Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Australia day 8 - back to Sydney

Day 8
Travel day back to Sydney! Here are some differences between Australia and the US:

Airports. We can go through security with a bottle of water or diet coke if we want. No big deal. They have metal detectors. We don’t have to take our shoes off. But they do ask that we put computers in a separate tray. And people are randomly selected to be wanded for traces of explosives. They have this wand with a cotton looking piece on the tip and touch you all over with it. Then they stick it in a machine that reads the results. Sure wish the US would do that. Much less humiliating and stressful.

Luggage cart at the hotel is called a trolley. So are shopping carts.

A baby stroller is called a pram.

Restrooms, both public and in a home are called Toilets or Loo. Most public signs read Toilet.

Parrots fly wild here. There is a spot along the Swan River where a bunch of parrots fly to for the night just before sunset. They make a ton of squawking too.

Driving on the left side of the road is freaky! I almost got hit by a car because while out walking I forgot and looked the wrong way before crossing the street.

Traffic signals have noise indicators for those who are sight challenge.

Drive on the left, walk on the left, up escalators on the left. Just like here was drive on the right, walk on the right, etc.

Qantas is an acronym. The flight staff is super friendly and just as professional.

Starbucks didn’t catch on here in Australia. There are a few, but not many and certainly not on every street corner or in every shop.

So far we have watched the following movies on the plane: Horrible Bosses, Larry Crown, A Day in Life, Page One, Beginners, and others.

Cream = our regular milk

When using your debit card say credit. Then you will be asked if you want pin or sign.

Always carry an eco-shopping bag with you. Some places will charge you for a plastic bag and if you don’t want to pay, and don’t have an eco-bag, then you carry out your merchandise in your hands.

Shopping malls are called shopping centers.

They might say reservations essential instead of required.

Transportation is called transport.

Laundry room is called the laundry.

Casual does not mean wear jeans.

Trying hard to get used to Celsius, the metric system, cheers instead of hello, and love as an endearment like sweetie or honey.

They have a $1 coin, a $2 coin, and the other coins are much larger and heavier than our US currency.

Australians speak much slower and less enthusiastically than Americans.

Americans are called Yanks.

We could not find any place, restaurant, coffee shop, etc. that offers free wifi like what we have in the States.

Pay phones are still found in the streets. In fact, while it’s normal for us to have more than one PC in a home, all members of the household to have a cell phone, a kindle, ipod, etc. but an anomaly in Australia.

ATMs are located on the streets like the old days, not in a protected area accessible only by your debit or bank card like it is in the States.

Australia has been a country only since the early 1800s and does not have the history the US has. It may have been inhabited for centuries but the country did not evolve the same way the US did. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any sites to see or historical monuments. Like most things, you have to make your own trip.

Elevators are called lifts.

Perth is the windiest city in the world. Windier than Chicago.

Take away = take out (as in food)

Yummy = delicious

No wash zone = no wake zone (boating)

Chemist = pharmacist

Speed hump = speed bump

Clear away = tow zone

Give way = yield
Mind your step = watch your step

Fortnight = I have no idea but the dictionary definition is 14 nights.

There is no such thing as refills on your drinks in a restaurant. You pay for another soft drink if you want another.

Rubbish or little = garbage

Note = dollar bills, paper money

Entrée = appetizer

Main = your main course and what we call the entrée. In fact, everything is a la carte. So your salad, veggies, and fries do not come with your main; you must order that separately. Also, your salad will come with your main, not before. Australians eat salad as part of the main, not to break ones appetite like we do in the States. Even more interesting, you do not have to tip the wait staff. They get paid plenty. You may tip if you want to but it’s not necessary. Also, you might have to wave your wait staff to the table; they do not necessarily check on you throughout your meal like they do here.

Boiled egg = poached

EVERYTHING is expensive in Australia. But they get paid enough to afford it. The conversion rate is almost dollar for dollar; actually $1.10 USD for every $1 Australian; so we lose money shopping there.

Voucher = coupon

Duty free is not always cheaper. A bottle of perfume I like cost $175 in the duty free shop; I can get it for $125 at Dillards at home. Go figure.

