Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sculpture by the Sea

Each year, between Tamarama and Bondi beaches in Sydney, there is an event called Sculpture by the Sea. It's pretty much exactly what it sounds like, with around 100 artists competing for the top vote at the outdoor exhibition which runs for a few weeks.

Today, my friend Alyssa and I decided to check them out. We had lunch at Coogee Beach before making the coastal walk all the way to Bondi. The sculptures were clever, funny, huge and a few were just...weird. It must be such an enormous production to set them all up. I think my favourite was the fishing rod one or View (Trademarked). Simple but effective! The walk itself was spectacular - I'd been meaning to cross that off my bucket list ever since moving to Sydney. We really are so blessed with our beautiful beaches here.

P.S I downloaded the font used on some of the images from A Beautiful Mess. One day I hope to make my own! 

P.P.S That's an actual graveyard on the cliff face - not part of the exhibition! Hehe.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Quiet Weekend

Apart from checking out that little street festival yesterday, Ben and I really didn't get up to a whole lot this weekend. It was nice to lay low and enjoy some home-cooked meals, do a bit of Spring cleaning and catch up on episodes of The Walking Dead. I'm a bit late to that bandwagon that's for sure! I've seen most of the first season but not in order, so I've gone back to the start. It's such a distressing show, but so addictive.

In our normal style, we ate ourselves into food comas at every possible occasion this weekend. Last night Ben cooked up some delicious ricotta and spinach cannelloni and today I ate two breakfasts. The first was my homemade granola, thanks to Elsie and Emma's recipe over at A Beautiful Mess. The second were my take on Heuvos Rancheros. Well, it was all I could manage from the ingredients we had at home! Not bad I say. Next time I'll try and have some tortillas handy. Not pictured is the massive burrito and soft serve ice-cream I just ate. Please excuse me while I unbutton my pants. Just as well Ben and I have started the Couch to 5k program. We're onto our second week tomorrow!

Aside from the eating and sitting on my butt, I also found a temporary home for the prinstagram photos I ordered from my trip to America. I'd like to find a suitable frame or some clever way to display them, but they can live in our bedroom for now. I'm so happy with how they turned out - I think I'll have to order some more! I also had fun sifting through my special suitcase of random cards, photos, stationary and other sentimental bits and pieces that I can't manage to part with.

I hope you had a smashing weekend wherever you may be. xoxo

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Granny Smith Festival

Today I discovered there was a street festival of sorts going on in a suburb nearby to where we live - Eastwood. Turns out this festival is an annual affair called 'Granny Smith Festival'. This is because the original Granny Smith (as in the apples, yes) was from this region. So, there you go. We didn't see many apples, but we (Ben and I) ate some delicious quasedillas, chocolate coated strawberries and slurped up a pineapple slushie each. It was a perfect way to spend a sunny saturday afternoon. Last minute adventures are always the best kind.

USA Part 4: Viva Las Vegas

Our journey ended with a bang at fabulous Las Vegas. We were stoked upon checking in at Caesar's Palace to be given a room upgrade - perfect way to begin two nights in Sin City! We spent our first afternoon walking up and down 'The Strip', doing a bit of shopping and eating ridiculously sized meals at Serendipity Cafe. Before heading back to our room to get ready for our night out, we stopped at Margaritaville and bought ourselves a giant slushy each. They were so sickly sweet and we struggled to drink even half but we would have regretted not doing it!
We had a really fun night out, starting with a bit of gambling at the casino at Caesar's. To be honest I'm pretty clueless when it comes to gambling, but I gave it a red hot go (read: didn't win a cent). We then made our way to a few of the nightclubs for a boogie. I found the bikini-clad dancers at every club a bit of a surprise but the happy hour for ladies was a bonus! Jess and I, being the grandmas that we are, had made a pledge to stay out until 4am. I think we made it to 3am...haha.
The next day, after a sleep-in, big breakfast and a swim we took a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon. It was spectacular to see two of the seven wonders of the world in the same day (Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon). The helicopter took us right into the centre of the Canyon where we landed for a short time to refuel before hopping back on. Unfortunately someone I know (cough cough Jess) got a little bit motion sick - we really hadn't factored in how bumpy it was going to be! We were also in the same helicopter as a couple who were having a really rough time - the guy was sick pretty much the whole way there and back! Despite all that it was still pretty awesome (well for me, haha).
Flying back over Vegas was really cool. You don't realise how amazing it looks - it really does just appear out of the desert. For our second night out we went and saw Cirque du Soleil 'Ka' at MGM Grand. Wow wow wow! It was amazing. The whole time I was thinking to myself 'I can't even do a cartwheel!'. 
Our time in Vegas really flew by, but I'm glad we went. If I ever go again I'll try and make it a weekend and will make the effort to find some of the wedding chapels as we didn't see any at all and maybe stay out until 4am. Maybe. It's the kind of place that has to be seen to be believed! 

