Saturday, April 16, 2011

Vanuatu? Don't Mind if "I Do"

This past March, Michael and I went to the South Pacific Islands of Vanuatu because I "had" to leave the country.  Yep, I "had" to leave the country by requirement of the Australian Government.  Currently I only have a tourist visa which means exiting the country every 3 months.  It is great to take these vacations but it gets expensive when I am not allowed to legally work.  

But to get back to the vacation, we had a wonderful time.  It was exciting to say the least.  Some of the highlights include:  tropical low pressure system that caused a tree to come nearly crashing onto our bungalow, visiting cultural villages to experience the native lifestyle, abseiling down a 100 foot waterfall, threat of a tsunami to hit our island after the Japan earthquake and best of all, the horseback riding excursion to a secluded waterfall where Michael proposed. 

Michael is such a cutey!

But not as cute as me!

Incredible blue water.

Amazing sunsets.

Our cultural village experience.

Our first pic as an engaged couple.
The waterfall that we sat under where Michael proposed.
Our romantic balcony dinner on our last night there.

The Reason for the "Seize-son"

I've been giving this some thought, and I feel like a finally have a "hold" on my blog block.  You see, I've been feeling a bit down-in-the dumps despite some very wonderful things happening in my life.  Rather than focusing on all of the positive, I've been concentrating on the negative.  I've been centered on the things I miss the most.  I miss the US;  I miss my family;  I miss my friends;  I miss..., I miss..., I miss.... and so on and so forth.  Therefore, I haven't wanted to put any more of that negative energy into my world and I didn't want to bring my readers down.  So there, I've said it.  I've purged my reasons and it is now out there for all to see and understand.  And most of all, I can't take it back and I don't feel bad about it anymore. 


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Who Would Have Thought?

Just when I had given up on my blog, believing that it wasn't worth writing since no one read it anyway, I get inspiration from a complete stranger living over 10,000 miles away.  It is funny how this worked out considering I had just said to Michael that I thought the blog was a goner; no longer worthy of my time when I have someone reach out to compliment me.  Therefore, I thank you La Cremiere for the courage to continue.

With that being said, March was a rather lackluster month for blog posts....1 post in total to be exact.  I recommit to my blog and "apparent" readers out there to make a better effort at my blog.  After all, I have a lot to tell and exciting events to look forward to and, it is.....


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Would You Be My Valentine?

This past Valentine's Day weekend, Michael and I took a much needed weekend away on the coast.  I was feeling isolated and Michael was working a lot, so we decided on an impromptu trip to Yeppoon, just the two of us to relax and do was so good!  We stayed at an incredible resort with a huge pool that was situated right on the coast reaching to the Southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef.  When we weren't hanging out at the pool we were at the beach so we both could get our fix of the salt water and air.  It was refreshing to say the least.  Here are a few of the highlights from the weekend.

We were welcomed to our suite with a cheese plate and champagne.  Yup, I'm a lucky gal.

The beach that kinda of reminded me of the Atlantic Ocean, minus the mountainous islands in the background.

We went into town for a sushi lunch, something we can not get in our little country town.

I'm posing in front of a huge wind chime erected to celebrate Captain Cook's discovery.

The gazebo we sat at while enjoying some beer and as Michael would say, "watching the world go by".

Our view from the gazebo.

Pure enjoyment!

We went for a walk at the resort and ended up at a lookout of horses, mountains and water...doesn't get much better than that!

There were kangaroos that would feed near the swing set that we could see from our balcony.  I still get excited every time that I see kangaroos.

Dress up dinner on our last night there.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Don't Shoot or DO!

This past Australia day, January 26th, Michael and I joined The Blackwater Rifle Club in Eidsvold, QLD for the annual rifle competition.  Here are some pictures of the event:

Michael in the prone stance with our friend Steve guiding.

Michael and I in the rifle competition.

Again in the rifle competition.

This is how I spent most of my time, listening to music, wearing noise canceling headphones and reading a book.

Michael is a true gun enthusiast.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

I'm Back!

