Sunday, August 31, 2008


Since David and I finally saw the end to our commissary stand-down last week, we finally have milk in the house. And since we have milk, I thought that we should definitely have cookies!

Thanks to my friends moving in October, May, May, and June, my cabinets are fully stocked with flour, various kinds of sugar and a variety of chocolate chips & chunks. So I usually don't have to worry about whether I have cookie ingredients. Also, my cookies were practically free...even the butter had been willed down to me when my friend Stacy left the island in the end of May.
I decided on a recipe that my friend Tana posted on ScrapVillage this morning. The interesting thing about this recipe is that it has oatmeal, but the oatmeal is ground up in the food processor, so you can't see it or really feel it in the cookies. The verdict is still out on whether or not I can taste it. Tana said that she divided the batch in half before putting in the chips and put butterscotch chips in half of the batch and chocolate chips in the other half. I thought that sounded good, but also wanted to have some with both chips, so I split mine into what I thought was roughly thirds.

I made the plain butterscotch first, and got 15 cookie scoop-fulls.

When I took those out of the oven, they seemed a little flat and kind of squishy. I don't know...something was strange about them and it made me think that I left out an ingredient. I said, "I wouldn't have left out an ingredient," but looked over the recipe again. I was right... I didn't leave out an ingredient. I left out two ingredients. Salt & cream of tartar.
My chocolate chip cookies had already been scooped out and waiting to go into the oven on their own baking sheet, but I decided to scoop them back into the bowl and add the salt & cream of tartar.

These turned out much fluffier looking.

They were also tastier, but I think that might have been partly because I think the butterscotch ones are just a little too butterscotchy.

I must not be very good at eyeballing "thirds" because while I got 15 butterscotch cookies and 16 chocolate chip cookies, my "best of both worlds" batch ended up yielding 24 cookies. The first set to go in the oven (on a baking stone) turned out browner than the others, but I haven't been able to taste one yet, because I'm beginning to feel sick from tasting the dough and cookies. I usually need to taste the cookies twice when I bring them out of the oven--once because I just can't wait, and then again when they have cooled a few minutes and no longer fall apart when I try to take it off the cookie sheet.

If you want to taste for yourself rather than taking my word for it, try the recipe:

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup oats, ground up in the blender. (I blended for about 1 minute so it was mostly fine but still a few larger flakes)
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp hot water
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cream of tarter
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups butterscotch chips
OR -- 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1 cup chopped walnuts
OR -- 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1 cup milk chocolate chunks

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Cream together butter, and sugars until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Dissolve baking soda in hot water and mix in. Add salt and cream of tarter. Mix in flour and oats. Stir in chips/nuts. I separated the dough and made half the batch chocolate, half butterscotch.
3. Drop by large spoonfuls (about golf ball size) onto cookie sheet and bake for about 10 minutes or until edges are nicely browned. I used a heavy black cookie sheet and a baking stone. The cookie sheet took about 10 minutes, the baking stone 12.

P.S. I don't think this matters at all but I used 2 large egg yolks only and added 1 extra tsp hot water -- because my son is allergic to egg whites.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

One week down...

16 to go. I'm already counting down to Christmas break...especially because I imagine I will stop working at Christmas break since we leave in January.

Here is where I go every day:

I moved classrooms this year, because I was just getting tired of being in the same room, and also partly because my classroom neighbor kept using my ideas (sometimes after I told them to her, but before I did them, so then it looked like I was using HER idea instead of the way it really went down). I'm so glad I moved rooms! My new room is clean and great. My friend Katie had the room last year, but decided to stay home with her little girl this year, so I got her room! Katie is really clean...that's why I wanted that particular room and, unlike my last 2 classrooms where I came into a room full of someone else's junk, Katie went through stuff she was not going to take with her and asked me about each item whether I wanted her to leave it for me or if she should take it to the donation table in the teacher work room. So all the junk you see in the's mine. *eyeroll*. I'm resisting the urge to count up all of my little plastic baskets. I get them all at the 100 Yen store (Japanese dollar store!) so it seems like I'm spending nothing...but when you see them all together (and consider that there is a giant rubbermaid full of extras too) it gets a little scary. I don't think I could handle knowing just how much money I've spent on plastic.

Anyway, now that you've seen where I spend my day, I don't really want to talk about how I spend my day. Because that would mean that I'd have to think about it. I don't like thinking about school on the weekends. School is school. Same stuff, different kids. And even the kids aren't all that different from the ones last year. And that's no good!

I've gotten into a good "a load a day" laundry routine. That means that (almost) every day this week my clothes have been clean!

