South Australia finally decided to open their border, JUST in time to squeeze in a quick visit to see Cassia before they moved to Spain. By chance we already had a few days booked off at the same time to go camping at Bear Gully, but we cancelled that booking and decided to roadtrip to Adelaide instead, via Little Desert National Desert, which is about half way between Melbourne and Adelaide.

One of the creepier giant things in Australia. Near Grampians National Park.

Tis indeed a dry place. SO MANY FLIES.

Thank goodness it also had a river flowing through it because it was FLIPPING HOT when we were there. The water felt amazing and also gave us a break from the flies. We spent many hours floating on our water hammocks (in our full body bathing suits), something that I have been craving for the last couple years.

Camp shrimp stir fry.

We went for three short hikes. We were hoping to see different birds due to the different landscape and area but spent most of the time swatting flies instead. Some of the hikes had information sheets available though with lots of fun facts, which I enjoyed.

We learned about the Malleefowl, an endangered bird that makes stupidly complex mound nests out of sticks and sand and then lets it decay and compost to get it to the exact right temperature to incubate the eggs. Didn’t see any, as expected.

We decided to stop in Dimboola for a post-hike ice cream. I noticed an error on their sign post…

This guy was waiting for us back at camp. What a ridiculous bird. How can a wild bird be so big??????

Scott spotted this guy from the car as well. I had to get a friend to help identify. It’s a red-rumped parrot, even though we can’t see the red rump at all. He also had a beige female friend as well, but I cropped her out of the pictures haha.

There were a few Eastern Rosellas flying around camp too, but they were hard to get a good picture.

The campground was very quiet the second day so the bouncy boys came a bit closer. Scott took those pictures before I woke up.

We left fairly early the last day to get a good start on the rest of the drive to Adelaide. We didn’t know how long the border check and required covid test would take.

Quick photo stop at the Pink Lake of course! So salty!! Crusty AF! So cool!

It was super hot this year on Melbourne Cup Day. So we went to the beach! However I am scared of the sun, so we went to the beach at 5PM. I’m not sure why I didn’t think of this before, it was so much better. Still warm, but not crowded, only mild sunscreen required.

My new Akubra hat! A gift from the fam after becoming Australian. I broke it in on our camping trip last weekend. I’m thinking about making some kind of removable corks system, hehe. I already got my Australian passport too now!

I am learning how to knit. This was my test swatch of a few different patterns… purl, knit, k1p1, k2p2.

Now I’m working on a scarf. It’s slow going but I can’t wait to finish because I really want to learn how to make socks! I made a new friend at the latest crafternoon who is really good at making them and willing to help me.

Epic Polish feast at Borsch Vodka and Tears with some internet friends. I enjoyed my perogies. Perogies are very hard to find here, seems like most people I talk to don’t even know what they are. They are missing out!!!

Our November #SMAJ activity was going to the Lume Van Gogh thingy with Jemma and April. We watched the videos a couple times, had a chocolate souffle, took some pics for the gram. It was kinda cool I guess, if you don’t think about the price.

My lil avocado baby is thriving!!! It’s even bigger and taller now!
Rosemarie mailed me some Kraft Dinner powder!!! She is the best!!!!

My friend Doreen gave us a couple King George Whiting. What a treat!! I had to Youtube how to get the scales off and how to fillet it. I wasted a bit of the fish but I think I did ok for first time. All that lettuce and spinach is from our garden too.

The view from the Langham Hotel at the Sirtex dinner conference. I found the talks more interesting this time.

Unpictured stuff:

  • We helped empty out all the furniture from Jean’s house to prepare the block for sale.
  • Went for brunch with our board game friends at Hatter and the Hare. It was a bit overwhelming.
  • Our garden did not grow well at the beginning because it was so cold and wet but it has taken off now. Our zucchini plant is huuuuuuuuuuuge. No zucchinis yet though.
  • Scott still playing a lot of lawn bowls and hockey. He’s a busy guy lately.
  • We had my work Christmas lunch at a Greek restaurant. It was very loud. Good food.
  • My friend Sally had a babby. She had her at my work so I was able to do a quick pop in and visit on my lunch break!
  • I had a really big day where I trained in the morning, then went to an afternoon meet up in the city with some weightlifting friends, then went to Hawthorn to watch my coach compete in nationals, and then went out for a second dinner with that group of weightlifting friends. All while being on call… I can’t believe it actually worked out. I was drained after that.