Admittedly, I have been slacking off big time with my blog so I am here to apologize to my imaginary readers.  I finally got my computer back from the shop, 2 1/2 weeks and $200 later.  I was so mad at myself for downloading a virus, I just knew better but it is what it is or  at this point, was what it was.  I justify the cost to myself by thinking of this as a computer "tune-up".  Think about it, you can't own a car for 3 years without ever doing maintenance, right?  Basically, I am done beating myself up about being an idiot.  Therefore, this is my re-introductory blog....I no longer have any excuses to slack off.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Quick Catch-Up

Ok, so it's been more than a week since my last post but alas, I am back....but not yet in full effect.  You see, I downloaded a virus onto my trusty computer.  Yes, I did it and knew better when I was doing it and did it anyway.  Therefore, I am now paying the price.  My computer is in the shop but will hopefully be back next week.  I have been using Michael's computer which is fine to search the internet with, but that is about it.  No skype, no uploading pics, no "heavy" surfing of the net.  Patience is a virtue, an evading virtue in this case.

When I get my computer back, I will fill you all in on the romantic weekend on the coast we just had, complete with pictures and all!  It was a much need getaway for the both of us and we had a magnificent time.  Needless to say, we are both sun-kissed and blissed at the present moment. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Australia is Not for the Faint of Heart

The fascination of Down Under had always brought certain picturesque images to my mind:
The Great Barrier Reef
Ayers Rock/Uluru
Wild Kangaroos hoping along the beach
Cuddly Koalas hanging out in the trees.

All of these things I have found to be true of magnificent and majestic Australia.  It is an expansive country with a huge array of amazing things to see and do.  There are beautifully stunning beaches that rival even the most fantastic coastlines in the world.  I always knew that I would visit here; I never thought I would ever be so lucky to live here (Thanks Michael!).  During my time here, I haven't even touched the surface of the awesome that is Australia.

As a potential visitor, I certainly saw OZ through rose colored glasses.  Since moving here, I have now adjusted my sights back to the reality of life in the Outback.  Ignorance was bliss for a short sweet time.  There have been some major natural disasters since I've moved here:  the "biblical" flood of Queensland that covered an area the size of France and Germany, some out of control brush fires effecting Western Australia, and now the category 5 cyclone Yasi that will hit the coast of Northern Queensland tonight.

Besides the flooding, cyclones and fires, some of the world's deadliest animals call Australia home.  There are Great White Sharks swimming freely off the Southern coasts, vicious Salt water Crocodiles swimming in the Northern waters, and fatal box jellyfish that keep you out of the waters for up to 6 months at a time!  Now if you are too afraid to swim in the water here, consider your enemies on shore.  Five of the world's top ten deadliest snakes are found in Australia, including the brown snake that we found hanging out at our front door a few weeks ago.  Luckily, only two of the world's deadliest spiders are found here in Australia.  Number six on the list is the red back spider which we can commonly find hanging out under our grill cover or on our back porch furniture.  For the first few months living here, I checked the sheets for spiders before getting into bed!  I've been scared to death of all these deadly creatures hence why I think Australia is not for the faint at heart.  Thank goodness I have learned to adapt and love Australia!

Cyclone Yasi projection as of 4pm today, Wednesday, February 2, 2011.  Check this website for any updates on Cyclone Yasi.

