Saturday, April 25, 2015


25 April 2015
Kristen says...

Happy ANZAC Day!

What, you don't know what ANZAC Day is? Oh, then you must not be from Australia, New Zealand, Turkey or France!

Anzac Day (ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) is celebrated every year on April 25. It is similar to Memorial Day in the US, but is specifically geared to memorializing the anniversary of the ANZACs landing for the WWI battle at Gallipoli in Turkey. This year is especially special, as it is the 100th anniversary of the landing.

This special day is being celebrated in multiple places across the world today, with the dawn services, the familiar red and black poppy flowers, and most fun for me, ANZAC biscuits.

Biscuits, of course, in Australia and other places, are cookies.

Eating ANZAC biscuits is an essential part of the ANZAC Day celebration, because they were sent to the soldiers by the mothers, sisters, wives and girlfriends back home. Of course, by the time the biscuits reached the soldiers they were hard, so hard they couldn't be eaten without being ground up like granola or dipped in tea.

I made some ANZAC biscuits using the first published recipe earlier this week for our work celebration. It's always a little nerve-wracking to attempt to make something that is so essential to other people's culture, but Chris and I thought the cookies were nice, and nobody complained, so I call it a success.

Some of the recipes I looked at call for dried coconut (but not the original recipe, so I left it out), but all the recipes I saw called for Golden Syrup, something I'd never heard of before!
They advertise golden syrup as being perfect for pancakes, etc, but it doesn't taste like maple syrup at all. Golden syrup is the consistency of caro (corn) syrup, but it's made of cane sugar, so is closer to Molasses...I think if you took brown sugar, added water and boiled for a while, you'd probably come up with something as close to Golden Syrup as possible...probably. :)

The newspaper says over 160,000 people celebrated the holiday at the various services in Canberra today, which is really amazing. Chris and I stayed home (4 am is really too early!) but watched some of the events on the tv. It was very inspiring and I have enjoyed being here for the Centenary of this important historical event.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015


I am a small town girl. I love the idea of living in a place where you don't have to drive miles to get to a grocery store, where people know you, your parents, your grandparents--a place with just one school...

But I do have to say, living in a city has some distinct advantages. 

Museums, for example. While there are some fine museums in small towns, in general it's easier to find world-class exhibits in larger places--like the one Chris and I went to last night. 

Interesting-looking, isn't it? 

This is an outdoor installation at the National Gallery, a grass-covered hill, surrounded by water, but hollow inside with a hole in the top:

This hill is actually an outdoor exhibit by American artist James Turrell. He has a light-inspired exhibit currently ongoing inside the museum, but what we visited last night is, I believe, permanent. 

The basic idea is to visit the scene around 5:45, am or pm...what you witness between 5:45 and 6:05 is really pretty spectacular...

Check out the time stamps below:

Keep in mind, what you are looking at here are photos of the sky through a hole (maybe 2 meters in diameter) at the top of a dome...the colors are changing based on how the light from the sky enters the dome...and the color can shift fairly quickly:

Weird, right?! And then 5 minutes later you're here:

Crazy, right?!

The colors ran the spectrum, from pink to green to blue to orange to white...and all based on the placement of the sun in the sky. 

It was awesome!! Simple, but awesome!

This all happened within the span of 20 minutes...

Really, really cool. And free. Who could ask for anything more?

Cities: not all bad. ;)

Monday, April 6, 2015

Wineries, Easter Break, Rugby and a New Diet

Kristen says...

Happiest of Easter/Passover to those who celebrate those holidays!

And warm greetings from Australia, where the days are getting shorter and the weather cooler, but so far not any less busy! :)

We have had a particularly large amount to do the past few weeks, what with weekend events, the Easter holiday, our HHE (STUFF!) being delivered, and of course, multiple trips to the chiropractor...le sigh.

So let's start with our winery trip a couple weekends ago...a friend of a friend is leaving soon, and so wanted to buy some wine to take home with her...and since I am a firm non-drinker, I became the much appreciated designated driver. :)

There are many wineries in the Canberra District, in large part due to the cool climate. We visited four, and Chris and our friends sampled (and purchased) a wide variety...
Chris contemplating a red
Most of the wineries use netting to try to keep the birds off the grapes before they are picked
Christmassy wine barrel art
Wine bottle art
A llama
It was a beautiful day and we had a really nice time!
 The following weekend we went out for breakfast across the street from an apple orchard--it's fall here, and we're enjoying being in the middle of the local apple season!

More netting!

Visiting the apple orchard was particularly good, since our chiropractor has put us on an inflammatory diet, which has outlawed: sugar, wheat, bread, potatoes, milk...basically everything I eat. On the approved list? Fruit, vegetables, beans, eggs, cheese (thankfully, or I'd have starved to death!), yogurt, and things I can't eat like nuts (allergies)...

So we've had fun experimenting with recipes this week. So far I've made flourless brownies (made from dates) and pudding (made from oats), as well as quiche and grilled cheese with a cauliflower crust/bread and a delicious veggie frittata...

So, clearly we're not starving...I do REALLY miss bread, though, and I'm not going to lie, we totally cheated on this diet on Easter Sunday when we went to the Pancake Parlor after attending the 6 am Sunrise Service...

Also on the schedule for Easter Sunday? A trip up Red Hill for an amazing view of the city:


What else did we do over the Easter weekend? Well, our stuff was delivered at the end of last week, so we have been spending a lot of our time unpacking and putting things away...I finished the library (much smaller than it was in Vlad, unfortunately) last night:

And we gave ourselves a reward for all our hard work by attending our second-ever rugby game!
And were met by singers!
Fun fact...there are two types of professional rugby in Australia, Union and League. The Raiders, the first team we watched, are rugby league, while the Brumbies (an Australian horse), the team we watched this weekend, are union.

They both play at the same stadium, but the style of play is quite different.

For one, the Brumbies got to do this:


A Knock On is like a Fumble in American football (called Gridiron here)
Go Brumbies!!
 Of course, a weekend in Australia isn't complete without a kangaroo sighting:

And that brings you back up to speed with what's going on here...

 It's good times!