Thursday, July 2, 2015

So Little Time

I want to do all the things while I'm home. Buffalo, New York has had a makeover, well at least the waterfront has, and I needed to check it out.
Monday I got to see some of the changes first hand and I felt like I had been transported to a different city entirely. It's common knowledge Buffalo always turns on the charm for Summer. (I always say, you will never find a population of folks who appreciate the sun as much as they do.) But this new Buffalo actually feels like a real destination, not just something locals can appreciate.
There were bars, restaurants, public artworks, green grass, lawn chairs, cobbled streets, historic monuments, a stage for live music, kayak rentals, boat tours, mini sailboats, a giant sandbox and more. Um hi, am I in Charleston or something? Nope. Buffalo. I want to come here a million more times before I fly back to Australia.
It’s been a whirlwind three weeks (I cannot believe I’ve been here that long already.) We have had out of town guests, parties, concerts, dinners- all fun, fun, fun, but it's taken a toll. I felt physically drained before heading to the waterfront and to be completely honest I was in a rotten, run-down mood. Somehow though, being there in the sunshine, experiencing the progress of my beloved home city, it just perked-up my soul.
It’s so hard for me to find that balance between self care and letting loose on a normal day but it's near impossible when I know there is a time limit like there is on our visit. Usually I run around like a lunatic but since becoming a parent, I don't have the energy to keep up the way I used to and I need to remember to take a step back and rest, for the sake of my daughter and myself.
I'm glad we went to the water and had a little fun because the next day was an intensely emotional one. We buried my dog's ashes in the backyard then drove my brother to the airport. I didn't know when I would see him again. On the way home I wished out loud that he could stay longer, just a little more time, now that things are quieting down.

I went to dinner with my Dad afterward and while we were eating and he got a phone call from my brother. Turns out his flight was cancelled and he got to spend one more night at home. Maybe the universe heard my pleas. A few more hours with my brosef- I'll take it. I'm one grateful sister.

Friday, June 26, 2015

One + Four = Life: Homeward


I’ve been in my hometown for two weeks now and have settled in while trying to balance the overwhelming urge to see everyone and do everything possible while resting enough to stay upright.

It’s hard fighting the panic that shouts “this is the last time you will see so-and-so for another year,” and makes me buy all the American things because they are so much cheaper than in Australia. “Of course you need seven mascaras! They are a third of the cost!”

Every once in a while I have to remind myself to stop, if my body doesn’t remind me first by getting sick or falling asleep at 8:00PM. One of the main things that makes me focus are seeing people who are important to me, like my brother.

My bro and I have not lived in the same city in over a decade but I always miss him. We tortured one another growing up but he’s been along for the ride with me longer than anyone.

For the first time in years we are both at home, without our respective spouses so naturally we decided to do something a little whimsical.


One: Brother Sister Matching Tattoos

My brother and I grew up watching The Goonies. Putting on a VHS flick was one guaranteed way we would get along for at least 90 minutes. So in the spirit of pirates and One-Eyed-Willy we have gotten matching SailorJerry clipper ships. And taking from the classic SJ flash the word 'Homeward' in the banner underneath. To Eric and I, it represents our relationship because even though we are separated, we will always make our way home to one another, even if only figuratively.


Two: The Kooks Are Out

I started listening to The Kooks when I lived in Amsterdam, my favorite city, their album Inside In The Inside Out will always remind me of one of the best times in my life. It’s poetic that I took along Michelle who was my colleague, flat mate and best friend in Amster. I had tickets to see the band twice before to no avail. The first time, I was pregnant and mixed up the dates (damn baby brain!) the second time we had an overnight wedding and had to sell our tickets (the wedding was wonderful and worth it!) When I FINALLY saw The Kooks at The Rapids Theater in Niagara Falls, USA I stood two rows away from the stage and rock out like I was one of the other 18 year olds in the venue. Totally worth the wait.


Three: Backyard Beauty

I didn’t grow up in the house my Mother and Stepfather share but it reminds me of my childhood home, especially how the backyard buttresses the woods behind it. Watching my daughter run around in the golden light of the summer evenings fills my heart with a mixture of joy and melancholy. We have escaped the middle of a Melbourne Winter but also left behind my husband, her Dad. And then I start thinking about how she won’t ever have the same memories growing up as I did. Perhaps I should brush up on my memory and my storytelling.


