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30.10.09

Friday Fill-In 148

Friday Fill In

1. It was a dark and stormy night, as it would have been a quite mystical experience to have a night that isn't dark. However, it was nice to have the storm add to the overall ambiance of the night.

2. I cannot stand books being mistreated, especially burned, so I offered to take the books myself.

3. Rushing out, I ran into the screen door.

4. I offered my husband some of my green smoothie for breakfast...I think I heard a howl!

5. Shhhh... the Easter Bunny is coming.

6. I'm going to get cranky if you don't give me something good to eat!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to trying out some new raw recipes and relaxing, tomorrow my plans include working ahead to cover the upcoming holiday and Sunday, I want to sleeeeeep!

25.10.09

Café Review – Tiamo 1

While travelling around Victoria and popping into various cafés, there are certain places that forever stick in your mind for one reason or another. The café I am reviewing today is one of those places.

tiamo 1 and 2

Tiamo is an interesting café with a prime spot on Lygon street in Carlton, but it is not interesting so much for its location than its neighbor – Tiamo 2.

While Tiamo serves more as the traditional café, Tiamo 2 is located just beside it, providing everything you could want from a traditional Italian cuisine establishment. Of course, the co-businesses use the to their full advantage. The elegant looking pasta and pizza dishes are often served outside in front of the café goers, and the delicious coffees are on full display for the restaurant goers.

However, Tiamo 2 will be a review for another day.

While we should have picked a less windy day for sitting outside to enjoy our coffees, the experience was still a highly enjoyable one that I would love to do again. Opting for more traditional wooden seating, Tiamo feels a bit more homely and welcoming that the typical café.

Inside, Tiamo is a small, cozy coffee bar with equally cozy tables and an atmosphere of comfortable intimacy. While the tables outside have more of a newspaper reader rating because of environment, inside is, without a doubt, novella status.

The staff are wonderful, friendly and attentive without being overzealous about it (a pet peeve I have about waitstaff). Whether you are sitting inside or out, there is a lot of good energy all around with customers chatting away, staff keeping busy and overall, a lot of people having a good time.

tiamo 1 cafe coffee

The coffee is what you would expect from a true Italian place on Lygon street – hot, strong and with rich flavour even in a simple standard shot. Even my usual flat white packed a rich coffee flavour that surprised me, as many places interpret ‘flat white’ as ‘warm milk’.

Tiamo is a place I am looking forward to going back to, not just to relax with a wonderful coffee but also to visit the neighboring Tiamo 2, the scents from which almost tempted me to sit down and eat when I wasn’t hungry.

***

Tiamo
303 Lygon Street
Carlton, VIC 3053

http://www.tiamo.com.au/

20.10.09

They’re Turning Weird in Melbourne - Intro to the Hook Turn

Trams provide regular public transport across the inner suburbs of Melbourne and in times when the freeways and tollways around the city are called car parks (Monash Carpark, Eastern Carpark etc.) by frustrated Melbournites, trams can provide calmer access to many locations.

Mostly things go well for residents and visitors alike, but there is a facet of Melbourne not seen elsewhere. They are labeled with numerous epithets by those who don’t understand them and they provide an easy way to spot visitors to the city.

Hook turns. More recent tramlines are laid in the median strip of roads so they have a free run through traffic, but in the city that isn’t possible. So, at labeled intersections in the centre of Melbourne, right turns are done from the left side of the road.

In Australia, driving is on the left side of the road, like the UK. So as you approach a labeled intersection, wanting to turn right, you move into the left lane and put on your right blinker. (indicator) You proceed through the green light to a point where you’re directly in front of the traffic waiting for their red light to turn green, moving (if possible) to the left of the lane you were in so traffic behind you can go through. And wait.

When the light on the road you wish to turn onto goes green, after checking your rear view for drivers who think red lights mean go really fast to get through before the other road takes off, you promptly (delays will get you honked) turn to your right and travel off down the road.

19.10.09

Café Review: Gallery Corner

Having grown up in the country and now living in the suburbs, occasionally I find myself missing the things you only get in the country. Country pubs, country shops, country people and, of course, country cafés.

While Hamilton isn’t a particularly small country town, one café in particular there never fails to bring back all the good feelings of small down cafés and delicious country cooking:

Gallery Corner.

This is actually not the first time we have stopped by this cozy little place, but we made sure to hunt it down once more on our second time through. (It made that much of an impression.)

Hamilton Coffees

The coffee is good but not spectacular. A coffee connoisseur would be very likely to pass it by. The short macciato is of a three cup rating quality. However, the short black brought the rating down to a 2 ½. However, there is so much more to a place than the coffee, which is why I never review a place strictly on the coffee and never review having only had takeaway.

Hamilton Café Meals

The food at Gallery Corner is delicious, country style food both in preparation, proportions and flavours. Everything is served fresh (with the unfortunate exception of the mushrooms, which came from a tin) and hot. I recommend the BLAT (bacon, lettuce, avocado, tomato) while my husband highly recommends the big brekkie.

