#meredith2013

The A Team again partook in some Meredith. It was a good ‘un.

the a team

The music was spectacular, as always, with highlights being Chic featuring Nile Rogers, Spiderbait, Clairy Browne and the Bangin’ Rackettes, and Brian Jonestown Massacre. But, again as always, the fun was had both in the ‘Sup and around the outside.

luke drinking a cocktail

We decided to start the first day with cocktails. Milk Based Cocktails to be precise. Luke made some White Russians before we left and popped them in a couple of thermos, and surprised Laura. She was stoked to say the least.

laura discovers a mbc

We all enjoy the MBCs and umbrellas.

holly drinking a cocktail

Cocktails were soon followed by life saving cups of tea. You know how it is.

a saving cup of tea

The days were glorious …

the love arch

… as were the evenings.

sunset over meredith

Farewell Meredith. See you soon.

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Christmas 2013: the season that was

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Luke and I kicked off the season with my ‘work’ Christmas party. Given that I have no workplace as such, this ‘work’ Christmas party consisted of just the two of us. It was excellent. No boring boss or creepy guy from accounts.

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We took ourselves off on a bike tour to Abbotsford, where we partook in a cleansing ale at the charming Retreat Hotel. One turned to two or three, and we were hungry. So off to Thy Thy for a feast.

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No party is complete without the ‘superior’ Michinbury. Hey big spender.

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We may or may not (may), have then ridden home, dragged the mattress into the lounge room and slept under the Christmas lights. Childhood dream realised. Best ‘work’ Christmas party ever.

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Next up is the Christmas baking. As per every year, my sister Laura and I split our baking and make hundreds of treats for packaging up and sharing with friends and family.

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This year I made lebkuchen for a picnic, gluten-free mince pies for Luke, along with a range of truffles – peanut-butter balls, date and ginger logs and whiskey balls. Laura made the amazingly cute shortbread, chocolate orange balls, mint log and fruit mince pies. We are the best Christmas bakers going around. Just quietly.

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By the time the end of December rolled around, Luke and I were well ready for a holiday before family Christmas time. So we took ourselves up north to Mooloolaba for a few days. Bliss.

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First we visited ‘Crikey Park’, aka Australia Zoo. Crikey expensive, but a good day out. We saw bucket loads of lizards, crocodiles, birds, koalas, giraffes and kangaroos. It was fun to be tourists and ooh and aah at the wildlife.

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Beaching was up next. I didn’t grow up near the beach, I’m more of a river gal, but whenever I visit the beaches on the Sunshine Coast and Northern NSW, I can see what all the fuss is about. We enjoyed naps, fish and chips, watching the sun set over the marina, reading books, Luke enjoyed swimming at the beach (I got dumped by a wave and cried), I enjoyed swimming in the hotel pool, etc etc. Bliss.

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Good old Lismore and the family were up next. We introduced the Ramsay team to the iconic Milk Based Cocktail #MBC and got everyone on board (see last years Christmas post for the story!). We go with a White Russian, but there is definitely room for another in the repertoire, any suggestions?

Then we ate.

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But don’t worry, we survived all the food, and loved seeing the family. Another Christmas win!

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I hope that you all had a great Christmas and sent 2013 off feeling full of food, booze and family!

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Monuments, Presidents and Astronauts

In order to give our last holiday it’s due respect, I will be completing my blog on our holiday to the US. By hook or by crook …

Day 17

Washington! We took ourselves off on the Amtrak for a jaunt to Washington DC to visit two dear friends we met in Mongolia and again in China on our last adventure. Well, three friends, as they now how a cutie-pie named Henry.

luke and henry
He is divine! And the baby isn’t too bad either! Ba ha ha!

Brian and Erin took us out for breakfast  …

breakfast
I had beans and rice, plantains, salsa, tortillas, eggs, cream (!) and garlic bread. Would order it again in a flash.

… then took us for a tour of the Washington DC sites.

white house
Yep, I reckon we could live here.

forest jenny

lincoln

The Lincoln Memorial was overwhelmingly large and impressive, as was the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. I think this one was my favourite actually.

martin luther king

We then escaped the insane heat and took ourselves to one of the 19 amazing, free and world-class Smithsonian Museums. It was hard to choose, but due to Luke’s boyhood dream of being an astronaut, we took ourselves off to the National Air and Space Museum!

space museum

After all this sightseeing it was time for a break, so we went home to freshen up, then hand the baby over to his grandma and head out! We went to the historic neighbourhood of Georgetown for gluten-free pizzas and cocktails, with a charming walk around the waterfront for good luck!