Four: A Caffeine-Fueled Painting Afternoon

I’m incredibly lucky that my mother is an interior designer and she wants to populate some of her projects with my artwork. Whoa!! All of the sudden I’m a commissioned artist!!?! I worried that I’m not “professional” enough to sell my work. My husband said to me “What makes any artist a professional? You studied art, you make art, and people want to pay you for it.” He has a point.



Sunday, June 21, 2015

Be Sweet To Your Feet: Scholl's Product Review

{My mates at Scholl's Australia sent me some products to review- opinions are my own}


My best friend made up the game ‘whose feet hurt the most?’ when we were sitting curbside at the Melbourne Cup Carnival. From our vantage point all we could see were girls hobbling and tottering around on heels, stilettos and all kinds of uncomfortable footwear.

We laughed and laughed while we sipped champagne and called out; “Hers do! No definitely hers! No way- her feet hurt the most!"

We weren’t making fun of their outfits or criticizing their body shapes but it did have a tinge of wrongness attached to it. It felt as if like we were witnessing everything that is wrong with equality. There were no men limping around in their shoes.

And look, I get it. It’s expensive to dress for the races from head to toe and something’s gotta give, we can’t all afford Jimmy Choos. But what if there was an inexpensive measure you could take to ease the pain and prevent blisters at the same time? 

I’m not speaking for the girls who walk around and look like they are going to break an ankle (that's a lifestyle choice) but for those of us who try and look fashionable and sensible but still have to bear breaking-in our pumps (and may have to deal with icky cracked heels, and dry skin on feet.)


Scholls Australia have a few products that can ease our suffering because it’s not as if we are about to toss away our investments in uncomfortable footwear.

They have a line of products appropriately called ‘Party Feet.’ My feet don’t party often these days now that I have a daughter but when I do- I want to be as comfortable as possible. Maybe that sounds old and cranky but it’s better than walking around like Frankenstein. Hashtag- old enough to know better!

Here are a few they sent me to test out:


Gel Inserts- I asked for these specifically.  I’m an active person (most of the time) and when I’m out, I am the opposite of a wall flower. I can’t wait to try these bad boys out because they look and feel like velvet on the top side (so would be lovely to wear with or without tights) and have sturdy gel goodness on the bottom- extra cushioning on the pads of the feet and heels where fellow champagne-infused dancers need it.


Heel Shields- I’m hoping these heel shields will allow me to wear shoes that rub me the wrong way (tee hee I love puns.)  These are going to be a staple in my purse because you never know when you might need them- blisters be gone!


Fresh Step- I’m assuming you can spray this deodorizer/ sanitizer in your party shoes before you go out but I have a feeling this product will be the perfect thing to spray into my UGG’s which I will don immediately upon returning home from any event. I already tried this product out on my furry little buddies and though it smells a bit like a lemony cleaning product (What can you expect? It’s for sweaty feet) it got the job done.


I can’t wait to get invited to something fancy again so I can rock out with comfy tootsies. Babysitting anyone? Anyone?

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Glass Animals Concert Review

Do yourself a favor and listen to this band right now- no matter what your mood is.


Glass Animals are a fairly new band from the UK with a really funky, sultry, ambient-yet-upbeat sound.

Their album Zaba is one that you can listen to the whole way through, over and over again (I'm guilty.) The tracks sound so smooth that I wondered if they were overproduced and if it would result in a poor live performance. Hot damn was I wrong! These kids are not only talented but they actually played all instruments live and sounded brilliant.





It's hard to believe how young they are (my friends and I were definitely on the older curve of the median age group at the show) because they just sound so profesh. The lead singer has a voice like peanut butter and he slathered it onto the enthusiastic crowd with raw emotion.

The show was just ace. I would totally go see it again.

And bonus, this was the first time I got to see a concert at Babeville- a church converted into a venue by Buffalo's own Ani DiFranco. Gorgeous architecture and stunning acoustics. Overall a fantastic experience and the ticket only cost 17.00. Winning.

Monday, June 15, 2015

A Family's Roots

We spent Friday in my Mom’s hometown of Canastoda, New York- a place on the map only because it is home to the “International Boxing Hall of Fame.” It’s a sleepy town of 4,700 where change is reluctant.

You get a real sense of time and history in that town. I mean, check out this old church by the lake. Incredible. The camera (rather my camera skills) do not do it justice.


