December (Finally!)

Today is the official first day of summer.  You have no idea how exciting this is!  For starters, December marks the end of November Movember.  The past 30 days have been hairy, but worth it.  While the itchiness has subsided, the creepiness is in full bloom.  The end of the month couldn't come soon enough, just like the Movembers before it.  Here is a quick look back at my mo's progress (?):
11.11.11 - Shaka 'stache

11.18.11 - Still a little sparse
11.27.11 - Doing my best "Blue Steel"

11.30.11 - All smiles on the last day
The wait is finally over.  Off with the 'stache!

As the month begins, I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off of my lip shoulders.  Another reason that December is so awesome this year: I got a job!  Summer represents the start of vacation for many.  However, this summer is going to be a direct contrast from this idea, and I couldn't be more excited!  I always knew my gratuitous vacation would come to an end, but I didn't expect to be so pumped for it.  The last 5 months have been amazing, but I'm ready for the clich├ęd "new chapter" ahead.  Later this month I will be joining the Cloud Sherpas' team and I will soon be riding the (newly announced) ferry into the city on a daily basis as I head in to my role in tech sales.  Sun, slurpees, sweet potatoes, Sherpas and shaving...this is going to be a great month!

Before we fully transition into December, I have to highlight the Thanksgiving we just enjoyed.  Thanks to the combined efforts of our Xpats' group, we were able to celebrate Thanksgiving just like we were all back home.  We watched football before feasting on the pot-luck buffet of deliciousness, all while in the company of some great friends.  The stars of the dinner were both a brined and a smoked turkey (and some pork in various, tasty forms).
Brined, stuffed, and ready for the oven
The rubbed bird before being thrown on the grill and wrapped in bacon
Pork loin, ready to be smoked
The perfect setting (I love puns)
Pimm's, a traditional Pilgrim drink
Grilled to perfection
Before eating, we initiated the non-Americans in attendance with the "traditional" Thanksgiving dinner ritual of criss-crossing arms and singing the national anthem.  We also made them wear pilgrim hats.
Good company was enjoyed
True to the American spirit, we ate way too much (and loved it)

Happy December everyone!


An Early Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving came early!  I purchased a sweet potato yesterday and couldn't be happier.  This isn't just an ingredient for a yummy Thanksgiving side, it's a surfboard!  After a lot of back and forth and a few demo sessions with a similar board, I pulled the trigger on the shortest board I've ever ridden.
You'd be grinning ear to ear too after riding this thing (definitely not because of the Movember stache)
The board is 5'8" and made by Firewire.  I bought it from Aloha Surf just down the street.  Caz (yes the shop guy's name was "Caz", which I found awesome because it's "Zac" backwards) was able to give me some great advice and even let me take out a 5'4" in the same shape to see how I liked it.    After riding the demo board, I was sold on the shape/ride.  It feels like a magic carpet underneath your feet.  I also owe a few beers to Sarge for his board wisdom and fin advice throughout this process... I'll get you those in January when you visit.
Here are some more board pics.  If you're not into surfing, feel free to skip them to the even BIGGER news down below.
Quad Fin

Spud-like shape from the front

The double concave spine (more on that here)
The exact dimensions: 5'8"x 22 1/4"x 2 3/4"
I'm still getting used to the board's shape but have loved my time on it so far.  It's a fantastic board for the summer surf.  I'm sure I'll be surfing it like this soon :) 

Ok, so I am officially STOKED on this board, but I have some other news which I am just as happy about as well... I GOT A JOB!!! I was made an offer this morning (Thanksgiving here, if AUS celebrated the holiday) and it will become official next week!  Once all of the paperwork is signed and sorted, I'll share more details.  Let me just say this for now: while it's not in education, it is something that I have been passionate about for years.