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A few beers may have been consumed at home that evening, along with some fabulous catching up time.

Day 18

The next day Luke and I headed out to the Arlington National Cemetery to see some famous graves, which sounds quite odd now that I’m typing this. Anyway, we saw the graves of the darling Kennedy brothers and Jackie O, and saw the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

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The cemetery was worth the visit. Beautiful and touching.

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Again to escape the heat, Luke and I visited another Smithsonian Museum, this time the National Museum of American History. Highlights being the fabulous old cars, a display about the First Ladies, an excellent exhibition about the evolution of food in America, and of course, Julia Child’s kitchen!

julia child
“A party without cake is really just a meeting.” Ooh I love her!

luke and squirrel

As usual, Luke made friends with a squirrel …

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… then made us march around the hot city to see the Capitol Building. Not that I minded!

Then finally it was time to say our farewells to beautiful Washington and our so generous friends. Thank you Brian, Erin and Henry for showing us how beautiful and full of great food (and drink!) Washington DC is!

washington station

Next, our last few days in NYC …

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2014: The Plan

I love a new year. Shiny, unsullied, full of potential. Sigh.

mooloolaba sunrise

So. The Plan for this year is centred around mindfulness. Being in the moment. Enjoying. Living. Not checking facebook and instagram 24/7. Loving. Oh the possibilities!

1. Sleep

As of the 28th of January, I am a full-time teacher. I will need lots of sleep so as to be sane, happy, with it and kind. As such, I will get ready for bed as early as possible – lunch made, bag packed, make-up removed. I will go to bed at a reasonable hour and I will not faff around at 10pm, putting off doing my chores. When I sleep 8 to 9 hours I am happy and resilient. Winner.

2. Internet-free Moments

Luke and I started Internet-free Sundays last year, but lost our way. Bringing back Sundays full of walks, cocktails, vinyl, card games, cooking, reading and napping. Adding to this, I shan’t use the internet mindlessly after dinner. Social media is often an unsatisfying time suck.

3. Shopping Ethically

Joining in with Pip of Meet Me At Mikes for a Year of Ethical Fashion. If I’m looking for things to wear I will only:

a) Buy from ethical makers or
b) Buy second-hand or
c) Make it myself  or
d) Wear things I already own or 
e) Borrow or swap garments with friends

I am currently pretty good with this already, with jeans, underwear, shoes and exercise gear being my weak points. Please note that underwear will be bought from ethical makers, not purchased second-hand (!).

Related to this, is a plan to go through my wardrobe and figure out what I *really* need to transform it into the wardrobe of a grown up teacher person.

Adding to this, I am going to try to make all my purchases as ethical as possible, using the Shop Ethical! app.

4. Beautiful Mornings

My new job is out east, about a 30-40 minute commute each way. Blah. So! To counter this, I am going to get up with enough time to have a stretch, perhaps meditate, drink a delicious cup of tea or coffee and eat a damn fine breakfast. My mornings will be beautiful and peaceful.

5. It IS about the money, money, money

A year with the both of us studying has really racked up the debt. This year will see us pay of those damn blasted credit cards and save money for … our wedding! Yippee! And hopefully a mid-year jaunt to Perth and some weekends away as required.

holly sunset

I’d love to hear of your plans for 2014. Bring it!

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Oh Honey Joy!

It’s been AGES since I wrote on this little ol’ blog of mine. Jeepers! Time flies when you are studying, working et cetera, et cetera. Expect more from me from now on. I need to finish blogging about our holiday which was back in July, oops!

Here is a little present to make up for the silence … made for my belated 30th birthday party tomorrow.

honey joys

Honey Joys
Stolen from Kelloggs

4 cups of cornflakes, I used gluten-free ones
1 tablespoon of honey
1/3 of a cup of raw sugar
90 grams of butter

melted butter, honey, sugar

Melt the butter, honey and sugar together until all melted and bubbly. Add to the cornflakes and stir really well until all are coated. Spoon into party patty-pans and bake at 150 degrees for 10 minutes. Let ‘em cool and then scoff!

honey joys in the making

I hope you enjoy your virtual honey joy honey!

