rainbows are not scarce in maui

Oh you know, just the fourth rainbow we spotted today. Maui, stop it.

I had every intention to regularly blog during our Hawaiian adventure. That’s the honest truth. But in between lounging by the pool, lazing down the lazy river, eating mountains of food and desperately trying to catch up on sleep, blogging took an appropriate back seat.

Besides, I was also busy taking photos of every rainbow that appeared from the blue and cloudy skies of Maui. And believe me, there were plenty! Like the one above taken in the early evening as we were headed to our Drums of the Pacific Luau at the Hyatt Regency in Lahaina.

So yes, back to intentions. I intended to enjoy and relax while I became an adopted resident of the beautiful state of Hawai’i for two entire weeks. Those intentions were fulfilled many times over and then some. I wouldn’t say we travel a lot, so we will have to see just how far up the list in my all-time favorite places Hawai’i ends up in, but boy did I love it there. I loved the people, the environment, the changing landscapes, its little quirks and the constant use of the phrase “Aloha” & “Mahalo”. I realize that we are in a very touristy place where they want to make you feel good to get you to spend, enjoy and spend some more. But I truly felt that more than half of the Aloha’s I received were genuine. It put a smile on my face on a constant basis. I really liked how it made me feel.

In an effort to continue the Aloha spirit, I will make it a goal to blog about our Kauai and Maui jaunts in the next couple of weeks. I have the luxury of being on leave from work until next Monday and I intend (there’s that word again) to blog a little more, read a little more and continue the relaxation. 2016 is just around the corner and it’s time to reflect on the great things that 2015 brought us and not so much the sad/bad things.

an aussie sunset

Sunset over Straddie

A Straddie Sunset

We were fortunate enough to have spent four awesome days in Stradbroke Island (aka Straddie) over Australia Day long-weekend.

We headed over (via the ferry) on Friday morning – it was rainy and cold, simply miserable. It pretty much rained non-stop that entire day and evening. It got so bad that we were drenched going to, during and after dinner and a mini-stream of water was just gushing around our car and created a small pool. Welcome to Queensland summer storms, I suppose.

Luckily, the sun came out Saturday morning in time for our half-day 4WD tour with local Straddie resident, Billy. He took us on the beach, off the beach and places only his trusty 4WD could take us. It was time and money well spent because not only did he take us in areas that we wouldn’t have found on our own, but he told us local stories and legends that only a resident of Straddie (for 34-years) would intimately know.

Sunday morning was pretty much spent lazing around by the beach, dodging the spectacular waves and trying my best not to get sunburnt (I still failed). In the late afternoon we headed over to Amity Point to get some fresh cooked crabs (a recommendation from Billy), watch the dolphins make their daily visit to the Amity Point pier (unfortunately they were scared off by the pier jumpers) and we also watched the sunset (which was spectacular).

For our first Queensland island, we picked a pretty awesome one. Straddie was perfect for what we wanted to do in the time we had to do it in. The only real disappointment were our accommodations and even that we had little control over (late booking and the fact that it was a long-weekend). Its only redeeming quality was that it was only a few hundred meters away from a great beach.

Overall, we spent Australia Day the only way an Aussie should – by the beach, enjoying the sun and the search and marveling at the beauty of this glorious, wonderful country!

the grandest place

IMG_6276-Edit-Edit.jpg

I came across this article this evening and it immediately brought me back to the Summer of 2013 and to one of the best 4 days of my life: visiting Yosemite National Park.

No, no, no. We didn’t free climb our way up El Capitan. We just merely enjoyed the grandness of Yosemite. Oh, it was a wonderful trip! There we were, driving our bulky white God-knows-what-model-year Crown Vic around the windy roads of the Park that hot Summer week. It was glorious, it was one that I will always remember.

IMG_6092.jpg

Every picture taken was perfect, every stream we crossed divine, every sweat that trickled down my forehead was worth it. I was simply in awe of this place and I am almost selfishly wishing that no other National Park will ever top it. I want my memories of Yosemite to be the ultimate of my life (as far as Parks go, that is).

