Thursday, October 27, 2011

Rediscovering home

Our party of three, Little Roo, Big Roo and I are back living in Australia, slowly rediscovering all the splendour "home" has to offer. One of the glories that Little Roo and I recently experienced was a trip to the beach.

Clovelly Beach was my childhood local beach, so when Little Roo and I were on a recent trip to Sydney visiting my family, we decided to take the leisurely 20 minute stroll from my childhood home down to the beach. It proved to be a glorious day, the Spring weather was perfect for frolicking in the sand, collecting shells and rocks, dipping our feet into the gentle waters and noshing on ice cream.

Clovelly beach is well off the tourist trail, it is a locals beach and a total Sydney gem. With plenty of good eating at and near the beach, it was a blissful day out rediscovering Sydney, Australia with Little Roo!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

For the climb of your life

Attending Christmas parties and gift buying has taken on a new dimension for me living on the other side of the world. I am not used to dealing with the freezing cold temperatures in the lead up to the Holiday season. I look like the Michelin Man as I arrive to Holiday parties. Before being able to exchange pleasantries and accept my first glass of wine, I spend ten minutes peeling off all my winter layers.

Gift giving has also taken on a whole new meaning, as I am obsessed with how cold it is (and complaining about it). All my gifts tend to have a "how to stay warm in winter" theme. In turn I enjoy receiving gifts that will make my winter more tolerable. One of the best Christmas gifts I have ever received was during my first Christmas in D.C.. I had only been in the country for a couple of weeks and was ill prepared for the weather. A glorious friend gifted me thermal lined leather gloves, it was true bliss for my frost bitten hands! As good as that gift was, it was not the best Christmas gift I have ever received. That honor lies with a gift I received while living in Sydney.

The lead up to Christmas in Australia is a very different experience to the lead up in Washington D.C.. It is all about the beach, eating fresh seafood and getting glammed up in summer dresses. The weather is beautiful, it is the start of summer and most offices are preparing to shut down for a few weeks for the holidays so the mood in the city is joyful!

On a glorious summer's day as a Christmas gift to all his employees, my former boss took us all on the climb of our lives! No it was not Mount Kilimanjaro or Kosciusko, we climbed up to the top of the Sydney Harbor Bridge. I thought I knew my city fairly well before the climb but being 134 meters above Sydney's sparkling Harbor put it all into a beautiful and breathtaking new perspective.

So much so that when I think about gifts for my friends and family back home, I am thinking of presenting them with BridgeClimb gift certificates. I figure not only will they get to scale an international icon but experience the rush of the traffic whooshing below them and the absolute thrill of reaching the top of the bridge and having all of Sydney laid out in front of them. Priceless....

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Chrismukkah is upon us, the season where as an interfaith (Jewish and Catholic) family we try to embrace (or ignore) or simply deal with the mixed messages of Hanukkah and Christmas. The stores are selling dreidels, menorahs, Christmas decorations and trees. One side of the family is lighting the menorah and handing out Hanukkah gelt and the other half is asking for photos with Santa. What is an interfaith Little Roo suppose to think?


I have always encouraged Little Roo to milk (learn about) both sides, accept the Hanukkah gelt, take the photo with Santa and grab the Christmas presents while she can. She is young and the holiday season, no matter which side you're on, should be fun at her age.


To even things out, I do think Hanukkah needs to beef up its marketing effort, because no matter where in the western world you live, Christmas always seems to trump Hanukkah. Even all Jewish households would benefit in a boost of Hanukkah marketing. This morning one of my (Jewish) friends facebook posts read "Went to the Chanukah candle lighting - sang songs, ate latkes, played games. And then my son says (loudly) 'can we get photos with Santa now?'"


So how can Hanukkah market itself more effectively? Firstly, I think it should decide on a definitive spelling, is it Hanukkah, Hanukah Chanukah, Chanuka? All these accepted versions of spelling the word stresses me out every time I have to write it. Secondly, Hanukkah needs to take on Santa Claus, with a jolly icon that children can take photos with and that will come bearing gelt. I have a few suggestions to take on the great St. Nick. How about Mr. Latke Head or Daddy Dreidel? Then the folks at Hanukkah headquarters should make copious amounts of Hanukkah telemovies – "How the Grinch Stole the Menorah", "National Lampoons Hanukah Vacation" and "The Night before Hanukah".


As I contemplate further Hanukkah marketing efforts, Little Roo and I are off to wrap some Hanukkah gifts in Christmas paper.



Posted By XPAT to Xpatriate Games at 12/02/2010 02:45:00 PM

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The last of the Halloween candy!!