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3(0) is a magic number

I am now 30 years old. AND DAMN IT FEELS GOOD!

birthday presents

Here are all my presents. Well not all of them! Lovely Laura gave me some Royal Doulton champagne glasses, which are to be featured another time!

paella

Luke bought me this paella pan and accoutrements, we have eaten paella twice since. Who would have thought it was so quick and easy!

books
A favourite adult book, and two amazing kids books.

dvds
“Bernard, Bernard! I’m a prostitute robot from the future!”

le creuset

I was very spoilt again, with this gift of my second Le Creuset! This cast iron pan will get plenty of work in years to come. And it’s orange!

squishy

After opening all my presents (thanks Mum and Dad for the knife, and my lovely in-laws for my spoils), and having my first solo bedroom dance as a 30 year old to Azealia Banks (language warning!), the squishy above took me out for breakfast to the North Carlton Canteen. Yummo.

I was lucky enough to share my day with my friend Lisa’s wedding day! So Lukey and I spruced ourselves up to get down to Lisa and Aaron’s wedding in the Carlton Gardens. The sun came out just in time for the ceremony, and all was glorious, as all weddings should be.

wedding

I kept myself relatively nice until my job as MC was finished, then I joined the others in some ridiculous dancing, champagne glass smashing (accident!) and general tomfoolery. Fun.

wedding ladies
Hawt bride.

I was also super spoilt with our traditional birthday dinner later on in the week – Luke took me to La Luna!

la luna charcuterie

It was a delicious, (ethical) meat filled, winey and yummy night, starting with an amazing charcuterie plate, then garlic prawns, sausages, filet mignon wrapped in bacon, roasted pork and ice-cream to finish.

la luna meals

Not to mention a wine or two with each course. Dirty 30s indeed!

wine

Needless to say, a most fabulous time was had. Thanks to everyone for the fabulous send off up to the third floor!

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Luke making friends with all the neighbourhood cats on the walk home from dinner ….

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Dinos, Yankees and Queens

We are now alas home, but the blog must go on!

Day 14

Turns out that today was quite an important day, but I just didn’t know it yet …

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First stop of the day was the American Museum of Natural History. This museum is so, so good. We could have spent all day here, playing sillies, but alas our hunger for NYC deli food won out.

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The T-Rex was scary!

We decided on a picnic in Central Park, so took ourselves to Zabar’s to source bagels, gluten-free bagels, cream cheese, lox, cucumber salad and fruit salad. A genuine feast!

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We sat near the Great Lawn and enjoyed our treats, then continued our wander to the Loeb Boathouse and Bethesda Fountain.

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Where, of course, we all now know that the darling Luke James popped the question. Delightful.

All this called for a celebratory dinner, so we took ourselves to the lovely little French bistro near our apartment, Vin et Fleurs.

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French wine and bread. Perfection.

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We both had filet mignon, with fries and buttery green beans. Oh my.

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We finished the night with rooftop cocktails, Old Fashioned’s of course. See the Freedom Tower behind me? That’s where the new World Trade Centre is. Subtle red, white and blue lights.

A perfect day!

Day 15

Today’s museum was the Museum of Modern Art. Which we loved, until it got all too modern and minimalist and, sorry to say, weird. The Kahlo, van Gogh, Cézanne, Gauguin, Matisse, Duchamp and Warhol were damn fine though!

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Looking good considering the humidity!

We then searched around for another gluten-free friendly deli I’d read about, Blooms Deli, where Luke devoured a burger and a $5 vanilla shake.

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We then explored Grand Central Station, including the Food Market, which was full of tempting treats!

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Hustle. Bustle.

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The evening saw us subway up to The Bronx to see the Yankees play the Minnesota Twins.

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The baseball game was fun, I like cricket and baseball is the same kind of vibe, but unfortunately, we spent the first three innings like this …

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… huddled together under an umbrella. Which was fine, until the rain started coming in towards us. Unpleasant.

So we called it quits and went for a romantic rainy walk and ate these -

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Much better.

Day 16

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Taking the subway like a boss.

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Saturday! We visited the Chelsea Antique Garage and the Brooklyn Flea on this fine day, which were fabulous, but more on Luke’s (vinyl) and my (vintage) purchases another time. Today was all about visiting old friends!

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We met up with Chris and Nicole in Brooklyn, wandered around Brooklyn Bridge Park, had sangria and plantains in DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), then visited their amazing apartment in Queens for these views and beers.

