Tag Archives: 2012

australia 2012, part 3: melbourne – st. kilda & the cbd

melbourne - st kilda & cbd

Well, it’s been a year (and a month!) since we actually took this trip and I snapped these pictures long ago with full intentions of coming home and giving you some long winded recap of every thing I ate, place I went to, and international incident I caused…..

But, like I said…it’s been a year. It’s old news! In the interest of cleaning out my ‘Post Drafts’ box (and therefore also absolving myself of the guilt I feel when I see all of my half-mused musings), I’ll spare you the gory (read: awesome) nitty-gritty of the last week of our trip to the Southern Hemisphere and tell you this:

If you make it to Australia, you absolutely must visit Melbourne. If you are a fan of the charm of European cities, the buzz of New York, the laissez faire nature of San Francisco, and enjoy having fun in general, then you will adore Melbourne. Skinny little laneways, crawling bougainvillea and ivy, smells of various dishes wafting through the streets, the beach, and a mish/mash of cultures all colliding in one place…..Melbourne is a heavenly cacophony for the senses. The people are ultra laid back and love nothing more than to go out to eat really good food, drink pints, and be generally very merry; they crowd the cafes to laugh over extra-long suppers, and no one minds if a little wine spills on the cobbled sidewalks. And the ASIAN FOOD! Due to Australia’s somewhat close proximity to Southeast Asia, the influences in local cuisine are clear cut.  I had the best Vietnamese food I’ve ever had, and it’s everywhere — pho for days, I tell you. Asian-fusion is big there, and they do it in a way that makes every “Asian-fusion” place in the States I’ve ever been to feel on par with Panda Express.   Get thee to Chin Chin and order thee the sweet and sticky pork and a lemongrass cocktail, then kick your heels up with the pretty people at Go Go bar (downstairs) late night.  And the SEAFOOD….prawns, whole fish, crabs the size of your head – you name it, I ate it. With unabashed glee. I’ve noted the names of a few more of our favorite places in links below, but otherwise, I bestow to you, a quick and dirty photographic journey of one of my favorite cities to date.  Oh…and before you head home, head to Aesop to stock up on their amazing skin care products – surely you’ve checked a bag for this trip…be a rebel and buy something over 3oz!



second to last night, dinner at half moon

{maybe the only (blurry!) pic we have together in 14 whole days!}

gorgeous ivy covered church in st. kilda

{gorgeous ivy, gorgeous days}

stokehouse - zucchini and chickpea salad

{zucchini and chickpea salad with hazelnuts and mint}

stokehouse - delicious mussels

{excellent mussels at the stokehouse cafe}

taking a spin around town

{taking a city spin on two wheels}

breaks of sunshine

{bustling city center}

bougainvillea lining all the streets

{love: bougainvillea lining all the neighborhood streets}

spicy szechuan chicken (with chilis!)

{spicy szechwan chicken and chilis}

{but wait! there’s more…}


australia 2012, part 2: mornington peninsula

australia 2012 - mornington peninsula

Continuing on with that ‘better late than never theme…..’ (Ahem.)

We were really disappointed we didn’t have more time to spend in Sydney, but I was also overcome with excitement to discover a completely new part of the country I was already so taken by.  I had naively originally expected that we would just hop into a rental car and drive South down the coastline on a leisurely drive, but after discovering that the trip from Sydney to Melbourne would log twelve to fifteen hours  in the car (and all while driving on the other side of the road!), that idea was quickly scrapped, and we made our way to the airport for a much more palatable hour-and-thirty-minute flight.  After a small misunderstanding with our cab driver (which resulted at being dropped off at some random [wrong!] terminal and some subsequent whining and begging to allow our bags to be checked with barely twenty minutes till takeoff), we were off.