Apples and Oranges

OK kids, it's time you all ate your daily serving of fruits and vegetables.  You must eat the right balance of food everyday to grow up to be healthy and strong.  You must not eat too much of....wait a minute, this isn't a nutritional blog.  I would be the last person to give  you advice on eating healthy, as I often like to indulge in sweets, junk food and alcohol.  I am using a literary metaphor to introduce some of the differences between Australia, which I deem to be the apples and The United States must then be the oranges.  I have been amazed and sometimes even culture shocked at some of the total Aussie-isms that I have encountered.  Hopefully you are like me and find these cultural differences to be very intriguing.  Here are some that come to mind but not in order of importance.
  • In an emergency, dial 000 not 911.
  • Voting for political parties is compulsory once you register to vote.
  • Judges and other court officials wear powdery white wigs when court is in session.
  • Attorneys and lawyers are referred to as solicitors.
  • There are drive-thru liquor stores, but of course they are called bottle shops here.
  • The legal blood alcohol limit to drive is .05 rather than the .08 in the States, which really makes the previous point ironic.
  • Driving is done on the left side of the road and on the right side of the car.
  • Australia uses the metric system although I've sometimes heard the expression that something is miles away.  I have an awfully hard time getting meat at the deli since I don't know grams.  I will ask the person to "feel" the bag so I know if I am getting enough.  
  • Australian youth are raised on Vegemite, a yeast extract highly rich in Vitamin B.  Personally, I think it looks and tastes like motor oil for your car and am nearly sick to my stomach when Michael eats it.  Another Aussie favorite is Weet-bix cereal.  With only 3% sugar, this is not your typical Frosted Flakes.
  • Tomato Sauce is the same thing as Ketchup although they do not taste the same.
  • Hungry Jacks is the same fast food restaurant as Burger King, whopper and all.
  • Mc Donalds is referred to as Mackers in OZ and Mickey D's in The US.
  • There is KFC however I won't go there but would kill for a Chick-fil-a sandwich and waffle fries.
Surprisingly, Australia and The US are comparable in size.
  • The mail box at your house is only for mail delivery.  Outgoing mail must be dropped off at the post office called the Australia Post.
  • The mail delivery person zips around on a motorcycle and drives through your yard to deliver the mail since most mailboxes are about half way up the driveway and not in the street.
  • I have not seen a standardized mailbox system, although it doesn't mean that this doesn't exist.
  • Grocery store shopping cart wheels have "all wheel drive" capability.  They move forward and back as well as side to side.  I still have trouble operating them.
  • The school year in Australia begins in January, after the summer/Christmas break.
  • All kids are required to wear uniforms which include a broad brimmed hat.
  • Parents are responsible for the children's uniforms, school books and transportation to and from school.  There are no big yellow school buses here in OZ.
  • Football refers to rugby or rugby league sports.  Football in The US is called gridiron.  Aussies love their cricket.  I find it as riveting as watching baseball.
  • The seasons are opposite of those of The US because we are South of the Equator.  However, I am sure that all of you knew that one.  Currently it is summer here and The US is experiencing blizzard like conditions across most of the mid-west.  
  • OZ is just after the International Date line and always one day ahead of The US.  I constantly use this world clock website before I make any calls home just to make sure it isn't too late.
I think that just about covers all of the points that I had in mind.  I'm sure I will add some more when I think of them. Until then, you should all come Down Under for a visit so you can experience these cultural differences for yourselves.  I would love to see ya!

Now enjoy this song:  Men at Work,  Land Down Under

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Interactive ----> Reactive Blog

In an effort to keep my blog interesting, entertaining and worth reading, I am asking for some participation from my readers.  What would you like to see more of?  What kind of posts are you enjoying the most?  Should the blog be all about my day-to-day life here in Australia with Michael?  Or, do you enjoy my rants and tangents about my extraordinary thoughts?  Do you want to hear about my past or future events?  Please, I am asking but not yet begging for some input from core audience.   It's as easy as adding in a comment below.  Now, I'll borrow a slogan from good ole' Nike, Just Do It!
Fill in your "thought bubble"

Friday, January 28, 2011

Everyday Inspirations and Daily Affirmations

How do you find your inspiration?
I want to take some time to give notice and appreciation to those who've inspired me to write this blog.  We are all inspired in different ways and by the different people in our lives.  But, do we always take the time to let these people know how they have shaped our lives in a positive manner?  I can remember a former co-worker letting me know that they found me as an inspiration to be a positive person everyday.  That conversation I had with her still gives me the "warm and fuzzies" to this day.  Thank you Yaya for paying me a compliment that will last a lifetime. 