The only day that a kink was thrown into the plan was Tuesday. I had been planning on wearing white capris with that purple top but when I took the pants off to iron them, I noticed that the backs of the legs were dirty! Good thing they were wrinkly enough that I didn't think the wrinkles could "pass" as the kind you get from sitting in the car.
There are a few blogs that I visit from time to time where people record their "Daily Outfit". Well, I had to modify my own Daily Outfit photos, because first of all, David would not agree to take my picture each day (plus he's usually gone before I get in the shower) and my camera can't take a vertical photo on self-timer because the strap is on one end and the opening for the USB cord is on the other side and it can't stand up evenly on either end! Everybody liked my Thursday outfit-the black and white polka dots. I wore it with black bermuda shorts and people thought I was "all dressed up". That's how it is at my school...people here are really in the "island life" mentality. People wear jeans throughout the week (not me...those are from Friday only), flip-flops (and not the dressy kinds) every day, shorts that I think are too short, etc. A couple (rude) teachers commented on my shoes one day saying that I looked like I was playing dress-up in heels. I wanted to tell them that they look like they're going to Wal-mart on a Saturday afternoon in their shorts and sandals, but I'm not that rude. At least not to their faces. I'll save my rudeness for the blog.

Anyway, it's not cooling off here at all! So, it's not really practical to wear any hand-knits yet, although my air conditioning in my classroom is ice cold--too cold, but I'm afraid that if I attempt to change the setting just a little, we'll be burning up like they are in other classrooms.

I started this blog post hours ago...and now I can't remember what direction I wanted to take it. So I'm going to stop here for the day and go watch The Sound of Music.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Back to School Blues!

I'm not exactly sure how I feel about actually going back to school yet, but I do know how I feel about waking up early again! No more pajamas until 10...or 2. No more watching the Olympics all day (I'm a little bit consoled by the fact that I'd only be able to watch one more day of the Olympics even if I didn't have to go back to work).

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that school won't be too bad this year! As of right now, I have 15 students and that will be fantastic if it "sticks". I met all but 2 of them on Friday during our school's meet & greet. Of course they all (except 1 or 2) seem sweet and nice so far, but I'm not going to let that give me a false sense of security! My class last year seemed sweet on the first day too, and they were my toughest class ever---and that's saying a lot if you know anything about my 1st year teaching 3rd grade!

I'm actually excited to get the year started! I'm really prepared--my classroom is organized and I have my lesson plans ready (but flexible!) through October in all subjects and through November in a couple of others. Which is practically almost done, since I'll only be here til Dec/Jan. I even have a list of 25 sets of school clothes, so I'll never be staring at my closet for 30 minutes wondering what to wear. Unless of course, the things on the list are still in the dirty clothes. But that's why Febreeze and dryer sheets were invented.

School this year starts at 8:50 instead of 8:30, and ends at 3:00 instead of 2:30. At first glance, it seems like an unfair trade, but I now have a 40 minute lunch instead of 30! I'm so excited about that! Also, our "specials" (music, p.e., art, culture) got extended to 50 minutes instead of 45. So my instruction time is actually 5 minutes shorter than it was last year.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Australia Day 11: The State of Our Passports

I've neglected my Australia re-cap for quite a few days...partly because it's just too sad to think about blogging the end of our trip. Partly because I've been doing a lot of work the past few weeks to get ready for the new school year. And partly because I've been trying to knit my Ravelympics project in my spare time, and spare time goes by a lot faster when you're on the computer.

On our last morning in Sydney, we had one last yummy breakfast at the G'Day Cafe. David had the breakfast again, but without the beans & sausages. I had toasted museli with milk.

We waited outside our hotel for our airport shuttle to arrive. And when it did, we were surprised to see the same couple we saw at dinner on Friday night at Zia Pinas! They were flying up to Cairns to check out the Great Barrier Reef. We were, of course, heading back to Okinawa.

The airport lady in Sydney was the first one to comment on the state of our passports! You see, David has dubbed himself "the responsible one", and therefore thinks that he should be in charge of carrying our important things when we travel. He likes to carry these important things in his pants pockets. And then he likes to wash his pants pockets. I've tried to explain that if I were in charge of the passports, they wouldn't have gotten washed. Because I don't do laundry. I would've needed my passport again before I got around to washing those pants, thus avoiding the crinkled-up, faded-stamps, stringy-edged passports. Anyway, we managed to get all checked in. We spent our last Australian dollars on a few postcards and a stamp, then went through security and customs. The customs agent was the second one to question the passports! What is it with the Aussies? ;)