Our first order of business upon arrival was securing our rental car, and driving even further down the coast, out of Melbourne, down to an area called the Mornington Peninsula.  We were absolutely ravenous by the time we were arrived, but we pushed half-way through the three-hour long trip in search of a little town called Springvale where we had heard you could find the best bowl of Pho you’d ever eat in your life.  After a few a slew of U-turns, we finally flung open the door to Pho Hung Vuong Saigon, and sat down to what turned out to be one of the best meals in my thirty years on planet Earth: perfectly spiced clear beef broth, nearly see-through strips of thinly sliced beef shin and tendon, and piles of fresh cilantro, bean thread noodles, and chili peppers on the side.  It was the best kind of comfort food, and chased away any remaining remnants of jet lag that had plagued our early wakeup that morning.   We sucked our bowls down in record time and hit the road again, cranky no longer, towards Uncle Norman and Aunt Miyoko’s house nestled deep down in the peninsula.

As we traversed further out of the city and into the countryside, the scenery turned lush and green, and caution signs for the odd jumping kangaroo or clumsy wombat dotted the roadsides with increasing frequency.  The Mornington Peninsula has become a popular country escape for the city dwellers of Melbourne proper, and is well known for it’s many wineries, golf resorts, rocky beaches, and quaint towns.  Norm and Miyoko had generously offered to host us at their lovely home for three nights, and from the very moment we arrived we immediately felt at ease.  I am very lucky in that I am married to man whose interesting heritage (half Kiwi [New Zealand], half British) lends itself to having wonderful friends and relatives all over the world, and, as a weary traveler, encountering familiar and friendly faces on the other side of the globe makes the entire experience that much more special.  As soon as we were settled, Norm pulled out his impressive collection of sake glasses (it is a tradition in their house for each guest to select their own) and Miyoko began preparing us an appetizer of traditional Japanese tempura with fresh local fish and plump green peas.  We settled in to their backyard, surrounded by the sounds of local birds and the scent of their garden flowers, kicked off our shoes, and relaxed.

We spent the next three days exploring the peninsula and taking in all that the gorgeous area had to offer.  Norm booked us in for massages at the natural hot springs that he runs year round, and we were totally spoiled – it was the absolute best massage I have ever had, and after being reduced to a jelly-like state I slinked into  the hot mineral-rich waters of one of the thermal pools, and floated on my back till my hands and feet were pruned.  We dined outside on invigorating ‘spa food’ – healthy fresh pressed juices and delicious cool and crisp salads – and toured the grounds extensively, trying out something called a ‘Turkish Bath” and even braving a couple of the chilly plunge pools. (For the record, I was much happier lazing in the warmth than sadistically dunking in the cold.)  The weather was unbeatable – warm, sunny, and dry – and we capped off a fantastically relaxing day with supper at a local Thai restaurant, sampling a green curry, delicious phat si lo (aka pad see ew, a rice noodle dish), and, my favorite, a whole fried local fish with tamarind sauce, enjoyed straight off the bone.

Our next days were spent cruising down the coast line and stopping in to explore the beach towns of Sorrento and Portsea, both of which were emphatically charming and surprising.  We had both left Manly expecting that the ‘beach’ portion of our vacation was over (the forecast in Mornington was not exactly working in our favor), but the sun struggled to get it’s head out up and over the clouds, and we were afforded bright blue skies and (mostly) sunny afternoons for our entire stay.  Our favorite beach was located in Sorrento, with a craggy and rough coastline punctuated by enormous rocks, and gorgeous seaweed covered flats that made for an impressive view while rounding up over a crest and dropping down onto the beach.  We strolled through the center of town and shopped at the boutiques, taking breaks for perfectly brewed cappuccinos and scoops of fresh strawberry ice cream which were immediately followed with long naps on our outstretched towels, and some hard work on our Aussie tans.

Our final afternoon was spent touring the countryside, stopping in for tastings at two of Miyoko’s favorite wineries, and enjoying a long and late lunch of seared duck, curried mussels, and meltingly rare salmon filets.  We swung by an organic market and picked up a selection of locally made (and very stinky!) cheeses to enjoy with that evening’s planned meal of grilled lamb chops, and indulged in a long nap and an old movie in bed before supper.  Norm was an expert on the grill and seared the chops till just their very middles had twinges of scarlet, and after eating entirely too much (and sharing a few bottles of red wine), we participated in what I can only describe as a horribly sorry (but very enthusiastic!) karaoke session.  (Let’s just say that my rendition of the B-52’s “Love Shack” was causing both of their poor cats to yowl uncontrollably!).  An A+ for effort was given to all.