October was much less depressing. Things are finally getting back to normal here in Victoria.

Our allowed radius increased to 15km so we finally got to try Moon crullers. They were very good and very pretty, but very very oily. I think I enjoy regular Lune stuff better.

We walked off the crullers in Yarra Bend Park. We were trying to find red-rumped parrots but didn’t see any.

Scott got a bunch of supplies to get into resin casting for a belated September home-based #SMAJ activity. We tested it out by casting a little metal bird thingy, board game pieces, and a soy sauce bowl. I’m trying to sculpt something to cast next but I keep getting distracted.

I did finally finish this C2C crochet blanket. I made the eight squares a looong time ago but have completely forgotten how to do it and had no interest in re-learning, lol. So instead I cobbled a blanket together with random coloured double crochet borders and stripes. I know it looks ridiculous but whatever, it’s DONE.

We met up with Jemma and kids in a park in our overlap zone for a picnic. They enjoyed throwing the frisbee into the trees and getting Scott to get it back.

I mentioned in my last post that we went to a specific area that my friend told me about to try and find tawny frogmouth but didn’t find any. Literally that night I’m lying in bed and I thought I could hear one?? They make like a MOOP MOOP MOOP MOOP sound. It sounded sooooo close and I got up to look out the window and I thought I saw something fly off.

So the next night I hear it again and Scott and I went outside to see where the sound was coming from and he was sitting up on our antenna!! He comes to our house almost every night! We call him Gawny the Tawny and I love him.

I became Australian! I wasn’t expecting my ceremony to be until at least January, and probably later because of lockdowns, but then I got an email that said they would be doing the ceremony by zoom in a couple weeks!

The mayor of our council talked a bit, and then we all said the pledge together, and then she said we could each introduce ourselves and say something about our journey to becoming Australian and what it meant to us to be Australian, which gave me a heart attack because I wasn’t prepared for public speaking.

Scott took the afternoon off and decorated the house, and cooked us kangaroo burgers for dinner, and the whole family gave me a gift card to get an Akubra hat. It feels so nice to have it done. I have already registered to vote and submitted my passport application!

The garden has not been going as well as last year at the same time point. It’s been COLD, so a lot of things didn’t sprout. It has also been WET, so everything that does sprout gets eaten by snails. It has also been WINDY, so everything is battered and bent over. I thought it was going to hail at one point so I ran out and put the laundry basket over my tomato seedlings!

At the moment the zucchinis look like maybe they are big enough to survive the snails, the salad stuff is growing fine, and the roma tomato seedlings look ok. The rest are pretty small and slow (chilis, beans), or still non-existant (herbs, eggplant!!).

I finally got to go back to the gym!!!! This is the thing that made me feel normal again. Also I swear I get like a 10% bonus in the gym. (Sophie says really it’s a 10% deficit in the garage.)

Oh and there was a couple weeks before the gyms were allowed to reopen that we were allowed to go to people’s houses so I got to at least train with Sophie in her garage a few times, which was great as well.

October #SMAJ was a day trip out to Warburton. We got delicious pies for lunch and then went for a walk along the O’Shannassy Aqueduct Trail. It was nice to be out in nature but nothing super particular to photograph. On the way back there were like TEN kookaburras flying around and laughing at us! I have never seen or heard that many at the same time, it sounded crazy and chaotic!!

Apparently Scott helped build this bridge with the army in 2000.

Unpictured stuff… there is a lot because I keep forgetting to take pictures when I’m with other people. It takes so much more of my mental energy to remember how to socialise again.