First, I would like to thank my sister-in-law Jen for inspiring me to start and continue this blog.  I have been following her blog, Click-Clack Mafia, a family blog chronicling the adventures of my brother and their family, for as long as she has been writing it.  I've learned from her that blogging should be fun and easy.  It should give good insight into your daily life and not be treated as some form of work that you dread doing.  Thank you Jen for the inspiration and support....thanks for helping me:

Next, I would like to extend my appreciation to a near stranger; a girl I met while traveling last year.  We were flying from Chicago to Orlando, a flight that takes about 2.5 hours.  It wasn't until our initial dissent into Orlando that I began talking to my aisle mate, Caitlin.  After a few brief "get to know you" questions, I soon discovered that she was an author and inspirational speaker and it all began with her blogs.  Operation Beautiful is about believing in and sharing daily affirmations and Healthy Tipping Point is about eating healthy everyday.  I was amazed to hear how her success transpired from something as easy and simple as writing a daily blog.  Of course it was her good ideas that boosted her success, but it brought the idea "home" to me that success in writing isn't as far out of reach as I thought.  Although I will probably never see Caitlin again, I would like to say thank you for inspiring me.  
Now that due compliments have been paid, I would like to challenge all of you to do the same.  Tell someone how they've inspired you.  Let them know exactly how they have influenced your life in a positive way and how much you appreciate it.  Pay someone a compliment with a smile and let's hope that you inspire them to pay it forward.  Be an inspiration in this world, you never know how it will help someone to be a better person.  I want to leave you with a little surprise, one of my favorite songs of all time.  Please enjoy and live to inspire:

Thursday, January 20, 2011

These are a Few of My Favorite Things....

I thought it was time to switch things up and create a fun blog.  So here it goes, these are a few of my favorite things, in no particular order:
  • I absolutely love music and try to listen to it whenever I can.  Right now, I have tunes on my computer and tunes in the living room.  I have different types of music for my different moods.  I've seen countless concerts and will probably lose my hearing at an early age because of it.  When faced with a hard task, I feel like I can accomplish just about anything with the right play list.
  • I adore dogs and consider them to be my favorite type of pet.  I love most every kind of dog, but yellow labs are dearest to my heart.  I think that I have a sense to tell what dogs think & need.  I feel that I will always have a dog, even till the day I die.  As I write this, I am missing my dog like crazy.
  • I  love to travel, as most of you already know.  Planning a trip to discover new places is one of my most favorite past times.  I think that there are so many wonderful eye-opening places in this world and I wish that everyone could have these same worldly experiences.  There are hundreds of places that I still want to see and experience before I get too old to travel.

  • I love my friends.  I have learned numerous life lessons from them and think that I am a better person because of their love.  Proudly, I have friends all over the world and I miss all of them.
  • I love my family even more, especially my nieces and nephews.  I miss them dearly and think of them everyday.  I know that I wouldn't be the same person without their love and support.
  • I am in love with Michael Cameron Foote and consider this time in my life to be some the happiest times I've ever experienced.
  • I love my home state of Florida and for this, I consider myself to be a.........
  • I love the form of the written word and hope to be an author of my very own book one day.  I'm hoping that this blog will give me the confidence to pursue this dream.
  • I really love good food and enjoy a delicious dinner out at a fancy restaurant.  I especially miss all of the food choices of the US.  I'll include into the food category my love for milk and nearly any type of vegetable.
  • Some of my most favorite quotes include:  
"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams, live the life you have imagined."
"Follow your heart and you will never be lead astray."
"You are not old until regret replaces your dreams."
  • And finally, some words I live by:

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Letting the Days Go By....

Do you ever hear a song and know that it just "speaks" to you?  Whether it be your current life situation or mood, music has a way of helping process emotions and least it does for me.  I recently read a novel by Ian Rankin in which he used the technique of incorporating song titles throughout the book to express a character's current state of mind.  I thought it was a good idea therefore, I'm borrowing this technique for some of my blogs, beginning now!

Click on the above picture to watch & listen to "Once in a Lifetime"
Here are some lyrics from The Talking Heads, "Once in a Lifetime" song that I thought were relevant for this post:
..........You may find yourself living in another part of the world..........
..........You may ask yourself, well, how did I get here..........
..........Letting the days go by, water flowing underground..........
..........Once in a lifetime, water flowing underground..........

