Monthly Archives: July 2014

The one about knitting

Despite my height, I am not a natural athlete. Despite my degree in Economics, I struggle with maintaining a family budget. And despite my sweet grandmother, Mema, being a fabulous knitter, this is not a hereditary trait. So during an Introduction to Knitting workshop held by a local crafting meet-up group, Craft Bound, you can imagine how I fared…

Craft Bound Perth's workshop materials for Introduction to Knitting

Craft Bound Perth’s workshop materials for Introduction to Knitting

There were just a handful of us (all women this time around) and our instructor. Bless her heart being so helpful and patient with me because as the class progressed, it became painfully obvious that I was going to need to some remedial attention 😉 And even though my fellow knit-ees moved on from the knit stitch to the purl stitch (and beyond for some!), I still struggled to coordinate those damn knitting needles with the most basic of stitches…well, maybe not so “basic” to me.

This is how I felt…okay, how I feel, when knitting

It was all in good fun, however, and at least I now have plenty of yarn to practice with at home. And you’ll be glad to know that I have now mastered the inital stitch and movement (though I still have that awkwardness about me). Ahh well, slow and steady wins the race! I will (hopefully) be knitting up some goodies just like my Mema in no time.

You can read more about my experience in Craft Bound’s Introduction to Knitting workshop here, and if you’re local to Perth, check out their site for other craft workshops and meet-ups – it’s a great little company and community. And until next time…

I am so easily entertained


The one with the Lancelin roadtrip

One of the weirdest things about living in Australia is wrapping my head around June, July, and August being winter months. Now while winter in Perth is hardly a sacrifice (no snow, temperatures do not dip below 10C/50F…knock on wood, no need for a big heavy coat), it’s still odd to have the heater on in July. Or an ice skating rink set up in Perth CBD, serving hot chocolate and mulled wine (hello?!?! I associate these things with Christmas!) But no matter. If this is winter in Australia, I’ll take it! 🙂

Winter in Perth does not suck

Winter in Perth does not suck

So even though this past weekend it was a bit chilly and overcast in Perth, Barr and I decided to “brave” the elements and go on a mini road trip. I read about the Lancelin sand dunes and adjacent beaches, about an hour and a half drive north of Perth. The drive was beautiful; we kept commenting that we couldnt believe that just twenty minutes from our house was so much tranquility and…well, just nothing (with the exception of sheep!)

You can read more about my thoughts on Lancelin on my WeekendNotes article here.

Easy trip from Perth CBD to Lancelin

When we rolled up to Lancelin, we were blown away (and not just because it was a windy day) 😉

Lancelin, Western Australia

Lancelin, Western Australia

The colors of the water were some of the brightest turquoise I’ve ever seen – seriously it rivaled the Maldives and Caribbean!

And then there were the dunes:

Lancelin Sand Dunes

Lancelin Sand Dunes

We dont have the proper car to do the dune bashing and didnt call ahead to book sand-boarding, but there were plenty of folks extreme sport-ing around the dunes…even in the “dead” of winter!

Taking it all (and hopefully relaxing!) in Lancelin - please note the fleece :)

Taking it all (and hopefully relaxing!) in Lancelin – please note the fleece 🙂 We may be at the beach, but it was pretty chilly!

Lancelin beaches

Lancelin beaches

It was a great little day trip for us on a chilly winter day – I would love to go back in the summer to check out the beaches then! Until next time…

Eid Mubarak!

Eid Mubarak to all my Muslim readers and any who are marking the end of Ramadan!

Right on the heels of this holiday, Barr and I will be [briefly] returning to Dubai in the coming days to pack up our apartment and bid farewell to the Middle East…very bittersweet for us. But I was in a Dubai state of mind and thought I’d revive some posts that focused on the culture and religion in the UAE, and what better reason to do so than a holiday!?

You may (okay you definitely do not) remember a post I did last fall on Eid al-Adha, and Eid al-Fitr is a different Muslim holiday, sometimes called “little Eid”. Eid al-Adha recognizes the trust and sacrifice of Abraham, while Eid al-Fitr (translation: festival of the breaking of the fast) celebrates the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which is marked by fasting and reflection; the fasting is an important element in the Muslim faith as it teaches a Muslim focus primarily on God, thanking Him for blessings and taking one’s mind of off “worldly desires.”

The “Eid Moon” sighted on July 27, 2014 in KSA – Eid al-Fitr begins when on the day of the first sighting of the crescent moon shortly after sunset (Via NewsTribe)

To mark the holiday, folks begin with Eid communal prayers before moving on to a festival or someone’s home to indulge in some delicious foods and merriment. Gifts and money are also given out to friends and family (strangers even!) as generosity and hospitality are important elements of the religious holiday as well. There are several days given as a public holiday (at least there is in Dubai).

