You are currently browsing the monthly archive for December 2010.

For those of you still stuck in 2010, happy new year from the future!

Pyro Claire = happy! Melbourne has 12 synchronized fireworks displays all along the Yarra River. Us, at Left Bank on the Yarra = awesome views!

The Scrooge somewhat repressed, it still didn’t feel much like Christmas this year:  no snow, no family, no tree and trimmings.  We had ourselves a special Christmas  Weekend Down Under nonetheless, and quite unlike any other: a lovely 4-day weekend on the coast on Phillip Island and the Mornington Peninsula. Somehow despite windy and cool conditions, I managed to get sunburned, which is to say, we got our beach on.  With turquiose waters like these, in any degree weather, how could you not?  Full pics you know where… on the photos page! 

Oh and, for all the headache of bringing him along, Bentley had a blast!

Bah humbug, I am so acting Scrooge- like this Christmas and I need to break out of my funk! Its clearly Christmas all around–from the decked out streets and laneways to the near-constant flow of cocktail dresses post-work as office Christmas parties rage all over the city–and I’m just not feeling it. The weather’s all wrong, I have no Xmas tunes playing on the radio (well, no radio for that matter), no tree or lights or festive decorations adorning our apartment, no Christmas cheer. One of the ladies at work has brought in something yummy for everyone each day this week, and I haven’t even bought Steve any presents yet!

(to be fair though, that one’s not my fault. I fell yet again for the “agreement to not buy presents” where we agree to spend money on a vacation or joint gift and then I find out 3 days before that Steve’s actually bought me tons of presents and rush out and buy something totally stupid and thoughtless but accessible in my mad rush to have something to exchange…)

Oh well, maybe next year.

(just wait til she gets Christmas present outfit #2!)

Project picture catalogue contines.  Don’t adjust your screen resolution, things get a little fuzzy after midnight.

Well, you can see how much Bentley loves Australia…

I just wish it felt the same about him.  We are in the midst of planning a last-minute Christmas vacation.  It sorta snuck up on us… November was here and gone in a flash, and then we found out I have a 4 day weekend and Steve has a full week of what the employees fondly call “forced leave” and the employers call a “closed office.”  Setting out to get somewhere near the beach (with plenty of coastline to be had around here) and to bring our little sausage dog with us, we thought we’d have no problem finding a booking for 2.

Little did we know, Australia hates dogs.  Seriously.  Notwithstanding the fact that one lone pet friendly website asserts that there are actually more pets than persons on this great continent, pooches are banned from virtually every state park and coastal/beach areas. 

See sign, from a park in S. Yarra.  What is a large expanse of green fields good for in an urban metropolis, if not for dog-walking?  Apparently, they think protection of furry animals like kangaroos and koalas is more important than allowing  furry kids to explore Victoria with their parents.  There’s actually a publication put out by the state of Victoria on where you can take your dog in VIC.  Short answer, 3 pages later:  there’s a few kilometers here and there, so goodonya if you manage to live near one… Aussies also apparently book their Christmas holidays months in advance (and I mean, like in March of the previous year), so when you throw the dog into the mix there are slim pickings.  Undeterred, we are on a mission.  The thought of sunset filled evenings with toes in the sand has invaded my subconscious, and I’m not letting go of the dream.  Stay tuned.

As the end of the year approaches, Greg, having just discovered he receives a yearly allotment of S&C funds for junior associate “development”, generously offered to take us out  for an amazing afternoon lunch at a vineyard, the Vines.  So, on Sunday morning Greg, Adrianna, Krisztian, Steve and I set out for the south east coast, an hour and a half south of the CBD in Melbourne, to the Mornington Peninsula. 

The main event was a bit disappointing.  Vines of Red Hill boasts all farm fresh organic food raised on French Island (a virtual nature preserve just off the coast) selected seasonally and daily to create a perfect dining experience.  Although my food was great (for entree, a spin on eggs benedict (duck egg, prosciutto and brioche) with Kurasodoi beef topped with pate for a main, accompanied by a robust, complex pinot noir, and tart cherry soup and fig gratin for dessert, with cappuccino (served with a coconut merengue)), not everyone was so lucky.  Steve and Greg had large chunks of fat with a few strings of beef in there somewhere for mains, and though almost everyone got the eggs benedict for an entree, not everyone was a fan of the spicy Hollandaise spiked with curry.  Service was slow, and apologies were not forthcoming for the lousy meat.  Sorry Vines, I thoroughly wanted to write a raving review to post on “eats”, but no can do.

But, our backup plan to see a bit more of the peninsula before heading back to the city was a spectacular success.  Unfilfilled by our meal, we headed to Cape Schanck, the southern-most tip of the peninsula.  Extremely windy, with extremely beautiful sweeping vistas of the coast and cliff-crashing waves, I was quite pleased with how the afternoon turned out.  More pictures on the out and about page.

This east coast – down under workday has got to go… On a regular day I wake up to anywhere from 15 to 40 emails from overnight during U.S. east coast business hours. This week, I’ve stayed up til 3am for conference calls that keep getting postponed another day (but really, seriously, tonight’s the night). I’ve learned to play in the joints and take advantage of mornings, when you can actually talk to NY lawyers without a 1 day delay. And this lucky Friday night, my awesome social schedule involves a 1:30am call and reviewing and turning documents from 4-6am. Oh and it’s 9pm now, my pestering NY emails started at 5am this morning, and I’m slinking home to soak in the hot tub and try to work in a nap before midnight.

We went to U2 on Friday night.  That’s right, U2. It was actually amazing, and perhaps one of the best shows I’ve seen.  Mind you, not bands I’ve heard, but shows I’ve seen.  It was a light and multimedia experience like none other.

Sadly, we don’t have quite the outdoor space that we did in D.C. (the pool really takes up a lot of space, it’s a terrible shame…). Nor do we plan to resume such a grand garden, since our two-year time horizon makes it hard to invest in too many living things that we can’t bring back with us.  But since my tomato consumption rivals that of a small village, and we figured that veggies and herbs that will just die off at the end of a well-picked season are the best gardening investment, we have a few pots here and there.

Now, the greenery is under attack!  When we first moved in, we noticed a few snails climbing the walls of outdoor terrace after it would rain.  And then, a few nibbles on the new basil and lettuce.  So I moved most of the smaller herb pots and lettuce planter to our second-story balcony, and that seemed to be the end of it.  Sunny skies, no more nibbles… all was solved.  Then one Friday night, it was cold and rainy and we decided to stay in and make some delicious pasta my favorite way – saute al dente pasta in oil and crushed whole garlic cloves, top with fresh basil and a heavy sprinkling of cherry tomatoes.  Out I went to the garden to grab a fistful of basil and got nothing but shell! Totally freaked, I grabbed out flashlight and there were literally snails everywhere. 

We started collecting them (they especially enjoy hiding among the tall grassy leaves of the bush in one corner of our terrace) and collected a total of 42 snails. Yes, I am guilty of mass extermination of slimy creatures. Since then, our garden has continued to be demolished by more and more snails, caterpillars, grasshoppers, and goodness knows what else lurking in the dark corners.  Heirloom fingerling carrot seedlings that had just sprouted from seeds I smuggled here from the U.S…. gone.  Delicious purple sage, decimated.  House cat, intrigued, but not useful as a side-kick exterminator.  Seriously…not cool.