Friday, September 27, 2013

Le Diner en Blanc

Have y'all heard of Diner en Blanc?  It's a hoity toity event where people get dressed up their fanciest all white attire and gather together by the thousands for an evening of food and drink.

They had me at 'drink' (and hoity toity of course). 

Martin was not looking forward to this event.  I don't know why he was such a sour puss about it.  It's not every day of the year you get to see a dude wearing white tights in public:

For the most part everyone was dressed nicely, or at the very least appropriately.  But that dude was wearing a ship captain's jacket on top and a goddamn pair of tights on the bottom.  That outfit provided infinite LOL's. 

Diner en Blanc is a picnic, so you need to bring everything you'll need for the evening, table and chairs included.  The event started a few decades ago in Paris (adding much to the hoity toity factor) so most people brought French food.  We weren't really feeling French food (Martin went so far as to declare his hatred for quiche, which is the first I had heard of this) so I prepared a picnic feast of Greek food instead. 

We brought souvlaki in pita bread, dolmades (vine leaves stuffed with rice), Greek dips and baklava.  It was delish!

You can decorate your table, if you so choose, so I did a little handi-crafting for the evening.  Check out what I can do with $5 worth of stick-on pearls and scrapbooking letters:

I got mad skillz, yo.

Diner en Blanc is held in many cities throughout the world.  The location changes every year, and it's a secret until the very moment you get there by bus.  This is only the second year it's been held in Brisbane.  Last year it was held in South Bank, with a beautiful skyline view of the city and this for decoration:

Look at that ambiance!!

But this year it was held at a construction site.

Directly under the flight path of the airport.  With a crane and crappy banner advertising as our "view".  The difference is staggering.

It's meant to be held at a scenic, iconic city location.  That was the case last year, but this year it was one step above a landfill.  The location was awful!  Just awful.  

When the event Facebook page announced that new condos were available for purchase in this very location - absolutely irrelevant information - it was clear what was going on.  The developers paid off Diner en Blanc to hold it there in an attempt to schill their property.  It was a disgrace and an embarrassment to the Diner en Blanc organization.  A 100% shit house location!  (I love the Aussie adjective 'shit house', I had to fit it in there somewhere).

That said, I still had a super great time.  The planning and preparation is so much fun!  You don't realize how little white stuff you have until you have to deck two people out from head to toe in white.

Do we not look fab?    

While this is meant to be a super posh, fancy event I will point out that nearly everything Martin wore that night came from a thrift store.  For under $  So fancy! 

There was a hanky wave:

And then everyone got sparklers:

It's crazy cool to see 2,000+ people, all in white, waving a napkin or sparkler at the same time.  I am a sucker for anything choreographed.

Last year there was only 1,000 people and this year it was more than doubled in size.  That might have something to do with the inadequate location; if you have more people you need more space.  Personally I'd rather see it cut back down in size so it can be held in a great location.  If they make it any bigger it might really be held in a landfill next year because no place else is big enough!

The highlight of my evening was Instagram stalking, followed by actual stalking, some pseudo-celebrities:

Photo taken from The Good Guide
This is Jake and Elle, who were on an Australian cooking show called My Kitchen Rules.  They were really good, got runner-up, but what's so impressive is how young they are.  When they were on the show last year they were 20 and 22!  How do kids barely out of their teens know how to cook like that?!  It was fun to meet Australian TV personalities, and I unsurprisingly acted like a jackass when meeting them.

Finally, I would like to proclaim my love for my fascinator.  I effing love that head decoration!  I love the concept of fascinators in general and I think mine is unique and super versatile.  This is the first fancy event where I've had the opportunity to wear it, so I need to find more places to get dressed up and go to!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Christmas in July

"Christmas in July" is a big thing here, apparently.  I didn't realize this until we tried to buy a turkey one weekend in July and the butcher said, "Sorry we're all sold's Christmas in July!"  

Alrighty then, chicken it is!

We held the fine event at our friends Laura & BJ's house.  She's American, he's Australian and they are awesome.  You've seen them on this blog before, mainly because 99.9% of things we do involve them.  She is totally a mini-Martha Stewart, so the house was fancied out big time:

That hand towel with the pig on it is mine, from Norway.  I don't know why pigs are a symbol of Christmas in Norway, but I love it!  I think it's because back in the old days a family would slaughter a pig for Christmas and have a feast, and the tradition has carried over with pig decor, pig candy, pig everything at Christmas.  I love the Christmas pig, and I adore that checkered pig hand towel!

For maximum authenticity, there were even Christmas cards on the fridge!

I am morally opposed to collecting things, but the closest thing to a collection I have is aprons.  I love aprons.  I can't explain why, I just do.  I love them so much that I hate to actually use them and get them dirty.  It's a sickness, really.

