Friday Favorites: School Holiday Edition

First of all I want to thank everyone for their kind words, comments etc. on my post over what I have learned this past year. Self-reflection is always a little awkward (at least for me) and so it was nice to see so many people felt the same way and enjoyed reading it. You guys are the best! Alright enough mushy stuff and on to the post…

While everyone in America is enjoying their summer holiday (or at least teachers and kids) it’s currently the tail end of our end of term break. Since summer and Christmas fall at the same time here, they have a quite a few weeks off at the end of the school year, which runs January-December. Then after each ten week term they have two weeks off.

I am not going to lie I feel a little guilty being on a break when I spent several weeks of the past term playing tour guide and traveling, but what can you do?

It’s been a couple weeks since my last Friday Favorites, so this one is covering my favorites from the past two weeks of my little school holiday.

Girls Trip to the Granite Belt

I will definitely be posting more about our trip once I get around to sorting through all the pictures we took. Two of my fellow school teacher/American friends and I headed into the country for a lovely couple days of wine tasting, antique browsing and other activities.

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It was so fun to get out of town and see a different part of our great state of Queensland. Everyone in the small towns we went to were so sweet and it felt like southern hospitality all over again which was great for three girls from three southern states.

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Plus I got to see my first of Australia’s giant things, if you check out that wikipedia page you will see I still have a long way to go.

Coffee (and Dessert) Dates

Between hosting visitors, playing tour guide and working it had been a while since I had spent some time with my girl friends. These past two weeks I was able to have multiple coffee dates that lasted for hours (my favorite) and reconnect with my friends. I feel like I have said it a million times, but I have been so lucky to make such great girl friends since we have been here.

Also, if you are in Brisbane you need to stop what you’re doing and go to Chester Street Bakery. Good coffee, delicious treats and please just look at this Nutella Hot Chocolate…

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Teneriffe Festival

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Last Saturday was our neighborhood‘s festival and it took place directly in front and behind our apartment.

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For the entire day they had the street shut down and food stalls, artists, boutiques and much, much more were set up. There were stages set up all over with singers/DJs etc, pop-up bars and even a cheese market. My personal favorite was the piglet races. We had sooo much fun and it just reinforced how much I love where we live.
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It was the 4th of July and they actually had some old US military jeeps on display, so of course we had to get a photo with the American flag.

Glasshouse Mountains

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The “winter” weather here has been pretty phenomenal lately so my friend, Jillian, and I hiked one of my favorite mountains on Wednesday. I have talked about Mount Ngungun here and here so I won’t bore you with the details now. This time we picked up some cheese and crackers and fruit for a little picnic at the top but we weren’t hungry by the time we got up there (a bakery pit stop is to blame) so we ended up enjoying them from the comfort of my couch afterwards.

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I can count on one hand how many hikes I had been on before we moved here, now they are one of my favorite past times.

Travel Suggestions

We got our visas for Vietnam this week, woohoo!! Now we just need to figure out what we are going to do there. We will be in Hanoi (but spending most of the time on the Halong Bay Junk Boat) then Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh/Saigon. I also am taking suggestions for Thailand, we’re doing Bangkok-Phuket-Ko Samui (3 days each).

Help! We have all of our hotels and flights booked but only the Halong Bay tour planned, I want to get some sort of itinerary set in the next few weeks. I can not believe we leave in less than 6 weeks!!

Hope everyone has a great weekend! Over at our house we are challenging ourselves to spend $50 or less all weekend. We will see how it goes…

Linking up with Andrea and Heather as usual!

Home Sweet Brisbane: Our Neighborhood

I realize I have yet to show many pictures of where we live on the blog, probably because lately it seems like we spend more time out of town than at home. But today that changes! I am taking you on a tour of our ‘hood (that’s neighborhood for those of you unfamiliar with 90’s slang).

In Australia neighborhoods are called suburbs and each one has it’s own name and post code. We live in a smaller suburb called Teneriffe that is sandwiched in between a couple larger neighborhoods. It’s situated right along the river and is known for its brick wool store buildings (warehouses that used to store wool back in the day) and shady, tree lined streets. Only a 10 minute bus ride or 20 minute ferry ride into downtown (the CBD as it is called here), we couldn’t have found a better place to live.

