Category Archives: Family & Friends

The one where it was Halloween in Perth

With October almost over (what?!), in addition to the lack of pumpkins in Perth, I’ve also noted a general missing Halloween vibe. Yes, there may be a bit of an overload of said “vibe” in the states, with entire grocery store aisles loaded with candy and specific Halloween costume pop-up stores, but the other extreme that I’ve noted here in Perth is a bit sad as well. (Side note: check out Lynda’s post on her blog, Longhorns and Camels, discussing the same topic as it relates to Dubai vs. the states)

Candy aisle in a Houston area grocery store. Image via Longhornsandcamels.com

I’m not sure if it’s the seasonal difference here insofar that October falls in spring and that harvest time that is associated with Halloween is lacking or if (per Wikipedia) Halloween is seen to be “too American” and not really relevant to Australian culture, but  something tells me we won’t be seeing too many trick-or-treaters on Friday. So to bring a little of our American influence and Halloween fun and frivolity to Western Australia, Ashlie and I threw a Halloween costume party this past weekend for some of our expat friends. Dress up was encouraged and we had a great time prepping some festive foods. And while the party was supposed to be held in a local park, Perth weather had other plans, but we didn’t let it rain on our parade 😉

Ole!

The pumpkin wasn’t a fan of guac 😉

Rice krispy treat pumpkins

A little Aussie flair with a round of cricket!

The kinda sorta Village People 🙂

Say PRUNE

A gaggle of pirates

Two Halloween beauties

The kidlets taking refuge inside

I hope all my American readers have a great week leading up to the 31st, and eat some candy for me 🙂 Until next time…

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The one with kayaking on the Swan

After a busy few weeks of travel, things have been a tad slower on this side of the island…not that I am complaining! The weather has been incredible over the last month or so, and there is no shortage of fun stuff to do outside here in Perth.

One of those activities was organized by my friend Ashlie. Last week, she booked a few of us kayaks for a little boating fun on the foreshore of the Swan River. Ashlie and Lauren both have little ones who got to join in on the fun too!

The two little buddies taking on the Swan and Perth by kayak!

The two little buddies taking on the Swan and Perth by kayak!

Of course the morning we booked in, it was was bit windy and the water a bit choppy, but the sun was shining and little K even managed a wee nap on the kayak with his mom…wish we had a picture of that – it was the cutest thing! Although I don’t know how he managed to fall asleep as there were several mini “crashes” (Lauren said it was like bumper cars in kayaks), and by the end, all of us were pretty much soaked, but it was still a fun way to spend the morning!

Americans conquer kayaking on the Swan River

American gals conquer kayaking on the Swan River

Ashlie booked the kayaks at XXX in South Perth on the foreshore of the Swan River, just off the running path – you can’t miss it. The guys working there (I believe one was the owner) couldn’t have been more helpful and kind – I definitely recommend it and will hopefully be back again for kayaking…or sailing…or stand up paddle boarding – they have a lot of water fun! 🙂

Happy skippers

Happy skippers, B & K

Happy Hump Day, and until next time…

The one where I throw it back

Last year, for reasons beyond our control, I was unable to be with Barr on his birthday – and it was a big one: the big 3-0! (I actually think I was probably more upset about it than he was…he’s pretty easy going like that 🙂 ). Given this, I wanted to make sure 30 2.0 was special for him!

Having just returned home from our marathon trip to the states, we didn’t really get our act together in time to plan another plane trip, so I decided a road trip down to Margaret River would be a birthday excursion; only a three hour drive, pretty much one road the entire way, Margaret River is gorgeous wine country right along the coast of southwest Australia.

See Margaret River on the little cape/point southwest of Perth? (image via Busselton Golf Club)

Barr, my parents, my sister, and I actually visited Margaret River back in the day (Christmas 2007, to be exact). Here are some most excellent throwbacks:

Baby faces (aka "fuller" faces)

Baby faces (aka “fuller” faces) at 20 and 24, respectively

Anna, my mom, me, and Barr on the beaches of Margaret River

Anna, my mom, me, and Barr on one of the beaches of Margaret River

The Simpsons do Margaret River

The Simpsons do Margaret River

Christmas dinner 2007 at the Cape Lodge

Christmas dinner 2007 at the Cape Lodge

I’ll share our golf, vino, and beach adventures in Margaret River (circa last weekend) tomorrow – hint: get ready for some kangaroo pics!

