shit I’m thankful for

Thanksgiving in Australia doesn’t exist, which is a pretty big drawback to living here. Just kidding. OR AM I.

I am a HUGE fan of Thanksgiving. Sometimes, I like it more than Christmas. It’s an entire weekend based around my favourite things: delicious home cooked food, family and friend hang times, lounging and napping, and autumn—and there’s no obligation for presents or non-denominational/non-offensive holiday greetings. Once you look past the whole “White People Tricking the Natives” thing, it’s a pretty harmless American holiday.

While I was preparing to move, I knew that October-January would be the hardest time to be away from my life back in the States. But I was surprised though, that my first Thanksgiving in Australia was a lot like my Thanksgivings in the States:

I went out on Wednesday night for Wendsgiving (the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is notoriously the busiest bar night of the year, because more people travel home for Thanksgiving than any other holiday weekend, so there are mad reunions), and per Wendsgiving tradition, drank too much too fast and spent a good part of the night sick*. I did, however, have a fantastic night. Joel and I met up with a smattering of friends at a pub, and then travelled on to Almond Bar, which was probably very delicious, but I only remember eating beetroot and exclaiming how it was the first time I’d eaten beetroot and my life was forever changed**.

Standard Wendsgiving Appetizer
Standard Wendsgiving Appetizer

Additionally, per Thanksgiving tradition, I woke up on the day of to chilly weather (yay!), with a sore head and a sore realization that I didn’t do any food shopping. Womp womp. Joel has to work late on Thursday nights, and when I was unemployed, I decided that designing an elaborate Thanksgiving dinner for the two of us would be impractical, and maybe even suicidal given how hot the kitchen gets when the oven is on during the summer. Also, I haven’t been able to find any Thanksgiving staples in the grocery stores around me: canned French green beans, French fried onions, cream of mushroom soup, pumpkin pie filling, pie shells, crescent roll dough, a whole turkey. So hunting down the food would be an expensive feat. And there’s that lesser tidbit of “I have never hosted or cooked Thanksgiving dinner before.”

Normally, my lack of food planning or experience isn’t concerning. I typically just make the World’s Best Green Bean Casserole (totally true), no matter where I’m having Thanksgiving, and my mom volunteers to pick up the ingredients when she does her big Thanksgiving shop. However, I didn’t have my mom around this year to help my food bidding, and I didn’t have a big dinner to go to, so it was on me to make Thanksgiving happen. And as I combed the three grocery stores near my job, running out of time in the evening and desperate for a Thanksgiving style food and desert that I could make and enjoy without spending 4 hours of labor, my holiday flare died. I mean, I knew it’d be hard to miss sitting around and hanging out with my family, but I didn’t know how hard it would be to miss pumpkin pie. My chicken/vegetable/gravy mash suddenly didn’t seem good enough, like I failed Thanksgiving. And then it was just an ordinary Thursday night. I threw a box of shitty instant brownies into my basket and went home.

I also sat outside in my new favorite Thrift Store coat and enjoyed that it was November in Sydney, and it was cold and drizzly. And I took selfies. Naturally.
I also sat out on the balcony in my new favorite Thrift Store coat and enjoyed that it was November in Sydney, and it was cold and drizzly for once. And I took selfies. Naturally.

I got home, made the brownies, cleaned up, and started dinner, thinking of how I will plan differently next year, how this was just some collateral damage to living in a new country, etc. A short while later, Joel walked in, and he was beaming, excited for chicken mash, and singing nonsense and telling me what he was thankful for, and just being an awesome force in contrast to my pie-less grump. Like it always does, his good attitude overcame my bad attitude, and everything felt the way it should have–full and loved.

Chicken mash 4eva
Chicken mash 4eva

We ate our bowls of mash, and I thought that the night, while it did feel like a regular Thursday, was still really damn good. And I thought about how good it is to celebrate a holiday with my new family and new friends. And I considered my Poor American-style Thanksgiving dinner, our Betty Crocker dessert, and our glasses of water, and my holiday flare exploded. It didn’t look or taste or feel like Thanksgiving in the States, but I felt the gratitude. I felt the love, man. And that’s what the day is about.