  • My friend Steph moved to Canberra so we had a goodbye picnic. Well technically two side-by-side picnics because we were still only allowed to meet 1 friend outdoors at that point, lol.
  • Family dinner at Brett’s. We still can’t have fam dinner at Scott’s parents house because that is too many visitors. But if the house that we go to has more than 2 people that live there then it’s NOT too many visitors. Even though it is the exact same people. Get it? Haha. A couple more weeks and we should reach 90% double vaccinated and then I think the last few restrictions go away.
  • Went out for lunch with Ash and Charlie. Unfortunately we were up on a raised balcony and it was flipping freezing. But the company was nice.
  • Scott can play bowls again. He also got a pair of rollerblades and has been skating around parking garages.
  • We did N95 mask fit testing at work. About time eh? Apparently I have a very average shaped face because I passed the first 4 mask types that we tried.
  • Finally got to go to Costco and re-stock all our staples. And finally got to have a massage. I still haven’t been brave enough to go to any other stores though, it’s been bonkers busy everywhere.

We had five days of freedom at the beginning of August and then have been in strict lockdown (#6) since then. :(

My weightlifting friend gave me a snapper! Her husband likes to fish and stayed up all night fishing between lockdowns. It was so fresh and smelled so good. It was my first time cooking a whole fish, so I kept it simple and just stuffed it with lemon and herbs and roasted it. Served with a side of pasta puttanesca. Fingers crossed for more fish in the future!

I spent a lot of the beginning of August in this position, quad-screening the Olympics. I have never watched so much summer Olympics in my life. But we didn’t have much else to do.

This is golden wattle, Australia’s national flower. Wattle in bloom = engage antihistamines, spring is here!!

I always feel a bit guilty taking pictures while out for a walk. Technically we’re only allowed outside for exercise, not for leisure, so I feel bad when I stop for more than a minute.

More illegal activities: eating sandwiches in a park. We walked to Saul’s in Carnegie for porchetta and cubano sandwiches and I didn’t want to walk all the way home before eating. They were both very delicious.

Scott made profiteroles, filled with custard. They were very very good. It’s a good thing I still work with other people because there were a lot. My coworkers were very pleased, except for our receptionist who exploded one all over his shirt.

We finally finally finished our joint granny square blanket! I think we started it in 2017!! The most procrastinated step was tucking in all the yarn ends. THERE WERE SO MANY. I like that (I’m pretty sure) there are no exact repeat squares.

Scott’s really into crochet now. He made a simple hat for himself, and then immediately started another hat: an adorable baby hat with ears!

Sophie dropped Gelato Messina goodies on our doorstep. That was an especially nice treat as we are outside their delivery radius but I still follow their instagram account… to torture myself?

Backyard photography.

Our backyard is like 2 meters wide. I’M SO BORED OF IT. At least we have one though. UGHHH.

Sugar snap peas are growing like crazy. They’re the only thing left at the moment, but we just planted a bunch of new stuff for summer: lettuce, spinach, sorrel, carrots, zucchini, Chinese eggplant, beans, herbs. And we started tomato and chilies inside.

Unpictured things:

  • I also went on an illegal walk with TWO friends. Wow this post is a real confessional. It was an emergency walk for mental health… essential care… don’t arrest me please.
  • Our boardgame friends organised a virtual birthday party for two of them. We played Jackbox games which I was mostly terrible at. I need like 5 hours to come up with funny things, not 5 seconds!! :P
  • We got Lune delivery croissants again. They were amazing. I dropped some off at Sophie’s. I’m watching and waiting for Mork delivery next.
  • Training is going well. I am on week 3 of a squat program and surviving so far. It feels like a good use of garage time, less overhead stuff, more growing my tiny legs. Hopefully the program gets me some gains.

July was… variable. It started off ok, everything was open and no restrictions, then lockdown #5 happened, and then it ended again. We are certainly learning that there is no point of planning ahead, and definitely don’t procrastinate anything. Do everything you can NOW, because the rules might change a few hours later.