So follow me as we take a stroll (or a jog like this gentleman) through Teneriffe…

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Starting from the back door of our apartment building…

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Our swimming pool overlooking the Brisbane River. Also where we can be found on any given Saturday and/or Sunday afternoon when we’re in town.

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CityCat ferry terminal- an easy and peaceful way to get around the city.

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Gloria, the wool store ewe. Click the picture to learn more about her!

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Our building from behind. There are weddings almost every weekend here along the river.

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Where we (mostly Travis) go on a morning run. This path also leads to the park where they hold the farmer’s market we go to.

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Also along the river- our gym! It’s in the building next door to our apartment.

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The view from the gym. It makes working out a little more bearable.

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Heading back up to the main road…

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Local brewery/restaurant and frequent date night spot.

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Oh your neighbor doesn’t have one of these on their front patio?

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When we first moved in I would spend hours wandering around here.

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Green Beacon Brewery- another local micro brewery down the street from us. They have the best grilled blue cheese sandwich ever.

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Gasworks Plaza down the street from us. Home to one of my favorite places- the grocery store! And also some restaurants, shops and froyo…

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This has something to do with Gasworks but I am not quite sure- at night they light it up and it looks pretty. During the day people sit in there and kids ride bikes in the middle of it.

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I hope you enjoyed your tour of our little neighborhood. Next week I plan on finally sharing pictures of our apartment (I have been putting it off in hopes it would magically decorate itself). Have a great rest of the week!

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“Real Life”

My two week vacation to the States is over and I am back home in Brisbane (it still sounds weird to say that).

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Not a bad place to call home…

When I was in Texas everyone had questions about what my daily life was like here, whether I got bored, what I did all day, how I got places etc. At the time I really didn’t have answers to their questions. We moved here six weeks ago, Travis started working, my brother came to visit and we moved into our apartment, less than a week after that I left to go back to the States.

Now that I am back I finally feel like I can start “real life” and start getting into the routine of things. So now let me answer those questions…

What do I do all day? During the week I have been going to work out classes at Lorna Jane in the mornings. Lorna Jane is a popular Australian fitness clothing store (think Lululemon), the location closest to my house also has a fitness room attached where they offer classes 5-6 times a day for just $2 a class! The classes are very well run and challenging, plus everyone is really friendly. My afternoons are filled with exciting housewife activities like grocery shopping and doing laundry sometimes I go meet Trav for lunch.

Am I going to work? Yes, this leisurely lifestyle can’t last forever… I am currently applying to substitute teach in the public schools as well as some day care and private pre-schools in the area. Getting my teaching certificate registered by the state here is quite a lengthy process which includes getting a background check from the FBI.  So I am going to enjoy my “summer” for a little while longer while I get all of that in line.

How do we get places? We currently do not have a car and are still debating whether or not we will get one. So, we rely on the wonderful public transportation system.  I am not being sarcastic either-it really is great. Luckily, our apartment is right next to a bus stop which has buses going to and from the Central Business District (otherwise known as the CBD- what they call downtown here) every 5-10 minutes. There is also a river ferry stop right at our door step as well.

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Our view from the ferrry Sunday

We bought bikes last week as well. I am still not super confident on the road- apparently cyclists aren’t well loved here, so I’m not sure how much I will be venturing out on my bike without Travis to lead the way. Travis said he will ride his bike to work and I am curious to see if he will…

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Taking a test drive by the river…

Lastly, the most common question I received- What do you miss the most? Besides the obvious answer of our amazing friends and family, I miss unsweet tea. I may or may not have a serious addiction to unsweet ICED tea. In Houston I would start my work day with a large $1 McDonalds cup and often have to creep out during lunch to get more. Since that is not a common beverage choice here in Oz, I had to improvise and go old school and make my own.

Ah... Now it feels like home.

Ah… Now it feels like home.

A close second would have to be Chipotle (no surprise to anyone that knows me well) but they have several similar chains here such as Salsa’s, Guzman y Gomez and The Burrito Bar that help to fill the burrito bowl sized hole in my heart. No luck finding queso yet though… Overall it’s not hard to find anything here that you can find in the US.

Well I hope that answers all of the questions I wasn’t able to answer a couple weeks ago! Next time I will be sharing some exciting upcoming travel plans…