Things are looking up!  Even though we don't have Thursday and Friday off, we will be celebrating Thanksgiving with an amazing group of friends this Sunday.  I'm brining a turkey, Anna's making some pies, and everyone will do their best to make it feel like we are all "home."  While we feel so fortunate to have such a wonderful group out here, we definitely will be missing all of our family and friends back home.  I hope everyone has a happy and safe Thanksgiving!  I know we have a lot to be thankful for out here and at home.

Go 49ers!


Our Lives in Manly

Now that we've settled into Manly, we wanted to give you a glimpse into our new community.  We still can't believe that we live here; it is just so amazing!  Once we moved in, we wanted to explore the local spots and figure out which spots we'd become regulars at.  We've found quite a few favorites so far and are still discovering new places each week. We love living on top of a grocery store and have gotten accustomed to thinking of it as our personal pantry.  We visit it daily and get what we need, when we need it.  It really cuts back on waste, which is great.  Additionally, we've found all of the essentials and then some: bakery, butcher, macaroon shop, movie theater, and brewery.  

Scotch Filets that we got from the local butcher and grilled on our patio. "Scotch Filet" is Aussie for Rib Eye.  I need to ask the butcher about getting some tri-tip.

L to R: Lime & Mint Mojito, Hot Chocolate - (milk chocolate, cinnamon & chili), Watermelon & Orange, Sweet Corn with a hint of Mango, Lychee.  Not pictured are the Cola and Passion Fruit ones which we liked the most.

4 Pines offers the best beer I've had that is brewed in Australia. Their Pale is my favorite; it's an American-style hoppy ale which is very hard to find in Australia because most Australian beers are weak sauce lagers lacking flavor. We're fans of this Hefe because of the unique hint of bananas. It's a great summer beer. On top of being within spitting distance of our place, 4 Pines has cases and growlers to go!  
Living by the beach is truly wonderful!  So far the only minor downside is the commute into the city/Anna's work.  Fortunately, there are multiple ferry lines which provide an option every 20 minutes or so.  At this point, Anna has the various ferry schedules dialed in for getting to work and I've done the same with the oh so important swell and tides for surfing.  She enjoys reading on her commute and spending some time relaxing before and after work.  There is wifi on the ferries in case you need to get work done or want to catch up on emails, facebook, the Kardashians, etc.
The Ferry Route to/from Google
I mentioned in the last post that we had settled in and we soon received multiple requests for shots of our new home.  Who am I to disappoint?
Entry Hall, Bathroom (on the left)
Board Quiver Hallway
Living Room and Kitchen
Living Room
Patio just off of the living room. The trees off in the distance line the beach.


And we're back!

Boxes are unpacked, pictures are hung, and local hangouts are being established.  We are finally settled in! We've landed in Manly and are loving every minute of it.  We're close to the beach and we can't wait for the summer that is just around the corner.
A lot of lessons have been learned in this move, which finally looks to be over. One lesson is that things definitely happen at a slower pace in Australia.  The blog went down for a few weeks, because that is the normal time it takes to have internet installed down under.  Three weeks after moving in, we finally got our connection back to the 'net and are blogging once again.  To make up for the absence, here comes a flood of photos from some of our Australian adventures.
We've splashed down in Manly
Suit and "Fascinator" hat for the Melbourne Cup. Our horse won, so we're all smiles!

Halloween isn't that big in Australia, but we did our part. There's a Mario Kart track in Sydney?

Manly Beach, just a few steps from our apartment

One of the neighboring beaches, Curl Curl

"Freshie" a.k.a. Freshwater Beach

The Boat House, Hawkesbury River
Our new friends!

LCR is always a crowd pleaser, especially when you win.

The Three Sisters, Echo Point in the Blue Mountains, Katoomba

Jamison Valley, Blue Mountains

I became a Captain on my 31st
Sailing in the Harbour

One of the few reptiles that can't kill you in the Taronga Zoo

Even this lion was spooked by the deadly snakes

Afternoon nap


Hopefully the only shark we see in Australia

Lonely Starfish

Old Lighthouse near Watson's Bay

Sydney Sunset
Some famous building; I don't remember the name