So yes. Thanksgiving was lo-key and I had to work and it wasn’t snowing and there was no pumpkin pie, but it was still fantastic. This year has been huge, and I’m thankful that I am where I am. I’m thankful for Joel, for his patience and consideration. I’m thankful for my family and friends and how supportive they’ve been during my move. I’m thankful for technology that allows me to participate in holidays with my family (even if only through picture messages because they can’t figure out Skype 😉 ). I’m thankful for my new job and how much I love it. I’m thankful for meeting great new people. I’m thankful for sweat pants and public transportation and modern medicine. I’m thankful for the internet and for that thrift store Shaya took me to where you pay by the kilogram where I found the perfect chambray shirt I’ve been looking for for about a year. I’m thankful that I woke up with almost no hangover after getting so sick on Wednesday night.

I am also thankful for fatty deserts and a boyfriend who suggests we watch Teen Mom.
I am also thankful for fatty deserts and a boyfriend who suggests we watch Teen Mom.

There’s a lot of shit to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Happy Thanksgiving!



*I have never puked so much, so hard, and so violently all at once in my entire life. Not even when I was in my prime and killing bottles of wine and bourbon in the same night.  This is 30.

**I don’t remember what it tasted like.

Summer Mornings

Summer doesn’t officially start for another 10 days, but it sure as hell feels like its already here.

Filter added to convey heat wave
Filter added to adequately convey heat.

While I don’t like summer, I love summer mornings. When it’s bright and warm, but not hot. When you feel like things would be perfect if it could just stay like this forever, but you know damn well in 4 hours the humidity will be so high that it’ll be too hot to sit next to someone on the couch because the body heat is ridiculous so you lay on the floor in front of your oscillating fan and even considering venturing out of the apartment will drench you in a pool of your own sweat and leave you wondering when death will come with its sweet release.

But, the mornings are nice.

Thankfully, it’s been a cool spring, and it’s only been this hot a couple of times, including today. The weather report said it would be 93*F/34*C by 3 PM, but at 8:15, it was beautiful. So I decided to walk down the road to get a coffee before things got crazy. And it was as I hoped, a nice summer morning.  Bright blue sky, white pillow clouds, and a low set sun. Warm, not hot. Bus stops with occasional students and Friday commuters. Scent of flowers and rising humidity. Everything just felt warm and still.

And I was instantly hit with a wave of nostalgia, the same wave of nostalgia I get with every sunny summer morning. Of every last week of school. Of early mornings at horse shows. Of bleary eyed walks to 8 AM class during summer sessions. Of waiting with baited breath for mom to get home so she could take us to the pool. Of letting the dogs out first thing in the morning. Of hazy Maryland mornings when I couldn’t wait to get outside and play. Of happy hour drinks under a shaded patio. Of every shitty, humid 4th of July party, ever.

As I walked down the road, sweat glistening* on my face, awash in summer nostalgia, I thought, I don’t hate summer. A lot of good things have happened during the summer months. And maybe I’m just letting my hatred for high temperatures cloud the happy memories I do have. Perhaps my year of 2 summers will re-program my attitude. I waited for my coffee with dare I say it–summer optimism? I took pictures all the way home, thinking how lovely today would be, no matter how hot it got.

Hello, gorgeous.

I was only gone for about 20 minutes, and it didn’t feel any hotter than when I left. But when I walked back into our apartment, it was like walking into a humidity filled Tupperware container resembling an apartment. I opened all the windows and realized my optimism was a tad premature. And lacked air conditioning

If you need me, I’ll be parked in front of the fan, wishing for winter.


So far in November, I’ve only had one day of work. So I’ve been spending a lot of time by myself at the apartment, job hunting and performing as a Domestic Goddess. Aside from the constant fear of forever unemployment brimming constantly below the surface, it’s been nice. Usually, I’ll have some free time after I put in my job hunt hours and I hit the grocery store, when I’m at that infinity hour between needing to start dinner and Joel getting home, so I’ll try to read or get some writing done. Or, let’s be real here, take a nap. Lately, though, I’ve been having fantasies.

Craft Fantasies.

