Saturday, August 11, 2012

Postcard from Sydney

Found this photo in my archives - taken from a trip to Taronga Zoo, many moons ago. I love that place.

It's time for a break, but I'll be back. Our calendar for Sydney is already chockablock with weddings, birthday parties, housewarmings, cafe brunches, barbecues, dinners, meeting new bubbas, beachside trips, family catch-ups, catch-ups with friends, US consulate visits... and a whole lot of driving in between.

Blogging will need to take a backseat but I think it'll be good to have a self-imposed month off.

You can count on one thing, though - come September, there are going to be a lot of photos here to check out.

See you then!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

La Dolce Vita

The clock is ticking, and this week has been all about enjoying our final days of summer. The Sydney winter - although fairly mild - is still going to be a shock to the system. In between sorting out what needs to be sorted out for our trip we've been cramming in our final fixes of Baskin-Robbins, In-N-Out, Emily, water play, more icy treats, outside lunch dates at J's workplace, and balmy evenings on our balcony.

I can't complain.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


I'm not that great at hair styling, hair care, or even going often enough to the hairdresser. Actually, that's an understatement. I suck. No excuses - I'm just lazy and always seem to need the money for more important things. Trouble is, I have the sort of hair (mousy blonde, thick but flyaway) that requires effort if it's to look half decent - that's why I usually have it pulled back, especially when it's long overdue for a cut.

Happily, I've found a hairdresser I like. I've just been to see her, for the third time in about eighteen months. That's, like, some kind of record for me. It must be serious.

Anyhow, I can now cross 'For the love of god get a haircut' off my list of 'Shit that needs doing' before we head to Australia.

I love what she did - she popped some product on when it was still damp, then just twirled chunky strands around her finger. It looked easy enough - something that even I could manage now and then.

Fingers crossed I can recreate this...

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Martinis and cupcakes

A couple of months back, I won a generous amount of credit towards babysitting from UrbanSitter - courtesy of Mommy Shorts. This left me gobsmacked for two reasons. The first being that I've never won a prize in my life (and trust me, I've entered my fair share of competitions over the years). The second reason was the timing. Since moving to LA, we've only ever used the same two babysitters - and in May, they both moved away. I'm not talking a different part of LA. I'm talking thousands of miles away - DC and Hawaii. We had to start over with finding a reliable sitter we liked. It's safe to say I was punching the air when Mommy Shorts contacted me.

Although J and I were both desperate for a night out, other things kept taking priority... like packing up, moving apartments, unpacking, children's birthday parties. We decided to save date night until we knew had a weekend without other events, so we could properly relax and enjoy ourselves.

Last Saturday was the chosen night. The sitter I'd selected from the UrbanSitter site arrived, and both girls instantly warmed to her. Always a good start for a night out.

Our main destination was West Hollywood, so we hopped in the car and went for a cruise. We had half an hour to spare before our reservation at Lola's Bar & Lounge, so after leaving the car with a valet (how LA, baby) we went for a stroll to catch the last bit of sunlight. Back at Lola's, we drooled over the martini menu and I drank several - all scrumptious, but one in particular which - I swear - was the best martini I've ever had. Red Caramel Apple Martini... you had me at hello.

The food surpassed all expectations, and with full bellies, we jumped back in the car and headed to Beverly Hills. Despite having just stuffed ourselves silly with dessert, J insisted that I witness in action the genius of the Sprinkles Cupcake ATM. Apparently, half of LA had the same idea. Okay... maybe a slight exaggeration, but we did spend a good half hour in the queue. No problem, because we both love nothing more than a spot of good ol' people-watching, and this was the perfect opportunity.

So... cupcake ATM. Not a bad idea, but it's essentially a glorified vending machine. It's a hole-in-the-wall machine that's attached to the Sprinkles bakery and store, and cupcakes can only be purchased with the swipe of a credit card. The German tourists in front of us had trouble with their card being accepted, so after an efficient exchange of cash, we handed our card over to help them out. A camera within the machine allows you to watch - on the screen - the robotic arm as it selects the boxed-up cupcake and deposits it into a revolving area for you to collect.

Totally gimmicky, and only capable of selling one cupcake per transaction. When there are large groups of people, each wanting their own, you can imagine how long this takes. Once upon a time, I spent my Saturday nights queuing up for clubs. Now, I queue for cupcakes.

Afterwards, we had a quick stroll down Rodeo Drive to perve at the shop windows. I saved my cupcake for the next day, but I'm happy to report that it was worth the wait.