Our tipping and tax structure is very confusing to Australians visiting the States because $5 means $5 to them. The receipt will show you how much of that $5 is tax but you are paying the price on the tag and nothing more.

They play American music everywhere! Usually 70s-90s. Didn’t recognize anything from the 2000s and up. Even the bands cover American music.

Just to name

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Australia days 6 and 7

Day 6
Fun in Perth with my new friends Yvonne and Julie; or I should say Lady Julie. Julie’s great-great-great-grand Uncle is Lord Forrest who founded King’s Park. They took me on a tour of King’s Park and a little shopping at the gift shop there. I bought a beautiful owl necklace. We went to lunch (my treat) and shopping in a mall. In the photo below I blurred Julie's face because I wasn't sure if she would appreciate her photo on my blog.

Kings Park is amazing! They have a beautiful botanical garden with a portion devoted to endangered species of flowers as well as several monuments for both World Wars and a Bali Memorial for the 2002 Bali bombings which claimed 16 Australian victims. On a lighter note, parrots fly wild in Australia. And for you Farmville lovers, there really is such a thing as Peppermint Trees. But it doesn't grow peppermints, lol. The leaves smell minty for a few seconds when you pull them off and break them open. It’s also used as a healing agent and aromatherapy.Oh! and there are several (I think over 100) different types of Eucalyptus trees. Fig trees are common. And they have a weird looking kind of pine tree. Also, there is a supersized version of a boston fern (don't know what it's called in Australia).

The trees in the above photo are planted in memory of various soldiers who died. 

We also ran the risk of having to stay in Australia a few extra days (past Thanksgiving) – boo hoo - due to something good that resulted from a meeting. But DH got off the hook and we were allowed to continue our trip as planned.

Day 7
DH had to work and I really wanted to take it easy. We leave tomorrow for Sydney. I walked around Kings Park to take more photos. The trees here are very interesting. The leaves smell minty for a few seconds when you pull them off and break them open. It’s also used as a healing agent and aromatherapy.

I also found an awesome kitchen knife set with matching steak knives – in tropical colors to match my kitchen theme. Yeah, we had to check that in the luggage.

We had dinner at an upscale Italian restaurant by ourselves. Our Aussie friends went south to Margaret River. Had we stayed in Perth through the weekend we would have gone with them but our flight back to Sydney is tomorrow and DH has to work on Monday. So we will do Margaret River next visit. And the Pinnacles.


The above photo is a Boab Tree. It is a water and food source, and the leaves have medicinal properties. Australian authorities in the nineteenth century carved out the inside of these trees and put Aboriginal convicts in them. It gets very hot inside.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Australia day 5 - scrapbooking in Perth

Day 5
My new Aussie friend Kylie (from the ATT group) picked me up for some scrapbook fun! We went to the Scraptivate store and I bought about $200 worth of merchandise that I can’t buy in the US. That store was very inspiring and on my next trip to Perth I will be taking a class at that store. CAN'T WAIT!

Then we went to Spotlight – which is like Hobby Lobby meets Linens and Things. Only it was more L&T than it was HL; but I found a few things to buy and Kylie and I raided the clearance section. We also went to the Reject Shop, Target, and a few other places – one of them being a “dollar” store. It was really $2; Kylie blamed it on inflation. I had a gift for her to thank her for showing me around a bit, and I also bought her lunch. We also coined the term “Tim it up”. All of you Tim Holtz fans will know what that means; self explanatory :-).

That night it was dinner with one of the men DH works with and his wife at a Thai food restaurant. We both  woke up feeling refreshed that morning despite waking up twice in the middle of the night. But fatigue set in around 9 pm and I started to fall asleep at the table! DH's friend thought it was funny and nudged me a little bit. He understands as he has made the trip to the US plenty of times. He says the more you make a trip like this the easier and quicker you adjust. Ben and I got back to the hotel around 9:30 and ten minutes later we were out like a light! Woke up only once during the night.

Anyway, here are SOME pics of my shopping trip to the Reject Store, Scraptivate and Spotlight.

I bought these items at Spotlight. You might wonder about the Fiskar scissors but that pink color is not available here; and the back of the package listed an Australian distributor:

I bought these at The Reject Store. My thought was to add them to various projects or take apart for embellishments and such. Tim it Up.