And then…drumroll please…we went whale watching on Sunday (if you know me, you know that whales terrify me – this is a real thing called cetaphobia); and although I won’t be swimming with the whales anytime soon (or ever), it was pretty incredible. So get ready for some reviews, memories, birthday celebrations, and picture overload over the next two days 😀 Until next time…

The one with the bourbon spiced cupcakes

What do you make for the person who doesn’t like your traditional sweets, or, heaven forbid (!): birthday cake!? If you have someone in you life that is like my husband (who would sooner have a bowl of fruit to a buttercream frosted, chocolate cake…weirdo), I have a different recipe for you.

Let it be known this is me…not Barr 😉

Trying to steer clear of  something overly sweet, I baked a spice [cup]cake, with a splash of bourbon (for a Kentucky boy, of course!), topped with cinnamon dusted cream cheese frosting – a bit of an adult twist on a fall classic. Although Barr’s September birthday doesn’t fall into an autumn birthday this year (how weird is that? His birthday is in spring this year), the nutmeg, cinnamon, and star anise in these cupcakes definitely stir up fall-type tastes and feelings…almost makes me yearn for falling leaves, Halloween, and football season. Ill take the warmer temperatures and blooming spring though – no complaints here!

The finished product!

The finished product!

So without further ado, here’s the recipe as adapted from the Maker’s Mark site. Enjoy!

Recipe makes 1 dozen cupcakes

Cupcakes – yields 1 dozen

1/4 cup your favorite bourbon

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 star anise

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup milk

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a cupcake tin with cupcake liners. Sift all dry ingredients together: flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, star anise, and nutmeg. Put aside for later use.

2. Cream the butter and brown sugar. Beat until light and fluffy.

3. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition and beating well.

4. Add the syrup and mix well.

5. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and milk to the batter.

6. Add the bourbon, stirring well with a spatula. Fill the cupcake liners almost to the top and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

7. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting. Sprinkle frosted cupcakes with a bit of cinnamon, if desired.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting – yields ~2 cups

1-1/2 cups cream cheese (12 ounces), softened

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1. In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat the softened cream cheese well, using a wooden spoon or paddle attachment.

2. Add the softened butter. Continue to beat until well mixed in with the cream cheese.

3. Add the powdered sugar, cinnamon and salt. Beat until well incorporated.

Until next time…

The one about Eliza of Perth

In Charlotte we had the Hugh McManaway statue. It’s a life-sized golden statue that sits on a busy thoroughfare in a residential part of the city, and almost every weekend, you’d see the statue of Hugh (a sweet, gentle, mentally disabled Charlotte resident who directed traffic on the same street his statue is now in the 1960s and 70s – he’s now immortalized on Providence Road, forever directing traffic for motorists) all dressed up.

The original Hugh directing traffic in Charlotte in the 1970s (Via CharlotteEats.com)

The city tradition was to hang signs, balloons, ribbons, and the like on the statue of Hugh to commemorate weddings, birthdays, graduations, and other big celebrations. While the adornments only stayed up for a day or so, I loved driving by on Saturdays to see who was getting married, celebrating a birthday, etc.

Hugh, directing traffic and ringing in celebrations, now and forever in Charlotte, North Carolina (Via RoadsideAmerica.com)

When we moved to Perth, I was thrilled to find that our new city had something similar – meet Eliza:

Via RandomPerth.com

Here’s Eliza’s Google Street view (Via RandomPerth.com)

Eliza sits just off the shore in the Swan River, and like Hugh, she greets passersby on a busy road. And also like Hugh, locals love to dress her up, commemorating big and fun events – some say she’s Perth’s “best dressed“! Eliza is a representation and celebration of the historic Crawley bath houses that once lined the Swan River and Matlida Bay in the early 1900s. If you’re so inclined, you can read more about the history of the Crawley baths and the inspiration for Eliza, try this site.

Eliza celebrating Australia Day (Via RandomPerth.com)

Eliza in her yellow Tour de France jersey (Via ABC.net.au)

Eliza loves the Freo Dockers! (Via Facebook.com/pages/Eliza-the-Swan-River-Statue)

So why did I bring up Hugh, Eliza, and their shared affinity for dress up and celebrating? Well, my husband is about to celebrate his birthday (out of respect for the elderly, I won’t divulge his age) 😉 and fingers crossed, I can add a loving birthday message on Eliza before the big day on Saturday! From what I can tell, there is some kind of stone work or pathway over to the sculpture, so now I just have to fashioned a festive (and durable) sign (and work up the courage to walk out there!) But even if I don’t make it out to Eliza and she doesn’t wish Barr and happy birthday, perhaps this post and well wishes from friends and readers will suffice, reach him, and fill him with birthday love 🙂 I’m a big fan of an entire week (oftentimes an entire month) of birthday celebrating. Until next time…

Via Yelp.com

The one about the short but sweet stateside visit

I’m sure y’all think I still live in the states given the number of times I’ve been back to visit, but unlike myself, this was Barr’s first trip back since we moved last September – crazy!! So this was a very long awaited, fun, and therapeutic visit “home”.