Our plane was delayed about an hour...and they never even announced it or apologized for the delay or anything! Finally we boarded the plane and sat across the aisle from the Japanese ladies that took a picture of us on the ferry from Darling Harbour! We were on the same airline as we were on the way there, but strangely, the "amenities" were not even almost as good! Although the meat pie I had for dinner was tasty! I read about half of my 2nd book of the trip--Friday Night Knitting Club (the first was How (Not) to Have a Perfect Wedding), did some puzzles, and watched Dan in Real Life, which I had already seen. Good thing I'd already seen it, because this plane didn't have screens on the back of the headrests, and the world's tallest man was sitting in front of me, so I didn't actually get to "see" the movie. More like "listen" to it. Finally I managed to fall asleep, and I was super tired by the time we got to Osaka. We took another very pricey cab ride to our hotel. The Ramada Kansai had a really nice lobby, but when I got to the room, I felt like I was in some 1970s scary movie! Also I felt like a giant, which rarely happens to me. The night table and desk were practically miniature! David was "starving" and went down to the restaurant to eat something. I fell asleep, even though the room smelled really weird.

The next morning, David made a discovery in the bathroom. After his shower, the bathroom was all steamy... all but one rectangle on the mirror right where your face is! David thought it was very clever, but I wondered why they didn't just make the whole mirror like that.
We got to ride a free(!!) shuttle back to the airport and hop on the last plane of our trip...the 2 hour ride back to Oki. That was a pretty easy flight, except I was starving and there was not even a snack available! David's friend Fred picked us up at the airport and we went to one of our favorite "fast food" places--CoCo's--for some curry, rice & nan bread. And then we were back home...our trip was officially over!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Australia Day 10: Part 2-Starring David

On the day of our Blue Mountains tour, we came through Darling Harbour on the bus. Today, we got here a different way...

Ferries are my favorite mode of transportation now!
Darling Harbour is another suburb/neighborhood of Sydney and getting there via ferry meant we got to go under the Harbour Bridge and get a view of the bridge and Opera House together for the first time!

The ferry stop was right near the Maritime Museum. We didn't go in, but we took some pictures of the ships on display like this fancy one:

We went into a big mall--but not as overwhelming as the QVB!-- and bought a couple of souvenirs (golf balls & a boomerang for David) and a sweater and a jacket for me. I say they count as souvenirs even though they don't say "Australia" or anything. We walked out on the boardwalk for a while and enjoyed the warm sunshine. It was still cold, but seemed so much warmer than it had been in City Centre/the Rocks just 15-20 minutes earlier. Darling Harbour was a totally different atmosphere than Sydney, and different from Manly too. There were people sitting close to the water, reading books or just looking out. Instead of street performers playing the digeridoo, there was this guy who called himself Cosmo the Clown.

Cosmo was pretty funny and we stayed to watch his whole show. Once he got to his finale, we had no choice but to stay because he needed a lovely assistant from the crowd and of course he chose...David! He didn't even raise his hand or anything, Cosmo just locked eyes on David and decided that he was the one. My favorite part of the show was when Cosmo asked David his name and where he was from. He then asked "How are you enjoying Sydney? Must be quite different from Kentucky...running water, indoor bathrooms." We thought that was pretty good. Who knew that Australians had Kentucky jokes up their sleeves?
After Cosmo's show we walked around a little more, but both of us were getting hungry...and cranky. We couldn't agree on anywhere to eat, so finally we decided on the mall's food court. David chose...Kentucky Fried Chicken. Cosmo would've gotten a kick out of that. He thought about getting "Maccers" which is Australian for McDonald's, but opted for KFC after all. I had some yummy chicken tubellini soup and a big roll. The little family sitting next to us got Indian curry which smelled so good.
After lunch, we caught the ferry back to Circular Quay. David redeemed his camera mess-up from the other day and managed to get it set up for this picture:

There were 3 Japanese girls and we took their picture, then they took our picture. Then guess what... we sat across the aisle from them on the plane back to Osaka!
Notice how I changed jackets? This jacket was more in-line with the jacket I "envisioned" myself wearing in Australia. Plus it doesn't have buttons that fall off everywhere I go, like the black one did.

Once off the ferry, we headed back toward the Opera House...for the last time :( The Pope was scheduled to arrive the next day, and the area around the Opera House was nowhere near as calm as it was our first day. Still, we managed to find an open seat in front of the OH so David could take this picture...

We call it "Knitting at the Opera House". It was David's idea the first day we were there, but I didn't have my sock project with me. I don't know why, but we were both totally committed to getting this picture taken.

