Saturday, June 27, 2009

We Are In The Land Downunder

I don't have any photos downloaded yet because I am not typing from my computer. But, wanted to share what we have been doing.

We left on the 23rd June for our vacation to Australia. 36 hours we spent flying, sitting at airports and trying to get from one connection to another. I have never cared for LA airport and after this trip, my opinion has not changed! During the past 23 years we have flown to Australia on 2 other occasions. We used a different airline each of those times. Our entire family took a vote and have decided that Quantas is by far the superior airline. Comfort level, customer service - there is no comparison.

We have not experienced any lost luggage so far. Well.......the stroller did not make it to Brisbane, but they found it for us and delivered it. In the mean time, they gave us a loaner stroller. Our stroller popped a bolt at San Antonio airport, not sure if it will make the return trip to Florida!!!

It has been wonderful to see the Imms family again. They are great friends. Their kids are great. Sam thinks they are absolutely wonderful!

Yesterday we went to the Australia Zoo. The Crocodile Hunter may be gone, but his memory sure lingers on at the zoo. We all really enjoyed it. It's not everyday that you see dingos being walked around, that you get to feed kangaroos, cuddle a koala, watch crocodiles being fed and get laughed at by a kookaburra. All I can say is - CRIKEY!!!

Last night we had Tim Tam Slams. Yum, yum and double yum. I will post the recipe at a later date. I have had Vegemite for breakfast every day. Every one talks like me! Jim is doing quite well driving on the left hand side of the road. Our family chant for this trip is, "Turn to the right, but stick to the left!" We have the cleanest windscreens in Australia because every time Jim goes to turn the indicator on, he hits the windscreen wiper.

Anyway, that is all for now, signing off from the land down under


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wednesday's Walk Down Memory Lane - Vacations Past

It's Wednesday, and time to go for another walk down memory lane.
If you would like to know more, click on the link above, join in, or just read other's contributions.
This week has been a week of discovery. I didn't discover anything I didn't already know, but I discovered just how hard it is to find winter clothing for a 3-year-old in June. Sometime today I will head off to Burlington Coat Factory, they saved us when we were preparing to go to Canada last year. Silly me thought that the clothes I bought Samuel then, would fit him now for this trip.
HA HA HA and another HA!
Anyway, all these preparations for our trip to Australia has made me think about holidays past. When I was growing up, we didn't really go on holidays as a family. I would go camping and fishing with my Dad on occasion, I would go and spend a few weeks with my brother and his family, but that was about it, we didn't go on a "family" vacation. My Mum and I did go to a place called St. Helens on the East coast of Tasmania with a friend of my Mum's and her children one summer. That was a wonderful week. I remember teaching my Mum to swim! They had the most beautiful beaches. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures to share, but, have great memories of playing cricket, going to the movies and spending a lot of time at the beach!

St. Helen's

About once a year my Mum, Dad and me would climb in the car and do a tour. What kind of tour you may ask. My Dad was the tour guide and often my brother and his family would come along and I think my sister and her husband joined us one year as well. I have no idea why this was so exciting for my Dad. It certainly wasn't for me!!! Maybe there is a market out there for this kind of tour?? Maybe I have had the knowledge to make a bundle in the tourist market all this time and didn't know it???!!! Dams. Seriously. We would spend the day - I mean the crack of dawn day - touring all the dams we could fit in on that day. Tasmania has 84 dams. Mercifully, we didn't visit them all.

One of the things that did make the day more adventurous and exciting for me was that we were able to walk along the top of the spillway - provided water wasn't actually spilling over of course!

The reason Tasmania has so many dams is because that is the source of electricity there. Hydroelectric power. Pictured above is Lake Barrington, which is where many world class rowing teams come to train and they have many events there as well.

When the water is flowing over the spillway, it can be quite spectacular.

My Dad would often know the men working in the power plants at the dams and they would take us in for a tour. Last time we went back to Australia. My brother took Jim and Joshua on a "dam tour" and they got to go in and see how it all works. All Joshua remembers is that it was LOUD!

One of the dams used to have a rope walking bridge across it, just below the spillway. That was scary - walking across a bridge that swayed with every movement - it was called a swinging bridge for a reason!
So, on reflection, even though as a child touring copious amounts of lakes that were formed because of dams, the dams themselves and everything else that our tour entailed, didn't seem all that exciting at the time - but, it was, and it makes for great memories with my Dad and Mum.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

This is the way Sam helps his Mum, helps his Mum, helps his Mum.......