Muslims praying on Eid al-Fitr in Sydney, Australia (Via ABC)

So Eid Mubarak (blessed Eid) to Muslims and blessings to all my readers 🙂 Until next time…

The one about the Commonwealth Games

Do you love the Olympics? Waiting every four years for those great athletes, obscure (and not so obscure) sporting events, and of course, the glory of your country?

Well, if you live in a country that is a member of part of the [British] Commonwealth, dont give it a second thought because you have access to cheer for your country in the Commonwealth Games!

The 2014 games are being held in Glasgow, Scotland (image via Wikipedia)

Coverage of the 2014 Commonwealth Games has taken over Australian news as of late – I get to get my fill of netball, lawn bowling (!), badminton, and field hockey (in addition to your more high profile swimming, track and field, and gymnastics).

The games are attended by athletes from the 53 Commonwealth Nations (including Australia, duh) – and each of the four nations from the UK (Wales, England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland) participate under their own flag – all countries that are invited are part of the British Commonwealth. The Commonwealth Nations is comprised of 2.2billion people – that’s over 1/3 of the global population! 

(Side note: I def remember hearing about the games during our time in Canada, another Commonwealth nation).

Oh Canada!

The Commonwealth Games are held every four years in a Commonwealth Nation (this year is Glasgow and in 2018 it will be held in Gold Coast, Australia). Also, Australia continues to dominant medal count….these athletic Aussies! 🙂

The Australian 2014 Commonwealth Games uniforms – there was a lot of chatter about how bad these outfits are. I will withhold my opinion…

All time Commonwealth Games medal table as of 2014 (via Wikipedia)

All time Commonwealth Games medal table as of 2014 (via Wikipedia)

And now for your viewing pleasure, the impetus for this post: the hilarious John Oliver on the Commonwealth Games in a segment entitled “How is that still a thing?” Commonwealth-ers: hopefully you can laugh at this one 😉 In the meantime, go sports and go Australia as the games continue through August 3 (and if youre not into sports, Kate Middleton & Co will be spectating on Monday and Tuesday – if that isnt good enough reason to watch the Commonwealth Games, I dont know what is!) Until next time…

The [Expat] Adventure Continues

Many of our friends and all of our family (and Barr and I ourselves) have been waiting to get the word on the length of our expat status. The original plan was to return to the states in September..from Dubai. Obviously things change!

"A nomad I will remain for life, in love with distant and uncharted places"

“A nomad I will remain for life, in love with distant and uncharted places”

As it stands, we will be here in Perth a little bit longer than September: we will be expats here now through December, returning to Charlotte by the end of the year…not what we thought would be the case, but knew that it could be a possibility.

Two of my loves back in the states: Dash and my mom :)

Two of my loves back in the states: Dash and my mom 🙂

While we miss our friends, family, America, and our course Dash (!) more than a blog post could ever possibly convey, we feel blessed to be given the opportunity to live abroad and travel to new places (we have a few still on our list before we return to the states). And are, of course, pumped to stay in Australia through their spring/start of summer seasons!

If this is Perth's winter, we're definitely looking forward to a spectacular spring!

If this is Perth’s winter, we’re definitely looking forward to a spectacular spring!

Friends and family: come visit! Our door is always open. Cheers to new adventures in Perth and beyond and to our return to North Carolina in December! Until next time…

The one explaining Dabbawala

No no, dabbawala isnt an Aussie slang word. Dabbawala refers to a delivery person in India – picking up hot lunches from the homes/kitchens of a worker/employee in the late morning and then transporting and delivering said lunchbox to an office, and finally returns the empty lunchbox back to the customer’s home in the afternoon.  Here’s a good visual:

Dabbawala delivery system in Mumbai (via MyDestination)

So what prompted this post, you may ask? Well, I went to see the foreign film, The Lunchbox, earlier today – a sweet, Indian film about the unlikely romance that blossoms as a result of a dabbawala delivery mix up (which as you’ll learn, isn’t all that common.) I won’t spoil the ending or the plot for you; however, if you get the chance, see the movie – so cute! Even if the character in the center of the picture below looks a tad creepy…

The Lunchbox movie poster (via Wikipedia)

Back to the dabbawalas.

This delivery system works so well in India (primarily Mumbai) because office workers in India prefer to eat home-cooked lunches, coupled with the fact that many Indian women (wives, mothers, daughters, sisters) work from the home and can utilize the dabbawala’s service.

The dabbawalas are impressive, yall! I did a bit of research after the movie, and they kept the service up during floods, monsoons, even the 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai – there are currently over 5,000 dabbawalas working tirelessly in Mumbai delivering over 200,000 lunch boxes each day!