IMG_5874.jpg

I told Zach that one day, when we’re old and wrinkly, I want to make another trip to Yosemite and re-visit the places we reached and check on the giant sequoia tree that we re-named the Houston tree.

IMG_6475.jpg

 One day I will be back and all of those warm and fuzzy memories will come flooding back. I look forward to that day.

happy new year!

Beach Day!

This afternoon, we came home back to Brisbane after a 16-day vacation in Adelaide for Christmas and New Years. We said farewell to the dry heat/low humidity and came back to bearable Brissy weather (yay! for little victories). We bid a sad farewell to our family and friends and subliminally gave them a “Come visit us in Brisbane!” message after each and every hug. It was such a wonderfully jam-packed visit and 16 days was just the perfect amount. We can’t wait for our next visit in 2015 and the one after that, and the one after that…

Blog-wise, I have a lot to catch-up on (I know you’ve heard that before) and hope to do so in the next couple of weeks (again, I sound like a broken record). In the meantime, I would like to wish you all a 2015 that will top 2014 and a year that will remind you that the best is yet to come…

i am for pineapples

20121228_114314

We’re in the midst of Spring here in Brisbane, which means Summer fruits are emerging from Winter hibernation (not that Brisbane has much of a cold spell anyway) and nothing screams Summer than pineapples! Delicious, sweet tasting (& smelling) pineapples. Yum, yum. We managed to score three decent sized pineapples for $5 at our favorite market over the weekend (at Rocklea). So naturally, I searched for pineapple recipes on Pinterest and stumbled upon one for Dole Whip.

When we went to Disney World a couple of years ago, I had heard about Dole Whip on the Disney Forums (which I frequented as part of my Disney research). Basically, Dole Whip is magic and, as if it was even more possible, it made the happiest place on earth even happier. Unfortunately, since our Disney schedule was so jam-packed, I had completely forgotten about Dole Whip until our very last day at Disney. I was so determined to try it out that we travelled all the way from Epcot just to go back to Magic Kingdom so that I could stand in a line and order this marvelous concoction made from pineapples. And yes, it was worth it.

you’ve got mail

Hannibal-30.jpg

Sending Mark Twain a letter*

I am a member of a handful of Aussie-based American expats groups on Facebook and whenever the question of “What do you miss most about living in America?” comes up, one of the first answers always mentions how much they miss mail pick-up right from your mailbox. I’d have to admit that it’s not the first thing that comes to mind for me, but once somebody else mentions it I definitely (virtually) nod in agreement.

The luxury of having the mail carrier person picking up your mail is most definitely something one takes for granted. You only realize how good you had it when you’re left to either drive to the post office to drop off your mail or find a red postal box close to your home.

Post Box

Luckily, Australia Post mailboxes are everywhere

I do miss the convenience and ease of sending mail. But most of all, I miss putting up the red little flag on the mailbox whenever I had outgoing mail. It was a cute way to let your trusty mail carrier person know to come by your box. It’s was a bright little reminder.

Mailbox

Wait a minute, Mr. Postman 

(Source: Flickr)

*This photo was taken in Hannibal, Missouri during one of the last local road trips we had a chance to take before moving to Australia. Hannibal is best known as the boyhood home of author Mark Twain. The town has done a beautiful job showcasing its Mark Twain connection and we had such an enjoyable day trip there one cold April afternoon.

just for fun

As if I needed any other distractions, I decided to tackle this project to my weekend. #crossstitch #hobby #sanfrancisco

I left my stitches in San Francisco

Ever since I opened the box containing my scrapbooking and cross-stitching materials, I have been very excited to re-start my hobbies. So of course I hit Etsy and immediately purchased some new cross-stitching patterns despite the fact that I have a handful of other patterns I already own and yet to tackle 😉 But I just couldn’t resist this SF/NYC combo. So very, very pretty!

It is not at all a coincidence that both San Francisco and New York City are on my Top 5 cities. Both have different charming qualities about them which makes them appealing to me. Zach and I both agreed that if we were handed the opportunity to move to either city, we’d accept that offer in one New York minute. Perhaps one day we will get that chance. But in the meantime, I will savor spending hours stitching those dreams on to cloth.