My classroom is back! This week has been teacher report week at my school, which is our time to gear up for the upcoming school year. We have a bunch of new staff again this year, so it’s been fun meeting everyone and catching up with the old folks. This first few days where many of us are juggling physical work on our classrooms while jumping in and out of meetings can make getting dressed in the morning interesting. I’ve been taking the easy way out by essentially wearing the same thing all week and just rotating out the t-shirts.
These jeans and clogs are stylish enough to keep me from looking like I’m still on vacation, and the t-shirt is casual enough to do dirty work like science supply room reorganizing. A bonus is that the t-shirt is covered in tiny little skulls – the Cheap Monday logo. Normally I’m not into brand logos, but I’ve made an exception for this one since the skulls are just the right amount of cute and bad-ass. I picked this one up in Sydney on the way out to Bondi.
t-shirt: cheap monday – belt: banana republic – jeans: mother denim – clogs: mia, via nordstrom rack – necklace: from my mom and grandmother
I have a new pair of “classroom shoes”. These are the shoes that I keep under my desk at all times just in case my feet need a rest over the course of the day, or I just feel like a change it up mid-day. I used to keep a pair of ballet flats under there, but they have been nearing the end for a while. Luckily, Oofos emailed me and asked if I’d be interested in trying out a pair of their clogs. Yup, of course I do! I got them in the mail, immediately stuck them on, and didn’t want to take them off all evening. Clouds. Really. Comfortable. Clouds. They’re not the most exciting pair of shoes ever, but they are ridiculously light weight, squishy, and supportive. My friend Mallory has a pair of their sandals, and she wears them all summer, and also when she comes home and doesn’t want to go barefoot. These will be good for those days when I’m breaking in new shoes or just want to treat my feet at the end of the day. Hurray new classroom shoes!
I’ve been back in the states for a bit over a month, and part 4 of my Aussie trip is finally up! The last stop on our great Aussie Adventure was Sydney. B’s brother lives in Sydney, and we had planned to spend a few days with the new Mr and Mrs. Lebens on the way back to the States. Timing got in the way though, and ironically the whole time we were in Sydney, they were in the States off on their honeymoon to Los Angeles and New York. All was well though, Kai and Jill graciously opened up their Chippendale (centrally located!) apartment for us to crash in while they were gone.
Sydney was a nice round up to our Aussie trip. Sydney is the big metropolitan city, while Melbourne is the cultural center. Sydney is to Melbourne as New York is to San Francisco, and Perth is Denver (minus the strict social rules). I did some of my shopping here, making stops at Aesop (cheaper with the exchange rate), COS (only store in the US is in NY), Priceline (more Lucas’s Paw Paw), and a shop called MDRanking, that sells Korean and Japanese skincare brands.
The food in Melbourne and Sydney were amazing AF. Name any kind of Asian cuisine you want and you can find it done well in Sydney. The best ever was a small alley called Spice Alley, were there is a long strip of individual stalls that sell Asian street food. Malaysian, Japanese, Chinese, Singaporean, and Thai styles are represented with their own stall. This alley was so good, we tried them all over three separate visits – I insisted.
Sydney is absolutely beautiful, and each suburb (neighborhood) has a different vibe. We spent time in Glebe (my favorite), Chippendale, Bondi, Manly, and the CBD area. We could have done and seen more, but we were nearing the end of our trip, so we dragged our feet a bit in the mornings and wasted a lot of time just hanging about.
Day two, B and I took the train (fantastic public transit system!) out to Bondi Junction, did a bit of shopping (hello Cheap Monday store!), then walked down to Bondi Beach. It felt like were were in a totally different city the moment we got off the train. The Bondi suburb seemed more like a sleepy beach/surf town far away from the hustle and bustle of a city. Granted, we were there in the middle of winter, so I bet it gets a bit crazy during the peak months. The homes on the cliffs reminded me of San Francisco, and the street art was pretty cool (Melbourne takes the cake though). I love the smell of the ocean, so hanging out in Bondi really hit the spot and made me miss SF so much.
Our last full day in Australia, B and I took the train all the way out to the Blue Mountains National Park. This place is absolutely breath taking. The Blue Mountains isn’t actually a bunch of mountains – it actually a large vast canyon, kind of like the Grand Canyon in the States. The canyon is deep and lush with hiking trails that snake all along the edge. B and I booked tickets on an Explorer Bus to shuttle us to the various lookout points, but we ended up just hiking the whole way. By the end of the day, we hiked a total of 11 miles and saw 5 ridiculously beautiful waterfalls. By the end of the day we were practically sprinting through the bush to catch the last bus to take us back to the train station.
Now that our big Aussie Adventure is over, I’m setting my sights on moving to Australia eventually. Right now it would not be very reasonable, since B travels so much for work within the US. In addition, Bambi would not enjoy a 6 month quarantine period, so we’d have to wait till she “moves on”. Lastly, moving to a different continent would be a huge undertaking with acquiring a working visa (B is a dual citizen, so at least he’s got is easy), selling all our things and our house, and juggling Stateside/Australian assets and taxes (headache!). When I think about it logically, it doesn’t make any sense for us to move to Aus. But I still really want to one day just chuck it all and go live on a boat somewhere in Australia. Seriously.