P.S I hope you enjoy that first pic of Jess and I at the Vegas sign. It was such a mission to find! Someone gave us really bad directions and we ended up wandering around in 40+ degree heat before a nice chap offered us a lift. So glad the photo turned out so well! 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

USA Part 3: California Dreaming

The next part of our Great American Adventure was a road trip down Highway 1 between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Neither Jess or I had ever driven in America before, so were both feeling a bit nervous when we arrived at the hire car centre at SFO. After they gave us the keys to our ride for the next week, we ended up sitting in the car park for about 20 minutes before we were brave enough to take off! I volunteered (sort of) to drive first and it wasn't as bad as we were expecting - once we figured out that the left lane was the fast lane not the slow lane and got a handle on which side of the car to get in.

Our first day of driving took us south from San Francisco to Santa Cruz where we stopped for a burrito at the famous boardwalk. It definitely looked like something out of a movie with its cheesy arcade, roller coasters and people playing volleyball on the beach. We drove a little bit further south and arrived in the coastal town of Monterey, home of the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium and the jellies!!! We arrived at the aquarium close to closing time so did a whirlwind tour. Unfortunately it was pretty grey and cold during our time at Monterey so I didn't take many photos. The next morning we packed up and took the famous 17 mile drive before joining up with Highway 1 again.
A large section of Highway 1 takes you through the area known as Big Sur - miles and miles of winding road hugging the spectacular coastline. A little hairy and narrow in places but breathtaking nonetheless. Jess and I took turns driving so one could be official photographer/enjoy the scenery while the other kept their eyes on the road! So many 'wow' moments as we rounded the bends. We stopped off for lunch at the Big Sur River Inn which was a gorgeous spot by the river (as the name suggests - duh).
That night we hadn't made any bookings so decided to see where the road took us. One thing about San Francisco was the taxi drivers were all SUPER friendly. One in particular suggested we go to a coastal town called Cayucos if we had the chance. Lo and behold we saw the sign so decided to pull in and check it out. As we approached this little town we immediately knew it would be our home for the night. We pulled into one of the first motels we saw, right by the beach. I ran inside to check if they had any rooms. Indeed they did and we were give one with ocean views. We were very happy campers. It was a sleepy old town; the people were very friendly, there were some awesome vintage shops and a cookie bakery with the most melt-in-your mouth butter cookies I've ever tasted. A bottle of wine, some nibbles and selfies on the beach at sunset followed - it was such a perfect night! Thank you Mr Taxi Driver for the awesome suggestion.
We rose early the next day and headed for sunny Santa Barbara where we spent a few hours wandering, shopping and eating (what we do best). After lunch we continued our journey down the highway until we found ourselves in the middle of Los Angeles traffic! What an experience - 7 lanes on each side and cars honking and whizzing past, no indicators or nothing! We spent the next two nights in Orange County being regular Summers and Marissas. Jess had a friend living near Newport beach so we were able to meet and party with some locals which was a lot of fun. It was kind of surreal to visit Newport Beach as well as Laguna and really see what that lifestyle is like!

After leaving the OC we spent a day at Santa Monica and Venice Beach. It was the Labor Day long weekend so naturally it was packed. We had heaps of fun riding bikes along the beach and taking in all the weird and wonderful people going about their business. We spent two nights in Downtown LA in a converted warehouse complex. We took the car for a spin down Sunset Boulevard, climbed the narrow, winding (and a bit frightening) roads to the Hollywood Sign, ate amazing Japanese on Hollywood Boulevard, walked miles and miles looking for Bob Dylan's Star of on the Walk of Fame (turns out he doesn't have one yet - can you believe that!?), drank cocktails at Sky Bar and made a mandatory stop at In & Out Burger (I made Jess eat a burger since I'm vego but the fries and shake were pretty damn good).

And that was the end of our sunny Californian road trip. Next stop Vegas!