We headed back to the Rocks Market to get a chocolate covered strawberry before the market closed at 5. The strawberry lady was almost sold out! The berries were huge, sweet and delicious. And covered with chocolate! How could it get any better?!?
David went back to the hotel to uh...take care of business, and I told him to meet me at the Rocks Discovery Museum when he was finished. I hadn't made it through the first room of the Museum when he got back. Lots of interesting stuff there! And it was free! The first room wasn't even the best. In the first room, we learned about the Aboriginal history of Sydney. In the next room, we started learning about the convicts sent to Sydney. One guy had been sentenced to 300 years for having a counterfeit 1 pound note. Pretty harsh. But the convicts were able to start up businesses and hobbies (like secretly making liquor behind their shops and houses). There were good stories and artifacts in the museum. Even David liked it and he was reluctant to go in. Upstairs we learned more about the old buildings and families of the Rocks. That's also where we learned about the plan to demolish the old buildings and how they were saved & restored. There was a video running and it told how the streets were originally made of wood, and they just paved over them. They found out years later when doing some road work or something, pulled up the pavement and discovered wooden streets.
After a good chunk of time in the Museum, we went back to the hotel and got ready for dinner. On the Blue Mountains Tour, the bus made stops at several hotels to pick up people for various tours. Along the way, I saw the restaurant Wagamama. In 2000, I was in London on my birthday and my professor and "classmates" and I ate dinner at Wagamama. So I decided it would be perfect to have my half-birthday dinner there. I ate the Wagamama ramen which I didn't actually like that much. I don't remember what I had on my birthday dinner there. David loved his teriyaki beef and we both enjoyed the gyoza dumplings. The best part of my meal was the fresh juice--apple-mango. Yum! We had honey macadamia nut ice cream with caramelized pears for dessert.
After dinner, we headed to "The Nello".

My Australia book said that the Lord Nelson Brewery was one of several pubs that claimed to be the oldest in Sydney. I think my book might have been wrong... they say that they are the oldest brewery in Sydney. The Fortune of War, right behind our hotel, has it written right on the awning that it is Sydney's oldest pub, but David didn't want to go in there. He said it looked like a "rough crowd". Anyway, we had to walk in a direction we hadn't walked yet to get to Lord Nelson's. It made me kind of sad to think that we were leaving the next day and there was so much we didn't even know we missed out on seeing or doing. We each had a "pint" of Three Sheets... it was better in the bottle. The Nello was packed. We didn't even have a place to sit! It was cozy and warm- there was a fireplace and those stone walls that I like so much, but once we finished our drinks, we decided to leave. Besides, it was almost past our bedtime!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Australia Day 10: Part 1-To Market, To Market

Our last full day in Australia made me sad... but not too sad because it was also a day to celebrate--my half-birthday! In my opinion, a half-birthday entitles you to all the same benefits as a real birthday- choosing the meals, activities, presents :) etc.
We started out the day the way I wanted to... with breakfast at the G'Day Cafe around the block. We had already gone there for lunch, but the Australia book said breakfast was really the best time to go. I had hot chocolate, and it was even tastier than the hot choc I had ordered there the day we had lunch. Probably because everything tastes better on your half-birthday. Breakfast was good...and huge! We both got the "G'Day breakfast"--2 pieces of toast, 2 eggs, what I'm going to call "big bacon"--it was called bacon but didn't actually look like bacon, mushrooms & tomatoes (which were really good!)--David added beans & sausages to his order--it was like hot dogs or turkey sausages, not really breakfast sausage, and beans from a can. Loads of "regulars" came in while we were there and the girl who worked there told everyone to sign a card for Joe, her brother, who had just had surgery for his "ponia". Finally some woman asked what a ponia was and the girl asked her dad for clarification about the thing that Joe had. A hernia. I thought it was sweet that she was having so many people sign Joe's card, but also thought maybe she could've spared us all the details.
When we left the restaurant, we saw a sign for a puppet shop. It was really neat! It was downstairs in this old building, and there were 4 different rooms with stone/brick walls and it felt like we were in an old cave or castle, surrounded by really neat puppets.

It was neat in a creepy way though, so we didn't spend too much time.
Then we walked further down George Street (the opposite way of the QVB) to the Rocks Market. Good thing it was my half birthday or I bet David would've complained. When my browsing got to be too much for him to handle, he avoided direct complaints by saying things like "Do you want to buy anything here?" Which I knew meant, "Are you done yet?" I try to stave off David's complaints by throwing in a few well-timed "Thanks for all your patience"s before he gets too antsy. There was lots to look at... and things to taste too. I believe we tried some fudge, which was better than the "Three Sisters Fudge" we sampled a few days earlier. We also tried some different jams & jellies. There were booths with books, photography, metal sculpture, wooden frames, baby onesies, toys, blankets, license plates, etc. Many of the booths said "No Pictures", so we had to settle for a general view of the market:

David picked out a wooden frame in the shape of Australia. I picked a children's book- Diary of a Wombat.