My friends Sara and Pedro got married recently, and I was so excited to be there to celebrate with them. I know Sara from Brooklyn, as she’s one of the Leaders High School super stars. B and I clicked with S & P almost instantly, and we are very lucky to have them in our lives, even though we are now separated by a few thousand miles. I managed to capture a few moments from their lovely wedding on a farm in Minnesota. I ended up wearing a dress from ASOS, and it was perfectly comfortable and swishy enough for all the bachata dancing that came later. Sadly, I ended up with just one photo of the dress from the event, since I was the one behind the lens the whole time!
Stop three of our great
Summer Winter Aussie Adventure 2016 took us to Perth in Western Australia. Perth is seriously beautiful, with white sand beaches that made me wish it was summer. The sun was out almost every day and considering it was winter, it was still quite warm. B and I packed our days with strolls in the CBD and other hoods, visits with family and friends, with trips out to Freemantle and Rottnest Island. B is from Perth, so we spent the most time here staying with Mum and Peter.
Perth feels like the smaller, cuter, but much more conservative sister to Sydney and Melbourne. There were security cameras everywhere, PSAs against anti-social behavior, and checks for paid train tickets at multiple points. Everything was very clean, well manicured, and absent of any graffiti. Hooliganism and Hooning are strictly prohibited and can result in steep consequences. It felt a bit odd at times and provided for many moments of “srsly?” It’s a cultural difference from the States that I seem to have missed the first time I visited Perth 6 years ago.
Mum and Peter are vintage car collectors, so I got to ride around in style all over Perth! My favorite was the ’62 Panhard, a little French car that is just too cute for words. Then there is the Alvis, the Jaguar, and 2 Bentleys. The pride of the family is the 1927 Bentley 4.5 Liter. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to actually drive any myself.
Of course, no family visit or celebration is complete without a little family portrait time. Mums like that kind of thing =) So here are the Lebenses (and a Schenck)!
One of our last stops in Perth was Rottnest Island. I just HAD to go and see the Quokkas. B couldn’t understand my obsession with going to see them – he kept trying to tell me that they were just like giant rats. They are exceptionally cute rats though, so I took a million photos of these guys. Also, it
rained bucketed down rain on us the entire time we were on Rottnest. Next time, we’re going in summer!
Part 4 – Sydney coming soon. Also, first day of school in 2 weeks!
For Part One, check out this post here.
After Melbourne, B and I headed up to the Sunshine Coast for his brother Kai’s wedding to Jill. I’d met Kai once before, but only knew Jill via social media. I’d also never met B’s dad (he doesn’t travel out of Aus much), so this was pretty exciting for me. It was great to spend time with B’s parents and creep on how many behaviors and mannerisms B picked up from his mum and dad. B’s dad Craig runs a dive shop down in Bremer Bay, which is a hot spot for Sea Dragons. After many years of observing and tracking behavior and distribution of Sea Dragons, he’s probably one of the world’s leading experts on these delicate and beautiful organisms.
The wedding itself was of course absolutely beautiful, taking place in the temperate rainforest, by a lake. Checkout their wedding video here, to get a feel of the setting and the event. I got my first taste of Australian wildlife here, when possums came to visit us at night looking for a treat. They are really, really cute. I round out the hard way though, that they actually have sharp claws. oops. For the wedding, I chose to bring a dress I found at Anthropologie that seemed appropriate enough. I had a ridiculously hard time finding a dress to wear that was not white, black and was not covered in flowers. Unfortunately (or fortunately), I spent too much time having fun at the wedding, and forgot to get any full photos of me in the dress. Jill and Kai looked amazing, as they always do, as did all of the Lebenses. The wedding was a 2 day affair, and the next day we spent time at Aussie World running around jumping on rides and driving bumper cars.
Our last day in the Queensland, we stopped by Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo for a few hours before flying out of Brisbane. Oh my god, I was so happy. I got to pet Koalas! and Kangaroos! So ridiculously cute and amazing. I spend the whole time there running from animal to animal, and poor B, Mum, and Peter had to jog at some points to try and keep up. Crickey!
Part 3: Perth coming soon! Teachers report back in 2 weeks! I’m not ready.
It’s been HOT in Denver lately, with temps in the mid 90’s every day. There was never much of a summer growing up in the San Francisco fog, so I’ll never get used to the thick sweat/sunscreen coat I end up wearing everyday. Plus, now that I’m older, my feet swell in the heat. YAY. Who really cares though, when there is so much fun to be had in Colorado during the summer. B and I have been hiking, working on the garden, grillin, and riding bikes to breweries. We are heading on a 3 day canoe/camping trip in western Colorado this Thursday. Don Henley’s been playing in the background all summer, and I’ve been obsessed with 80’s/90’s soft rock. But seriously, how awesome is this song?