Poutine on Canada Day at the Catfish with my internet friends. I didn’t feel great about celebrating Canada Day, but… I really wanted poutine. :P (Cheese curds are illegal in Australia.) The cheese was good but the chips were too thin. I can theoretically make cheese curds at home now though so there will be more poutine in my future.

Had a few friends over for my birthday. We introduced everyone to crokinole.. it was a hit. Also played Wits and Wagers and ate tons of snacks and acted silly. I had fun.

Can you tell that the family got me a new lens for my camera?

I went on a photo walk with my internet friends. We didn’t plan it well, so ended just wandering around aimlessly taking pictures of random stuff in the city, mainly Chinatown. It was good practice for me.

Fun with longer exposures.

More games! We finally got to have friends over to play boardgames again. We made pulled pork and slaw and taught them Lords of Waterdeep. We had to use the expansions so that all six of us could play and it took 5ever but it was fun!

Mischa made us a beautiful loaf of sourdough. It was professional quality.

Then we went to Pyalong, which I blogged about already. The night we got back we went to trivia for Ash’s birthday/our anniversary, and then the next day we got put back in lockdown for two weeks. Sigh.

Backyard currawong.
Driveway berries. Anyone know what these are? They are pretty.

Delivery treats! I’ve been wanting to try Black Star Pastry ever since Jess told us about it ages ago, but it was only in Sydney. Then they opened in St Kilda, but only at funny hours. Then they had a pop up delivery event so we ordered their famous Strawberry Watermelon Cake, the Raspberry Lychee Cake, and the Chocolate Mirage Cake.

To be honest, we didn’t like it that much. They were TOO light. Mostly cream and flowers. The watermelon cake probably tastes better in the summer when watermelon is in season, because at the moment it was kind of bland. The chocolate one was good but not life-changing. I would prefer to have our wedding cake from Ganache instead.

Glad I got to try it but probably won’t go back.

I ordered us a hotpot feast from Little Hot Pot Heroes for a treat dinner. It came with the pot setup, broth, all the ingredients, 7 types of banchan and some drinks. I got an extra broth so we can make our own soup next time. It was a fun activity and pretty tasty. I liked everything except the rectangle ham pieces.

Does anyone know what type of banchan this is? It was super crunchy, like much more crunchy than cabbage. I loved it.

I accidentally bought these masks with stupid phrases on them. They were folded and had a sticker on the package so I thought they were just plain. :( I literally yelled out loud when I took them out of the package.

So I attempted to terrazzo them with acrylic paint and textile medium. I think they turned out ok, at least somewhat wearable. Unfortunately when I washed them some of the paint came off of the parts with letters underneath so they’re not perfect. Oh well. Still better than “SMILES ARE CONTAGIOUS”. Cringe.

No pictures but lockdown #5 lifted right in time and we were very lucky to be able to have more than ten guests for Scott’s Nana Jean’s funeral. They had a nice funeral service and then the close family went out for lunch afterwards. It wasn’t a good occasion but it was nice to see everyone, like a sad Christmas.

Afterwards Scott and I squeezed in a quick walk at Birdsland where we saw lots of purple swamphens, ducks, bronzewings, and a darter. Then I went to training and then out for a Vietnamese feast with my weightlifting friends. It was a very big and exhausting day.

Unpictured things/things rolling over into August:

  • The Olympics started and I became a professional Olympics viewer. I watched SO MANY SPORTS. Including, all of the weightlifting, gymnastics, athletics, trampoline, track cycling, BMX, skateboarding, sport climbing, diving and tons more that I am forgetting.
  • I screwed up my elbow and now I have to do weird rehab like things with weights dangling on rubber bands.
  • I trained terribly during lockdown #5. I wanted to cry many many times. Thankfully for the first time ever they re-opened gyms right away when lockdown finished, so I got to go back for a glorious FIVE SESSIONS before lockdown #6 started. :/
  • We went to Braz and Lisanne’s going away party. They are moving back to Canada. :(