Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A-Z Challenge: Get ready for our Tour of Australia!


G'day,

     Starting tomorrow we are taking all of our blog readers on a tour of our favourite places in Australia. Throughout April we will start with the letter A and keep going until we hit the letter Z. It took some planning but we have a destination for every letter of the alphabet. You will have to visit the blog each day to find out what they will be as we won't be giving out any spoilers. It should be a great time so make sure to visit us every day so you don't miss anything!

Since we don't start our tour till tomorrow I thought it would be fun to provide a few fun facts about travelling to Australia.

Getting there: Australia is an island so driving to Australia is not an option. Although you can arrive by cruise ship or cargo ship the most popular way to arrive is by air. Most international visitors arrive at Sydney but the other capital cities also have international flights. It is also a long flight from just about anywhere. From most places in North America and Europe it will take 24-28 hours to get to Sydney. Airfares vary but will be somewhere between $2000-$3000 for economy/coach class.
 
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 Money: The unit of currency is the Australian dollar and is the only currency that is accepted by most merchants. The notes are made of a polymer plastic so it is more durable than paper money. Each of the notes is a different colour and a slightly different size and it is a lot easier to tell which note is which when there is poor lighting. Exchange rates vary from day to day but one Australian dollar currently buys about 78c US.

Driving: Australians drive on the left hand side of the road and the driver's seat is on the right side of the car. This takes some getting used to and it might be best to let someone else do the driving until you get used to it. 

Getting around: Australia is a big country and is almost as big as the lower 48 states of the U.S.A. Since most of the tourist destinations are along the east coast it is feasible to drive, take the train or bus, but if you are short on time it is probably easiest to fly.

There is a lot more fun travel facts but I will save them for another day. Hope you see you all tomorrow for our "A" post.

 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Her Mug 'O Comfort Swap Reveal

I participated in my first, but definitely not my last, swap through the blog Chaotic Goddess Swaps. This one centered around mugs and all the cool stuff you can drink from a mug.


I geeked out completely when I got the email saying who I was paired with. Darling Zane, my partner, is from Latvia. Yep, you heard me right, Latvia! I was so excited. She mentioned in one her emails that she loves to travel all over Europe and she has a friend who visits her from Finland. That is my definition of a magical life. :)

Zane is one of the sweetest and nicest people I have ever swapped with. I am so glad we "met" and I am looking forward to a continuing friendship.

Here's what was in my Latvian swap box:

Isn't it beautiful?!?



Geeking out! Geeking out! Geeking out!
So much fun to have a Latvian pen pal! :)

These are fun. I haven't tried one yet because I am trying to ration my treats.

Sean recognized these candies, but I didn't. I bet they taste good!

Chocolate covered raisins! Yummy! (I sent her some too - great minds think alike!)

These little penguins...

...hold tea bags. How awesome is that!


Zane tried to find a mug made in Latvia and she succeeded! Isn't it beautiful. :)

I let Sean have this one because it was one of his favorite candies in Australia. It's a chocolate egg with a toy inside.

What a beautiful gift. I am so excited about everything!

Thank you Zane for all the gifts and the thought that went into them. I am so grateful! :) :)


Happy Swapping,

Thursday, March 26, 2015

His and Her TBT: Australian Roundabouts


What is Throwback Thursday? How does it work, you might ask? I get to choose a blog post from the past (either a few days or a few years) and repost it as a TBT. 

Today, I chose a post from February, 2014 where Sean explained a common road feature in Australia.


Roundabouts are used in many areas in Australia.
As I was driving around on my first trip in America I noticed a lot of differences when it came to traveling by car. Some were quite obvious like being on the other side of the road and car (don't ask how many times I tried to get in the wrong side of the car) but others were not so obvious for a while. After a while I did notice one thing that was missing on American roads that most Aussies use every day and that was the roundabout. 

Even large trucks can navigate a roundabout.
In many towns and cities across Australia, roundabouts are used in place of traffic signals or stop signs to keep traffic flowing and to assist traffic on the side streets to get through an intersection quickly. In most cases you could get through a roundabout pretty quickly and if volume was light you go through the roundabout without having to come to a stop. Using a roundabout was pretty simple as you yielded to the traffic that was already using the roundabout and you entered when there was a safe gap. Since you yielded to the traffic in the roundabout and they are all going in the same direction you only have to look in one direction which makes things pretty easy. Roundabouts are used both on suburban streets and highways and even the major highways so you don't have to travel far before you find one.