Mornington is beautiful – and unexpectedly so, actually.  We had read that it was a haven for tired city-dwellers and knew it would be relaxing and ‘pretty’, but the plushness of the landscape, the sharp aquamarine hue of the ocean, and the rolling and unadulterated lush green hills that blanket the region literally took our breath away.  We experienced all of this beauty in such a comfortable setting, and were so grateful to have such wonderful, kind, and caring hosts to have made our experiences there truly unique.  I felt genuinely rested when we packed up our car (and apologized to said kitties for my utter lack of any vocal talents), and we sadly said our goodbyes.  We rolled back up the coastline (and had a few panicked moments forgetting we were meant to keep our vehicle firmly planted in the left lane) towards Melbourne, and off towards the last stretch of our adventure – five days spent in St. Kilda, a funky enclave of the sprawling city, and five more glorious chances to discover even more about this fantastically enigmatic country.

an afternoon swim

{sorrento, in front of the beach}

deep blue waters

{waves + tidepools}

{but wait! there’s more…and lots of pictures, too!}

australia 2012, part 1: manly beach + sydney

australia 2012 - manly beach and sidney

So it’s May (of 2013!)….and way back in January I posted a few snapshots of the two-week trip we took to Australia in December (of 2012!), and promised to have some ‘real’ pictures and perspective of fourteen days traipsing around in the Southern Hemisphere up on le blog in short order.  Naturally, I lost track of time (read: procrastinated combing through the over 1200 pictures taking up real estate on my memory card), and the looming task of digging through the monstrous digital photo roll that encompassed our totally rad days “Down Under” got the best of me.  I don’t know how it is that it took me five whole months, but it was actually hugely entertaining to spend a cloudy and overcast day here scrolling through shots of cerulean blue seas and remembering *exactly why* I wore stretchy leggings for the plane ride home after recalling the obscene amount of delicious food I managed to consume in fourteen days.

But I’ll make myself feel better by living out that old adage – better late than never.  Australia.  In short: Australia is, to date, the most enigmatic place I’ve ever visited – and I barely, barely scratched the surface while there.  Imagine if someone told you they were coming to visit the United States for fourteen days; obviously, they would barely even get a taste of what this country is all about.  They’d see a couple of big cities (probably New York, or LA), spend lots of time flying/driving/training/schlepping, and in the end leave with an idea of what went on in the big old U.S.of A….but there’s just no way they would have fully seen it all.  And attempting to ‘do’ Australia in just two short weeks is nearly impossible; it is a massive country.  As perspective: Australia encompasses nearly 3 million square miles of land, which is just slightly smaller than the US’s 3.7 million square mile share.  By comparison, however, Australia only has 22 million people living there – just 7% of the 314 million we have living on US soil.  A good bit of Australia – the world’s smallest continent, but her 6th largest country – is uninhabitable.  Harsh desert land covers 18% of that square milage, located mostly in the center of the country; so much so that 80% of Aussies live within 100km (62 miles!) of the coastline.  The only country that is also a continent, it is a host to incredibly varied terrain: along with those blisteringly hot deserts come craggy and beautiful beaches, stunning ancient rock formations, bustling metropolitan centers, and snow capped mountains.  But enough of the geeky stats.  Clearly, I was not going travel a land mass nearly the size of America in two weeks, and having learned from some past experiences  that trying to cram ALLTHETHINGS into what really isn’t that much time is utterly exhausting, we decided to focus our efforts on seeing four destinations: Manly Beach, Sydney, the Mornington Peninsula, and, finally, Melbourne.

