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April 10, 2011

Mark, Drew, and I just returned yesterday from our week-long road trip along the Great Ocean Road. What an adventure! We met some cool people, saw some breathtaking sites, and overall had a great time exploring. Now that we’re back in the Barossa, we officially have 9 more days in South Australia, then another 3 days in Sydney, and then we’re back in the US of A.

Trying to explain with words really can’t do the Great Ocean Road justice- I’ll let the photos do the talking!

twelve apostles

breathtaking coastline

best campsite ever

blanket bay

ornate shells at blanket bay

gibson steps

mr. koala!

i can't believe we survived this hike! haha

erskine falls

amazing hike to station beach

we had a camp doggy named 'sugar' join us on our hike to station beach!

twelve apostles



Planning our Last Adventures in Oz

March 21, 2011

The past week has been one of the busiest weeks we’ve had here in the Barossa- working, volunteering, hanging out with new friends, and generally staying busy! The Barossa Valley gets pretty boring if you don’t have a lot of money to go out and spend willy-nilly, and I become restless pretty easily. I’ve realized that having things to do every day is something I need to retain some personal sanity. One way I’ve relieved this is by volunteering at the art gallery in the next town over a couple days a week. It’s been really fun to meet some local artists and art-lovers. They put me in charge of organizing a photography exhibit about the local sports clubs in the Barossa. The opening for the show is the 16th of April, so I’m pretty pumped about that. I’ve gathered photos of the clubs ranging from about 1910 to today. Should be pretty cool!

Drew and I have about 5 more weeks in Australia before we head back to the States. There are so many things to see in Australia, and when you’re on a budget, it’s really hard to see everything in one trip.

the great ocean road

So we’ve made up our minds that in a few weeks we’re going to do the Great Ocean Road from Adelaide to Melbourne. It’s really doable over a week, and we’ve mapped out some cool places to see. After that, we’ll spend a few days in Sydney before we take off for LA.

Now it’s time to plan the next stage of life! Back to Cali to get our stuff in Tahoe, and then… moving to Denver? I think that sounds good! I’m really happy that Drew’s feet are as itchy as mine are. 🙂

Goin Home!

March 14, 2011

After 6 months (to the date) of being in Aus, we’ve finally settled on a date to return to the States: April 23. It is a little bittersweet for us; Drew and I have had an amazing adventure, but it seems like we’re both pretty much ready to get back to ‘real life’. Pretty excited to see all of our family and friends as well!

Anywho, going along with my post a few days ago about Aussie music, I just purchased Triple J’s Hottest 100 album. Apparently over 100,000 people from all over the world voted on the year’s best songs and then they played the top 100 on Australia Day. The album features the top 42 songs, and a lot of them are Aussie artists. Pretty much IN LOVE with this album already. Of course there are a few duds, but overall it’s pretty awesome. One artist on it is the Aus artist called Sia. She had a song on the H100 titled, Clap Your Hands– a pretty catchy little number. I found some of her older music, which is actually much more heartfelt and lovely. Breathe Me is one of those songs. Your welcome. 🙂

Pavlovas! Hooray!

March 11, 2011

Ever since the dinner party that Mark’s sister Kylie hosted, I can’t get pavlovas off the brain! It is such a delicious dessert, and something my American palate had never experienced before. I guess I can’t say that I’ve had the ‘traditional’ Australian pavlova (named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova), that is made with a hardened meringue “nest” topped with cream and some kind of fruit, usually berries. Kylie’s version was the meringue “nest” topped with lemon curd, greek yogurt, and raspberry coulis. YUM.

Here is the traditional recipe to give you an idea. If you want to make the ‘pimped- out’ version, just make a lemon curd, sub the cream for greek yogurt, and use the berries to make a coulis. You won’t be disappointed.













Classic Pavlova Recipe (from Exclusively Food)

4 large egg whites, at room temperature
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons caster sugar

3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

About 400ml (1 2/3 cups) heavy cream, whipped
Fruit of your choice

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius (180 degrees Celsius fan-forced).

Using a pencil, draw a 20cm diameter circle on a sheet of non-stick baking paper. We trace around the inside of a 20cm diameter springform pan (base removed).

Place paper, pencil side down (so the pencil doesn’t touch the pavlova), on a large baking tray. If your baking tray is a dark colour and you find it difficult to see the pencil line, you can place the baking paper on a light-coloured surface to make the line easier to see. Once you’ve spread the pavlova onto the paper, transfer it to the baking tray.

To make the pavlova, you’ll need electric hand-held beaters and a large bowl, or an electric mixer with a large bowl. Ensure that the beaters and bowl are very clean as oils can prevent egg whites from whipping properly.