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       Roundabouts are also known as "traffic circles" in America and are not nearly as common. Many localities have very few if any at all. Roundabouts in America are normally in quiet residential streets where there isn't a lot of traffic and it is unusual to see them on a busy road. It is far more common to see either a 4 way stop sign (I wrote about them here) or a traffic signal. It seems that in the last few years more and more roundabouts have been popping up but there are still pretty much a novelty in a lot of places.


Roundabout in Narrabri, NSW
      So why are roundabouts not so common in America? I believe it is because a lot of Americans are not familiar with them and installing a bunch of them would cause a ton of accidents and increased insurance rates for everyone. Australia started installing roundabouts back in the 1980's and they had to spend a ton of money on TV ads to try and educate people on how to use them. It took a while for the Aussies to get used to them and they had a lot less people to train as well (16 million back then compared to the 300+ million in the U.S today). There are many intersections in Virginia that I would think would benefit from a roundabout but it would take a long time for people to get used to them. Maybe one day America will catch onto the roundabout craze like Australia did 30 years ago but I am not holding my breath.

    I am a huge fan of roundabouts as I feel that they keep traffic flowing smoother than traffic lights at many intersections. Do you agree or would you like to see them ripped up and replaced with a stop sign or traffic signal?


Pretty cool, huh? I love going through roundabouts and driving through them. I think because they are different to what we have in my area. Do you have roundabouts where you live?

Happy Driving,

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Her Questions You Ask Yourself - Part 1

I was reading through some blogs a few weeks ago and stumbled upon this questions series. This blogger is where I found stole them. It seemed like fun so I copied and pasted the questions into four posts - two for Sean and two for me. We will each answer one set of questions this week and one set next week. Enjoy!

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1.) What are you addicted to?
I am addicted to quite a few things - chocolate, Gilmore Girls, competition TV shows, etc. Lately, I have become addicted to my Young Living essential oils. They are fantastic!
Image result for young living essential oils
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2.) What’s the first thing you would do if you were invisible?
I don't know what I would do, because I don't think I would like to be invisible. Actually, that's my answer. The first thing I would do is become visible again.

3.) Pictures or Plants in your office?
Pictures - I have family photos, photos of former students. This year I added one of me in 8th grade (the grade I teach). My students love seeing and teasing me about that one.

4.) If you could magically change a part of your body, which one would it be?
I would love to have the arthritis and swelling removed from my ankles and feet. It would make sightseeing and travel in general easier. Not to mention the day-to-day life of a teacher who can't stand for long periods of time without pain. Oh, and wearing cuter shoes to work would be a nice bonus!
Image result for cute flats
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5.) Which animal do you think is your spirit animal?
My spirit animal is a panda. Partly because my mom still calls me Amanda Panda, and partly because they are so stinkin' cute!
Image result for red and giant pandas
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6.) How often do you Google yourself?
Maybe once a year - maybe. It's not something I think to do often.
 

7.) What makes you happiest?
Spending the day with Sean. Add in my parents or other friends and I am ecstatic.
My favorite photo of my hubbie and I - on the ferry in Sydney Harbor.
 
8.)Type your name and the word *meme* into Google Images. Choose one and post it here.
Image result for amanda meme
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9.)Do you think that time heals all wounds?
No. I think time helps you forget the pain and I think wounds have scars, but I don't think that anyone really forgets pain that has been inflicted upon them. 

10.) Which words of wisdom from your parents do plan to or already say to your kids?
I have told my students, when they are whining or complaining about something trivial, "If you keep whining, I'm going to give you something to wine about." Then we have a talk about looking on the bright side and staying positive.
Image result for i opened my mouth and my mother came out
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Which question was your favorite? Answer it below in the comments. 

Happy Answering,
 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

His Questions You Ask Yourself - Part 1

I was reading through some blogs a few weeks ago and stumbled upon this questions series. This blogger is where I found stole them. It seemed like fun so I copied and pasted the questions into four posts - two for Sean and two for me. We will each answer one set of questions this week and one set next week. Enjoy!

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1.) What are you addicted to?
Netflix! I love being able to binge watch TV shows and not having to watch commercials. Well worth the $8 I pay each month.

2.) What’s the first thing you would do if you were invisible?
Go visit behind the scenes of different places like casinos, airports and places like that so I can see how they work.

3.) Pictures or Plants in your office?
We have a few pictures that I took in Australia hanging in our office.