Like any girl with good mid-west roots, I love a good craft. I’ve clocked in countless hours making collages, t-shirts, cards, bags, sewing projects, even re-decorating rooms. I get a relentless,Type-A like focus and energy when I start a new crafty project. I stay up all night. I skip meals. I obsessively research and plan. I have endless patience to drive around to all the different stores in order to find the exact piece of fabirc or glue or bric-a-brac that I need. I am driven by a successful outcome and I won’t stop until it’s perfect. I mean, I wish I could apply the same craft-borne hustle to the rest of my life. I’d be Martha Stewart.

Wait… maybe I am more Martha than I already know.

Because I’m not working, I’m at a place in my life where I have unlimited time and heaps of inspiration. But, because I’m not working, I have no expendable income.

Life. You bitch-goddess.

I do however, have a blog. So I’m just going to catalog my ideas here. And when I start working again and I’m too tired to do anything but go to bed, I can look back and remember that at one point, I had craft ambition.

Pillow Coverings

I would love to recover our couch pillows. They’re perfect, but they’re a bit on the plain side.

DSCF0733I’d like to make some cool covers that have a graphic, like an animal or a taco or something on one side, and print design on the other. It’d be easiest to make these with a sewing machine, but I could also use heat seam bonding and a couple of hand stitches. And, as long as I’m fantasizing, I’d like to recover the couch. And as long as we’re really fantasizing, I’d like to get a new couch for the lounge, and use this couch for the office. And if we’re really, really, fantasizing, I’d like a lounge that’s big enough for couch with a chaise lounge piece attached. /fantasies

Gallery Wall

In my last place, I had a gallery wall in the living room and one in the kitchen, and I absolutely loved looking at them every day.

Side note, that big red bookcase is the best Ikea 'as is' find I ever had.
Side note, that big red bookcase is the best Ikea ‘as is’ find I ever had.

Joel liked it too, and now we have big plans to make a gallery wall above our table.

DSCF0735 Since we can’t nail into our walls (they’re made of painted concrete), we have to hang prints unframed with sticky-tack, or framed prints on contact strips. We have a handful of prints already, but they’re unframed. And we want to frame them, so the project will take some considerable plotting and funding. But, it’ll look really good once it’s done. I’m waiting with baited breath for this one.

I’d also like to frame some more of Joel’s prints and hang them on this wall.

DSCF0734Since we can’t paint (another fantasy), we might as well throw some art on the walls.


My friend Odie left this nightstand behind when moved back to the States, and now it’s mine and I love it.

DSCF0736I have issues with dark furniture, but especially with dark bedroom furniture. So I’d love to strip it down and paint it a lively color, like orange, teal, or coral.

I’d also like to find a print, or hang my lantern lights, or do something with the blank space above the bed. I’d also like to find good fabric to make a throw cover.

I am a champion bed maker

There’s plenty of more, like knitting a loose cable scarf, developing better office space storage, making some prints for the bedroom, make a hanging photo collage… Ahhh… now I want to craft more. MORE MORE.

But, all in good time. I have a potentially awesome job interview tomorrow, so I’m crossing all crossable appendages that I get it.

Because now I really, really want to recover those couch cushions. And put up that gallery wall.

What crafts are you yearning to make?

Hello! Long time, no blog!

So, what’s happening? Besides time running at warp speed. How is it the second week of November already? 6 weeks until Christmas? Seriously. Stop it.

Life here has been pretty quiet. My temp role with the cosmetics company sadly came to an end the day before Halloween. I was disappointed because I was finally feeling comfortable with the role and my coworkers, and really getting to know and like the company. But, some things (like budgets) can’t be helped. Since then, my temp agent found me a handful of roles that have unfortunately fallen through. And last week I lost two interviews in two days– one because of the work restrictions on my visa, and the other because I’m still a Photoshop beginner. That was a bit demoralizing.

Oh well, right? Back to the drawing board. I had big plans for November to compete and finish National Novel Writing Month, which, as the name suggests, is when you write a novel in the month. It’s a competition held in the States, and the goal is to finish a 50,000 word novel between Nov. 1 and Nov. 30. You don’t win a cash prize or anything, it’s mostly just the good feeling of finishing something. I’ve won/finished once, and it felt incredible. Even if writing — at minimum– 1,667 words a day broke my brain in half. This year, I started out strong, but I fell off the train when I started job hunting. Yes, it’s frustrating to put writing on the back burner once again, but as I told Joel, finding a way to make rent is a little more important right now. My savings will only go so far, and I need what’s left to apply for my Partner visa.


