News from Us in Oz

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Ann's Chocolate Chip Cookies

8 ounces unsalted butter at room temperature (~226 gm)

1 Cup packed brown sugar

½ Cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

¾ teaspoon baking soda

1 ½ - 2 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 cups semisweet chips or white chocolate chips (~3 pkg. of 250 grams of chips)

Place butter in a large bowl and cream at high speed until fluffy. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down the bowl occasionally. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until completely mixed.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, salt & baking soda. Add to the butter mixture at low speed until just combined and add vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed, scraping down the bowl, until blended. Do not overmix.

Add chocolate chips and mix till thoroughly combined. Refrigerate batter until, cold, preferably overnight. (I've used all semi-sweet chips, all white chocolate chips, and a combination of the two - I've also used dark chocolate chips (they are suberb!).)

Preheat a conventional overn to 350 degrees Fahrenheit or a convection over to 300 degrees, and line several baking sheets with parchment paper. Drop spoonsfuls of batter 2 inches apart on the lined baking sheets and bake until golden brown around edges and soft (but not bubbly), about 9 minutes in a convection oven or 12 in a conventional oven. Cool on a wire rack.

Yield: 36 – 72 cookies, depending on size.

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Last slide show for the day. These pictures are around Port Douglas. Nothing of Mossman Gorge but there are a few of the Daintree Rainforest (much older than the Amazon Rainforest) and finally the Great Barrier Reef. Pictures of the reef are thanks to middle kidlet who had the waterproof camera.

(Sidenote about Mount Sorrow hike... this was one of the hardest hikes that I've ever hiked. It was steep and lined with vines and trees.)

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One more slide show to enjoy. This one of two different trips. Our Easter Weekend trip to Tasmania last year.. a few pictures and then our trip to the Red Centre around Alice Springs in the Northern Territories.

We loved our travels. I know that some think we are showing way too much of the "dry" part of the country but that is a great portion of the country. Next post... something very different - Port Douglas and green of the rainforest.

Here's Tasmania and Northern Territories. (This time I've added titles.)

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Trying something new. I'm going to post several slideshows similar to what dh had on his laptop when we were home in NJ.

I know this doesn't substitute for a blog post about these places but this is to give a taste of our sights in the area.

This slide show is of the Victoria area - our home away from New Jersey, Melbourne with few pictures of Victoria Market (if you look closely you can find me in one photo), Churchill National Park (our favorite kanga sighting walk), Yarra Bend (with flying foxes - yes bats), Great Ocean Road, Grampians (in the spring) & Wilson's Prom (when it is sunny).

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Hi all,

I realize I haven't blogged in ages. News from Us...

Big new that many of you may or may not know - we will be back in Australia after the little ones B/M. We had hoped to know one way or another before September but never rush a corporation.

We'll be back in the States for a tad over 3 weeks. I've ordered books to have delivered to our house in the States to bring back to Australia. Yes - there is definitely a difference in the price of books and not that the exchange rates is nearing 1 - 1 it hurts more. For example one book I am ordering I can get for almost $10 US while it will cost me over $40 AU.

So the question you ask what have we been up to since I last posted. We went to a phenominal Pixar Exhibit. I highly recommend going to see it if it travels to a museum near you. Love the giant Pixar "ball and light."

We have done visited several places 'again.' We went back to Wilson's Prom and almost hit a 'suicidal' emu. Tongue in cheek, folks. My mom thought the emu was really looking to get hit. The weather was gorgeous when we left Melbourne and around 20 minutes from Wilson's Prom it started to rain. UGH. Oh .. no and other words were said. We literally drove through the clouds and came out the other side to clear weather.

This time we could see when we got to the top of Mount Oberon. We then went to Squeaky Beach and had lunch and enjoyed a walk along the beach. The kidlets went off and climbed some rocks. Since I wasn't watching closely I couldn't yell at them for being dangerous.

Phillip Island - Cape Woolamai

We also went to see the little penguins again. I forgot how small they are. They barely come up to mid calf on me. Small anyone who knows that I'm short. :) We upgraded to the better seats and were the first family to the area. We staked out the corner seats. We saw more penguins in the first two groups than we saw the whole evening when we were there earlier with N. The weather was much more pleasant except for the flies. Luckily they didn't stay around once the sun went down.

It was mating season so a lot of penguins are pairing off. In fact we saw several pairs returning from their time out at sea. How do I know? I asked the naturalist if the penguins we saw helping preen each other were mated. She said that penguins would only allow their mates to help preen.

We also saw a lot of baby birds (silver gulls) when we went to the Nobbies. My goodness the noise and the number of birds. We went to see if we could see the seals. No seals.. lots of seabirds.

So sad when to our favorite park (Churchill) to see roos and no roos. I guess the weather is too hot for them to be lazying around in the open. Although we did see and "interesting" site. We were walking up the hill and I see this man on a bike and he gets off ... wearing not a thing. Walks down the trail a ways a picks up a pair of shorts and we just walk on by without commenting. Dh says it was too bad we didn't get there a tad earlier we could have stolen his shorts. I want to know why naked bike riding even for a few feet.