4.) If you could magically change a part of your body, which one would it be?
My beer belly. Yes I could diet and do crunches and stuff to change it but a quick spell would be so much easier.
5.) Which animal do you think is your spirit animal?
Not sure about this one. Maybe some type of bird as I like to be up high and seeing things from an elevated angle.

6.) How often do you Google yourself?
Not very often, perhaps once a year or so.

7.) What makes you happiest?
A quiet day at home or out at a disc golf course.

8.)Type your name and the word *meme* into Google Images. Choose one and post it here.
9.)Do you think that time heals all wounds?
Not at all. Though apologies and trying to make up for it goes a long way. Its like getting a scar on your body, once you have the scar it will be there forever.

10.) Which words of wisdom from your parents do plan to or already say to your kids?
This one is one my mum used to say all the time: "Be careful or you will end up going a$$ over t*t!

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Which question or answer is your favourite? Choose one and answer in the comments so you can join in the fun.


Monday, March 23, 2015

The 2015 A - Z Challenge - Theme Reveal

A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal

Spring is here, so that means it's almost time for the A-Z blogging challenge! A group of over a thousand bloggers come together each April and blog about topics from every letter of the alphabet during the month of April. We participated in the challenge last year about random topics, but decided to blog with a specific theme this year. Today the participants of the challenge have been asked to reveal our themes for this year's challenge. After a lot of thought and discussion we have decided to make our theme for this year.....

  
The A-Z Tour of Australia!

So during the month of April we will take you on a tour of Australia and some of our favourite places in the land down under. Our tour will include some of Australia's more famous icons along with some of Australia's hidden gems that are off the beaten path. It will be a fun tour with something for everyone and the best part is that you can leave your passport at home! 

Grab a seat and get ready for day 1 of our tour on April 1st.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

TBT: Breakfast in Australia


What is Throwback Thursday? How does it work, you might ask? I get to choose a blog post from the past (either a few days or a few years) and repost it as a TBT. 

Today, I chose a post from one year and one day ago, when Sean explained what breakfast looks like for an Australian. It is pretty different to an American breakfast.

A few weeks ago I wrote about the breakfast experience in America and the almost endless options available to you. If you missed that post you can read about it here. This week I am writing about breakfast in Australia and the foods that are commonly consumed. Although there are noticeably less options for breakfast on Australian menus when compared to American menus there are still plenty of options. 

Here are just some of them:

Vegemite on toast: This is one probably best left to the locals as most visitors can not stand the taste of Vegemite. Amanda's family has many colourful names for it including "road tar" and "axle grease". Vegemite is a yeast extract and has a unique taste. It is hard to explain exactly what it tastes like except to say it is salty. It is normally eaten thinly spread on buttered toast and is a popular option for those looking for a light meal or something that can be prepared quickly.
 
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 Baked Beans on Toast: Baked beans on toast is another popular option for those who are looking for a light breakfast or something that can be prepared quickly. Most baked beans in Australia are in a tomato sauce rather than the bbq sauce that is common in baked beans in America. Baked Beans on toast is served mostly at peoples home but can be found on some menus at cafes, motels and other locations.

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Australian Bacon: In my post about American breakfasts I briefly talked about the differences between the bacon served in America and Australia. American bacon is probably equal parts fat and meat. Australian bacon is mostly meat with very little fat and has a different taste to American bacon. This is because the bacon in Australia is cut from the back of the pig and the American bacon is cut from the side of the pig. Australian bacon is similar to Canadian bacon but is just a little bit different. You may be able to find American style bacon in Australia but it won't be easy to find.

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 McCafe: Most McDonalds locations in America have McCafe now but they are nothing like their Australian counterparts. McCafe was first introduced around 20 years ago and have been wildly successful. Not only do they have just about every type of hot drink imaginable, they also have dozens of food options including slices of cake, macaroons, banana-cinnamon breads, and other light fare. In most McDonalds in Australia the McCafe is a separate counter from the regular restaurant which made ordering much easier. It was like having a Starbucks and a McDonalds under one roof and made grabbing breakfast for the whole family easy even if everyone had a different taste. 
My favorite McCafe order is a Double Chocolate Muffin and a Cappucino. That was a very yummy breakfast last summer when we were down in Oz.

 These are just some of the more interesting options for brekkie (What many Australian call breakfast). Which of these would you be willing to try?


Such a fun thing to compare and contrast. Hope you enjoyed this blast from the past. Which breakfasts sounds the tastiest to you?

Happy Eating,
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