Today, I do not have a photograph to go along with my post. Yesterday, I did not think to grab my camera and take pictures of the event unfolding before my eyes. Yesterday, all I could think of was the extra work that was being heaped upon me. Yesterday, all I could think of was why?, why?, why? Yesterday, all I could think of was, "Will copious amounts of shampoo clog up the toilet?
I have been attempting to clean the house. I like to come back from vacation to find a clean house. Our house looks like a tornado went through at the moment, so I have been working my way through the house, one room at a time. Yesterday I cleaned the master bedroom and the bathrooms. I also did load after load of laundry. I don't know how a family of 5 can produce so much laundry!!
Samuel has been watching me and helping me every now and then. He likes to help with the cleaning. One day I could hear him in the kitchen singing, "Dust, dust, dust.......dust, dust dust....." then there was a huge crash, followed by several smaller crashes! Samuel was dusting the counter with the broom. Not the small dustpan broom, but the big sweeping the floor broom.
Yesterday, when I got off the phone after discussing dinner plans with my hubby, I didn't hear a thing. Nothing. Not a sound. I immediately went in search of Sam.
Sam was in my nicely cleaned bathroom.
Sam was helping Mummy.
Samuel was cleaning the counters......
the toilet.......
the floor..........
the tub......
with a mega bottle of Head and Shoulder!!!
It was everywhere.
And, no, it doesn't clog the toilet.
Happy Cleaning

Friday, June 12, 2009

Sunday Dinners

Every Sunday my Mum would make a roast dinner. We usually had our main meal in the evening, but on Sunday, it was noonish when we had our main meal. Just to confuse things all the more, in Australia we call dinner - tea. Lunch is called dinner. At least, that is how it was for me growing up. Just like here in the USA, different regions call things by a different name at times.

We usually had either roast chicken, roast lamb or roast beef. For special occasions, we had roast turkey. We always had a LOT of vegetables with any meal, but Mum outdid herself for Sunday dinner. Always, roast potato, roast pumpkin, peas and carrots. The other vegetables she would choose from are - parsnip, brussel sprouts (yuck), green beans, broad beans, cauliflower, broccoli.........just about any vegetable that you could possibly think of.

My Dad had a huge vegetable garden, so the vegetables were always fresh and home grown. What wasn't used up or given away was frozen or bottled for future use. I was always pleased if the brussel sprouts were all used up, that was not a vegetable I wanted hanging around to be eaten all year.

I try to carry on my family tradition of a Sunday dinner. I had never had pot roast before I came to the USA. I have embraced the pot roast and it is one of our favorite dinners. I have experimented with my pot roasts over the year. The simplest being, throw the chuck roast into the crock pot, sprinkle with a dry onion soup mix, pour in some water, cook the heck out of it until it is fall apart tender.
My favorite is a recipe from Paula Deen. I tweek the recipe a little from her original, but stick pretty close.
1 (3 to 4-pound) boneless chuck roast
sprinkle of garlic powder
sprinkle of Lawry's Seasoning Salt
1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion cut into thin wedges
2 bay leaves
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
1/4 cup red cooking wine OR beef stock
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon beef bouillon granules
3/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Add the garlic powder, Lawry's seasoning salt, beef bouillon, salt and pepper to a small bowl.
Rub seasoning into the roast on both sides.
Heat oil in a large skillet and brown the roast, searing it on both sides.
Place the meat in a roaster pan.
Add onions and garlic to skillet for 1 to 2 minutes to absorb leftover roast juice.
Place into roaster pan with meat and bay leaves.
Combine the mushroom soup, wine and Worcestershire sauce into a bowl.
Pour over the roast.
Add water.

*If the gravy is not thick enough, remove the meat from the pan and pour the gravy into a saucepan. Bring to a boil and thicken it by adding 2 tablespoons of cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup cold water, stirring constantly.
Cook Time 3 hr 20 minutes

Most of the time I use a crock pot, then I just leave out the water.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

It's Wednesday, and time to go for another walk down memory lane.If you would like to know more, click on the link above, join in, or just read other's contributions.

This weeks Walk Down Memory Lane only goes back a year. Last year, my husband's brothers and sister and their families all headed to Rapid City, South Dakota to celebrate his parent's 50th Wedding Anniversary. Quite an accomplishment in this day and age!

Richard and Carolyn Purdy
Their wedding day, June 4th, 1958

Cutting the cake

We held an open house for them on July 5th. This is the "sign-in" table in the foyer.

(left to right)
Brad, Michelle, Mom, Dad, Mike & Jim

This the cake that was made for the open house.
The cake topper is the original one from their wedding cake.
Tried to get the cake design as close to the original as possible, except there was gold frosting for the rosettes.
Towards the end of the evening we had them dance to "Who's Sorry Now?".
We found out that at the end of their wedding reception, the pianist played this song.
We had a great time in Rapid City. It is always wonderful to go back. Jim considers Rapid City "home" and we lived there for 4 years before moving to Tampa.
While there, we had to check out some for the tourist places!
We went to Bear Country.
Saw a deer/elk/not sure correct name......

Lots, and lots of bears!!!

Cute bear cubs

We visited Reptile Gardens. It sure had changed since we had last been there. Worth the visit, but not as "magical" as it was when we took the older kiddos.
In this photo, Sam and Joshua are pretending to be prairie dogs. I'm not sure if Sam wants to be a prairie dog!

Here is Jessica making friends with a prairie dog.