It was my kind of night, and I'm already thinking of excuses to go back to Lola's.

Monday, August 6, 2012

True story

There I was the other day, wandering through the local massive 'mall', buying up on what few wintery items of clothing I could find for our trip to Sydney over the rest of this month. Challenging, given we're in the throes of summer right now. Not many shops have started stocking autumnal gear yet, but fast-growing kids and me being 16kg lighter since last (northern) winter has meant a need for new clothes. Damn these opposite seasons.

Being kids-free, I was in a daydream when a woman crossed my path, with a very expensive-looking camera strapped around her neck, and possibly the longest lens I've ever seen attached to her dangling camera. I couldn't help but do a double take.

I continued on up a nearby escalator, when I felt a tap on my shoulder, and it was the camera lady.

She introduced herself, and explained that she was doing preliminary casting for a print commercial for... a pharmacy? Oncology? I can't remember. At this point my mind was spinning, wondering why on earth she was telling me this.

The next words to come out of her mouth had my jaw falling to the ground.

Her brief was to find a woman, about 35, who looked like... well... me.

The shoot would pay $3,500 and she was just grabbing a quick photo and details of women today but would I "possibly be interested in that sort of work?"

Would I be interested in more than three grand for a day's work? Uh... WHERE DO I SIGN UP???!!! What's to think about?

I nodded, and - attempting to sound as cool as possible - asked when the shoot would be taking place.

Turned out the shoot would be at the end of August... when I'll be in Australia.


Hilarious, too. The old cliché of being approached by a casting agent in an L.A. mall? Me?

But you know, I'll take it as a compliment. A nice little boost to the old self-esteem. Confirmation that this gym and calorie-counting malarkey has helped me become a 'bit of alright'.

Thirty-five hundred bucks would have been pretty sweet, though...

Friday, August 3, 2012

Dreaming big

The other day, someone asked me if I was in Sydney for the 2000 Olympics.

Nope. J and I had been living in London for a year and - let me tell you - more than a little homesick as we watched the broadcasts. Friends and colleagues would marvel to us at the beauty of Sydney that was beamed into their homes, and we'd nod our heads with pride.

Twelve years later, here we are... living in Los Angeles, watching the London Olympics. Life can be funny, can't it?

London. A city I had a complicated relationship with, but still called home for a chunk of my twenties. It feels a little like déjà vu, watching the media hype about a city I know so well, from the perspective of outsiders.

Who knows where we'll be living in another twelve years? Back in Sydney? London again? Vancouver? Singapore? Somewhere else in the US? All of these are very real possibilities - but so much of this answer depends on the industry that J works in, and where the jobs are.

Although we're about to visit Sydney, we've already started thinking about where our next big overseas trip will be. We're dreaming big, I think, but there's nothing wrong with putting it out to the universe. You never know.

We haven't been back to London since we left, and there are so many wonderful friends we'd love to see once again. This pretty much places London as high priority on our list. It would have to be in summer, naturally. I don't do British winters well, but London in summer is magic.

Last night, J and I began dreaming about where else in Europe we'd squeeze in a side trip to, once London is organised. It took us - unanimously - all of half a heartbeat to know where else we'd go.


For a number of reasons, we both love Sweden and its people. We've been there. We have friends there. I even have a Swedish aunt who spends every northern summer there - forty years after marrying my uncle in Australia. The postcards I received from her and my cousin, as a child, intrigued me - a place on the other side of the world, that even has a princess with the same name as me (spelled the same way, no less). I knew I had to go there one day.

When J and I hopped over from London to Gothenburg to visit a friend, one northern winter, it was under a blanket of snow but lived up to everything I'd imagined it would be. We stayed in a civilised hostel (such a thing had eluded me in previous backpacking adventures), where families also stayed (Swedish families), and we were struck by how much more doable travelling with kids around those parts would be - and that was long before kids of our own were even a twinkle in the universe.

We decided two things on that trip. The first was that we had to return and experience Sweden one summer. The second was that when we had kids, we'd have to travel with them around a country like Sweden, Germany, or the Netherlands - as they all have family-friendly hostels.

That was ten years ago. We now have kids, and we want to offer them the chance to see other parts of the world (besides the US). The Faery's name is straight from Norse mythology, and hell, she even looks Scandinavian. We have to go back. Besides, hostel breakfasts - Swedish style - are the shiz. True.

So. When our pennies are saved, that's where we'll head... because I will simply die if I never get to experience summer in a country with scenery like this:

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...and now that you've heard this, oh universe? Let's make it happen. Svenska is calling.