Snow White and the Seven Casinos Heavenly Resort, Lake Tahoe

Snow White and the Seven Casinos

For those counting down at home (*Cough* Mum *Cough* Mama *Cough*) we’re over a quarter of the way through our 2-year visa. And only Satan himself knows what will happen to foreigners if Mr Trump is elected. George has been doing bootcamp so he’ll be totally fine if we have to start building a wall – but I’ve got a dodgy neck and shoulder. Will Donald be doing ergonomic assessments?

I, for one, am very much looking forward to spending some quality time in sunny Canada where the poutine is fresh and the Prime Minister (the political woman’s Mr. Darcy) is a dreamy feminist…



Truth be told, Saturday mornings consist of me watching a week’s worth of John Oliver in an attempt to balance the very large, tanned, hair-plugged disturbance in The Force.  But I digress…

This past month has been an adventurous one – commencing with a weekend in Lake Tahoe for our wedding anniversary. (Why yes, I DO feel like a ginormous yuppie typing that.)  Being the enviro-loving Californians that we now are, we hired a small, understated hybrid vehicle to get us through the weekend’s  impending snowstorms. #Murica (See below).

I had surprised GKT with tickets to Penn & Teller –  who serendipitously were performing in Tahoe for one night only – the day we arrived. The show was spectacular and meeting the eponymous duo afterward did not disappoint.

Walking to the venue through the casino on the other hand, made me wish I could do magic tricks and make people disappear.

We’d quite clearly stumbled into a live filming of the Real Housewives of Backwater-Nowhere for all the second-hand smoke, leopard print, Ugg boots and undergarments playing peek-a-boo. (The casinos obviously reside on the Nevada side of Tahoe, because Californians have pride and don’t build casinos. Unless they’re on Native American tribal land.)

The Nevada casino experience traumatized me sufficiently, such that I may never actually make it to Vegas. For a woman that didn’t even gamble the  free $5 credit she got with a Crown Club Card (for cheap parking at nightclubs. Jeez), I’m not sure I’d enjoy Sin City… But my husband made three compelling points: Celine, Britney and J-Lo.

Saturday morning we awoke to inches of snow coating the entire Lake Tahoe area – the perfect start to a romantic snow weekend ‘together’. George skied. I dayspa-ed. George skied. I read books while clutching a hot coffee. George found our friends Jenny & Trav on the slopes. And skiied. I got a pedicure.

The Lake Tahoe area is truly one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been (just don’t cross the state-line into Nevada casinos and the illusion of beauty will be maintained).

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Mere days after our return from the snow, George and I again packed our suitcases — GKT headed to the UK for his first official work-trip for 2016, and I moved into a luxurious home down in sunny Los Gatos (an hour south of SF – near Palo Alto/Silicon Valley).

Disclaimer: For those who remember my wedding speech, you may recall a snide joke about the film ‘300’ not being a film about the Spartan war, but rather a reference to the number of cousins my husband has. Well, eat my words I shall — as our extraordinary family network came through – introducing us to Lana & Dom, the people who we have unilaterally adopted as our Northern Californian family.

The poor unsuspecting ex-Adelaideans didn’t stand a chance once we’d realized that we shared a love of decent coffee, Lego, board games, Arnott’s biscuits and Formula 1 (Clearly that reference is for George. All I know is that I wasn’t permitted to say the word ‘Mercedes’ for 48 hours, for fear of imminent death…). And their kids are pretty rad too. 

I bet you’re regretting showing us the guest-room now, Lana. (Thanks, Filitsa!)

So while George worked hard in London (excluding St Paddy’s Day festivities), I spent the weekend watching Disney movies, constructing a ‘leprechaun trap’ and generally, just being an additional nuisance with the best sidekicks in the world –  Mary and Luca. And when GKT returned he got to attend a Pirate Princess party, join the nerd hordes at ComicCon and watch the Grand Prix (Yay, cars!)


But honestly, these adventures are more part of our ‘highlights reel’ — SF life is now relatively routine and tame.

  • We semi-regularly find ourselves sitting on the couch after dinner, working away on our laptops. #techlife
  • We’ve been introduced to the bitterly real game of Crack-head or Tech-head. How to play: If you see someone shuffling along on the sidewalk talking to themselves, are they one of the mentally-ill homeless people residing in the city (who have literally been bussed here from other states – true story!) or are they a millennial techie pitching their latest app to an investor (“It’s like Uber, but for…”)?
  • George’s suit currently sports an additional layer of dust and I now own a North Face hooded jacket. #fashionforward
  • We don’t look twice when a group in unicorn onesies crosses our path or semi-naked men apply sunscreen to people sitting in the park.
  • Working full-time means that I had to finally change my Language Settings to English (US). It hurts my soul. Goodbye ‘colour’…
  • And realizing that true love is: your husband emptying your purse each Friday because you still refuse to learn the US coins. Piss off, nickels and dimes. And don’t even get me started on pennies…  If I have to adopt the spelling, then I’ll maintain some dignity by refuting the coins.