This being July, Christmas crap was half price so I helped myself to another addition to my sweet collection:

The reason we were trying to find a turkey is so Laura's recently-smuggled-from-the-USA turkey fryer could cook its inaugural turkey.

She checked this thing as a piece of luggage!  Now that is dedication to the Martha Stewart cause.

Look at that dumbass (BJ) cooking boiling hot oil barefoot!  That's dangerous, yo.

We ate our runner-up deep fried chicken (delicious, by the way) with a variety of other traditional Christmas delights from our respective home countries/regions.   

There was macaroni and cheese with crab in it (Jamaica), green bean casserole with homemade fried onions (Deep South, USA), ham, and mulled wine (Europe), everything in large quantities of course.  I made sweet potato casserole with marshmallows on top - hello Midwest, USA! 

Another decor addition of mine were these super cute napkins: 

It's like both Norway and Christmas barfed onto a napkin, and I just had to buy them when I saw them half price shortly before we left Norway.

When I bought them I knew we'd be moving to Australia, and I bought them with the intent of having a Christmas party with my yet-to-be-made awesome new friends.  I was not disappointed!

Finally, there was even mistletoe, for those who need an excuse to do a little smooching.  

Really, though, this picture is just an excuse to show off my sweet 80's Santa knit sweater!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Beaudesert Cottage Trip

Martin has an unholy affinity for going on "cottage trips".  He likes to find a place in the middle of nowhere, go there and park himself for as long as he can get away with it.  I think he was a bush man loner in a previous life.  As long as there's ample wine, wifi and a supply of books I'm perfectly happy with this arrangement.  Add a few good friends into the equation and I am doubly happy!

For some damn reason it was decided that 3 couples needed to take 3 separate cars to our humble little cottage located just outside Beaudesert, Queensland. 

As we arrived first our first order of business was to start a fire, this being inland in the dead of winter and the fireplace being the only heat source in the whole house.

Gotta love him for trying, but let's just say I'm glad the fate of our family does not rest on Martin's fire building skills.  It was.....not successful.  But hey!  He can fix a computer or any other technological problem I encounter, which is far more useful in the 21st century.  So I don't want him to read this and feel bad about his lack of skillz.

We settled in to our cozy cottage and after much food and beverage played a little game called Cards Against Humanity.  If you haven't heard of this glorious card game, this sums it up nicely:

You guys, this game is so hilarious and so fun!  And is best played while drinking copious amounts of alcohol.  It is to never, under any circumstances, be played with a parent or other serious authority figure.  It's like Apples to Apples, where you have two sets of cards and match them together for maximum hilarity, except the cards are scandalous and vile and hilariously inappropriate.  So much fun!

There's something about being out in the country that puts you to bed before 10 p.m., which is precisely what we did after a few bottles of soul-warming wine and a few LOL-inducing rounds of Cards Against Humanity.  We had business to attend to the next (eerily foggy) morning.

Farm business!

One of the major selling points of this farm stay is the animals, and your ability to interact with them.  Besides a big, fat nap (another demand of mine on these cottage trips) animal feeding was my big plan for the day.

We fed various barnyard residents: 

We didn't feed it, but we....umm....saw this horse.

God I'm immature.  You could ride horses for a hefty sum, but that's not how I roll.  I need at least two saddle bags full of Coors Light before I get on a horse.

The main event of the barnyard, the piece de resistance if you will, was this:

I milked a cow!  

I farmed!

I've never milked a cow, or any animal for that matter, before.  It was actually easier than I thought it would be, as I'd always heard there's a special technique to it.  It wasn't hard, true, but if I had a row of cows to milk, and only my hands to do it with, I would swan dive off the hay loft.  Milking cows is never ending, relentless work (my mother has always warned me) so my preppy white, first world ass pays for the novelty!

The best part of milking a cow?

Delicious, fresh, piss warm milk!  Seriously, it was the tastiest and creamiest milk I've ever had but it was petty gross drinking it warm knowing where it came from mere seconds earlier.

We went to the nearby creek and attempted fishing, rather unsuccessfully I might add.

Well, others fished while I laid down on the river bank, curled up into a ball and took a nap.  Our lack of success might be due to the fact that the bait used on the fishing line was canned corn.  Seriously!

Look at the scenery. Doesn't it look not like Australia?

That's the hinterland (or inland area) for you.

We used that fireplace for the one reason it was invented:

Sweet, sweet s'mores!  Fun, sad fact: Graham crackers don't seem to exist outside of North America.  That's probably why s'mores are unheard of elsewhere, which is a damn shame.

Naps + wine + s'mores = I could get used to this country bumpkin lifestyle!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Aussie Food

In my Tasty Food post I ran through a list of things that I have been eating, but those weren't necessarily Australian classics.  Today I'm here to showcase the reason why I've put on a few kilos in the last few months.  The real reason is I have no will power, but my scapegoat is tasty, tasty Australian food.