We went there to attend the funeral of my Mother’s best friend since childhood (my Aunt by intention.) It’s all terribly surreal and tragic I still can't believe she's gone. I don't think any of us have processed her absence yet.

My Mom had to meet a realtor at my late Grandmother's house. I didn't get to attend my Grandmother's service three months ago so I had to say goodbye twice that day.


The walls of that house hold memories since I was three years old, just one year older than my daughter now. When I saw how she tried to scoot down those basement steps like I did as a kid, I was amazed.  When my cousins she had never met showed up, Lavinia ran to them. I couldn’t believe that my typically standoffish child seemed to recognize her own blood. It was beautiful and astonishing.

One Aunt has kept a little of my late Grandfather’s garden going and we all picked some garlic scapes. It made my heart soar to see my little girl dancing among the rows. Her feet gracing the soil where my Grandfather worked on his masterpiece.




We will never go back to that house and now I will have sun soaked memories of saying goodbye, of seeing love and family, roots and blood, in it’s purest form.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Eagles Have Landed

The holy grail, an empty seat
I must be insane because I just flew with my toddler, and a sinus infection, from one side of the world to the other.

Part of me can’t believe we made it, really I should just be proud of myself….and my Mom who met up with us in LA. That last little leg of the journey is the worst (if you call California to New York 'little') and that extra pair of hands is invaluable.

The Qantas staff member who checked us in at Melbourne was an absolute legend. She pulled us out of line (Lavinia was crying), got us bangin' seats and offered us an airport stroller. Vin and I were fast tracked at security and at the gate for early boarding. We sat in a row with an absolutely LOVELY couple (American gal, Aussie Bloke) and their well behaved 8 month old daughter. And get this…the pot of gold- an open seat next to me that Lavinia could completely take over.

You really can’t ask for more than that when traveling, other than a free upgrade to business class (which actually happened to me the first time I flew to Australia.)

This was all so different from last year. I don't remember being offered any help but maybe I wasn't open to it. I still had that mentality like I should be able to handle parenthood all by myself- good thing I learned that lesson! Maybe people are more freaked out by toddlers (because destruction) or maybe this time around I was much more open to it.

The downsides were intense and plentiful. There were moments when I wanted to cry or when I thought my head would explode from sinus pressure. I wanted to give up but it's kind of hard when you're already in that big tin bird in the sky. Like a jail sentence, we were committed to seeing it out.

Know what else sucks? When your kid is sick, tired, and flipping out, passengers expect you to handle it...or at least act like you are trying when you are actually helpless.

It was a rough ride but in the best possible circumstances. And for that I am grateful- I really am. Lately I am really trying to use negatives as a contrast- making the good things in my life that much brighter.
Jet lag is a drag.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Carrot, Banana, Apple Bread: And it's Oil Free

This photo is not awesome, but the cake totally is.
Guys- by the time you read this I will be on a plane. OMG. I’m freaking out a little, okay a lot, as I type and schedule this post.

Excited, yes, because I can’t wait to see my family and friends. Worried, absolutely, because Lavinia and I have been super sick for the last few days. Bummed, of course, because I’m going to miss my husband real bad.

So while I'm consuming airplane and fast food- do yourself a favor and make this delicious fruity goodness just because you can.

I’m consider myself more of a cook than a baker because I don't like "measurements." I do have to say I'm quite proud because I totally made this recipe up and it rocks. Admittedly I did get some of the dry ingredient proportions from a few recipes I read online. If you want to get a little cray just add some frosting and viola- a healthy cake.


Carrot, Banana, Apple Bread: And it's Oil Free!


Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Flour, white, wholemeal or half and half
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon Vanilla
  • A few good shakes Nutmeg
  • A few good shakes Cloves
  • 1 Cup Grated Carrots
  • 1 Grated Apple
  • 2 Ripe Mashed Bananas
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 Cup Plain or Greek Yoghurt
  • 1 1/2 Cups Almond Meal

Cooking Directions

  1. Right-o. Mix dry ingredients together and set aside.
  2. In a mixer or by hand go the eggs, yogurt, bananas, and grated carrot.
  3. Slowly add the dry ingredients and fold the apple in last (don't ask me why, but that's what I did).
  4. Bake that bad boy in a greased loaf pan for 35 minutes at about 175 C or 350 F (Keep an eye on it and poke in the middle if you're unsure. You could do muffins too!