That’s all for now – but  Coming Next Month: Greek Easter in LA (with obligatory theme-park stopovers), counting down to our Melbourne visit and of course, more Californian sunshine and random strangers in costumes.

Hulk chocolates, Minnie Driver and February sunshine!

Hulk chocolates, Minnie Driver and February sunshine!

It’s the middle of winter here in Northern California…

Vitamin D levels? Awesome. Proximity to Zika Virus? Not so much.

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This is London calling! The Cotswolds

This is London calling!

Instead of a list of resolutions that will undoubtedly feature a decree to binge-watch less TV and to throw away empty cartons of my beloved ‘The Tonight Dough‘ ice-cream (instead of back in the fridge whence they will remain until I angrily discover them at the next instance of an ice-cream craving…),  I have chosen one word, to inspire and recentre me throughout 2016: Balance. A word that seldom features in my internal vernacular, when my natural tendency is to move at the pace of a child after a handful of chocolate.

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‘Ferrero’ 2.0 Ferrero 2.0

‘Ferrero’ 2.0

“Archaeologists digging on a Pyramid in Egypt have found a mummy covered in chocolate and nuts. Experts believe it to be Pharaoh Roche. They were led to this conclusion by Cadbury’s Moses.”

These morsels are as scumptious, as that joke is appalling. And with some bonus nutrients, they’re a good 3.30pm snack. Or 10am coffee accompaniment. Or 9pm dessert. Or Second Breakfast.

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To Dye, To Weep, Perchance to Eat Mumhattan, NYC

To Dye, To Weep, Perchance to Eat

A-type female guilt and self-flagellation has set in as I look at the date of my last post and realise an entire month has passed since I massacred the English language with the overuse of adjectives, alliterations and puns.

But no apologies! Just promises of bonus updates, more photographs than a Kardashian Instagram feed and of course, unnecessary side thoughts in brackets.

In unsurprising recent news, the Australian accent has apparently been derived from the drunken slurs of our forefathers. That’s about a surprising as some bloke named Sasha winning The Bachelorette. Or so I’ve heard. I firmly live in the realm of Good Morning America now.  But it does go some way to explaining why I now use ‘Mary’ as my coffee-order name. To date, Nelly, Nylee & Adalee have accompanied my flat whites – so when travelling with mum I discovered that ‘Mary’ is infallible – both eponymously and literally.

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The Holy Grainola Berry Delicious Granola

The Holy Grainola

When ‘cereal’ (and I use that term very lightly) such as Marshmallow Froot Loops or Star Wars Light Saber Bites adorn the supermarket shelves, sometimes you’ve got to take matters into your own hands before this glorious country successfully bestowsType II Diabetes on you.

Granola is surprisingly easy to make, with the only time-consuming part being baking in the oven at low temp for an hour.

And full credit where it’s due – this recipe has been adapted from the amazing Healthy Chef, Teresa Cutler – Here is her original recipe.

A Berry Delicious Granola Recipe


200 g rolled oats

150g almonds

150g pecans

50 g freeze-dried raspberries

50g desiccated coconut

50g chia seeds

20g unsalted butter

2 tablespoons honey or pure maple syrup

2 tablespoons coconut oil

2 tablespoons cacao nibs

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon vanilla bean


The Path To The Holy Grainola

  1. Preheat your oven to 120°C (250°F for those playing in in California) and line 2 large trays with baking paper.
  2. Combine oats, nuts, coconut, cacao nibs, chia seeds, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl.
  3. Warm the honey, coconut oil, butter and vanilla in the microwave  – 10 seconds at a time – until melted.
  4. Pour melted honey mixture over the dry ingredients and mix until well-covered.
  5. Spread the granola into a thin layer over the baking trays.
  6. Toast the muesli in the oven for about 1 hour, until the granola turns a light golden colour
  7. Cool on the trays until crunchy.
  8. Crush freeze-dried raspberries over the granola, mix well and store in a sealed container
  9. Enjoy granola that is equally delicious and nutritious.

A Berry Delicious Granola


Multi-Time Zonal Birthday Fun Palace of Fine Arts

Multi-Time Zonal Birthday Fun

It’s no coincidence that if you add ‘c’, ‘h’, ‘e’ and ‘s’ to MUNI (San Francisco’s Municipal Railway) you get ‘munchies’.  And boy, didn’t my poor mother witness her fair share while visiting our new city…

For reason’s unbeknownst to our family, my mother is an magnet for the illicit.  If there is something unsavoury, illegal or weird occurring on any street, in any city, in the entire world, it will occur 2 metres away from my mother. Move over Murphy. This is #MarysLaw.

