The Photo Vault: Brazilian Coastline


A slice of Brazilian paradise
A slice of Brazilian paradise

Itacaré, Brazil, 2004

The small town of Itacaré between Porto Seguro and Salvador wasn´t listed in my Lonely Planet Shoestring Guide to South America. I ended up here tagging onto a group of travelling Brazilians and one Swiss guy who had joined up to form a sizeable group of eight people. Nine including me. One of the Brazilians spoke good English, and of course the Swiss guy, but I communicated with the rest of my new friends with exchanges of smiles, laughs and gestures and just followed them like a little lamb. It was fun!

Brazilians are great travellers in their own country, especially at Carnaval time when they will take a month off and travel. I loved this attitude and vowed to take this idea back home, where we usually plan out our domestic trips carefully and save the random wanderings for other countries.

I never would have discovered a string of breathtaking beaches and this coastline had it not been for my Brazilian friends adopting a little lost Aussie. I also wouldn´t have learned how to wear a Brazilian bikini, confidence most definitely required but any show of butt crack is unacceptable so instead you should forget about trying to modestly cover your butt cheeks and allow your bikini bottoms to creep into a wedgie.

This photo served as my screensaver on my old computer for many years. It is a beautiful coastline and it always makes me think about the friends I´ve now lost touch with, but who I will always remember for their openness, sharing and vivacity.

The Photo Vault is where I will be sharing my favourite photos (and their stories) that deserve better than being lost in the depths of my iPhoto never to be shared.

Someone out there is reading my blog

The other day, while walking through Fed Square enjoying a beautiful Melbourne evening, I bumped into a friend I haven’t seen for a good three years.

She was talking on the phone and noticed me first, and started waving. I waved back and stopped for a quick chat.

We talked about what we’ve each been up to and gave a quick run down on our plans, hers being moving to Uganda for a three month project. It was so lovely to see her and hear her news firsthand rather than via Facebook.

And then she said a really lovely thing “I was just reading your blog the other day about handwriting analysis and that quote at the end just sums you up perfectly.”

First up it was so lovely of her to say that, and secondly, knowing that at least one person out there is reading my blog after such a short time since starting up again provides the incentive to keep writing and posting. Offline encouragement gives you an extra spring in your typing and certainly brings out an inner smile. It’s where those site stats actually form into a person who has their own hopes and dreams and interests and style and who appreciates that you write about your own.

So here’s a big thank you to her and a thank you to all of you for reading!

Saying goodbyes

It’s not quite of the scale of my farewells in Australia when I was heading off to LA for an indeterminate period of time, but I still had a lot of rounds of farewells to make before I left LA for greater America.

It’s nice to know that despite coming over with a few friends already, I have made some other wonderful friends in LA (strangely enough mostly Australians).

I think it’s almost harder to say goodbye to the newer friends because the friendship hasn’t been given time to blossom into something even more special. When you meet people you connect with and share interests with, the future is exciting as you get to know each other better and spend more time developing your relationship.

Now that I’m leaving LA prematurely, I hope that I can continue to maintain and these friendships via distance and wish them all the well in their endeavours.

Making up for being a bad friend

I’ve been in LA for three months and hadn’t yet caught up with my friend who I met when she was on exchange in my hometown 15 years ago. That’s poor form.

I guess a number of things conspired against it, like my car woes and her late stage pregnancy. So now that her baby is birthed and Esmeralda is fixed, we finally arranged a meet up.

It was a nice 30 mile drive out to her place on the Foothills Freeway 210. This is a much nicer freeway than the 10 freeway. As the name suggests, it traverses the foothills of the mountains and it quite pretty. On the way back in the evening it afforded incredible views of the city lights and downtown.

Meeting my friend’s new baby was lovely. When I visited her about 11 months ago, I had no idea that I’d be back to see her so soon and that by that time she’d have another child. It must be quite some time since I’ve seen a newborn because I couldn’t believe how tiny he was. As I held him while he struggled against sleep, his head warmed up the crook of my arm. That’s a nice feeling. For all my friends who know about how I feel about me and babies, I tell you I’m not getting clucky!

My friend and I talked about how it is that we’ve kept up our friendship that started way back in 1996, and the fact that we have seen each other four times since then, once when she returned to Australia and now that I have visited her in LA three times. Whilst Facebook makes it easy to stay in touch, actually visiting really cements the friendship beyond the electronic. I never regret travelling to meet up with my friends living overseas, be it Los Angeles, London, Buenos Aires or whether it’s even just closer to home in some far-flung place in Australia. There is something special about the memories you create with them in their current cities, and it adds to the relationship because you understand their life there.

I hope that I will continue to do this for the rest of my life, because a little bit of effort goes a long way. Perhaps I should be looking to book a flight to see my friend Shanghai Slipper.

A parcel!

Arriving home after a day of sights and shopping with Movie Lass, I had the elation you get when a big box with your name on it is waiting for you.

Contents of care package

My friend Cathy had posted a care package to me filled with all sorts of goodies from home. It was so lovely.