The items in the photo below is what Kylie gave me as a gift. It wasn't necessary since I was trying to thank her with my gift to her for driving me around. But I still appreciate it. :-)

 I bought this cute album at the Reject Store. My goal is to "Tim it up" :-).

Below are several items (but not all) I bought at Scraptivate.


I bought one of each of these transparencies.The artist is inspired by Tim Holtz.

This tissue paper is awesome! It's slightly different, and less expensive, than Tim's Tissue Wrap. It measures 11.75x15 and the package contains 3 sheets (same style) for $5.50 AU. Tim's Tissue Wrap measures 12x26.25 and retails for $15.99 USD. I now wish I bought more. Sigh. Next trip.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Australia Days 3 and 4

Day 3
DH had a meeting so I spent the day walking around the city. While looking for the Visitor Center I ended up in Old Sydney and an area called The Rocks. I also inadvertently found the visitor center for the Sydney Harbor Bridge. There are several photos of celebrities who did the climb: Bette Midler, Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban, and others. There was also a photo of a 100 year old woman who did the climb. Being afraid of heights, I decided if a 100 year old woman could do it, so can I.

We had dinner with two of Ben’s co-workers and they encouraged the bridge climb. So on our next visit we will do that. I had already booked an excursion for us to the Blue Mountains through Greyline on our one free day.

Around 8PM we were ready for bed. It also got amazingly cold! For as tired as we were, we woke up several times throughout the night.

Day 4
Today was travel day to Perth which is on the other side of the continent. Five hours in the air. And set back 3 more hours. Sigh. We arrived around 10AM and got to our hotel around 11. Naturally our hotel room was not ready. We left our luggage there and went out to lunch at a tapas restaurant just a couple of blocks away. Really good! DH went to a meeting while I waited for our room to be ready. I joked with DH that if we had night jobs where we slept during the day we wouldn't have to adjust our sleeping pattern for this trip; it would already be adjusted for us, lol.

I had dinner that night with 3 of the wives of the Australian men DH works with. DH was at dinner with these same men (major meeting the next day). So it was sort of like girls night out. We ate at an Italian restaurant along the ocean. Two of the women offered to pick me on Thursday (day 6) for some fun in Perth. Fatigue set in for me around 9pm. I think I woke up twice the night before so I’m sleeping better.

OH! got a view of the Indian Ocean. So now I've seen 3 oceans.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

My trip to Australia - Day 1 and 2

G'day mate! I had a terrific time in Australia. Today begins a series of journaling a few details of my trip, along with a few favorite photos:

Day 1
Made it to the airport during rush hour without any incident. I was prepared for TSA: no belt, no metal, no jewelry other than my wedding ring, wore a tank top with a built in bra. I also wore slip on shoes. But they still directed me, DH, and 2 others through the scanner. I think it was the line we chose. There were 2 choices and we were standing there thinking ‘which one do we use?’ They had the new images up, the cartoony ones.

We flew to Dallas for our connecting flight on Qantas. It’s a 747! OMG! I haven’t been on a 747 since I was 5 years old! If it wasn’t a 747 it was pretty darn close to one. And the flight attendants were so nice and attentive. I felt like I was flying in luxury! No one had a bad attitude - which we deal with on domestic flights in the US all the time. The dinner wasn’t bad either for airplane food. They also had travel pillows and blankets on each seat. The pillows were larger than the US ones, firmer; and the blankets were full sized. There was everything, except WIFI, on this plane!

Anyway, here I am typing and a flight attendant just offered me a chocolate bar. It tasted a little different but then I realized why when I looked at the wrapper: organic. I swear the attendants are walking around here like butlers. It’s a pretty neat experience. And best thing, Qantas has a very good track record regarding flights and rare crashes. I’m not worried if this plane is going to suddenly fall from the sky.

The landing
We’re here! WOO HOO! So far I’m doing ok with the jet lag. It was 10 AM on Sunday – Sydney time - when we arrived, and I think 2 PM Saturday back in Houston. We relaxed a little bit at first before walking around a little bit in downtown Sydney. 15 ½ hours is a long time to be on a plane. By the time this trip ends, including the flights to and from Perth, we will have spent almost 45-46 hours in the air. My feet were horrible swollen, which I learned happens when you spend 15 hours in the air; it looked like I was retaining water or something.