Speaking of which! Joel and I went to the courthouse yesterday to have a Justice of the Peace authorize our Defacto Relationship application. Which is basically declaring to the government that you’re in a relationship. It’s like Ultra Official Facebook. If your relationship is approved, you even get a certificate. Oooo! Sounds silly, but it’s going to help us when I apply for the Partner visa (which will allow me to work for up to 5 years, apply for citizenship, and get me Medicare). Without the Defacto Relationship certificate, we have to live together for at least a year and go through a tougher investigation before they will grant me the visa, and generally everything just takes longer. So, fingers crossed that we get approved.

It was pretty exciting to sign the declarations, though. If we’re going to get all giggly-girly about it. 🙂

Such process!

What else… we got a preview of summer a couple of Saturdays ago. We went to a birthday lunch for Joel’s mum and ate outside on what turned out to be a 37*C/98*F day. I lost about 5 lbs just sweating, but the food was incredible, and later we got to sit in the air conditioning and watch a thunderstorm and hang out with some flamboyant birds.

Hello, pals!
Hello, pals!


We’ve also binge watched Orange is the New Black. I can’t believe we have to wait until July 2015 for the new season. /agony

I finished Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. It was a fun read, and I’m looking forward to finishing the series.

I really can’t wait for season 3, guys.

I’ve been cooking a lot. And going beyond tacos and nachos. Some of it has been successful, some of it not. I gave myself food poisoning trying to make a fancy pants cabonara with egg yolks, which was not so fun. And I made a chicken tetrazzini that was almost a catastrophe, but turned out awesome. It’s been fun, and I’m getting immune to tiny grease burns.

Joel turned the bathroom into a dark room and printed some photos from his last trip to Japan. I wanted to hang out in the bathroom with him and watch the photos develop, but after I smelled the Fixer and developer, I opted out. Developing photos is an exercise in vinegar chemicals and no air conditioning. I don’t know how he does it. But he made some good prints! I stayed outside and read gossip rags.

DSCF0652 DSCF0658 DSCF0662 DSCF0669 DSCF0675 DSCF0697 DSCF0702

Last week, we ate yum cha with some friends at Marigold restaurant. Yum cha is like Chinese brunch. You drink green tea and pick and choose dim sum to eat from ladies pushing carts full of steamer baskets. I stuffed myself with dumplings and wraps and other delicious treats. I even tried a chicken foot, which I struggled with because foot bones kept falling out of it. Eventually I gave up. I can only be so adventurous.

Yep. Nope. (source)
Yep. Nope. [source]
The sunsets have been awesome. But then again, when are they not? Australia is gorgeous.

DSCF0648 DSCF0646 10406984_10101874234091807_8715274950424976737_n

So that’s us! 12 days into November, and I have high hopes for the rest of month. The rest of the year? Wow. 2015 is a month and a half away. That’s nuts.

In the mean time, though, it’s back to the job-hunt-grind. Whee!

Audrey vs the Ocean

Halloween isn’t a big deal here like it is in the states, which is a bummer because it’s one of my favorite holidays. Plus, I’m still adjusting to October being spring and not fall, so that’s still a thing. But, Joel and I both had the day off, and the weather report showed that we were in for a hot one, so we decided to make it a beach day.

The beach! Yay! When I was growing up, we moved to Maryland and suddenly we lived between 3.5-5 hours away from a hand full of beaches. So it was always a Big Deal and a Big Trip whenever we went. Joel, on the other hand, grew up with beaches practically in his back yard. Lucky dog. I like going to the beach. I like the idea of being anywhere where the only thing you can do is relax. I am first and foremost, lazy.

When I was kid, I was a water baby. I’d run straight into the ocean and not look back. I remember being scared of sting rays and jelly fish, but once I hit the water, I wouldn’t care. I watched Jaws a million times and still wanted nothing but to play in the ocean.