Love this b&w shot of a dabbawala – so cheery! (via

Indeed, the system is so impressive (and fascinating) that professors from Harvard Business School wrote a case study on the process – a quote from a report from NBC News:

So deeply imprinted that the dabbawalas rarely, if ever, make a mistake. Their delivery system has been awarded a six sigma level of efficiency. That means they make around one mistake in every six million deliveries. 

“A hundred things can go wrong along the way — tiffins delivered to the wrong destination, tiffins lost, tiffins broken — but they rarely do,” said Sawant. “Our motto is ‘error is horror.’”

Their delivery system has garnered international fame as a highly specialized trade, attracting Prince Charles and Richard Branson and warranting a case-study at Harvard Business School, visits from global delivery giant FedEx, and a series of documentaries.

Intriguing, right?? If it’s good enough for HBS, Prince Charles, FedEx, and Richard Branson, I’m sold 😉 Not to mention the tiffins (or their snazzy lunchbox containers) are super practical for warmed food – I love the 4-5 stacked compartments!

An example of a tiffin used in the dabbawala delivery service

Umm borderline obsessed with this colorful tiffin! (via Women’s Day)

So I’ll leave yall with a video I found in my googling – it made me cry (pretty easy feat in my case, but I guarantee that even if you’re not a crier – *cough Barr cough* – you’ll smile huge in the last minute or so): the dabbawalas make about the equivalent of $5(USD) a month, working rain or shine – and always on time at that! I love punctuality (*cough Barr cough*) 😉 The Indian head bobble is also prevalent in this clip – love!

Want to read more on the dabbawalas? Here are some of my favorite links that I came across:

Add this to my ever growing list of reasons why I want to visit India. 🙂 Until next time…


Adventures of an Expat: Making Friends as an Adult

Having grown up as an “expat brat”, it’s been interesting transitioning to “expat wife” – a lot of the situations I’ve encountered in my adult expat life are merely reenactments of similar situations that my mother went through during our time in Calgary and Singapore. Chief among these is learning (relearning?) how to make friends…and making friends as an adult is definitely a different experience than that of a student/child. Obviously making friends as an adult is not an exclusively expat experience/skill (side note, please google “how to make friends as an adult”, and don’t mix it up and accidentally google “how to make adult friends”…probably not what you’re looking for…), but expats are absolutely thrown into the deep-end, and many times it’s sink or swim.

This is 100% how awkward I am. All. The. Time.

Bottom line: making friends as an adult can be hard. And awkward.

Disclaimer: Being a parent can sometimes make making new friends as an adult much easier – you have a common ground with that kiddo – whereas I would just be that creepy 27 year old, sans child, at the playground. 😉 This is not a “woe is me” post though! I’m just saying to all you mamas out there, use that bambino to your advantage! There are plenty of mom groups, especially in expat groups abroad, and that’s a great outlet for entertainment for children and parents alike. (That being said, the American Women’s Club of Perth has a moms group, and they couldnt be more welcoming to even the childless! Though I consider our dog my child, but whatever.)

Yall – in college (and as a child, as Jerry Seinfeld in the above video can attest) it was SO easy, right?? You live in a dorm with tons of other people your age, you’re trapped on a campus together literally 24/7, and despite my lamentations to the contrary at the time, you have more free time than you know what to do with. I also find that as an adult, I’ve become much more introverted and, well, lame – I like to watch Netflix (or Masterchef) and have a nice glass of vino on my couch – not exactly conducive to socializing/friend-making (I did tell you that I’m an introvert at heart, didn’t I?) 

Probably not the best route…

Making friends as an adult truly is like dating all over again: you’ve got to make the effort, and yes, sometimes it’s awkward, doesn’t work out, isnt a good fit. That’s okay…I like to think that’s natural.

That being said, you have to be willing to put yourself out there and try something new or out of your comfort zone. For example, I went to a bloggers seminar a few weeks ago and met two really great women with whom I keep in touch with on a regular basis.  My mom took up bridge when we lived abroad growing up, and while maybe she’s not besties with everyone she played with, she met a good network of people and learned something new that she still uses today. These kinds of things also give you a common ground with other adults – it’s not a forced situation.

Yeah…there’s that awkward bit again…

But I think the most important aspect of making friends as an adult is that you should always try to remember how you felt trying to foster new friendships/acquaintances and warmly welcome new people, really making that effort – it comes backs to you tenfold. There’s a super-expat (looking into trademarking this term…) here in Perth who is quite possibly one of the warmest women I’ve met, always checking in with new expats, organizing fun events; she’s very inclusive and bubbly – that personality and those traits have stuck with me, and I hope to effuse that same energy when I meet and make new friends as well. That’s the golden rule for ya, huh? Expat or not. 