Our first leg had us laying over in Sydney for about 7 hours, but thankfully Barr’s excessive travel does have its perks and we got to enjoy the fab Qantas lounge at the airport, complete with a speedy spa treatment in house – oh la la! But first a snooze…

Qantas Lounge in Sydney - hands down the best layover I've ever had

Qantas Lounge in Sydney – hands down the best layover I’ve ever had. And check out the Sydney skyline in the distance

The impetus for this journey was our good friends, Billy and Alex’s, wedding celebrations in Louisville, Kentucky. Thankfully, this is also where Barr is from so we got to have some quality time with his parents as well 🙂 The wedding weekend was an absolute blast {understatement} and our time in the blue grass state went by all too quickly…

Deskins getting down

Deskins getting down – amazing couple, inside and out

The Louisville kids

The Louisville kids (and their significant others)

Smiles all around

Smiles all around

Great day :)

Great day 🙂

Celebrating big!!

Celebrating big!!

After our stop in Kentucky, we flew further east to the mountains of North Carolina to see my parents, grandparents, sister, and of course, DASH! We had the BEST time seeing our furry son, spending time with my side of the family, playing golf (a lot of golf), and playing tourist in Asheville.

Our little family

Our little family

This little buddy <3

This little buddy ❤

Dash and Raffles

Dash and his buddy Raffles

Long lost friends

Long lost friends – look at that high speed tail!

Mummy and me

Mummy and me

Mema, mom, and I on the Asheville Trolley Tour - always a tourist!

Mema, mom, and I on the Asheville Trolley Tour – always a tourist!

Happy 2nd birthday, Dash!

Happy 2nd birthday, Dash!

9 days visiting friends and family back in the USA was short, but oh so sweet. We had had a tough few days in Perth leading up to our trip so the visit was serendipitous timing. That being said, we were so happy to get back to Australia, just in time for the first day of spring – here’s to warmer temps and beach days in our future!! Happy weekend everyone 😀 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…

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…

Home Sweet Home

The phrase “home is where the heart is” has never been more appropriate than it was the past few weeks, especially upon my return to Perth and Barr last night. I have been a lackluster blogger over the last 3 and a half weeks, but hopefully now that I am no longer on the road (or in the air) I can get back on a regular [blogging] schedule! Thank you to all of my family and friends who made this such a fun few weeks 🙂 And congratulations to the Haverlands and Radants!

Almost 26,000 miles traveled - each one well worth it!

Almost 26,000 miles traveled – each one well worth it!

So after hopping on the red eye from Perth to Melbourne, I flew back to the states to LAX. Quick Los Angeles visit (most of which was a jet lagged blur, I am sad to report), and then off to Charlotte to catch up with friends and do some last minute wedding prep.

Onward (via car this time) to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina for Bill and Sarah Craig’s wedding:

Wedding party + the bride to be!

Wedding party + the bride to be!

Wake crew at the rehearsal dinner

Wake crew at the rehearsal dinner

Sas and Bill are hitched!

Sas and Bill are hitched!

Barr doesnt call me the bag lady for nothin'!

Barr doesnt call me the bag lady for nothin’!

I stuck around in Hilton Head for a few days with my parents and some of their friends, who came in for a couples golf week – a great time to unwind and see/meet some of my parent’s friends:

The ladies at the Salty Dog in Hilton Head

From Hilton Head, the golf crew (all 8 of them) plus me headed just an hour south to Savannah, Georgia for some more golf (them) and relaxation (me):

Out in Savannah, GA

For Memorial Day weekend, the Simpson/Blantons part of the group flew onward to Houston, Texas. My grandparents and sister also came in town for the long weekend 🙂 We caught up with some great friends (old and new) for a Memorial Day BBQ and of course, played with the pups!

Dash, just lounging

Dash, just lounging, being adorable/perfect…the usual

My sister and I  with the dogs, of course!

My sister and I with the dogs, of course!

What do you want, buddy? (Food is absolutely the answer)

What do you want, buddy? (Food is absolutely the answer)

My mom and sister being festive (?) in some hats my Mema made

My mom and sister being festive (?) in some hats my Mema made – beauties, no?

