June 30, 2009

iPhone Games

I downloaded Flight Control on my dad’s iPhone to practice my plane landing skills. My top score so far is 213.

I've been playing so much I see planes crashing when I close my eyes.

I also got a free game called UnblockMe. Nathan and Dad are in competition for top scores on how quickly they can release the red block. At the moment, the protégé (Nathan) is in the lead.


We woke up just above the crack of dawn to catch a 7:40am flight to Exmouth. It’s an hours flight North of Perth. The town has a military communication base, but the Ningaloo area is known for spectacular reefs and fishing. The red dot is were the resort is.

Don’t forget, it’s winter down under. So it’s a tropical winter in Ningaloo. The weather is unpredictable. It was sunny when we arrived, but there was a fierce storm the next day. Overcast days are gorgeous at the beach.

We are staying in a beautiful resort with a lily pond and sweet tasting swimming pool. I accidentally tasted the pool water, it tasted like a sugar ocean instead of chlorine. Odd.

There was also a massive spider near the pool. We fed it a moth, an ant with wings and a beetle. The spider was quick to bite and stun the bugs and then wrap it up for a future snack. It’s been confirmed ...I do not have arachnophobia.

I’m so impressed with how my little camera keep getting brilliant close up shots. Thanks lily flower, for being such a patient subject.

While Nathan and my dad went out on a tour to swim with whale sharks (more about this epic barfing event later), my mom & I went on an adventure.

We saw the beach where the turtles come to lay their eggs, and when hatched the baby turtles (cute attack!) scuttle for their lives back to the ocean. According to this sign, the temperature of the sand determines the sex of the turtle. Girl turtles are hot!

The tropical bush landscape is littered by giant mounds, I can only assume were created by ants or termites. The mounds were about 10 ft tall and must’ve taken the little bugs years to create. The shape is similar to Dr. Suess’ characters, the creatures with the stars on their bellies.

Food products

Hungry for Salt & Vinegar chips? How about a Lift?

There are a few Australian foods that I never see in the U.S. I don’t particularly like to eat these products, but am fascinated when I see them on the shelf.

Lift is a strong lemon & lime soda. It’s ok, but it burns the throat as it goes down. Fanta is great because of the catchy commercial jingle. ìFanta, fanta, wanta fanta!î Nathan said he went to a Fanta party and the only mixer was the orange soda. They made drinks with Fanta and gin, vodka, you name it. Nathan woke up with a hangover and a rash from yellow or red dye.

My main deterrent for living in Australia is the cheese selection. There must be more than Tasty and Colby cheese. I’ve never found a good cheddar or pepper jack.

Ever tried salt & vinegar chips? Gross!

I’ve never been curious enough to try burger rings. I don’t even know what their made of.

Ah, Lamingtons! These are a yummy treat. I like them when they are bite size cakes. A little sprinkle of coconut will make anything delicious.

Smartites in Australia are a shell covered chocolate candy. Once, I was offered a smartie thinking it was the U.S. kind,.. and was disappointed.

Vegemite and Nutella, Aussie pantry staples! Toast up some white bread and start spreading.

Steak & [insert flavor] pies are a typical lunch or snack. I see people take a sauce (ketchup) bottle and squirt it inside the pie. It’s quite an attractive package, having a meal in self-contained pie form. I prefer quiches.

I lived on Iced Coffee in High School. You can’t screw up milk, sugar & caffeine. Local bakeries and delis dedicate an entire refrigerator to their coffee flavored milk.

I’ve made myself hungry-—I'm off to breakfast.

Food & Wine Festival in York

On Saturday my mom, dad & I drove an hour and a half inland to a Food and Wine Festival in York. It’s an old town with one main street and a quaint architecture. There were a few dozen tables where you could samples a range of food from spicy olives, lemon infused olive oil, goats cheese, pistachio dukkah, sun dried tomato mustard and orange choc cookies. There was also some local wine tasting.

Just around the corner from the festival were cooking demonstrations. We watched a pastry chef from the city create a rhubarb tart (or was it a pie?). She had a delightful sense of humor and I was impressed with her skills.

She also made some mini chocolate cupcakes from scratch. They tasted as good as they looked.

We met up with some family friends, Anne & Kari. It was lovely to see them. We had coffees and scones (with jam & cream, of course) at a local hotel/pub.

You can’t see in the photos, but the ceilings in these old bars are very low. People must’ve been a lot shorter back in the day, without the plethora of meat and hormones we have access to today.

I was shocked when I saw a bartender put a lemon wedge into a Corona beer. I should’ve gotten a photo of this tragedy.

We drove back to city just in time to pick Nathan up from the airport. He stayed in Canberra to finish his last exam (which I’m sure he passed with flying colors) and was ready to start his winter break in Western Australia.