{but wait! there’s more….and pictures!}

life, lately: a wrap up of 2012, according to instagram


{hosting our second “annual’ christmas party}

It’s been a wild year.  Even though 2011 seemed like it held the most ‘milestones’ (a move, a marriage, a death, and finding my way through a new career path), somehow 2012 feels like it was even bigger.  It was the last year that I can get away with calling myself a ‘twenty-something,’ and the first year I felt like I really understood exactly who I was.  James and I worked together to make our life in Colorado the best that we know how, and we grew together as ‘newlyweds,’ cruising through the finish line that is a one-year wedding anniversary, busting through that tape triumphantly, and for the better.  We’ve made a cozy nest here, but also pushed ourselves to travel and see the world.  There have been plane tickets to Santa Monica, Austin, Telluride, Los Angeles, San Diego, Jackson Hole, Deer Valley, Boston, San Francisco, and Baltimore.  We pulled out our passports and got stamped in London, Rome, Paris, and Sydney.  There were lazy days spent by the pool in Positano, insanely fun nights with friends-that-are-like family in Rye, cozy dinners in France, and city nights spent dancing and eating in Melbourne.  We squeezed in as many days on the slopes as last year’s pathetic snowfall would allow, and eeked out trips with friends to Vail and Beaver Creek.  We’ve seen close friends through new unions and new babies, and held their hands through disappointments and setbacks.  We’ve watched our puppy turn into a dog (well, supposedly anyway), and welcomed a cute little black kitty into our home as Cleland #4.  I’ve learned to cook in a professional kitchen, and subsequently have taken the helm at a very large and well-known from-scratch bakery.  I’ve baked hundreds of pies, learned how to make coppa and porchetta di testa, cleaned pounds upon pounds of fresh calamari and fat sardines, and rolled out armies of gingerbread men and women.  I’ve cooked a few fancy holiday meals for a crowd, and prepared countless platters of simple but nourishing weeknight fare, just for us.

It’s too easy to acknowledge that a whole three-hundred-and-sixty-five-days has flown by in the trite blink of an eye, but seeing all these things and places in print and knowing what I’ve gained personally from experiencing each and every one of them only makes me want to see more, go more, be more.

I’m not quite sure if I am ready for 2012 to be over; to face a new decade of life, to leave my newlywed status behind (old married couple?!), and to tackle a whole new set of choices that will undoubtedly be fun, but challenging.  I will however say that if there was ever a year to prepare me for that – both personally, and professionally – I’m honored that I was able to experience my 2012 as it came, and realize more than ever that these crazy and busy times only help to weave and bind together the tapestry that is unfolding as my life.

Happy New Year to you and yours!

a signoff


{that mug!}


{ombre, in tights form}


{mocha chocolate chip bundt cake with chocolate glaze}


{earrings i made, and gifted, to my sweet sister-in-law georgia}


{channeling waffles}

{but wait! there’s more…}

bits of my weekend: november 12, 2012

{early morning bakery light filtering down onto shortbread + blackbottoms}

The key to a perfect weekend is striking that exact balance between having everything to do, yet nothing to really do at all.  After picking our friend Phil up at the airport on Friday night, we settled into the rhythm of a weekend that was scheduled with plenty of excitement, but also enough downtime to make it actually feel like a restful bookend to some inevitably busy weeks.  This weekend, moreso than a lot lately, we managed to strike that perfect balance: we lunched (at The Kitchen Next Door), we listed to bluegrass (at Cervantes in Denver), we cooked in (cedar planked salmon and pomegranate quinoa salad), and we dined out (I ordered WAAAAY.Y.Y too much food at The Bitter Bar).  We watched football with wing-sauce stained hands, tried on new Winter gear at REI, and picked up wild mushrooms, dark green kale, and hatch chili spiked goat cheese at the farmer’s market. I squeezed in a quick latte run at the bakery, and then headed over to Nomad, where I took a 3 hour class on wire wrapping that easily could have kept me enraptured for twice that amount of time.  We stopped in to our favorite brewery for a few pumpkin ales, a game of darts, and a hilariously amateur game of Jenga before running to our car through the falling hail and letting the pearlescent balls of ice get stuck in our eyelashes and hair.  Finally, on Sunday evening, we gathered at our house with three friends, winding down with glasses of red wine, a roaring fireplace, and two chickens roasting in the oven.  I folded aforementioned mushrooms and kale into a bubbling gratin, and roasted a couple of butternut squash with a tip of sweet maple syrup and a smattering of salty pepitas.  We lingered and wound down around the dinner table, and as I turned the last of the lights off before heading to bed, I can say that for the first time, in a long time, I put my head down on a Sunday night feeling totally content with the fact that Monday was fast approaching.  I nearly choked on my cinnamon-pecan schnecken this morning when I realized that Thanksgiving is NEXT WEEK, and am so glad we took a couple of days to put all that boring stuff to the side, and just take a couple of days to relax and enjoy ourselves.