I'm finding myself quite bored during these long summer days, living here in Australia and not being able to work.  I do have a job prospect on the horizon that would allow me to stay in Australia for as long as I am employed, however, it is at the mercy of whether the government will grant the visa.  Until that time, this is how I am letting the days go by:

Reading novels, where at home I was not the avid reader that I am now.  Recently, I have read authors such as Kathy Reichs, Ian Rankin and Jeffery DeaverThese are mostly murder mystery novels, the kind that I find very intriguing.

Doing jigsaw puzzlesMichael and I have completed two 500 piece puzzles and have started a third one that admittedly looks very difficult.  We will finish this off with the a 748 piece puzzle of The Twelve Apostles, the giant rock stacks that rise out of the Southern Ocean on the shore of Victoria, AUS.

This is the puzzle that we started even glows in the dark!

Puzzle #2, ain't it pretty?

I must admit that I also spend a good portion of my time watching my "fishpuppies".  You may be asking yourself what in the heck are "fishpuppies"?  This name is purely the invention of a girl who misses her dog really bad.  The current pet that we have, ie a cat, doesn't even show me the love and excitement that these fish do.  Whenever I go to the tank, they swim up and actually seem happy to see me like a dog would be.   And hence, the name "fishpuppies" was born. 
Presenting The Fishpuppies!
By the way, if the water appears to be green there is no need to adjust your screen because it is.  We've had one fish that brought in some bacteria to the tank and the medicine to treat it turns everything green.  Can you find the fish I've nicknamed Sicko?  The yellowish-gray guy in the bottom left hand corner.  What about the orange one just above and to the right of him, I will nickname him Lover since it looks like he is blowing me a kiss.  And I can't leave out the bluish-gray one at the top the is screaming "Feed ME!", we'll give him the name of Chubbo.

Can you tell just how bored I am?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Australian English to American English Dictionary

 I thought it was time to post a funny blog about some of the differences in language I have encountered during my time here in Australia.  You wouldn't think there would be a whole lot different since English is the primary language, but think again.  Australians have a language of their own and I still find myself lost in conversation even though I can understand what words are being said.  However, I've gotten to the point where I don't hear an accent in certain commercials anymore.  Assimilation here I come!  Therefore for your enjoyment and amusement, please enjoy a few of the new "Aussie English" words that I have learned.  And for all of my Aussie readers out there, please feel free to add any words I may have missed. 

  • Arvo:  afternoon
  • Barbie:  bbq.  Yes, Aussies do cook on the barbie, but no, they do not cook shrimp on the barbie.  If anything, they cook prawns on the barbie, not shrimp.
  • Bickkies or biscuits:  cookies
  • Bloke:  man.  Anyone that has been to Outback Steakhouse has learned this one.
  • Bottle shop:  liquor store.  Alcohol is extremely expensive Down Under.  A case of the domestic beer we drink, Pure Blonde, costs around $49.  A bottle of domestic Yellow Tail wine costs around $13.  You can buy the same bottle of wine for $6 in the US.
  • Brekkie:  breakfast
  • Buggered:  tired or worn out
  • Chook:  chicken
  • Crook:  sick, not feeling well
  • Dag:  goofy or an idiot.  Surprisingly enough, Michael has called me dag a few times before now.
  • Dear or dearer:  expensive or pricey
  • Dinner:  lunch.  You see where I would get extremely confused with this one.
  • Dunny or brick shitter:  outhouse.  Although, I have yet to come across one still in use.
  • Entree:  appetizer.  Again, see where I would be very confused by this one.
  • Esky:  cooler or igloo
  • Fair Dinkum:  true and genuine.  One of my favorite phrases to say even though I haven't quite mastered the context of when to say it.
  • Fairy Floss:  cotton candy.  Upon discovering this one, I proceeded to ask Michael if he truly believed that fairies flossed their teeth with the stuff.  He said yes.
  • Fart Sack:  bed.  I'll let your imagination ponder this one.
  • Footy:  National Rugby League
  • Fortnight:  2 weeks
  • G'day:  hello 
  • Good on ya:  good job, well done.  Also one of my most favorite Aussie expressions.
  • Grog:  alcohol
  • Heaps:  a lot or a bunch.  Believe me, Aussies use this word heaps too!
  • Jumper:  jacket
  • Lollies:  candy or sweets
  • Mate:  friend or buddy and can be used for a male or female.
  • Mozzie:  mosquito.  These buggers are everywhere and they bite!
  • No dramas:  no worries mate...I think this one is self explanatory.
  • Pissed:  to be drunk or getting drunk.  Can also mean to be mad in which case I think this is universal.
  • Reckon:  best guess or to ask a question.  "Do you reckon...." or in response, "I reckon...."
  • Rubbish:  trash or waste
  • Shelia:  woman.  Again, anyone who has ever been to Outback Steakhouse knows this one.
  • Smoko:  morning tea or break.  Aussies are religious about this morning break.  Promptly at 10am people gather to have a small snack and cup of tea or coffee.
  • Stubby:  beer bottle
  • Stubby cooler:  beer koozie
  • Tea:  dinner
  • Thongs:  flip-flops
  • Wog:  to have the flu or illness
I know that there are a bunch that I have forgotten but thought this would at least be a good start.  