June 26, 2009


Uninspired to write a blog post today, I asked my dad, “What should I write about?”

He said,
“You should write: Perth is weird, because they only wear black clothes. And, they drink too much in this country. Also, my parents have a nice house, I wish they’d give it to me.”

I laughed. That was a pretty funny response.

I had a day in the city today, while Dad was giving a talk at a Tight Gas conference and Mom was at a felting art/fabric workshop. Typical parental activities.

These are some of the things I did today:
1. Visited two galleries downtown
2. Ate a tangerine & a pink lady apple
3. Laughed at a video of people kissing air
4. Got rained on
5. Tried on gorgeous frocks at Alannah Hill (see pics below)
6. Learned that Michael Jackson has died 
7. Drank too much caffeine
8. Went for a night walk and got drenched in rain
9. Continued to be bummed about Michael Jackson
10. Downloaded WORDLE on Dad’s iphone

June 25, 2009

Pumpkin Soup

Back to the kitchen…

Since I don’t have the stamina to document and explain all the new features in their remodeled kitchen, I will share with you Dad’s infamous pumpkin soup. 

I woke up to the sound of the grinder. I thought it was 7am and he was grinding coffee, but in actuality it was 10:30am and was grinding spices for the soup. Whole sticks of cinnamon, cloves… I’m not sure what else because I didn’t get out of bed until I smelled the roasting pumpkin… a half hour later.

He uses butternut pumpkin. It smells pretty nasty while it cooks.

He bought bushels of basil, mint, oregano and chives, all in leaf form. Then he sautéed a chili and chopped it up in a fancy food processor. That smelled fantastic. Dad said, “It’s like Christmas, with all the food we were making.”

Dad then cleaned out the flesh of the pumpkin. I’m still laughing at Dad’s awesome expression.

After the chopping, blending and simmering…we have pumpkin soup. Mom said it was the best he’s ever made. 

I’d rather carve a kitty face in a Jack O’ Lantern.

A to the Q: Aquarium!

From Abalone to Queen Angelfish, today I visited the Aquarium down at Hillary’s Bay/Dock/whatever.
I adore, love to visit the color fish and corals. They have the most unique patterns and shapes, and the oddest head shapes and bulging eyes. 

I was equally excited about the quality of photos I got from my little point and shoot camera. I used the automatic ‘underwater setting’ and the photos turned out surprisingly well.
Check out little Nemo! Clown fish are so cute. They like to hang out in the anemone, just like my kitty back home. Zoe, my cat, likes to hangout in warm laundry crevasses.

This eel was just chilling in the sand, with only his/her top part and head popping out. What a dork! I bet the eel would play online role playing games if it had a PC and arms.

After the aquarium, we went to lunch at a brewery and I had some delicious beer. Yummers!

June 24, 2009

The Perth house on Joffre Road

My Mom & Dad live on a house just two blocks from the coast of the Indian Ocean. The outside of the house looks the same, but they remodeled the kitchen inside and updated a few things. I’ll have to dedicate a later post to their new kitchen. It’s quite a dream kitchen.

It’s winter down under and the beach was deserted except for a few brave surfers. 

It’s crisp and overcast, and a little rainy, which is perfect a beach walk. I always miss the beach until I get sand in my shoes.

It was gorgeous one afternoon so Mom & I went for a long walk along the coast.

June 23, 2009

Touristy shenanigans

Playtime in Canberra! Nathan and I got slightly lost in Capital Hill. We skipped below nations’ flags, checked out the old Parliament building and the Aboriginals tents and presence on the lawn near Capital Hill.
I only dragged Nathan to only one gallery, the National Portrait Gallery. We were disappointed at first, seeing a line of people waiting to pay $12 to get into the exhibit. A helpful docent informed us that crowd was only for the traveling collection of Vanity Fair photographs and the main part of the gallery was FREE. The Castillo-Magee offspring are a thrifty pair. The portraits were more of a history lesson and ranged through decades and even centuries. It was one of the most refreshing galleries I’ve visited in a long time. We checked out the infamous Vanity Fair photo spreads in the expensive hardcover in the gallery bookstore. We left satisfied. 

Nathan and I also took a mini hike up Black Mountain, just behind the university. It was steep walk up to Testra tower.

There’s a restaurant at the top of the tower with a view, but we just wandered around and came back down.

Nathan gave me a thorough tour of the campus. We snuck inside one of his large Chemistry lecture halls. We figured out how to turn on the lights and quickly snapped a few photos. Good thing the campus is close to deserted, or at least the people left are too distracted by their final exams.

 After three days in Canberra, I caught a quick and easy flight to Perth, Western Australia. Not sure if I’m prepared for Perth’s coastal rain, it’s become a myth in my mind.