Some sort of chocolate raspberry cake.
We went to the Crown Casino (located across the street from our apartment) and looked around. It's HUGE and quite nice. 
We played some $1 slot machines. I won $4, which might be a personal record. Generally I lose $1 and then quit. 
There were these anti-gambling PSA signs on every single machine; the one on the left says "In the end, the machine will win" which I thought was kind of funny. I think as a group we pretty much broke even. Not bad for an hour or so of entertainment! 

Stay tuned for pictures of our day on the Great Ocean Road!


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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