That’s what weekends are really all about anyway, aren’t they?

{lunch at the kitchen next door: pumpkin ale + veggie antipasto}

{some crunchy snow on early saturday}

{purple poms}

{an unexpected [and fuzzy] shot text messaged by a friend}

{my favorite gift: kissing puglet s&p shakers}

{my life, in butter}

{saturday morning at the bead shop, taking a class & learning new wire wrapping techniques}

{“i got yer back waffs”}

{but wait! there’s more…}

the city + the storm

There have been many powerful words written on the absolute havoc that Sandy has wrecked; words encapsulating feelings that I cannot pretend to be privy to while sitting sixteen-hundred miles away, in a dry house, with the power on.  However, I’d be remiss in not mentioning the sickening pit in my stomach when pouring over the newspapers, blogs, and magazines that detail her wicked devastation.  It’s been horrifying, riveting, and inspiring all at the same time to watch the aftermath of Sandy unfold as a lot of friends and many more strangers deal with the absolute mess she has made, and my heart truly goes out to each and every one of them, and aches for those who have lost so much.  Now, another Winter storm waits in the wings, due to possibly make landfall later this week – the absolute last thing that New York and New Jersey need.   I made a donation to the Red Cross (you can too, right here), and I’m taking comfort in knowing that there could never be a more resilient, strong, and tenacious group of people than there are in my beloved old home.

Stay strong, New York.  (I know you will.)

bits of my weekend(s), according to instagram: october 29, 2012

{a rainbow cascade of pumpkins at munson’s farm stand}

Pumpkins, barbeque, cowboy boots, and snow showers: that about sums up my last couple of weeks in a nutshell.  A couple of weekends back, James and I packed our bags and headed Southbound and down, settling in to Austin, Texas for the to celebrate the nuptials of two of our close friends. The thick and hot Texas air was a stark contrast to the crisp edged days we’ve had out here in Colorado, and it felt so nice to leave the house with bare shoulders for the night, knowing full well that it would probably be the last time I would be able to do so – for a long while, anyway. The wedding was stunning; held at The Salt Lick, it was the perfect mix of rusticity and elegance, with the glowing bride wearing one of the prettiest dresses I’ve ever seen, and tall piles of BBQ ribs (insanely delicious), charming twinkling lights, and a band that kept everyone out of their seats and on the dance floor.

We returned home to a Boulder that was set aflame, with all of the trees having turned into the most beautiful fiery versions of themselves.  It didn’t last long though, as not but three days after unpacking our shorts and flip flops we were hit with what I am quickly learning is the token ‘October storm‘ here – five inches of fluffy white powder enveloping everything, and bone chilling temps that swooped down into the scant thirties.  I’m not sure what has happened to me, but somewhere in this last year-and-change I have turned into a bonafide snow bunny (who are you and what have you done with Cory?!), and I was literally jumping up and down in glee as I peeled our curtains back and saw the shadow of a snowy branch outside our bedroom window.  In these past Fall days we’ve had happy hours and quiet nights, long walks in the leaves and days spent barely leaving the warmth of the fire, and even managed to sneak in a few date nights (with lobster!) along the way.

{the golden hour}

{spicy vietnamese noodle bowl, from the farmer’s market}

{i’m published! in a french magazine….in french….and distributed in the not-so-close-to-here region of provence….but my fried green tomatoes made it inside!}

{leaves alight}

{a (recycled) flower child and felix baumgartner}

{nibbling on la quercia prosciutto}

{bubbles + stripes}

{a frosty view out my snow-sparkle covered windshield}

{our first snowfall, to the tune of 5″}

{snugged up for the snow storm}

{a lovely crisped up crust on prosciutto pizza at da lupo}

{but wait! there’s more…}