Tiny Aud, circa 1994
Tiny Aud, circa 1994 at Assateague Beach, VA

Something happened though, as I got older. Maybe I’ve seen too many ocean documentaries, or maybe all those years of watching Jaws have finally caught up with me. But now, I’m a total wuss when it comes to getting in the water. It takes me so much time and and psyching up to get myself beyond the crashers and out to where I can jump the waves. Once I’m wave jumping and I’m comfortable, it’s the best thing and I never want to leave. Unless something brushes up against me. Then I’m all NOPE GTFO.

Maybe it’s a control thing. The ocean is vast and waves are terrifying. And then there are sharks and jellyfish and other fun guys. And with the beaches I grew up with, you couldn’t see anything in the water. There’s a lot going on and I have no idea about it. I’d never win if it came down to me vs. the ocean. That shit’s scary. And I’m ok with that. I have mad respect for the ocean.

So now, my relationship with the beach is a bit complicated. And on Friday, it got a bit more complicated. The beaches here may be beautiful, but they are a world away from the beaches I’m used to. For example, Gordon’s Bay. It’s one of Joel’s favorite swimming spots, and our first stop that day.


It’s a  beautiful spot. It’s quiet, and there are plenty of cliffs and large, flat rocks to set up camp and watch the water. It’s a bay though, so it’s mostly a shore filled with large rocks that you have to get past to get into the water. Even the sandy “beach” part is tricky to navigate because of rocks and debris. We put out our towels and I tried to convince myself to get in. The waves were crashing, and I saw crabs crawling over the rocks near the tide. But the rocks worried me. I’m not sure footed on land, and I could only imagine what I’d get into being nervous and trying to stand on a wet rock with freezing waves hitting me. And then, there were fish and crabs and things to worry about. I decided against getting in. Maybe one day when I get swimming shoes or a bigger set of balls or less neuroses, but it wasn’t going to be today.

Goodbye, Gordon's Bay. You win this round.
Goodbye, Gordon’s Bay. You win this round.

Joel suggested walking over to Clovelly Beach, which has a blocked off swimming area, but is still a beach. I accepted defeat, and skulked away, bathed in shame.

Clovelly Beach! (Source)

Clovelly was another story. There is a narrow stretch that’s been cemented off on the sides, with stairs installed. The waves that came through were nice and rolling, and only broke and crashed around the stairs. You could see through most of the water to the rocks and ledges. We put our stuff down and trucked down the stairs. After a mental push, I jumped off the stair ledge and past the rocks. Then I turned into a small child who has never touched salt water before.

Every time I kicked my legs to tread water, I touched some sort of rock or sea grass or sea plant. Every time I looked down, I saw (what looked like to me) an undersea universe. I kept hitting waves face on and getting salt water in my mouth. Joel would touch me and I felt like I would drown. After a little while, though, I warmed up to the water, passed all the rocks, and it felt nice. I relaxed a little, and even floated on my back for a bit.

Some of the underwater life at Clovelly. (source)

But, I saw something move in the water, and when I realized that we were far away from the sides, my brain went into hyper drive. I felt my arms go a bit numb, and I had a freak out. Which is the third best thing you can do when you’re in the ocean, behind swallowing salt water and bleeding near sharks. Joel was a saint, and towed me to the stairs, getting me to focus on swimming and treading water, not the 8 million thoughts of terror that were going through my mind.

Always a possibility.

We got out of the water without incident, but I was broken. The ocean had defeated me. And it’s hard to remember a time where I felt more embarrassed. Oh, maybe just after we got out of the water and that 5 year old grabbed a pool noodle and went into the water all by himself, proving himself to be much more badass than me. This is a beach where lots of people learn to swim for the first time. I learned to swim in a tiny swimming pool in Florida. I’ve only been in beaches with soft sand and the occasional blade of seaweed. I’m just not used to having an ocean with so much life in it. And it was overwhelming.

Next beach trip, though. I’m going in armed with sea shoes. And maybe a pool noodle. I might be too scared to defeat the ocean, but I’d like to be friends with it. Or at the very least, spend 10 minutes in the water without having a panic attack.

Baby steps.