As soon as you begin to beat the egg whites, add the cream of tartar. Beat the egg whites on high speed just until they reach the following stage: when the beaters are lifted out of the egg white mixture, the mixture forms and holds a peak that doesn’t flop over at the tip. It will probably take 1-2 minutes for your egg white mixture to reach this stage. Sprinkle one tablespoon of the sugar over the egg white mixture. Continue beating, and add one tablespoon of sugar about every 30 seconds. Once all of the sugar has been added, continue to beat the mixture for 2 minutes. The mixture should be very thick and glossy. Pile the mixture inside the circle on the baking paper. Smooth the mixture out to form a cake shape, keeping to the pencil line. Place the pavlova in the middle of the preheated oven, and then immediately reduce the heat to 100 degrees Celsius (80 degrees Celsius fan-forced). Bake for 1 hour. The pavlova will probably crack and sink during baking.

the "nest"

When the pavlova has finished baking, turn the oven off but leave the pavlova in the oven. Prop the oven door open a couple of centimetres (we use a folded tea towel). Leave the pavlova to cool in the oven for 2 hours.

Remove the pavlova from the oven and allow it to cool to room temperature. Then transfer it to an airtight container until required. When ready to serve, slide pavlova off baking paper onto a serving plate, top with whipped cream and fruit and serve immediately.

Drew has a Doppelganger

March 10, 2011

We found out the other day that Drew may have a twin. And he is the captain of the New Zealand cricket team. What do you think? I think they look crazily similar and it makes me giggle.

Daniel Vettori, New Zealand cricket captain


Music Down Under

March 7, 2011

Quick! Can you name a recent music group/artist from Australia? Sorry, AC/DC doesn’t count. Men At Work doesn’t count either.

Since being in the Land Down Under, I have been pleasantly surprised by the music that is currently coming out of Australia. It’s not like when you travel to Europe and all you hear is mind-numbing Euro-Electronic or that 50 Cent song that came out a year ago that all the clubs are playing like it’s the new hotness. The young Aussie’s in the music scene really have it going on! (I’m obviously being completely subjective and biased here, but hey, it’s my blog.)

I have to give most of kudos of my new music finds to triple j, the nationally syndicated radio station that stays pretty true to the alternative music scene. No Katy Perry or Ke$ha here. They do a really cool segment called ‘Like a Version‘ that features a band covering another artists’ song. Regina Spektor covering Radiohead’s ‘No Surprises’ is hauntingly beautiful. (If you want to skip the chatter in the beginning, go to 2:20) One of my favorites is The Kooks covering MGMT’s ‘Kids’.

A new band that I’ve come across is Boy & Bear, out of Sydney. A beautiful song with amazing harmony. And another cover, weirdly enough.

Now for something a little more upbeat! Architecture in Helsinki is a band that I’ve been listening to for a while, but they are a great group out of Melbourne. They describe themselves as avant-garde electronic, and often play live with lots of crazy instruments on stage. This is their latest single, which is pretty catchy I must say.

And last but not least, a really sweet song by Daniel Lee Kendall, from the Central Coast, New South Wales.



Sausage Rolls and Pasties- Oh My!

March 7, 2011

It was a pretty quiet weekend around these parts. Drew worked and I spent some much needed girl-time with Mark’s sister, mum, and aunt. On Saturday Mark’s mum, Leone, made us some really lovely sausage rolls and pasties. What are sausage rolls and pasties, you ask? They are a great Aussie staple, walk into any bakery and you’ll find loads of them.

Traditional sausage rolls are literally just spiced sausage wrapped up in some puff pastry, baked, and served with tomato sauce (ketchup). The pasty (pronounced pahst-ee, not paste-ee….not the tassley things women put on their nips) is a little semi-circular package of veggies and/or meat wrapped up in a buttery dough. Also served with tomato sauce. I think most Aussie’s will tell you that everything tastes better with tomato sauce. Call it ketchup and they’ll think you’re crazy!

Unfortunately I was too busy stuffing my face to remember to take any pictures. This picture and recipe courtesy of The Crafty Minx and Taste, respectively.

makes 25 rolls
  • 1/2 cup fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 80 ml (1/3 cup) milk
  • 500g (about 1/2 lb) pork and veal or chicken and herb sausages
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1 egg, plus 1 egg extra, lightly beaten
  • 2 sheets frozen puff pastry, just thawed
  • Sesame seeds, to sprinkle
  • Tomato sauce (ketchup), to serve
  1. Combine breadcrumbs and milk in a bowl and set aside until milk is absorbed. Remove casings from sausages and place in a food processor with crumbs, onion and egg. Process until well combined, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to chill.
  2. Place a sheet of pastry on a lightly floured surface and cut horizontally into two. Spoon a quarter of the mixture along the centre of each piece of pastry. Fold over a long side of pastry, brush with egg, then fold other side over to enclose, slightly overlapping in the centre, and make a long sausage shape. Repeat with remaining pastry and filling to make 4 rolls.
  3. Place rolls, seam side down, on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Cover and refrigerate for 1/2 hour until firm.
  4. Preheat oven to 180°C (350° F). Line a large baking sheet with non-stick baking paper. Carefully diagonally cut each roll into seven. Brush with remaining egg and place on baking sheet. Use a sharp knife to make 2 small slits on top of each roll (to prevent rolls from splitting) and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden and puffed. Serve warm with the tomato sauce.