It included:

  • TV snacks
  • Uncle Toby’s muesli bars
  • Wagon Wheels
  • A tube of Vegemite
  • A pack of Saos
  • Wizz Fizz
  • Anzac biscuits
  • Vanilla essence
  • 2 packs of Chocolate Ripple biscuits
  • Recipe for chocolate ripple cake

Topping it off was a lovely card emblazoned with the Mae West quote

Too much of a good thing can be wonderful!

So now I can make a chocolate ripple cake (love, love, love) for our upcoming Easter lunch and have an Anzac bikkie or two on Anzac Day next week.

Thanks Cathy, you really brightened my day and I can’t wait to share these bits of home with my friends.

Oh what a night

Not half excited

Last night was seriously in my top 10 nights ever.

To celebrate my leaving Mildura, I hosted a party for my A-listers and it totally rocked my world. I still can’t wipe the smile off my face. I mean, I normally have a smile on my face, but this is one of those big, stupid, cheesy grins that gives your face major wrinkles.

It was the perfect combination of family, friends and food mixed with dance-time tunes and laughs all around.

I just want to give a MASSIVE shout out to the 60 or so people who came along and made my night. I also want to thank the gate-crashers, because no A-list party is complete without gate-crashers!

Thanks also to Mario and co at Stefano’s Cafe for supplying the fab venue and even fabber food.

There are so many amazing people in my Mildura life, it will be sad to leave their company but with the kind of send off they gave me, they’ll never leave my thoughts.

The party in full-swing

There’s gotta be a pavlova here somewhere

One of the recent themes on my Facebook and Twitter updates is that of making pavlova.

I have taken on the humble pav as my dessert specialty. I take them to barbecues, dinner parties, family gatherings and am about to start making them for friends just because they love them and heap praise upon my abilities to make a great pav.

Aerial shot of the pavlova
Aerial shot of the pavlova

Pavlova is an antipodean cultural phenomenon that was created in honour of the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova whilst she toured the region.

There is much conjecture as to whether it is an Australian or New Zealand invention, so I don’t want to turn up the oven heat on this and will say that both countries regard the pav as a cultural icon. Read more about the fascinating history of the pavlova on one of my favourite educative sites, Wikipedia.

I believe the pavlova is making a comeback. Once alongside the old Savoy biscuits with kabana and cheddar cheese or the coloured pickled onion on a toothpick in the party food category, it is making a retro comeback – a well deserved retro comeback that I’m helping along.

Take last Sunday for example. I rocked up to a party at a friends house with a guest list oozing with foodies and my pav decorated with blackberries and kiwifruit. I had no less than five people remark on the pavlova and how it rocked their world in that moment.

About three years ago, I had never made a pav. My aunt had given me her mother-in-law’s recipe in a book years before, but I’d always put it in the too hard category. I was afraid of failing. Until one day, I was so desperate for a pav, that I opened it up and made my very first pavlova. It wasn’t a bad effort, but it was mostly crusty meringue and not the marshmallowy inside that makes a truly great pav. So the next time I adjusted it slightly, and I’ve been making them ever since. They are super easy to make but just require some intensive output from the beaters.

So I’m making a pav today for the family Christmas lunch, making it with love and sitting back to watch the pavlova’s resurgence to the dinner table.

Can I get a housekeeper for Christmas?

While most people are stressing about whether they’ve bought the right present, enough presents, or finished their shopping, my stress levels are about something entirely different. The state of my house.

Good friends of mine, the kind that hark all the way back to high school, are coming to stay with me over the Christmas period. I love to have people stay, so this is a welcome visit. It’s just that my house is pretty messy at the moment and they arrive in approximately 28 hours. And those 28 hours include at least 9 hours of work and with a bit of luck, at least 8 hours of sleep. So there will have to be a concentrated cleaning effort on Thursday morning.

I’m also quite nervous because I need to make sure that the place is TOTALLY spick and span. There isn’t allowed to be any missed insect on the carpet, no mountain of things that I’m planning on throwing out in some random room, no stray hair in the bath, and zero dust on all flat surfaces. The reason being that my friends are bringing their 7 1/2 month old baby with them.

I checked earlier in the week that he wasn’t crawling, because that would just add a whole other complexity to the stay. I’ve had nightmares of him crawling around the floor towards an interesting thing that has taken his eye, sitting up, looking around at us talking animatedly to each other and then extending a chubby baby hand toward the hairy rogue caterpillar invading my house.

You see my house does creepy crawlies exceedingly well. There are currently many hairy ‘soon to be moth’ caterpillars sneaking in under the front door, a bold fat mouse that isn’t shy of making his presence known, three slugs in the shower and bath, an army of small black ants on my desk, goodness knows how many spiders, huge starship sized mosquitos and a skink trying to make friends with my router cables.

I guess I should be thankful that the snakes are staying away.

Keeping the menagerie under control is my top priority for the duration of their stay. I need to protect the baby from them, keep him (and his parents) in a bubble of blissful ignorance about the entomologists paradise that is my house and the best way is with a clean and tidy place.