I went shopping the other day and J.Crew was having a 50% off sale items sale. This dress was long enough, and fit well, so I picked it up on a whim. It was a hit with everyone, even random strangers on the street. As I was photographing this in the backyard, B commented that it looked like a hippie wedding dress. I can live with that.
dress: jcrew – clogs: mia via nordstrom rack – sunnies: wordpress.com swag via b
Summer Vaca – it is more than half way through, and it feels like it’s been rushing by at warp speed. This summer, B is also on a “summer vacation” with a 3 month sabbatical from work. B and I started off the break with a month long trip to Australia, hitting up both coasts and a little island along with way. It’s all too much for one post, so I’m breaking it up into 4 parts: Melbourne/Queensland/Perth/Sydney. If you follow me on Instagram, you will have seen some of these already, but get ready for photos overload!
First, some background info: B is Australian (with dual citizenship), but he’s been living in the states since the early 2000s. I’ve been to Oz before, but in the 5 years we’ve been together, we’ve never traveled back to his motherland together. So you can imagine how excited I was to be going back there with him, my ultimate Aussie boy-mate. I’d been pushing to make a summer for us/winter for them trip to Oz for about a year already, and then good timing kicked in. B’s brother Kai was getting married! B had a 3 month sabbatical waiting to be taken! The stars were aligned right around my summer vacation, so we booked tickets with the miles we’ve been saving up especially for a trip down under.
We started the Aussie Adventure with Melbourne. Melbourne is the San Francisco of Australia – it’s got the weather, the diversity, and the culture. All that was missing was the hills (Sydney’s got that one). My favorite bits of Melbourne were all the interesting tucked away alleys. Almost all the really neat coffee shops, restaurants and bars were in tiny alleys that in the states we only associate with garbage pick ups and muggings. The alley ways of Melbourne are places for public art (sanctioned or not), and so much of it was right up my alley that I had to remind myself to take photos of only my absolute favorites.
B and I spent 5 days in Melbourne, and we stayed near the CBD at Fraser Place which worked out well in terms of location, price and comfort. Right around the corner was a great cafe, and stop #1 in Oz always has to be coffee – Flat White, specifically – which they do perfectly. For the rest of the trip, B and I started off every morning and broke every afternoon hunting for a cool coffee shop. One in particular I liked, as it was styled like a little Japanese cafe. B and I looked very much like the giants that we are, surrounded by tiny furniture in a tiny room. Stand out coffees in Melbourne: League of Honest Coffee, Little Rouge Coffee, and Brother Baba Budan.
Prior to leaving Denver, I started a temporary Pinterest board of all the sights I wanted to check out in Melbourne. First was the Old Melbourne Gaol (jail), a sufficiently creepy but cool place to visit, complete with wax busts of prisoners made post-hanging. We splashed out and took the tour, and I learned about Ned Kelly for the first time. The next day, we went to Queen Victoria Market, where I did most of my souvenir shopping. I didn’t buy Ugg boots but B did buy a classic Aussie hat, and we picked up a kangaroo skin – which B instantly modeled for me in stereotypical Aussie fashion. Since B and I love the Denver Botanic Gardens, we also spent a day at the Royal Botanic Gardens. My favorite part was a little nook called Fern Gully, where I imagine is were all the fairies of Melbourne live. We ended the walk through the garden at the Shrine of Remembrance. If you ever find yourself in Melbourne, I recommend jumping in on a I’m Free (tips only) walking tour. B and I did it and it was pretty cool.
Asia is to Australia as Mexico and Central America is to the US. So you can imagine how excited I was to eat all of the yummy asian foods. I made a list, and we went to all of them and ate all of the things. I was a very happy camper, though our wallet very quickly was not. Australia is not cheap. Standouts were Din Tai Fung (they also have locations in CA and Seattle), the Dainty Sichuan, and Gami Chicken & Beer. As far as drinks, B and I checked out a couple bars but were generally disappointed with the cocktails in Australia. Berlin Bar was worth the trip in that first you had to ring a bell to be let in, then you had to chose which side of the bar to sit it: the East German minimalist/survival side or the West German posh velvet chairs side. The bar itself was really neat, and so was the stairway leading up to the bar. Cocktails were interesting on paper and presentation, but pricy and not particularly tasty and drinkable. Whiskey & Alement had an overwhelming 5 page whiskey menu which B liked, but I generally go for whiskey cocktails like an Old Fashioned or a Manhattan and Im not a fan of peaty, smoky flavored rye whiskeys. The bar standard Old Fashioned I ended up with was exactly that. I choked it down anyway. B was a big fan of this place, though it was weird/confusing with 2 bars in one. There is a side bar within the bar that serves only Japanese Whiskey, but you have to pay at the main bar and convert AUD to Yen.
That’s it for Melbourne! Part 2: Queensland up next!