Friday, November 29, 2013


November is winding down...heck tomorrow is December first.  Where has the time gone?

Thankfully (thankfully? maybe, I don't know) there is no Thanksgiving here.

    Good things: no Thanksgiving advertising, no Black Friday sales, none of that nonsense.  Though, I received numerous emails from companies advertising their black friday specials, as well as everyone on God's green earth posting about black friday crap on Facebook.  People, Thanksgiving with family and delicious food is way better than any sale on some plasma tv that you don't need...

    Bad things: I didn't have a big Thanksgiving meal with my family, which was a bit hard.  I received photos from home of everyone celebrating the holiday but it was easier for me to pretend that the holiday wasn't happening, that way I didn't feel too homesick.  I've been here in Australia for nearly three months now, but I'm still homesick, especially during the holidays.

December is starting and that means things at work are shutting down.  Due to scheduling, experiments and lab work are pretty much done until early January.  I spend all of next week in Melbourne at a molecular course, and then when I come back, the person training me in the lab is on leave, then the facility shuts down for the holiday... so basically it's just desk work from here til Jan.

I haven't posted many adventures for November mainly because I haven't had the time to do much other than work.  We're working to develop our virus titration method as well as grow virus for future experiments, and the process takes quite a bit of time as well as office work to research the methods we want to use.  I've taken full advantage of my free weekends to relax from the busy weeks.

Mid-December, Dad will arrive for a 10 day Christmas vacation extravaganza, so I have that visit to look forward to.  I hope to explore the Bellerine Peninsula, visit Queenscliff, Sorento, Torquey, the Great Ocean Road, Melbourne, Healsville, Phillip Island - lots on the list to visit and experience.  I am excited for the holidays!!!  It will be a weird holiday - I'm used to cold weather and snow for Christmas, but I'm told that here in Australia, it's common to visit the beach on Christmas Day.  I'll certainly be experiencing new traditions this year.

In other news/stories, I have been missing American ketchup like crazy.  I really don't do much cooking at all, but one of my easy meals to make is a fried egg sandwich.  I mix an egg with a bit of milk, fry on a pan, and enjoy on toast with ketchup.  The ketchup really makes the meal.  American ketchup has vinegar in it, and Australian tomato sauce is literally just "tomato sauce".  You'd be surprised at how much the vinegar adds to the flavor.  Today I made a fried egg sandwich and added a shot of vinegar to the my bottle of tomato sauce in an attempt to recreate ketchup.  Though my mixture sufficed, it still wasn't true ketchup.  Ah well, I will just learn to adapt to Australian ketchup with added vinegar rather than tomato sauce.  And hey, plenty of Veggiemite here!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Anyone out there?

Hey hey hey hey - do you read this blog?  Someone is reading it.  I need some feedback.  Right now my feedback consists of the following:

Two people visited your blog today.  It could have been a family member or friend.
It could have been a pedophile in Rio or an internet troll in Belarus.  Who knows....

If you read my blog and you don't like my stories, then you can go ahead keep on being silent.  No worries.  I won't be sad.

If you like the blog or enjoy my ridiculous photos - please comment!  Say hello!  Send me a virtual high-five!  Otherwise I'll just keep sounding off to the internet abyss and wondering who is reading this...

Meanwhile, enjoy the Australia Swine / Australias Wine stores!

Toast to the Coast

Last weekend, Geelong hosted the annual event Toast to the Coast.  An event ticket and bus ticket gets you free rides from winery to winery in four nearby regions surrounding Geelong.  They have music and food at every venue, and of course: endless wine tastings.  I had heard a few people mention the event and I was super excited to be able to go.  A friend in my running group hooked me up with a group of her friends who were going to the event, so I was looking forward to enjoy the day with the group.  But that's not exactly what happened...

The group ended up driving themselves in their car, but the car was full and they didn't have a seat for me.  That was a bit weird, but I had a ticket for the bus that went to each of the wineries, so we planned on just meeting up at each winery to enjoy as a group.

We went to the wineries in the Moorabool region, and the first winery on the list was Austins Wines (  The weather the day before was beautiful and sunny, but the day we went (Sunday) it was on-again-off-again raining and chilly.  But even though the weather was spotty, I did my best to enjoy the day out.

Lingering storm clouds

The first part of the day was actually quite fun!  Aaaand... then I was ditched.  Well, not intentionally ditched, but...yeah.  I hopped on the bus and it continued onto the next winery, Clyde Park Vineyard (  Unfortunately, the group I was with drove themselves to a different winery.  And, the winery they went to was the last one on the list for the day and was in the complete opposite direction of the winery that I was headed to.  By the time we figured things out via text, we were on opposite sides of the tour.

Being all by myself, I decided to make the most of the day and enjoyed myself at the other wineries.  I met a few people here and here during tastings, and I also enjoyed some quality time to myself.  It was actually kind of poetic.  The wineries were surrounded by such beautiful scenery (when it wasn't raining), and doing the tour on my own forced me to sit back and enjoy the atmosphere.

A passerby was kind enough to take a photo of me in front of Clyde Park

The third winery on the tour was Lethbridge Wines (  All of the wineries had beautiful grounds, but I think that Lethbridge was my favorite.  Also they had wood-oven pizza that I enjoyed, that could also be why it was my favorite ;)

Their homemade wood-oven pizza was THE BEST!
Moorabool Ridge was the next one on the list.  By that time, the group I was supposed to be with had made it back on track, so we met up at Moorabool Ridge for a bit.  I found my people!!!!  Unfortunately that was just about the time that the sky opened up and it poured for a good 45 minutes.  Thankfully, I was able to get a few photos before the weather started.

A sunny moment during the bipolar weather

                                                                                        Then the sky opened up

And... due to the rain, the group of people I knew left to go to the second winery on the bus route.  It was late in the afternoon and I decided to call it a day.  I jumped on the next winery bus and rode back to the train station in Geelong.

Overall, it was a really fun event.  I think it could have been 35% more fun (maybe 47% more fun) if I had gone with a group of friends (ones that actually stuck around), but even by myself, it was a great opportunity to see the beautiful countryside as well as taste some of the fancy Australian wines.  It was great to be outside, and it was a good lesson in learning how to have fun on my own.  I'm still slowly meeting people here, just doing my best to be patient :)