There is plenty available for both eat in and takeaway, including…

Corner Café Hamilton

…a huge display of cakes, biscuits, pies (of the savoury and sweet variety) and more. (The picture only shows one part of the display.

Yum.

While there aren’t any couches or a true lounge area, I can easily imagine myself sitting here for a couple hours chatting, reading, writing, eating and even sitting in front of the large windows people watching… The place has a sort of wholesome country style environment that I miss while I’m stuck in the suburbs.

Not only that, but the staff are happy and friendly as well, so it’s hard not to be inclined to stick around.

***

Gallery Corner Fine Food
175 Gray Street
Hamilton, VIC

11.10.09

Three Years

Three years ago on October 11th, 2006, I stared down at beautiful Melbourne as my plane flew in to land at Tullamarine airport. Looking at the beautiful morning sun shining over the landscape, I knew I could be happy here. I knew this could be my home.

Even though I had started my trek in the US so many hours ago and had barely slept on the flight over, nervous anticipation kept me wide awake. I hastily applied some lip gloss and tried to do what I could with my hair. The plane from Sydney to Melbourne was nearly empty anyway, so I didn’t care if I looked a bit silly.

After all, I would be meeting the man I loved in person for the first time. With all the technology of phones, instant messaging and even video chats, meeting in person can never be replicated.

Of course, three years on, I look back on the day and chuckle a bit. I remember taking off my shoes because I didn’t want my husband (then boyfriend) to think I was taller than I actually was. I also remember sitting in awed silence for most of the way home, as I had never been through a city as big as Melbourne. Not to mention that I’d just come from a particularly dreary autumn in the US to the beautiful spring weather of Australia.

And, of course, within hours of arriving, my then boyfriend and now husband treated me to my first legal drink on Australian soil: a strawberry daiquiri.

All while I giggled over the fact that the café we went too actually had a menu item with the word 'ass' in it. (Big Ass Brekkie)

Three years on feels like nothing in regards to the time that has passed – merely a drop in the bucket. But I do feel I have used the time well. I have travelled to nearly every sector of Victoria as well as in many areas of Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales.

I have learned about Australian history and culture, and I have also learned a lot more about the United States than I ever could have learned within its borders. I have been exposed to countless different beliefs, ways of life, philosophies and – of course I have to mention it – food!

Alas, three years on and I still have a lot to learn. While I can have a Captain Cook at all the books I like, there are still things in Australia that only experience can teach you. Even if I wanted to spit out VB when I tried it, and even though I happily admit to liking Asti Riccadonna, putting me squarely in the ‘strange lot’ for some people, I am enjoying every moment of it.

I am even moving more of my attention into Melbourne’s café culture. I have started a website that combines my love of books and reading along with my love of cafés. You can find the site at http://www.downunderviews.com I have a notebook filled with places I’ve been from the Tea Rooms in Hall’s Gap to Center Stage Café in Chelsea, so if you have any recommendations for places you love anywhere in Australia, please do not hesitate to contact me either on the website.

Though I had twenty years in the US, I didn't truly begin living until I came to Australia. Not only because The Bloke and I met and then got married. Not only because I had moved to a new county. I truly began to live because I found the place I was meant to live in and the person I was meant to be with all along.

Australia is a beautiful place, as I am sure I have told you many times and many ways in these posts. I only wish that everyone had the opportunity to travel here and experience life here (and then go home, as too many people not leaving tends to upset the locals a bit).

I’m raising a glass to three beautiful years in a country I absolutely adore and to the man - The Bloke - who made it all possible to happen.

I’m hoping that there will be many more years and good memories to come.

Until next time…

10.10.09

Baking!

All the baking I did?

Now you see...

9.10.09

Driving - And Walking - Outside the United States

When you’re walking down the sidewalk or even passing people in a busy hall, take a moment to which side of the hall people drift to depending on which direction they’re going. I’ll bet that most people move to the side they are used to driving on. In the States, that would be on the right.

This is something I hadn’t even thought about when I came here, but when I started bumping into people a lot at the mall, I began to really look at what I was doing. When I walked towards people, I saw them go to the(ir) left, instead of going to my left like I expected.

I realized it was my natural habit to drift to the right when walking in a place with two directions of human traffic because I’d been driving long enough to have that fully ingrained in my mind.

So when you’re walking around in Australia (or any other country that drives opposite the US way) and find you’re bumping into people, take a look at if you’re going to the right instead of the left to avoid people.

And you thought driving in other countries was hard.

5.10.09

Conserving Water in Australia

When you flush a toilet down under, does the water go the opposite way? Yes. The thing about Aussie toilets is I’ve have yet to see one where the water doesn’t just rush straight back instead of swirling around.

I just thought we’d get that out of the way.