The neatest thing I saw there was probably a big metal sculpture of a bird--all made out of spoons, forks & serving utensils.
The cutest thing I saw was a fleece blanket with appliques of different Aussie animals on it.
The coolest thing (there is a fine distinction between "neatest" and "coolest") I saw was a guy doing "space art"--spray-painting, then rubbing in, smearing out, adding another layer of paint, etc. When he finally finished, the result was a really neat "painting"!
The most mouth-watering thing I saw there was a tie... there were big ears of corn on the cob (made me wish I hadn't eaten such a big breakfast!) and humongous chocolate-covered strawberries. There were "strawberry sticks" with 6 choco-strawberries and there were "strawberry banana sticks" with a combination guessed it!...strawberries and bananas. I vowed to return to the Rocks Market before closing time (4pm) and get one of those strawberries!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Australia Day 9: A Manly Morning & a Royal Afternoon

Today (July 11), we headed off to Manly, north suburb of Sydney and home of the Sea Eagles! (Remember, we cheered for them on our first night in "Oz"?) We took the ferry in the morning, and I wish I lived somewhere where I could take the ferry to work every day. It was so nice, waiting for the ferry to arrive, then waiting for the ferry guys to tie it up and put out the plank (I don't think that's what it's called on a ferry, I think that's what it's called on a pirate ship) and getting on the ferry and finding a spot in the sunshine. Love it!
The views from the ferry in Sydney Harbour are so pretty! Because we just didn't have enough pictures of this structure:

And here we are in front of the Opera House:

Some guy asked us to take a picture of him and we did. Since his turned out so well, we asked him to take one of us. Only David had the camera on the wrong setting (again...remember my blurry koala picture??) and we couldn't force the flash.
Here's my "aggravated face". And funny how David managed to make the flash work for that picture.

Now that I know what my aggravated face looks like, I need to really try to get aggravated less often.

Anyway, besides the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, the other vistas of Sydney are just as gorgeous.

I think the lady sitting near us told us this was Watson's Bay.
She was full of information. She told us about an Australian basketball player who just got signed to the Milwaukee Bucks. Andy something maybe. I'll have to look him up. She told us about the Navy yards we passed and about a monastery that is now being used as a "hospitality college" and about a place that was once used for quarantine but now is a resort or something. Just another friendly Aussie!

We arrived at Manly Wharf and tried to figure out what the heck we were wanting to do in Manly. We walked down the Corso toward the beach and took a picture, but weren't really in the beachy mood. It's hard to want to go to the beach when you're freezing! It was nice and sunny and I imagine the little restaurants etc. along the Corso and the side streets are just hoppin' when it's warm out!

After our very brief trip to the beach (I wanted to walk along it a while, but David--of course--was "starving")so we had to back-track a little and stop for lunch at a restaurant on the Corso. I thought we could find a cheaper (and probably better) restaurant along the side streets, but David couldn't wait. We went to the Watervue restaurant, which was run by some Europeans but we couldn't agree upon where their accents were from. We sat, waited, ate, and watched the guy with the menus chase the seagulls away every few minutes for a while. A long while because our food took a really long time. I had a chicken sandwich with avocado that was really good and came with chips. The hot and squooshy kind of chips, not the room temp and crispy kind. David had steak with mushroom sauce and salad. The last time he had ordered a steak (2 nights before), the lady offered about 6 different kids of "sauce" and looked at David like he had a third eyeball when he stated that he just wanted a plain steak). Our lunch was good, and we got free drinks for choosing the Watervue restaurant instead of the one next door which had basically the same menu.

We left and still didn't walk down the beach. Instead we found our way to the "park walk" or something that was listed on the tourist map we picked up when we got off the ferry. Along the way, we stopped at the library, but only for a minute. I wanted to stop and read some magazines, but David said, "you can't check out books here. We don't have a library card." Apparently David has never actually spent much time in a library. I tried to explain that you can't check out magazines anyway, you're meant to sit and read them there and nobody "cards" you while you are, but he just wanted to leave. We stopped at the post office to buy a few postcard stamps--so cute! Kangaroos! And mail a few of the post cards I had in my purse.

The "park walk" was really lame. I'm sure there were better places to go in Manly than the route we took. The most interesting thing on the route was watching this guy at the Lawn Bowling Club.