There you have it…some deep thoughts for your reading pleasure! 🙂 Until next time…

Weekend Notes: viva la blonde

My sister said I’d never do it. Welp, I proved her wrong…and I’m so glad I did!

Blonde and pink!

Blonde and pink!

If you’re in Perth and want to get some great color (they dont just do us “blondies”!) in a great atmosphere, check out viva la blonde – and check out my review of the salon on Weekend Notes 😉 Please?

Happy Weekend, yall! Until next time…

The one explaining Australian slang

English is the primary language in Australia; however, the Aussie slang is a language unto itself! When we first moved to Perth, I had a lot of trouble understanding many of the fast-talking Australians – the accent was one hurdle, but the slang terms used here is a whole other hurdle that I was not anticipating!

Here’s a list of some of my personal faves:

  • Bogan, most often preceeded with the other slang term of “cashed up“: roughly translated to “new money redneck”. Used a lot here in WA to describe those who made quite a bit [quickly] in the region’s mining boom. Often derogatory and/or self-depracating. You can read more here.

“Cashed up Bogan” Dad cartoon – draw your own conclusions…

  • Arvo: an abbreviation of afternoon
  • Brekkie: an abbreviation of breakfast
  • Maccas (pronounced “mackers”): McDonald’s
  • Fair suck of the sav/fair shake of a sauce bottle: an exclamation of awe; you gave it a good shot/try. I.e., “Better luck next time – you gave it a fair suck of the sav!”
  • Lollies: sweets, candies local to Australia – does not typically refer to lollypops
  • Ta: Not slang for good bye, like I thought – rather, “thank you”
  • Chook: a chicken (there are a slew of different words for foods or abbreviations – they deserve their own post!)
  • Bub: a baby (ankle biter is also used interchangeably)
  • Fair dinkum: true, genuine. I.e., “I am a fair dinkum expat”
  • Good on ya: job well done

And Bob’s your uncle! (Mine actually is named Bob – ha!)

Now, this is a short list – there are so many other terms and festive abbreviations (abbrevos?) that Australians use all the time. And yes, they do actually say “G’day, mate” or usually just “G’day”. There’s even a book (and I’m sure multiple books) on the topic:

Aussie Talk by Paul Bugeja

If you’ve visited Australia, are Australian, or live here, what are some of your faves? I love trying to use them in my vernacular (even though I mostly think I sound absurd trying to say them without the cute accent). 🙂 Until next time…

The one about Perth’s coffee scene

Perth takes coffee seriously, yall. Like really seriously. I never gave coffee too much thought before we moved to Australia; I liked my grande skinny vanilla latte from Starbucks…knew the order with my eyes shut, knew how it would taste, knew I didnt need to add a thing to it.

Then we moved to Perth.

My initial reaction…

There is no Starbucks here. No Coffee Bean. No Second Cup. And Perth peeps literally scoff (and judge you big time) when you ask if there is a Starbucks here, disgusted that you would deign to put Starbucks in the same category as their unique coffee shops and drinks.

(Side note: when we were in Sydney, there were Starbucks (eureka!), but they were all literally dead; the other local coffee shops were far more bustling than the Starbucks.)

Gordon Street Garage in West Perth

Gordon Street Garage in West Perth

Some of my BFF baristas at Halo

The Perth coffee culture (and it is indeed a culture, no sarcasm here) is rich and vibrant – I dont know if/how I can ever go back to my grande skinny vanilla latte after indulging in Gordon Street Garage‘s flat white or Halo Espresso‘s long mac.

And I’ve had to learn a lot about coffee and the different espresso drinks – Barr too! He ordered an iced coffee and got a dollop of vanilla ice cream in his drink…surprise!

Which would you choose?

And it goes beyond the yummy (and of course, highly caffeinated drinks)…it’s the friendly staff who always greet you with a jaunty “how ya goin’?” (sadly, each of the five cashiers at Halo know me by name – and I know that there are five of them) and the cozy interiors of literally each coffee shop.

And I’m not the only one in awe of Perth’s coffee scene: George Calombaris (of my beloved Masterchef fame, as well as his renowned Melbourne restaurants) was recently in Perth for the Perth Good Food and Wine show and extolled the virtues of Perth’s growing coffee culture. 

So here’s a [small] list of some of my favorite coffee shops in Perth – and it’s ever growing! Let me know if you have any additions or suggestions 🙂 And to anyone that visits us in Perth (particularly my Starbucks-loving Americans!), I promise you will be a changed coffee drinker once you have a Perth cuppa (and to any non-coffee drinkers, there are plenty of options for you – my personal fave: a chai latte…yum!)

Until next time..

PS – Shout out to my dad for suggesting this topic as a post! 🙂