That took over the strange sights I saw on our bike ride on the Gardiner Path.
1. Notice a hubcap on the side of the bike trail. This is weird because the bike trail is not near a road so I'm not sure how it got there.
2. Kangaroos Next 15 km sign. Unusual since we are in the suburbs riding towards Melbourne.
3. Winner is Be Careful Changing Traffic Patterns sign. Yes, folks we are on a dedicated bike path and they moved it over for road work on the highway.

The weirdest sign of all - Be Careful Most Fires Start in the Kitchen sign that I noticed as we drove to Churchill.

I am putting together pictures to post about our travels. I hope these few give you a taste of things to come. If you get to see us while we are in the States, there will be a slide show on dh's laptop of some of our travels.

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Great Ocean Road Weekend - Australia Day Weekend Jan. 27 and 28
(Long overdue.. look what I found in my drafts.)

What fun!!!

We got an early start. Yes, we kept our tradition up of leaving as the birds are rising. Well not quite. We left at 6a.m. The boys promptly fell asleep and slept past Geelong.

We passed many bicyclists (man, are they in good shape to be biking this) but only a handful of cars. Boys started stirring outside of Apollo Bay. N. thinks he saw a koala up in a tree... we went around two cars and people looking up. Did not stop to see what they were looking at.

At Apollo Bay we roamed around the crafts fair that was set up on the village green. I purchased more music by the local flutist, Howlin' Wind. We purchased one CD when S and I were here in November. This time I purchased a live concert and Taj Mahal.

Howling Wind

While we were shopping - it rained. Caused everyone to run for cover and to cover their wares. I stayed dry in a stall where they sold purses. Yes, I came away from there with a purse.

N. got Ed. A balloon filled with clay with eyes. One can have Ed become a slug... look sad... look happy.. have no nose ... a large nose. Ed was great distraction for traveling.

After breakfast at a local cafe we walked along the beach in Apollo Bay. N. had fun chasing grass across the beach. They rolled across the beach like tumbleweed. I looked for some shells with not a lot of success.

Apollo Bay

N. chasing grass

I stopped in for tourist information and got a wonderful map that showed different sites that we could stop at along the way or slightly off the way to our hotel. Ever planning and the whole day I discovered that the Great Ocean Road goes through the Otways which is made has wonderful waterfalls and rainforest vegetation. We saw some very old Beech trees - had to giggle about the commentary on the trail talking about mother time.

It was refreshing damp and very green which was in stark contrast to Melbourne with our grasses brown and burning in the sun. We only stopped at two of the many falls because of time constraints and boys eyes glazing over as we walked down the trails.

Anne's Cascade (how could we not get a picture)

Walking down to Hopetoun Falls

Hopetoun Falls

After enjoying the Otways we went back on the Great Ocean Road down towards the Twelve Apostles. Our first stop where we saw these gorgeous pillars in the clear blue ocean was breathe-taking.

Going towards Port Campbell

The visitor's center for the 12 Apostles is a busy place with lots of tour buses and the sound of helicopters taking people down for a close look at the Apostles. It was so windy on the walk down - forget the adage wear a hat when you are out in the sun.

12 Apostles

Now the fun part of the weekend. Wasn't this fun you may ask with the gorgeous scenery driving narrow roads along the side of the ocean? We ramble into Port Campbell. I had written down the hotel information before we left and we made our way to the hotel.

We get to the desk and say we are here to check in .. "what's our name" Give it and spell my hyphenated last name. Note they say "haitch" not "aitch" with "h" so there is confusion when I say "aitch". Hmm.. this isn't looking good. The conversation goes to when did you make this reservation? Do you remember who took your reservation? We have reservations last year from C. No we didn't live her last year. EEP Nothing. Now you have to understand this is a long weekend so hotel rooms are nonexistent which is why I made the reservations when we first arrived in Australia. I have pictures poor S. driving to the next town looking for a hotel.

They were wonderful and found a room in Port Campbell for us and paid for it. Although not without a false start when a room was found at the Best Western and she goes for "two adults" and our response "the 2 children?" Back to the phone for more calls. To complete our lovely evening, N.'s dinner consisted of ice cream. Don't ask.

The next day we found a small cafe for breakfast. We returned back towards the 12 Apostles and stopped at Loch Ard Gorge. The wind had died down from the day before but it was overcast and we were given the glimpse of rainbows away from the ocean. A. comment was a silly name for a gorge. :) What a story about the naming of the gorge.

Loch Ard Gorge

Loch Ard Gorge with Beach

Inside the Gorge.. we got down here by stairs. :)

Another area by the Gorge - Lucky this was not were they washed up

Ocean side of the area.
(See the white foam? That was flying in the air as the water flowed back and forth)

Looking out towards the ocean.