The thing that makes Aussie toilets different isn’t the way the water swirls, but the fact there is (more often than not) two buttons on top of them. No one jiggly handle for the Aussies. Why? Because Australia has been experiencing a drought and is focused on water conservation.

The two buttons are easy to figure out, if you think about it. Unfortunately, I didn’t and ended up having to ask my husband. There is usually either a smaller button or a button with a slash through it for using a little water, and a bigger button or a button without a slash for using more water.

You can figure the rest out.

So if you’re ever traveling in Australia, do your little part to help conserve water.

4.10.09

Café Review: Nibble and Natter

When you step into Nibble and Natter, the first thing you will notice are the wonderful smells coming from the kitchen. With a menu that covers everything from focaccias to breakfast foods, it’s a wonder anyone can pick just one thing to try.

If you’re like me and have a bit of a sweet tooth, they will have you covered there as well with a nice selection to appeal to all tastes. The prices look as good as the food smells, so you can feel good that what you spend will be worth what you get.

If you’re just passing through, they have the usual travel fare including gum, soda, crisps and so on. But again, why anyone would buy that stuff when the food smells so good is beyond me.

Ballarat is hardly a small country town, but Nibble and Natter is exactly the kind of place I would envision in a place like that.

Nibble Natter Coffees


The coffee is another standard cup of Australian coffee well made. If you’re sitting in or getting take away

Nibble and Natter could use a carpet replacement and a fresh coat of paint on the walls, but it’s obvious that the locals aren’t bothered if the business of the place is any indication. Hey, I would love to see this place freshened up, but even if it’s not, I’m still coming back to try the food.

***


Nibble and Natter
215 Sturt Street
Ballarat, VIC

It's Midnight...

...and I'm still baking. I don't estimate being all finished up until at 1am at the soonest.

I love baking. Even now. But I had one of those moments of self-realization...

I try way too hard to please people. To make everyone happy. I never think that anything I do or just me as a person is good enough way deep down, so I compensate.

That's why I have a batch of Peanutellas (my made up bikkie), a batch of peanut butter cookies - half of which have been dipped in chocolate - and two pans of brownies in the kitchen.

I know, logically, that there are going to be a bunch of happy guys (and maybe some women, as I'm not sure who all is going to the little afternoon meet up of sorts [which, no, I was not asked to bake for]) with baked goods galore tomorrow. But I also know, logically, that they would have been just as happy with a brownie each.

Of course, I've been baking and dipping things in chocolate while writing this post, and now it's 12.40 am. So, at least I should be done by 1. Possibly sooner if I wrap this up and go get the dishes done.

Riddle me this, dear readers: Why do I keep trying so hard when I already know these people like me?

2.10.09

I'm Ready

Ever since Jenera posted about tattooing your significant other's name on your body, I haven't stopped thinking about it.

Even before I got my first tattoo, I had two rules about any permanent markings on my body:

1. It had to mean something. No drunken misadventures, no dares, no 'because it looks cool'. I'm a complete tattoo snob in that way.

2. No names or dates.
Okay, that's kind of two rules put into one, but it works. No names or dates because you never know what you won't want to remember ten years down the road.

Even though I was utterly devoted to The Bloke since our first online conversation, I still stuck to my rules. Sure, he made everything happen that inspired my second tattoo (Celtic butterfly), but still - no names.

I have thought about putting his first initial or initials on me, but I didn't go any further than that. Yet now, after reading Jenera's post...

If The Bloke were to do something really - I mean really - nasty to me or if we were to break up for some other reason, I still cannot fathom looking back on this time with him with any disdain. Even if he did to me the things that people did to me back in the States that played a part in me leaving, I know I would still look back on our time thus far with a smile.

So I have made my decision - I'm ready. I'm ready for The Bloke, my husband, to have his name on my body. And, for all the possible tattoo ideas I have had, this one is the one I have settled into the easiest.

I was thinking possibly simple but elegant script on my shoulder as a possibility, but then I got to thinking that I could add his name and either our marriage date or the date of my arrival in Australia (or both) and have them put below my butterfly on my right wrist.



Another alternative would be the lower back of my neck and have his name under or over an ohm symbol (which I decided months ago to have put on my body anyway).

All are significant, all are symbolic - so there are no worries there. I am by no means breaking rule number one. It's just a toss-up with which way to go...

Friday Fill-In

Just because I can Friday Fill-In...

And...here we go!

1. I have a history of saying things I shouldn't.

2. How to stop time is something I wish I knew.

3. I'm eating (or recently ate) some thickly sliced Swiss mushrooms with spicy tomato and basil pesto. Yum...

4. In about mid-November, The Bloke and I will be on the road.

5. So that's it, that's how you juggle bananas.

6. A t-shirt better than nothing!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to finish up baking and work before happily falling into bed, tomorrow my plans include more baking because I lost a bet, possibly a road trip and Sunday, I want to distribute my baked goods and have a relaxing day - hopefully with more sleep time!