We headed back to the ferry and back to Circular Quay. We walked over to the Opera House to see if we might be able to get tickets for anything. I knew that we wouldn't, but I wanted to prove it to David. I had suggested getting tickets for an Opera House event while we were still at home and he didn't feel like thinking about it. As if we could get them the day before...hello-oh! It's the Opera House for Pete's sake!
We took a walk through the Royal Botanic Gardens. It was so peaceful and nice there. It was like being transported from the crowded and fast-paced city to a peaceful, calm and quiet park in one step. The sign says "Welcome to the Royal Botanic Gardens. Walk on the grass. Smell the flowers. Hug a tree." Or something like that. I liked that sign. We missed the free guided tour, so we just walked around on the grass and on the paved paths. I wish they wouldn't have been out of maps, because then we would've known all there was to see. We didn't see the half of it! Besides the plants and grass and stuff, there were also lots of fountains and sculptures which would've been nice to see. We did look briefly at the Government House (built in 1845) before we decided to sit in the grass and watch a man feeding birds.

We only managed to sit there for a little while. If I had had my knitting project or a book with me, I could've sat there all day. But truthfully, I was a little bored just sitting in the park with nothing to do but people-watch. Lots of runners going through the Gardens. I said, "If I lived here, I'd run through the Botanic Gardens every day". Especially since it was 2 or 3 pm when I saw these runners, and seen as I had just been getting up at 2 or 3 am to do long runs out of the hot and unforgiving sun, it seemed especially inviting.

We stopped back at the hotel, and back at the button shop (where I contemplated which buttons to buy for my February Lady sweater yarn and ended up buying the wrong color) before walking to the Queen Victoria Building. The QVB used to be something else, now it's a big mall...and I mean BIG...but is still popular for its architecture as well. The lady at the button shop told us it takes up a whole block, so we wouldn't miss it. She also said it was a "15 minute walk up George Street" and we had been walking for more than 15 minutes when we saw this:

It was a pretty building and a big building, but it turns out, the wrong building.
Back to George Street and it wasn't long before we saw the actual QVB. The button shop lady was right...we wouldn't have missed it. It was huge!

I read about the clock in my Australia book, so insisted on a picture.

The feeling going inside reminded me of going into Marshall Fields. Only even fancier!
The shops were completely overwhelming. You look down, you see more shops. You look up, you see more shops. Too many shops! I did go into Nine West but it was so tiny and crowded! And anyway, there was no way new shoes would fit in my suitcase. David needed a snack and wanted a Krispy Kreme. I didn't mind having one either. We walked around a little more, then all of a sudden we were outside. And not at the same outside that we went in. That meant we got to walk back via York Street and see Tapestry Craft one more time. I finally convinced David to go inside and he agreed that it was a lot of yarn then wanted to leave.

For dinner, David wanted to go back to Zia Pina's and, I think because 9 days is too long to be on a trip and I was just getting tired of reading about and finding restaurants, I agreed. It was packed! We had to sit upstairs, which was warm and cozy, but also a little scary. (Right before we left for Australia, I had watched an episode of Dateline or something about a big group of people who were on a balcony when the balcony collapsed). Anyway, the food took a long time and I didn't like what we ordered as much as what we ordered the first time. We had the Zia Pina Special pizza and pasta carbonara. David recommended the garlic bread (he had it the day he went for lunch) and that was sooooo delicious! We had originally looked at the gelato menu when we ordered in hopes of getting some gelato after dinner, but couldn't even finish our pizza. There was an American couple sitting right next to us, really, right next to us--the upstairs was so crowded there was maybe 4 or 5 inches between tables, and David wanted to talk to them but I thought we should just let them enjoy their dinner.
Our walk back to the hotel concluded our second to last full day in Australia.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Australia Day 8: Part 2-Family Reunion