It amazed me that there were so many American companies here in Sydney: Woolworths (which is not only a department store here but a grocery store as well), McDonalds, Kmart, Target, and many others. Burger King is Hungry Jack because apparently the reference to monarchy is offensive to the Queen; yet there is a Storage King so I’m not certain that’s the real reason. Australia is still a commonwealth of England. Oh, and Red Rooster is their version of Chik-fil-A. And Pie Face is a popular chain in Sydney. They sell meat pies which is VERY popular in Australia. In Perth many bakeries sell meat pies. Oh! There’s a Krispy Kreme here! But many Australians are health conscious and do not eat donuts. And an Aldi’s and Baskin Robbins.

We started to feel a little jet lag around 6 or 7 PM. All we did was find somewhere to eat, Guylian, which wasn’t great food and even worse service. We also walked along the bay a little bit passed the Opera House and a great view of the bridge. There were some people on the bridge, which is not only incredibly expensive ($200 per person) but popular and highly recommended. Oh, some of the architecture reminded me of that in Chicago.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just wishing everyone a very happy (and safe) Thanksgiving. Below is a layout I did just before leaving for Australia. Not sure yet what sentiments I will stamp on the lighter cardstock.

This is a layout that's going in an album for my stepdaughter. I'm making her an album for the upcoming year so she can slip in photos as the year moves along. I previously shared the Halloween layout last month. Now that I'm finished with the alphabet album for DH's niece I can start the album for my stepdaughter.

The mats for the photos are on a paper hinge. Kind of a different waterfall, like the kind that are in the old albums from the 70s. I would have added more hinged mats but ran out of the color cardstock I was using. Maybe I'll add a color that compliments the red? Brown? I think it's spaced too far apart and I need something in between. The concept of these layouts for stepdaughter is that they have AT LEAST 4 spots for photos; one for each child of hers and a spare for a group or fav shot.

The leaves are made with glassine paper and brushed with perfect pearls; mist with water in a mini-mister and carefully dry (heat set) with a heat gun.The punch for the leaves is tattered leaves, the border punch is a limited edition Fiskars punch. Contact me at if you wish to purchase any of these punches and/or the glassine paper.

OK! I think tomorrow I will start sharing a few select pics from Australia! I had my house sitter take the turkey out of the freezer for me (and put in the fridge) so I'm ready to go for Thanksgiving today. Sure hope I don't gain back over night the weight I lost. I lost almost 10 pounds while out of the country not eating my usual and walking around the city. No dairy, carbs or chocolate for almost 2 weeks. And now I'm about to blow it all today. Have a great holiday all!


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Cute storage tin

A while ago I grabbed a white metal storage tin at Ms, not sure how I was going to decorate it. I finally decided to ink it up with a Tim Holtz Alcohol ink of my choice and add some ribbon to it. I also found an old handle with  DH's tool - which I periodically invade. This is how it came out:

The above photo is how the handle looked before I glued it on the can.

What do I keep in the can? As many mini misters the can will hold :-)


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Shabby Chic Gift Bag

This bag came out cuter than I imagined! Plus, after 3 flights it got banged up a little bit extra making it look more distressed than I made it, lol!

I made this bag for my new Australian friend Kylie - who is on the All Things Tim yahoo group. She picked me up at my hotel (DH was in a meeting) and took me to a few places, including a local scrapbook store. I found plenty of goodies there that are make in Australia and available only in Australia. I can't wait for my next trip to Australia so I can book a few classes at this store (Scraptivate

We also coined a new term, which I'm anxious to spread around: "Tim it up". For you all you Tim Holtz fans, you don't need any further explanation!

The gift bag I made contained a few items I thought (or hoped) Kylie would like since she is on the All Things Tim group. The prices in Australia on these products are more than double and it was the least I can do to thank her for chauffeuring me all over town (and I bought her lunch).

AND, here's a photo of me and Kylie at the Scraptivate store:

Monday, November 21, 2011

W, X, Y, Z

It's fun to wander through,
The alphabet with you,
To tell you what you mean to me.
(We love you alphabetically).