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The night ended with popcorn and soda the size of your head and the very highbrow Pacific Rim. Both of which were perhaps enjoyed by the 12 year old boys and these two, more than Nicole and myself.

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Thanks guys, we had a damn fine time in your neck of the woods. We shall be back.

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Skyscrapers, sailors and sandwiches

Day 11

flight path

Travel day! From Carlsbad to LA, LA to NYC! Made a stop over for another In-and-Out Burger experience (this time under the flight path), went to the movies and travelled by bus to and fro. Boarded our red-eye to NYC!

Day 12

first glimpse nyc

Very, very sleepy today. And hot. My word is it hot. Breakfast, napping, lunch, napping, dinner, bedtime. Turns out there isn’t much sleeping to be had on the red-eye.

little italy
We had Vietnamese in Chinatown for dinner, and gelato in Little Italy for dessert.

Day 13

high line

For our first real day in NYC, we explored Chelsea and the High Line. Which was so lovely and I could have walked along it again and again, hot humidity and all. The High Line was an old raised train line, turned into public park. Gorgeous.

us on the high line
We are very sweaty. But happy, I promise! 

We sought refuge at Risotteria, and ate the best gluten-free pizza of our lives. Also had salad and a bottle of wine for lunch. It’s a holiday after all!

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We saw more sights …

cafe wha

sex and city
Having a quick Carrie moment on Perry Street in the West Village. Sex and the City filmed here!

… then went on the most wonderful sunset sail on the Hudson River, and visited a great bar called the Rusty Knot.

statue of liberty

me on a boat
Drinking champagne while hanging on for dear life.

holly and luke on hudson

boat
Excuse the sailor on the left.

Oh, and we had a picnic of small Ruben sandwiches for dinner.

ruben

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Love and happiness

The ever romantic, sexy, kind, fun and generous Luke Ramsay asked me to marry him last week. Because mama didn’t raise no fool, I said yes.

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While standing on the Bethesda Terrace in Central Park, overlooking at the fountain and lake, Luke said some very, very kind things about me and pulled out a ring.

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The sneaky bear had bought the ring in Melbourne, and had been saving it to ask me while in Central Park. Swoon. He had even spoken to my sister, and both our parents before we left, not to ask permission, but to ask for their blessings. Gotta love a family man.

Luke

He really is the one for me.

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Old glory, nuptials and hangovers

Turns out when holidaying in NYC there is no time for blogging! So here is a super quick run-down of our last days in California, before I update you with THE MOST AMAZING NEWS and some NYC stories …

Day 6

Wednesday saw Luke head out on Sean’s bachelor party for go-karting, roof top drinking and karaoke. All men returned the next day with hangovers and no voices. Bachelor party success.

in and out

I headed down south with Julia and Jess to Encinitas for a quiet night in. Highlights of the drive was a crash between two trucks, one of which had a bobcat on it, and lunch at In-and-Out Burger. Oh my. I think I finally understand why people have burger obsessions.

Day 7

Thursday was FOURTH OF JULY! Happy fourth you guys! Us ladies (well, Jess’ mom and aunties) rustled up some patriotic decorations and food, while the men slowly returned.

usa

The main event began at 5pm, with games of hula-hoop, corn-hole and backyard cricket. Hotdogs and potato salad were followed by lemon meringue pie and chocolate chip cookies. And beer, always beer.

Day 8

Friday was the wedding rehearsal and family dinner, all of which we played a part in as Luke was a groomsman at the wedding, and I was given the honour of reading an Aussie poem during the ceremony. Rehearsal all went to plan, with walking and hand positions perfected.

vista

The wedding venue was a 163 year old ranch. It was gorgeous, the white buildings, the blue blue sky, palm trees and bougainvillea were just perfect.

Day 9

The day we have all been looking forward to, and the reason we are here!

sean and jess

Sean and Jess had the most beautiful wedding, the ceremony was officiated by their friend Sam, the food was divine, and the home-made sangria far too tasty. I ended up in a fountain with some of my new friends! Oops …

fountain

So classy.

jess dance

I can’t wait to share the official photos from the wedding once we have them, Luke looked very suave! In the meantime, here is Luke and I are in the background of this beautiful photo of Jess dancing with her Dad.

Day 10

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Hungover. Atoned with waffles and bacon and a bloody mary.

Next up, NYC!

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