12 November 2015

The Best Vegan Smoothie of all Time (+ a recipe)



On our first night in Brisbane, we stumbled upon this magnificent little 24-hour fruit Market called Charlies. Attached to it is Raw Squeeze, a vegan smoothie cafe that is *amazing*. Our first week here, we went back every. single. morning. Jon even tried a raw vegan doughnut!






My favorite treat was the Green Bowl-- basically a green smoothie in a bowl with lots of  fruit and other good stuff.

After we moved to our new place (which was much farther away from Charlies), we decided we needed to figure out how to make them ourselves. And we did it! Here's our recipe (and we put it in wine classes because WHY NOT?!):

 Best Green Smoothie Recipe EVER 

2 kiwis, peeled
1 banana, peeled
1 1/2 cups kale (packed)
1/2 cup spinach (packed)
1 cup coconut water
2 Tbs coconut, unsweetened

Put it all in a blender, and blend!!

In the image below we put:
-kiwis on the bottom
-chopped strawberries and blueberries on the top
- sprinkled shredded coconut and cocoa nibs on top

Another fav experiment included same smoothie but with:
- yogurt on the bottom (and chopped banana)
- green smoothie in the middle
- passionfruit, mango, coconut and cocoa nibs

08 November 2015

Hold a Koala, Check!



People, it has finally happened. I finally got to see koalas and kangaroos in the flesh!

This weekend Jon and I went to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, which is just to the southwest of Brisbane. Between trying to read the map (no data, means old-schooling it) and the prospect of holding one of those little furballs, we couldn't get there fast enough.


Jon almost stepped on this guy. 


This is me meeting Maximus for the first time. He  took a couple of times to let me hold him; he seemed to be partial to a more flat-chested landing pad, which wasn't exactly something I could offer (sorry dude! I really do wish I looked more like a tree). Finally, once he was stuffing his face, he let me hold him. 

Jon suggested that holding the koala must have made me feel maternal, but those claws. YIKES! They are terrifying. Fortunately, these guys are pretty cuddly besides, especially when they are chillin' in their trees.


The whole koala holding situation made me feel a little sad for these guys. It was this sort of assembly line set up, with one teenage girl after another getting her photo with a koala. In the end though, these little guys are getting paid pretty freaking well for their photo ops, and it does allow them to live, breed, and grow in safety, which is important for a threatened species. 

Still, zoo-type situations always make me feel a little uneasy... I'm just happy the koalas are getting paid enough to stay safe.


Here is my massively overpriced photo they took of me with my koala. I was one happy pumpkin.


This is an Emu. We were both pretty happy to see one another.


Then we went to feed the kangaroos and joeys. These guys had already eaten a ton and it was hot... so they were all sacked out in the shade. 


Kangroos are pretty beefy. Look at these guys below. Even lying down they look like mob bosses... you would not want to mess with one of them. Jon was pretty sure one was going to jump up at any point and thump him, which made coxing him close enough to get a photo a pretty hilarious exercise. 

Still we both tended to take the photos with the joeys... these large ones were intimidating.


Then we went to the platypus tanks. Jon was very excited about this, as you can see. It was pretty dark inside so I didn't get a great shot of the real one, but that is what it looks like when it is swimming. 


Something I really loved about this place is that they are super blogger friendly. Every couple of feet they had a little outdoor lounge set with with wifi... they called them "blogger lounges" which I think is so clever as it encourages ever visitor to advertise for them across social media. Well played Lone Pine, well played...

06 November 2015

8 Most Surprising Things About Australia


THE TATTOOS

Big biceps and tribal tattoos are EVERYWHERE. I know this is largely because of the tattooing culture in the pacific islands, but it still surprised me.

Still I can understand it, but the ones that boggle my mind are white chics with shin tattoos. And I've seen several. WHY?



THE GYMS ON EVERY CORNER

I feel like you can't go half a block without running into a gym, pilates studio or yoga class. There are so many, especially compared to London. I like that people are so health conscious.

On the other side I feel like walking around outdoors ends up with me drenched in sweat... the prospect of paying money for the same experience seems strange.



THE CHURCH

Never have I ever been to church congregation as friendly as the Chermish ward. On our first Sunday, we walked away with 5 dinner invites, an offer to come stay at someone's house up north if we decided to snorkel the great barrier reef, and this week along two people surprised us with dinner. What incredible examples...



THE FLASHBACK

It might just be me, but I sometimes feel like I am living in a flashback. While central Brisbane is posh and modern, the suburb we live in feels a bit like a 90s/early 00s time warp. The grocery stores interior treatment and fonts are the same from my childhood... and everywhere I look I see oversized cargos, polos, mohawks and school-girl uniforms a la Britney Spears. It's feels very deja vu-y.

The other day I was watching a documentary where a doctor was imploring the general populace to not drink during pregnancy saying, "I know one or two drinks doesn't seem like much, but you really should try to stop drinking when your pregnant." WHAT?! Another  doctor comes on later discussing how fetal alcohol syndrome is something they really only started diagnosing about 5 years ago here in Australia and that they are about 20 years behind the States and the UK.



THE FRUIT

O! The fruit! Seriously this has been the greatest part about being here. There is so much variety! And everything is fresh and delicious... I have all the mangos, and melons and passion fruit I could ever dream of.



HOUSE PAINT

I feel like at least a third the houses here look like this.

I am inclined to think that this is a testament to the intensity of the humidity and sun, as oppose to neglectful home-ownership. I've learned that the weather make it barely worth putting on any makeup... my paint just slides right off my face. So, I suppose houses are about the same.