This all began about 15 years ago while walking with my father and friends from a theatre performance in the CBD to their car. A young hoodlum approached Mary (and not the large Mediterranean men she was walking with) & asked whether she had ‘any gear’. Those of you who know my mother are either guffawing, snorting out their coffee or assume that I’m embellishing. Nope. True story. Just ask her… If you can get past the 3 large Colombian bodyguards and armoured vehicle, that is. (Kidding, mum!)

For those who haven’t had the ultimate pleasure of making Mary’s acquaintance, let’s just ‘possessing gear’ would be about the last thing my mother would ever do, seeing as she doesn’t even take Nurofen.

Mary’s introduction to the UK involved a cab ride through the back streets of London with the Welcome Bonus of witnessing a drug deal. And then arriving here, of course she had to witness the one hippie with large enough cojones to light up some wacky-tobaccy in front of the SFPD.  What’d I tell you? #MarysLaw

Shady SF aside, mum enjoyed being reunited with George & a Nespresso machine. Not necessarily in that order. (Again, kidding. But the coffee here is pretty appalling, so you never know…).

But most importantly, brunch! All it took was booking a table 4 weeks in advance, a 45 minute wait and accepting that SF’s best weekend brunch restaurant, nopa SF only opens at 11am. But the Custard French Toast was out of this world, so I swallowed my inner-Melbournite rage – along with my delicious toast. Food-babies nestled comfortably out of the camera’s range, we snapped a quick selfie with Alamo Square Park’s Painted Ladies (a.k.a The Full House houses) and Karl The Fog.

With nary a John Stamos in sight, we continued our road-trip to Silicon Valley. Nerds united at Apple HQ, eBay, Facebook & Google – where, thanks to a young software engineer visiting with his mates, we managed to sneak into the closed Google Visitor Centre to play with all sorts of fun Google gear & test out the famed nap-pods.

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Also, in honour of today apparently being National Doughnut Day, let’s pay homage to all that is delicious in the world with the Android Statue Garden:

Our picturesque drive through Stanford on the way home almost made me want to swing a little (okay, a lot) to the Right so that I could comfortably attend this breath-taking establishing but let’s be honest, they’d sense a disturbance in the Force the minute I set foot near that sandstone…

After a much-needed late start on Sunday, the Napa Valley awaited us. I could get used to seafood brunches overlooking the mountainous winery regions of Yountville.

If Napa is on your bucket list, do it. If it’s not, add it. And while you’re at it, head to Sonoma County for equally-delicious wine but significantly less tourists. Good luck with finding someone to be designated driver though!

On Monday, George had to resume his responsibilities as the sole gainfully-employed member of the household while I got to relish in funemployment and my continued passion for travel itineraries & tour-guiding. Alcatraz (we escaped!), Fisherman’s Wharf, the seals at Pier 39 & Ghirardelli Square awaited. Clearly not having learnt anything about pacing, we surpassed the 20,000 steps mark again as well collapsed in our chairs at Coqueta for some much-needed carbohydrates.

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That may have also been partly the munchies, as it was on Mary’s very first day of SF sight-seeing that we encountered a confident hippie smoking his joint while standing next to 3 SFPD officers in the city, what I’m pretty sure was a crack-pipe just behind Fisherman’s Wharf while waiting for the train and of course, some weirdo tapping my shoulder while standing like sardines on the peak-hour train. #MarysLaw

Clearly weeks of carrying my oversized handbag chockfull of travel items has destroyed the nerve endings in my shoulder, as I didn’t notice said tapping. But if you ever want to know what a mother simultaneously channeling a heart attack and murderous rage looks like, Mary is your woman.

Thankfully some semblance of normality was restored when Natalie’s Multi-Time Zonal Festivities commenced. Over the 48 hours in which it was mandatory for my husband and my mother to be nice to me. Day One (Australian Eastern Standard Time Festivities) naturally necessitated a casual lunch & chats with rockstar chef Yotam Ottolenghi at the launch of his new book Nopi…

Day Two (Pacific Time Festivities) was a stunning day of morning matcha in Japanese Tea Gardens, literally stopping to smell the roses in Golden Gate Park’s Rose Garden, visiting the Disney/Dali Exhibit in The Presidio, a stop via The Palace of Fine Arts and of course, a degustation dinner to round out the festivities. Ultimate #foodcoma.

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And while mum & I huddled on the couch for our final night’s food coma recovery & hugs, George carved pumpkins – affectionately named Filbert & Hugo, in anticipation of Halloween.

I can’t recall the last time I had 2 uninterrupted weeks with my mother, but if you ever get the chance, do it. If not for the fun, do it for the excessively high pedometer readings, selfies and memories.


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