When did he get so big??

When did he get so big??

The Simpson/Christy/Blanton crew at dinner

The Simpson/Christy/Blanton crew at dinner – three generations! 

Did we wear you guys out??

Did we wear you guys out??

After Houston, I flew to Santa Rosa Beach, Florida for the last leg of my trip: Barr’s cousin’s wedding! Kim and Matt’s nuptials were so lovely and their wedding day was such an embodiment of the two of them. And as always, it was great to see my in-laws (this is not a sarcastic comment – I love being with the Blantons! Though Barr was missed by all.) While there was a lot of rain in Santa Rosa Beach that weekend, we managed to have fab weather for the wedding day, and the weekend was a perfect way to cap off the trip to the states:

My mother in law and I

My mother in law and I at Kim and Matt’s rehearsal dinner

The bride and groom (on the right) with their wedding party at the rehearsal dinner (would you look at the view from the restaurant?!?)

The bride and groom (on the right) with their wedding party at the rehearsal dinner (would you look at the view from the restaurant?!?)

The happy bride and groom - their smiles say it all :)

The happy bride and groom – their smiles say it all 🙂

My brother and sister in law

Always a good time with my brother and sister in law

The extended family ready to celebrate Kim and Matt

The extended family ready to celebrate Kim and Matt

My sister in law and I

My sister in law and I

The radiant bride and groom!

The radiant bride and groom!

David and Todd are two peas in a pod :)

David and Todd are two peas in a pod 🙂

Cute Curry and MOB, Carol - both gorgeous inside and out

Cute Curry and MOB, Carol – both gorgeous inside and out

The groom's cake - loved this set up! (Google "Toomer's Corner" for some context)

The groom’s cake – loved this set up! (Google “Toomer’s Corner” for some context)

Thank you for putting up with all these photos (and some of them pretty poor quality at that! The big girl camera did not made it in my luggage this time around) – figured I’d jam everything into one post this time around! Until next time…

 

Hoo Married a Deac

As many of you may know, one of the big trends in weddings now is having the perfect hashtag – it’s a fun way to have your guests post pictures to social media and then by clicking on the aforementioned hashtag, all of your guest’s pictures/tweets/posts will be in one place – little album before your official pictures come in!

So now that we’re all on the same page in hashtag land, my radio silence has been due to that fact that I was in one of my very best friends (actually more like another sister to me – hi Anna!) wedding – and no, it was nothing like the movie!

The week before the wedding, I lurked around my old hometown, Charlotte, NC, running errands and seeing old friends (I wish I had a picture of my book club dinner!!). From Charlotte, Sarah Craig (the bride to be) and I drove down to Hilton Head, South Carolina for the big weekend. There were some intense storms and rain that blew through on Thursday, but Friday dawned clear, sunny, and the perfect temperature – dont you love it when the wedding gods smile down??

So, back to the hashtag: since the bride went to Wake Forest (home of the Demon Deacons – Deacs for short – yeah it’s a weird one, dont ask…) and the groom went to the University of Virginia (home of Wahoos – Hoos for short – again, weird, dont ask), the most clever (cleverist?) hashtag was developed: #HooMarriedaDeac (!)

UVA ‘Hoos

Wake Forest Deacs! (Clearly I’m a bit biased)

Sarah Craig and Bill’s wedding was such a great time – I was so blessed to stand next to them as they said their vows in front of so many family and friends. Enjoy this photo heavy post – and cheers to Sas and Bill 🙂

Bridesmaid's luncheon - wasnt the weather picture perfect???

Bridesmaid’s luncheon – wasnt the weather picture perfect???

Rehearsal dinner-ing with the Wake Forest crew - I miss these college friends SO much!!

Rehearsal dinner-ing with the Wake Forest crew – I miss these college friends SO much!!

A brief wedding pic interlude to showcase Lisa's adorable puppy, Darcy (if only all my posts included puppy pics!)

A brief wedding pic interlude to showcase Lisa’s adorable puppy, Darcy (if only all my posts included puppy pics!)

They're married! (And a cat - amazing)

They’re married! (And a cat – amazing)

The Haverlands :)

The Haverlands 🙂

Two of our friends from Wake made the absolute best shirts just for Sarah Craig

Two of our friends from Wake made the absolute best shirts just for Sarah Craig

Bossy Chi Omegas

Bossy Chi Omegas

Beautiful cake and flowers

Beautiful cake and flowers

The Wake Forest crew (except where's Papa Simpson!??!)

The Wake Forest crew (except where’s my dad?!)