GROUND FLOORS

At least half of the homes are on stilts or have garages as basements. I suppose this is due to inclimate weather during hurricane season... but it is a little terrifying to consider as we currently live on the ground floor. (To be fair, I've also heard that this has to do with airflow as well, in order to keep the house cool)



MONOPOLY MONEY

American tourists always come to London and announce that the money looks just like monopoly money. They've clearly never seen Australian currency.

And there you have it. Lots of exciting stuff coming up this weekend!


03 November 2015

First 24 Hours in Australia

Nudgee beach sunrise

Our first 24 hours in Australia were crazy. After a 12 hour flight to Singapore, a layover, and another 8 hour flight to Brisbane, our brains and bodies were fried. This is what our day looked like:

6am - Arrive at Brisbane Airport, Customs was the worst I've ever experienced (included drug dogs)
8am - Pick up car and head to our Airbnb flat
8:30am - Meet Gerry (the landlord), a barrel-chested, short-shorts wearing man with a massive mustache
10am - Head into the city to do a little preliminary exploring
2pm - We start to crash, hard. Time to go home.
3pm - Take a nap.
12am (midnight) - Wake up. Darn.
12:30am - We found an epic 24 hour fruit and veg stand! There were seriously like 6 kinds of mangos!
1am - Head home and listen to all the birds singing in the park next to our flat (It sounded like a chorus of Mockingjays)
2am - Watch the World Cup - I still have no idea how rugby is played
4am - Made the last minute decision to run out to Nudgee beach to watch the sunrise. It was glorious.

Australian Lifetstyle BloggerNudgee Beach at sunrise

When we arrived, the tide was so far out that we never even made it to the shoreline. We just strolled and sloshed through miles of sand and little pools of water. Every couple of feet were these big blue jellyfish.

Nudgee beach jellyfishbeached jelly fishBrisbane beach sunrise

I have a habit of collecting things. Whenever we go to the beach, I usually walk away with a pocketful of treasures. Jon refers to them as my "little friends" like I'm a three-year-old that collecting stuffed animals. This time, we lined up my little friends and let them watch the sunrise with us. 

Brisbane seashell sunsetAustralian lifestyle bloggerNudgee beach sunset

With a start like this, I'm pretty sure this journey is going to be beautiful. 

01 November 2015

The Story of Our New Visas

5:30.
Five bloody thirty in the morning and I hear my phone alarm go off. It's on the other side of the room charging, so I stumble out of bed like one of those baby giraffes you see on the nature channel. I bash my foot on a chair leg on the way over.

It feels like an omen.
New UK Work visa



I turn off the alarm and put my hand on Jon's shoulder. "Wakey, wakey Jon. We've need to go get those visas."

He groans and rolls over. He only went to sleep 3 hours ago, in part because we'd discovered a very serious mistake with our visa application.

ZOOM BACK TWO MONTHS

Jon had just been offered his dream job. It was the career move we'd been hoping for since we moved to London, but it had come three years ahead of schedule. The one hitch is that it would require us to get new visas, and this prospective company didn't even have a license to issue them.

But miracles happen and after several weeks of nail-biting, somehow the company's sponsorship license was fast tracked and issued in less than half the normal time.

Together with the company, we'd hurriedly put together our new work visa applications. But in our haste, I'd somehow added the wrong National Insurance number. When we realised the error, panic broke out. We learned that, in order to change anything, we'd have to redo the entire application and remake the appointment. AH! We decided to just pray no one would notice (its rarely a winning strategy, but we were desperate).

AT THE HOME OFFICE IN CROYDON

After arriving, we wait, talk, and after being sent to to talk with yet more people, our number is finally called up.

We walk up to the lady's desk and I plop down in the seat facing the back of her computer. All I can see over the monitor was hair (dyed that purply-red colour that older European ladies like) with 2 inch grey roots peering though, and dirty fingernails, hunting and pecking. It was seriously like her hands were playing a game of whack-a-mole against each other.

I feel like I've been holding my breath for ages-- praying she doesn't notice my massive mistake; finally, Dirty Fingernails sends us to the biometrics area to be fingerprinted and photographed.

We go through the glass doors and Jon immediately starts flirting with the biometrics lady. She apparently loves this, and sends us back to wait in the cafe with a smile and a wave.

Jon buys me some hot chocolate and we wait...

...and wait.

THE RESULT

We wait for about an hour and a half as a caseworker goes through our paperwork to determine our eligibility. Finally our number is called back and we rush in.

A man hands us a paper and our passports, “here you go,” then turns to leave.

“Wait!” we say, panicking as we flip through our passports and notice no new visa. “Did we not pass?”

“No, you did,” he says, motioning to the paper in our hands. We look at the letter, which did indeed confirm that we had been approved.

“Ok,” says Jon, “So... then what happens now?”

“A biometric card will arrive in the mail in the next week or so.”

“So, no visa?”

“Nope, you don't need one. The biometric card will have everything you need.”

We finally breath a sigh of relief.

WAITING

We continue breathing easy while as Jon's visa arrives the next week. But then mine never shows.

A week passes, two weeks, a month... Repeated calls to the home office offer no help, as they only seem to care about the form we had to submit on-line (when the visa didn't arrive within 10 days). Despite the seemingly misplaced obsession with the form, our case worker never gets around to reading it. After a month we resubmitted.

Another week passes. Finally, I call demanding to speak to my case worker in person. The lady on the other end doesn't let me speak to him, but FINALLY offers the first bit of real news.

"Well... it looks like your case worker finally had a look at you file yesterday. And he went ahead and sent it through. So now you just have to wait for your BPR card to be printed and arrive in the post."

Praise!

THE BIOMETRIC RESIDENCE PERMIT

Finally, just days before our flight, my little card arrives. The photo on it is probably the worst photo ever taken of me (which is really saying something), but I couldn't have been more excited to have it starring back at me.

Australia, here we come!