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Aerogard is My New Favorite Scent

Aerogard is my new favorite scent and I don't leave home without it.  Honestly, as soon as I step outside of the house I hose myself down in this lovely spray.  I even carry a full size bottle of it in my purse at all times.  You may be wondering to yourself what this new aromatic pleasure smells like?  Think Off! or Cutter brand bug repellent.  Lovely, right?  Except here in Australia, we don't have those brands, we have Aerogard and Bushman.  However, any where in the world you travel ALL bug repellent smells the same.  Gross!

Summertime is here in Australia and that means a few things:  heat, humidity, rain and the proliferation of bugs.  These aren't just ordinary bugs, these insects are mean and as soon as you step outside they are literally all over you.  During the day the minuscule sand flies attack you but you don't even know it till it's too late.  And when the sun goes down, it's time for the mozzies (mosquitoes) to come out and they do so in droves.  Just like Florida, these little buggers carry diseases such as Dengue Fever and Encephalitis.  Therefore, it is most important to wear your Aerogard at all times and tropical strength at that!  Before I wised up to this realization my legs were attacked and now they look like a game of connect the red dots. 

We don't however let these bugs spoil our outdoor summer fun though.  Yesterday we went to the shooting range about an hour's drive East of Emerald to Blackwater.  It's the coal mining capital of Queensland ya know!  There's not a whole lot going on  here but Michael is a gun enthusiast and has a shooting match  coming up that he needs to practice for.  For the people who know me really well, you know that I don't like loud noises.  They actually scare the crap out of me, but there I found myself at the gun range with ear plugs and noise canceling ear muffs on.  You think that would have been enough but I still wanted to hide like a dog under a table on the 4th of July.  Apparently they didn't even have the "loud" guns at the range yesterday but I still jumped at every loud bang that echoed through the air.

Finally it was my turn to shoot the "not so loud" guns.  To be the good sport I am (and  a supporting girlfriend at that) I got up there and took my turn.  All in all, I shot 4 different guns.  A .22 caliber rifle that I liked the best.  Michael's very loud rifle that kicked back and made my shoulder sore and 2 hand pistols which I think were .22 calibers .  I probably have this all wrong but since Michael isn't here to ask, you will just have to take my word on it.  

I have to admit that I was very nervous about firing these guns and it did scare the crap out of me.  However, there was also a part of me that enjoyed it ever so slightly.  Seems I need the practice since Michael is going to enter me into the upcoming shooting match "just for fun"!  Here are some pictures for your amusement, enjoy!

There was a holster belt and cowboy hat available.  How could I not take a picture with these?
Here I am shooting the revolver.  This is what they used to use in the Wild, Wild, West!

Here I am with the other hand gun and of course with Michael onlooking so proudly.  By the way, it's not near as easy as they make it look in the movies.

These were my target shots from the .22 caliber rifle.  Not too bad for a beginner, huh?  Can you guess which class I will be shooting in for the upcoming Australia Day match?