We have reached a major milestone in our household this week. Little Roo is finally through the last of the Halloween candy. Her Halloween candy collection was a labor of love on her part, three hours of pounding the pavement on the cool autumn evening that was October 31, knocking on neighborhood doors, singing, "Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat, if you don't, I don't care, I'll pull down your underwear!"

For the record, I did NOT teach her that song. When I heard her sing it for the first time on Halloween, I was slightly mortified. My perfect little Australian child was giving repeat live performances of this very obnoxious song to complete strangers, insisting they give her candy. She on the other hand was delighted with the results of her singing; bags and bags of candy. Little Roo made me promise not to throw out the candy and I made her promise to eat it in moderation. So here we are, five weeks later at the end of the Halloween candy road, now time to go see the dentist!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sufferin' succotash

This past holiday weekend I was thankful for my family being adopted for Thanksgiving dinner and being included in this most delicious American tradition of eating turkey with all the fixins'.  I got to try some luscious stuffing, gravy and succotash. Until last Thursday, my Australian ears had only heard the word "succotash" used in cartoon sketches but it turned out to be the name of a very tasty side dish comprised of corn and lima beans. Thanks to Thanksgiving, I will no longer live in ignorance when Sylvester the cat (the Looney Tunes cartoon character) says his trademark expression "Sufferin' succotash!" I will nod knowingly and think back to this past Thanksgiving dinner.

 sylvester the cat

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Coolifying Canberra

Something has happened to Washington D.C. in my time living here. With the passing of the guard from the Bush administration to the Obama machine, Washington D.C. became cool. The First Lady is emerging into an American fashion icon, with her wardrobe choices getting as much attention as her husband's policy changes. The city has been flooded with reality television shows such as Top Chef, Real World, Real Housewives of D.C. and D.C. Cupcakes showcasing the best and worst (real housewives) the city has to offer.

It got me to thinking what would it take to make Australia's capital city of Canberra cool? Is it even possible to coolify Canberra? Nicknamed the Bush Capital because it feels like living in a big country town, where you can still find top class restaurants and museums but drive 5 minutes out in any direction and you will be in danger of hitting kangaroos with your car.

Most Americans I have encountered have actually not even ever heard of Canberra, let alone realized that it is our capital city. Wedged in between Australia's better known cities of Sydney and Melbourne, Canberra is in fact so uncool that one of our Prime Ministers John Howard did not even take up his official residency in the capital city but instead choose to reside in Sydney.

Currently Australia, has it's first female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. Perhaps she is the turn around for Canberra, just as the Obama's seem to have been the turn around for D.C. Gillard is unmarried and I am thinking all she needs is a new boyfriend to really kick start Canberra's coolification. I have come up with a few ideas for potential suitors:

Jamie Foxx - What more could we ask for in Australia's First Man, he sings, dances, acts and he is super cool!

George Clooney - Voted as Sexiest Man Alive on two occasions by People Magazine, he could help Gillard make Canberra not only cool but sexy.

Foxx, Gillard and Clooney. Who can coolify Canberra?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Tim Tam Slam

I walked into my local World Market store to discover a mini homage to Australia set up. World Market had a small selection of Australian products for sale, including the Australian breakfast and lunch spread staple for millions of Aussie families, Vegemite. Most Australians I know, myself included takes particular pleasure in torturing, I mean exposing foreign guests to Vegemite's unique salty taste. I personally can not stand Vegemite but my family members love it and insist on keeping it stockpiled despite it's astronomical U.S. price of $9 for a tiny jar.

Also included in the World Market Aussie selection of products was Shapes (flavoured crackers), Bundaberg Ginger Ale, Arnotts Assorted Biscuits and my all time favorite which I highly recommend, Arnotts Tim Tams. Tim Tams are a delicious indulgent chocolate on chocolate on more chocolate biscuit (or cookie if you rather), which can be enjoyed in many ways. My preferred method of Tim Tam consumption and the messiest method is something we call the Tim Tam Slam. A Tim Tam Slam is a uniquely Australian tradition of drinking a hot beverage (coffee, etc) by using a Tim Tam as a straw.
Recipe for a perfect Tim Tam Slam

Hot coffee made to your specifications (any hot beverage will do the trick)
Packet of Tim Tams (refrigerated Tim Tams are best)
Baileys Irish Cream Liqueur (to spike coffee -it makes it more fun in the long run)

Step One
Spike coffee with appropriate amount of liqueur

Step Two
Bite opposite ends of Tim Tam and use it a a straw to suck in coffee

Step Three
Prepare to get messy!
Attempt to consume the remains of the Tim Tam before it melts

Step Four