See the double rainbow?

Rainbow over the coast.

After roaming around Loch Ard Gorge we continued down the Great Ocean Road towards Bay of Islands. Along the way we got out to see:

Gorgeous rock stacks

The Grotto

The Arch

London Arch was London Bridge
(neat link it gives a panaromic view)

Final stop - Bay of Islands

A beach by the Bay of Martyrs

It was a great weekend after the boys first week of school. What is amazing the changes in the scenes when there is less wind. When we went back down the Great Ocean Road with N. in March it was very still. Unfortunately for N. there were some flies and the water was calm.

On our trip with N. we stopped at several lighthouses along the way. I wrote how we met a suicidal kangaroo on the way to the Cape Otway lighthouse.

Aireys Inlet Lighthouse

Cape Otway Lighthouse

The same gorge by Loch Ard Gorge in March

Views along the Great Ocean Road in March


Friday, August 17, 2007

Friday random thoughts with pictures.

I was doing my pre-Shabbat errands down on Glenferrie and started to think about things I'll miss when we are back in the States and some that I won't.

  • Will miss fresh challah from Glicks. So fresh and hot from the oven that the store has a note about not placing your challah in plastic bags.
  • That I can walk into my favorite florist shop So My and she knows my name and automatically adds this week's purchase to my frequent buyer card in their file box.
  • 80% of our favorite restaurants are on the same block - including Indian, Chinese/Malaysian, Nicosian, & Italian. Our favorite Nepalese is on Malvern.
  • Sun normally peeks out at least part of the day.
  • Close to some fantastic hiking/walking paths.
What I miss from home besides the friends and family or won't miss from here.
  • Walking in to my favorite Starbucks and putting my fingers for one or two and they automatically know what I mean. I'll have to retrain them when I get back. :)
  • Carts that I can easily push around the grocery store.
  • Good Mexican food. Forget even trying to find Cuban.
  • Not lining up for gas on Tuesdays.
So a little about the pictures below. We went back to Churchill National Park so A. could try out the new camera our friends brought over with them. I love mom and joey even if the focus was off. We saw some colorful birds that wouldn't cooperate in having their picture taken. This little guy was right by our car when we finished the hike. I believe he is a "noisy miner", agree?

The next two pictures were taken after our foray to Esplanade Market a few Sundays ago. We were on a fact finding mission. :) I did get a new bracelet and some great bookmarks for the bookmark exchange. I want to go back and maybe purchase a new scarf. We walked along the beach walkway from St. Kilda Beach down to Point Ormond Beach. I think this bird is a "little pied cormorant." Agree? Still getting the hang of the camera - although A. has made noise he wants this one back and we'll get the new camera which will probably be given to N. Sigh. The lot of parents. Good thing I'm semi patient.

I'm going to try to blog every few days. Best intentions.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

I thought while everyone waits "impatiently" for Tasmania and not our winter vacation pictures, I blog about our trip to Phillip Island to see the penguins in their Penguin Parade. We couldn't do this when N. was in from the States in March because it was during the Shannons Phillip Island Classic.

This was our last "big" sightseeing fun to do while N. was here. We promised that we would not go without him.

We got to the island with time to drive around the Nobbies (not the same as Nobby Beach not the same as where the kidlets wanted to visit when we were in Sydney). No seals seen but we did see evidence of penguins. I wondered how the poor little things made it up the cliffs. Yes... penguins would climb from the ocean up past the point where I was able to take a picture of the "Nobbies." Unfortunately it was a cloudy day and the visible out was not great.

We need to go back earlier to really appreciate a hike around the area. The Seal Center was closed by the time we arrived so S. and I quickly did a hike around the Center while the boys relaxed in the car.

Looking back at the Nobbies

Beach - looking up at burrows
We had a wonderful ranger tour. It turned out to be a private tour. Since it was early, A. was able to take some pictures of our walk. They are very strict that NO Pictures are taken during the actual parade.

We learned that they are called a raft of penguins as they get ready to come in for the night. One can hear them off shore as they get ready for their walk to their burrows. Not all the penguins will back to their burrow but some stay out in the ocean.

When we were there in June some of the penguins were undergoing "fake mating" because of the warmth and days getting more light the penguins thought it was spring.

They are slowly trying to buy up the land between the Penguin Parade area and the Nobbies to protect the penguin habitat. I finally found out I collected a cuttlefish "skeleton" when we traveled on the Great Ocean Road.

We were able to pick our seats because the seating for the Parade was about to begin. Reminder - next time take a blanket or towel to cushion the tush... cement gets hard and cold.

Penguins - aren't they cute? (not my photos but purchased)

We didn't see loads of penguins make their way in because there was a few seagulls which scared them off. We saw several groups of them make their way up the beach on a path that took them by a machine that helped track weigh and size of the any tagged penguins. We took our time on the boardwalk to look at the penguins - many that were seated out in front of their homes for the night. We joked that they were kibbitzing about their events of the day.