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All the Americans at our Independence Day extravaganza! Photo credit: Theresa Winters
Celebrating the 4th of July Aussie style. I didn't realize what American food was until we had a USA themed potluck. I always considered it to be diverse and a mix of everything from all cultures, but there are a few distinctive classics that are strictly American: 
  • Mac 'n Cheese
  • Nachos
  • Hot dogs
  • Burgers
  • Krispy Kreme
  • Cornbread
  • Brownies



For the foreigners, the potluck was American FAQ time. With a room full of yanks, when better to ask your burning questions about America?

Common FAQs about the US:
  • Is it true meatloaf is a combination of like 15 meats smashed up and cooked together?
  • Why would you ever consider grilling a hotdog? I thought they were only meant to be boiled...
  • Aren't rootbeer floats alcoholic?

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Tasting Wine with Italians. That's right, I went on a little day trip to a vineyard in er, the middle of nowhere! It ended up being me, my newly found British friend, Adrian and a slew of Italians! 

Luckily, we got the VIP treatment, sipped wines galore and finished off the evening with a delicious homemade pasta carbonara from the locals!

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Making lots of cupcakes...and Dylan eats them. Dylan is my latest Melbourne vegan BFF. We do random things like play guitar, make dinosaur shaped cupcakes and have frequent potlucks at his house! Thanks to Dylan, I'm getting quite good at cooking vegan food.

These are my banana almond vegan cupcakes with fudge frosting. Amazing!

 
 
Sometimes I forget that I live in the middle of Australia. Well, not the middle perse, but I do reside on the edge of a massive desert continent floating in an ocean somewhere in the furthermost corner of the earth. I perform periodic reality checks where I jolt out of bed and rip the curtains open just to make sure the cars are actually driving on the left side. Strange, I know, but Melbourne seems so much like any city in the U.S. that I often forget. That is, until (on the rare occasion) I happen to venture outside of the city, and I’m unmistakably in the middle of nowhere, Australia.

It wasn’t long ago that I went Melbourne crazy and set off on a weekend road trip. Not only was I in for a massive wrong side of the road driving adventure, but I also got a big mouthful of Aussie culture. People often ask what the biggest difference is between living in Australia and America, and I whimsically respond, “it’s all the same, just change the accent and drive on the opposite side of the road.” In retrospect, I would like to add in—just take away all signs of civilization and you’ve got Australia.

With a landmass nearly the size of the continental US and only 1/7th  of our population, you can expect sparse dribbles of human settlement here and there. I though parts of the Midwest were rural, but Australia takes the cake. There’s a distinct dividing line where it goes from big city suburbs to rolling hills nothingness for hundreds of miles.  Country? Yes. Creepy? Little bit. Bogan? Oh yeah! [Refer to Lesson in Boganism for cultural refrences]

My Kiwi bud, Chris and I set off for Mt. Beauty, a town three hours northeast of Melbourne. Along the way we popped into a few towns just to get a feel for rural Australia. I was expecting quaint Sunday brunch then stroll down the main street for shopping type of country town. You know, the kind of place you would take a day trip to in upstate New York? It was more of like a THERE IS ABSOULETLY NOTHING HERE except a grocery store and gas station and oh wait…where are all the people and houses?! type of town. Country? Yes. Creepy? Little bit. Bogan? Oh yeah!

Bottom line? Apart from kangaroo watching and gumtree gazing (and yes, there are plenty) the Australian countryside does not have much to offer in the way of entertainment. The perks of having no civilization in sight? It was the perfect place to practice my left side driving skills and not have to worry about hitting anyone! And, I did get to see snow in Australia, so I’d say the weekend was a success!

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Road through the middle of nowhere, Australia
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Chris & Me in Mt. Beauty
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Playing in the leaves!