Lamington slice

First of all, let me explain the "slice" part.  I would interpret a slice as a bar, though this specimen is more like a single serve piece of cake.  There's lots of different slices to choose from, but none are more famous than the lamington slice (or simply a lamington).  You may remember we took a trip last year to Lamington National Park, but I have no idea if and how these two things are related.  They must be, don't you think?

Lamingtons are squares of white sponge cake, coated on all sides with a thin layer of chocolate and covered in coconut.  Sometimes there's a layer of something sandwiched in the middle (jam or cream), which I prefer, otherwise it gets quite dry.

Anzac biscuits

Biscuit means cookie in Australia, and I really take issue with that.  "Chocolate chip biscuit" is not a thing!  Naturally, the word biscuit is too long for Australians to pronounce, so they've shortened the word to bikkie...which has the exact same number of syllables.

Anzac bikkies are pretty plain (yet tasty) cookies made from rolled oats, so they're similar to an oatmeal cookie and are usually made really hard.  Anzac means Australia and New Zealand Army Corps, which was a wing of the armed forces that fought in World War I.  They are still a big deal and there's a national holiday for them 100 years later.

The cookies were invented for them, because the ingredients held up well and didn't spoil.  You can find them in any grocery store or bakery year round, but around Anzac Day it's pretty much a national requirement to stuff your face with them.  I ain't complaining!


I've actually never had a pavlova, or pav as it's lazily called.  It's a pretty simple concept: meringue base with fruit and whipped cream on top.  It's especially popular around Christmas because that's summer, and that's when fruit is in season.

You can put any fruit you want on a pav but I always see pictures of it with kiwi and strawberries.  There's even a pavlova McFlurry at McDonald's!  I need to try a pav one of these days, but I think I'll pass on the McFlurry (and save myself for a Cadbury Creme Egg McFlurry the next time I'm in the UK around Easter).

Tim Tams

Tim Tams are the one thing I had actually heard of before moving here.  They're hard to describe, but I heard someone say they're like a mix between a Twix and a Kit Kat and that actually makes a lot of sense.  There are two layers of malted biscuit (whatever that means) with a thin layer of chocolate cream between them.  They're OK, but on their own not worth getting Type II diabetes.  Doing a Tim Tam Slam, however, is totally worth the 'beetus.

A Tim Tam Slam is biting off the ends and using the Tim Tam as a straw to suck up coffee or tea.  I've only done it with coffee before and it is so freaking good!  You have to do it quick, because the hot coffee dissolves the Tim Tam innards really quickly and you can make a real mess if you haven't mastered the technique.  If you ever come across Tim Tams I implore you, wait to eat them until you've got coffee to go with it.  Delish!

Obviously there's more food native to Australia than just dessert, which I just now realized has dominated this post.  I really think it's cornerstone to Australian culture, though, because morning and afternoon tea is so huge here.  Almost like a fourth and fifth meal of the day!  If you're at a meeting or conference or something like that there will always be morning and afternoon tea served, with a whole spread of tasty baked goodies.  It. Is. Awesome.

So let's move on to real food before I give myself a cavity.

Aussie burger

Ok, this is not a real name but it's found on menus all over the land and that's what I've taken to calling it.  Hamburgers are often topped with a pineapple ring, a slice of beetroot and a fried egg.

Tell me that's not awesome!

There's not always cheese included on this glorious concoction but with the rest of that stuff, who needs cheese anyway?  Beetroot is big here; I've never seen it used so widely or frequently before.  And I love it!  In Norway beetroot is pretty widely used, but it's pickled and sour and ick ick ick.  Here it's just delicious and a little bit sweet.  An awesome addition to an awesome burger.


Barramundi, also known as barra, is a fish.  A fish I had never heard of until I got here and saw it on menus and watched them cook it on MasterChef.  Then I ate it and it was good.  A pretty simple story, really.

This picture is the very first meal that Martin ate in Australia. On the very night we arrived we dove into mysterious, unknown culinary delights!

Aww, that picture makes me sad.  It feels like it was just a few months ago, but our first night here was 17 months ago!  Time flies.  Sad face.

Kanga Bangas

Kangaroo meat in sausage form, mmm mmm good.  Sausages go by many names: snags to the Aussies and bangers to the Brits.  I guess they needed a cute little name for the 'roo sausages so they adopted the British word, mangled it like they do every other word, and kanga bangas were born.

I haven't had kanga bangas very much, as I prefer my kangaroo in steak form.  Kangaroo meat is pretty gamey, but nowhere near as gamey as the moose or reindeer I grew accustomed to in Norway.  I don't imagine I will eat kangaroo anywhere else in the world so I'm getting my fill while I can in any shape possible.