Every summer, a bunch of Ruthenbergs (or Ruthenberg descendants) get together for a family reunion. This year's reunion was scheduled for July 12, but on the 10th, my cousin and I had a pre-reunion... in Australia! Karen is spending a year there to get her MBA and we, well, if you've been reading here, you know what we were doing there!
Karen called us when she was done with class and we decided to meet up at "Wharf 5" at Circular Quay. This was right where the train let off for Karen and a block or two from our hotel, so it was super easy for all. Much easier than meeting at the restaurant, because at this point, we still had no idea where we were going to eat.
Karen had asked around, but hadn't come up with much. We ended up going to the restaurant that David's cab driver had recommended--Italian Village. It was a short walk from Wharf 5, and we got a table right away. It was nice visiting with Karen and with her housemate, Annie. Annie is 17 and from China. She's studying all 4 years in Sydney. She's really sweet, and obviously adores Karen.
David and I ordered Lord Nelson's Brewery "Three Sheets". I'd been wanting to go to Lord Nelson's because I read that it is (one of several pubs that claims to be) Sydney's oldest. So just in case we didn't manage to make it there, I figured I'd better drink some Lord Nelson's beer while I had the chance. It was really good! We shared appetizers and finally they brought our dinner. I had chicken & spinach risotto which I thought was really good, except the thing I don't really understand about "fancy" restaurants is why do they always bring a tiny glob of food out on a super-huge dish? David had seafood risotto and Karen got steak. Annie ordered whatever Karen was having. The food was good, but not $256 good. We figured we were paying the rent for Italian Village, as we ate our meal with a lovely view of the Opera House. I wonder if it costs less if you eat inside.
Anyway, it was a nice visit. Karen told us about her intense program of study and about living in a homestay. She said she's so busy she hardly goes out. She'd only been out 4 or 5 times since she'd been there... for a month! David and I were like...uh, no. WE never go out. We've gone out about 4 or 5 times since we've been HERE...for over 3 years!
After dinner, we took some pictures near the Opera House, which really does look pretty at night, just not in our pictures!

Then we walked around and chatted a little bit more, decided that we really should have gone to eat at Zia Pina's and recommended that they do if they're ever in the area and hungry. Then it was time to end the family reunion, because Annie had class the next morning and because it was past 10pm and David and I never stay out past 10 pm, and usually we don't even stay up past 10pm!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Australia Day 8: Part 1-Divide and Conquer

Our trip to Australia was the first time we've ever been on vacation together for more than a week. Actually, it was probably the first time we've ever been on vacation together for more than 4 days. And we learned something very important on Day 7 of our trip. Seven days is our limit. After spending 7 days together, we almost came to blows sometime between leaving the Observer Hotel's restaurant and arriving at our hotel around the corner. Even though my beef burgundy pie was good, I was still a little bit irritated from earlier when David had been talking about eating dinner at Phillip's Foote, a restaurant right next to our hotel where you throw your own steak on the "barbie", and then when we went in, he decided he didn't actually want to eat there after all and we walked out, without eating and without a plan. I was irritated that David liked walking up this dumb little alleyway *every*time we went back to our hotel. And the fact that this little walkway passed right by Phillip's Foote brought the previous irritation all flooding back. Besides, I liked walking another way back to our hotel. David was irritated that I could possibly be irritated by monotony and it irritated me that he didn't understand me.
So, on Day 8, neither of us were particularly sad to bid each other farewell and go our separate ways for the day.

David woke up before me, and probably before his alarm clock too, and went...where else? The golf course. He went to Moore Park Golf Course and finally the sun cooperated (it probably didn't want to witness the fallout that would've occurred if we would've had to spend another full day together) and David's Australia golf dream finally came true. I don't know that much about David's day at the golf course, except that he golfed with some Korean guys who weren't as good as he was and that he had good conversation with his cab driver. He rented clubs and walked the course instead of getting a cart.

I slept in a little, but not too much, and got ready to find Tapestry Craft. I was so excited. I wore my Ophelia sweater cardigan vest thingy because I wanted to wear a handknit to the knitting store! Too bad I had to wear a coat so nobody saw my Ophelia anyway.
My journey to Tapestry Craft was interesting. Especially the part where I was going in the wrong direction. I don't know if it's just how it is in Australia or what, but I left my hotel at about 9:30 (Tapestry Craft opens at 10) and tons of business people were out walking. To work, I presume. I thought that was pretty late to start work. Well anyway, I walked the right direction for about 3 blocks, from Harrington Street (where my Hotel is) to Grosvenor Street. Then I turned left and walked in the wrong direction for about 9 blocks. Around the 7th or 8th block, I started to think it was kind of odd that I should be walking so long, because David had looked up the street at the internet cafe and said it was really close. But I still walked one or two more blocks before I decided to turn around. But I didn't want to just turn around in the middle of the sidewalk and look like a lost and confused tourist, so I walked all the way around a block instead. Walking is good for you anyway.
So, 20 blocks later, I was back at the intersection of Harrington and Grosvenor, just 3 blocks away from the hotel! I walked straight up Grosvenor, the direction I would've gone had I turned right, and after crossing one street, there was York Street. The whole time the dumb street had been right there! I don't know why I struggle so much with directions. I'm actually quite good once I've been somewhere at remembering landmarks, like "We turned right when we were facing the side of the building with the round window." I even sometimes get lost on my way home from work. I go there every day! You can ask my mom, I'm the original Miss Navigation. As in Misnavigation.
To add to my troubles, York Street is really strange. I didn't notice this about other streets in Sydney, but maybe that was because I wasn't actually looking for other addresses. I was looking for 50 York Street, and I looked at the building on the opposite side of the road and saw that the number was 75 York Street. I figured I must be close. So I walked a little further and checked the address on a building on my side of the street. 18 York Street. What? How did I get from 75 to 18? I'm pretty sure *normal* streets are numbered like this: 5432 (my address when I was 7 years old) would be across from 5431 or 5433, not 5501. I almost turned around to go see where I missed 50 York Street, but all that I had passed was a grassy yard thing and a sandwich stand. So I kept on walking... for a really long time. And then I saw it:

My picture isn't great, but if you can get past the reflection of the cars, isn't that a cozy window display? I had heard about Tapestry Craft on Ravelry and on a podcast I listen to, so I knew I'd find some decent yarn there. I had no idea how much!

I was there for...a really long time. Upstairs, they had so much cross-stitch stuff. There was even one on display that was the same that my cousin Angela made. It took me about 10-12 minutes to convince myself that I did not need a cross-stitch pattern of an ABC wall hanging with Australian animals, and that I probably could get by with a photo of the Opera House instead of cross-stitching one.
I walked downstairs and saw more yarn than I've ever seen:

I'm almost certain I thought of some projects to get yarn for before I went to Tapestry Craft. But when I was actually there, with all that yarn, I couldn't even remember one project! I walked around the store aimlessly for a little while, touching lots of yarn and samples. Then, I got out my notebook. I cannot travel without one of those little pocket notebooks! And I started writing down information about all of the yarn I was considering. I only considered yarn that was made in Australia. They had lots of Debbie Bliss and Noro, etc. but Aussie-only seemed to be a good way to impose some self-control. Then came the task of figuring out how to convert 10 ply, 12 ply, etc. into Worsted, DK, Bulky, etc. I still had no idea what to do about actually buying yarn. I was too overwhelmed. So, after an hour and a half in Tapestry Craft, I left. With nothing.

But I went back later.

Oh wait, actually, I take that back. I did leave (after I paid for them) with 4 balls of Aussie-made yarn, Cleckheaton Country 8 ply for the only project I did have specifications for--because it was in the knitting book I bought on our first night in Sydney. I walked back to my hotel (and it took a whole lot less time than it took getting there!) and instead of going in the hotel, I went to the internet cafe across the street. And I went to Ravelry. And for 20 minutes (that's what 2 dollars would get me), I looked up all of the projects in my queue or favorites that I could make with the fiber & weight of yarn that I had written down in my notebook. I wrote down those projects in my notebook, dropped my bag of yarn back at HRH, then walked back to Tapestry Craft, taking all the right turns this time around!

Another hour in Tapestry Craft later, I bought a sweater's worth of yarn to make the Zephyr Girls Juliet and I bought some bulkier yarn to make the Hannah's Mittenscarf.

When I got back to Harbour Rocks, David was there. I told him I was starving and asked if he wanted to go for lunch and he said he had already eaten! He claims that he got there about 10-15 minutes after I left the 2nd time, waited for me for a "long time" and then went to eat. He ate penne arrabbiata and garlic bread at Zia Pina's. The same restaurant that we ate our first lunch in Sydney at. If we hadn't spent the morning doing our own thing, that probably really would've irritated me, but absence makes the heart grow fonder, so I was a little more tolerant. He decided to come with me to a cheap little restaurant I'd been wanting to go to, the G'Day Cafe, where I had fish & chips and David had a second lunch. Or maybe it was just a side of chips. But still...who eats 2 lunches?

David went back up to the hotel while I went to the button shop, Button Button. This was one of my favorite places. It was in the little row of shops on the Nurse's Walk, right behind our hotel.

Have you ever seen so many buttons??? It was really neat! All of the like buttons are in tubes with a sample button attached to the top, then they're arranged by color. There were all kinds of buttons! Old buttons, new buttons, huge buttons, tiny buttons, buttons shaped like airplanes and kangaroos, etc. So many buttons! I bought some buttons for the project from the Australian knitting book, and decided to go back later (and bring the yarn) for the buttons for the Juliet and for my February Lady Sweater--that was a challenge, because the yarn hadn't arrived and I couldn't actually remember what color I bought.

Then I went back to the hotel and hung out watching tv with David until we got ready to go out for dinner.
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