Quite a bit of time was spent looking through family photos.
Samuel is helping Grandpa play the ukulele.

I think one of the favorite places to visit, for everyone, was Storybook Island.
Here we are waiting for a train.

Sam loved the Raggedy Ann and Andy house. I think big sister is hiding down behind the wall!!!

Samuel talking to the animals on Noah's ark

Bet you didn't know that Yogi and Boo Boo went to the Black Hills of South Dakota for a vacation did you?????

Jessica going on a magic carpet ride while eating a ice-cream cone.
Jessica wanted to go to Story Book Island every day for the ice-cream.

Samuel riding on the train with his cousins Zion and Keegan.

This is a 'Hickory Dickory Dock" slide.

Mount Rushmore.
Usually, you can walk on a trail up closer to the faces, but they were working on the mountain for July 4th fireworks display.
Jessica, Sam and me!

We had family photos taken at Chapel in the Hills.
I couldn't scan the family portrait with eveyone - to big.
So, here is our family, minus Joshua. Joshua was the only grandchild not in attendance because he was serving a mission in Canada.
We had a wonderful time catching up with everyone. With everyone spread out over the USA it is hard to get together often. Minnesota, Texas, Utah, Florida and South Dakota. I hope we don't wait another 50 years to do this again!!!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Wednesday's Walk Down Memory Lane - I'm leaving on a jet plane

It's Wednesday, and time to go for another walk down memory lane.If you would like to know more, click on the link above, join in, or just read other's contributions.

In March of 1986, I packed everything I could fit into 2 very large suitcases and headed off to the great unknown. I was flying to Rapid City, South Dakota to meet Jim's family for the first time, get married.....moving thousands of miles from my friends........everything I had ever known for the first 23 years of my life...........aaahhhhhhh........what was I thinking??

Me and my Mum at the airport in Devonport.

Don't you love 80's hair? I don't think I was even suffering from 80's hair, it was early in the morning, I think it was just a bad hair day!

My brother Graham, his wife Dianne, daughter Katrina, youngest son Anthony, son Jason - oldest son, Andrew isn't there.

My friend Andrea and her boyfriend (now hubby) Johnny.

Johnny doesn't usually go around dressed in grubby work clothes, but I do believe he was working at the airport at the time.

My Auntie Val, cousin-in-law Jeanette and Auntie Lyn

Before heading to South Dakota, I stayed a few days with friends in San Francisco.

Walking off the airplane in Rapid City was one of the scariest things I have ever done. I was hoping that it would just be Jim and his Mum and Dad. But, no, his entire family had made the trip to South Dakota to see Jim and to meet me. Jim had just returned home from serving a mission for our church.
I thought that my legs were going to give way on me!!!!
23 years later, we look a little different than the above photo!

In 3 weeks we will be getting on another airplane and going back to Australia for the first time in 12 years. I am very excited, but have the same butterflies that I had making that trip to the USA. Things change with each trip back, that is life, but this time we will notice the biggest changes of all.


Monday, June 1, 2009


This is Jessica's final week of school. She only has 1/2 days because of exams, they test 2 class periods a day. Today she was finished at 9:30am because her 1st and 2nd periods are both harp. So, what exciting thing do you think we did??? We went and checked out the new Ikea store here in Tampa.

I had noticed this store being constructed as I would drive to get Jessica from school. I had never heard of Ikea and I must admit, to my husband's amusement, I thought it was a new car dealership. If you have never been to this store, it is a must see. It has everything. Or, as Jessica calls it, "This is the store that never ends."

Even the parking lot is impressive. They have "family friendly parking". When you enter the store they have a play area for children. You are given a pager and may leave your children there for 30 minutes. I didn't take advantage of that service. I am wary of leaving my children with people I don't know. Jessica wanted to stay and play in the magical forest, but she did not meet the height requirement - she was to tall. We later found out that 30 minutes was not a long enough time period to leave your children. You would only be able to venture 15 minutes into the store, leaving a trail of breadcrumbs, and then 15 minutes to hike back out. No, not long enough at all.

Next time I go, I will have to take my camera. Samuel loved the children's bed section. He climbed into every bed, snuggled under the covers and said, "Night, Night." I dutifully followed behind him remaking the beds as I went.

I loved their ideas for compact kitchens. I liked their model 260square foot house as well. That was not for me, but if someone didn't mind living in tiny space, it was pretty impressive.

They even had a restaurant.......with healthy food.......and it wasn't very expensive.

I can't believe that I left the store without buying anything. My fingers did start to itch a little passing through some of the sections, but I resisted. I did get a frantic desire to remodel our bathroom. I also found a kitchen sink that I loved.If you get the opportunity to go window shopping in this store, do so. Allow plenty of time however. We spent little over an hour. We stopped in the children's section to let Sam check it out and then a little while in the children's bedroom section so Samuel could test drive some of the beds. But, other than that we just walked through the store - briskly. Allow at least 15 minutes to locate the exit.

Because it truly is.......THE STORE THAT NEVER ENDS!!!!