These are but a few Aussie specialties, but in the dessert department I've pretty much covered the basics.  If you come to Australia definitely take your taste buds on walkabout!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Various Goings On as of Late

The #1 going on as of late has been moving apartments.  For the third freaking time (fourth if you factor in our temporary accommodation Martin's company put us up in for the first 2 weeks).  I lived in the USA 24 years and didn't move this many times - almost.  Oy vei.  Pain in my ass.

But I have to have an excuse for living out of cardboard boxes and having piles of clothes on the floor, so here are some social activities that have prevented me from keeping a decent house:

A friends 'hen do'

A hen do is a bachelorette party.  Different countries call it different things, and for some reason the verb 'do' means party outside of the USA.  And a bachelorette is a hen.

A bachelor, regrettably, is not called a cock - oh how appropriate that would be - but rather a stag, or sometimes buck, both being a male deer.

So the male deer marries the female chicken, and because of this blessed union I get to see butt cracks - and not an inch of skin more - at Aussie Thunder, a male revue.  Revue being the internationally understood word for "full frontal prohibited".


A green card wedding

We kind of, sort of know this French couple.  We're not close but we run in similar circles, which is good enough for an invite to a last minute "green card wedding".  She got a job in America, and up to this point they have been dirty sinners living in filthy sin, not unlike ourselves.  Unfortunately Uncle Sam doesn't roll that way, so they had to get married immediately to appease the U.S. Department of Immigration & You Don't Get To Make Life Decisions For Yourself.

You guys, this was the best wedding I have ever been to.  No offence to readers whose weddings I have attended (rest assured your reception was waaaaay better than this one), but you see this picture?  This is a picture of the groom getting down on one knee, with a ring, asking his bride to marry him.  At their wedding ceremony.

It. Was. Awesome.

Apparently there was no engagement ring involved prior to the wedding ceremony, as this was strictly a wedding of necessity.  I don't judge because I'm quite sure it will happen to me someday, and the USA is unreasonable in matters of this nature.  But OMG, I had tears.  It was so sweet and heartfelt - and in French so I didn't understand a damn thing - and she was genuinely surprised by his ring and his proposal.  At their wedding ceremony.

I don't take a romantic view of marriage.  It's just how you prove to a government that your relationship is for real.  Seriously you guys, look at how serious and real this relationship is!  **points to piece of paper**  A green card wedding will happen to me, eventually, so I don't judge them one iota.  But still, it gave me the lovey dovey warm fuzzies.  It was magical.  All 7 minutes of it - bonus points to them, let's get to the good stuff!

A live 'Dirty Dancing' floor show

It's no surprise to most of you that I am a fanatical Rocky Horror Picture Show fan.  I love Rocky Horror.  Like, a lot a lot.

By extension of that I will attend any live "floor show" offered to me, a floor show meaning the movie playing on the big screen and actors acting out the scenes on the stage below.

Since I have dragged friends to the Rocky Horror floor show numerous times it's only fair that I join them in their number one cinematic love on stage, Dirty Dancing.  Not that I mind, mind you, because one truth will remain until my dying day: Ain't nothing sexier than 80's Patrick Swayze.  Ain't nothing.

Well....I take that back.  70's Tim Curry in drag is sexier.  Maybe.

It was super fun!  Of course.  Can you believe this is only the second time I've seen Dirty Dancing start to finish?  Yeah, I know, I'm like diseased or something!  I've seen bits and pieces on TBS (an American TV station) hundreds of times, but the only time I've seen it in its entirety was my freshman year of college, when my dorm roommate was aghast that I'd never seen it all before.  So she made me sit and watch it, right the and there.  It was the longest amount of time we ever spent awake together.

Various trips to City Hall

I make it sound like we go there often, but we've been there a total of two times.  That's actually more than most people have been there, so it's a decently impressive feat.

Vino a la City Hall

City Hall has just reopened after a bajillion dollar renovation.  Look at this gigantic organ (on the right, behind the screen)!

I'm a crap picture taker but the organ is absolutely massive.  Totes impressive.  The place is all around beautiful, as it well should be after spending beaucoup bucks on the reno.  Ahh, the beauty of it:

Wait - whut?

Swastikas in City Hall!  In the bathrooms of all places!  I'm sure it's an original design of the who-knows-how-old building, but seriously.  Woah.

I should get off my arse now and unpack the new apartment a little.  I know I need to, but I know won't.  Not until company comes over.  It's a dirty little secret of mine that I don't clean/tidy up/not live in filth until people come over.

Somebody come visit me before the rats form a society and take over!  I kid, I kid.

But seriously, though, I don't do any housework until I have guests to impress.