A Week in Dinners in the LiNutte Household

Both Josh and I cook more than we ever did when living the single life. It’s just easier to buy ingredients for two than just one. Below is a week in dinners in our household. Enjoy!

A Sunny Sunday in Manly

We bought a new camera so thought we’d spend a nice afternoon in Manly testing out the settings and seeing how much we could figure out.  Enjoy!

The Accomplishment – Walking Away

When Between Roots and Wings issued this month’s blog prompt, I was at a loss…it is a photo prompt for “an accomplishment.”

I have an accomplishment I would like to share today, but unfortunately it has no photo to accompany it.

My entire life I’ve done mostly everything according to the book. I have positioned myself to have great opportunities and the best options available. And whatever situation I find myself in, I often do not “give up.” But I don’t keep at things because they are my heart’s desires. I keep at them because of two reasons:

  1. I have nothing better to do, so why not win at what I’m doing
  2. Society tells me I have chosen the “right” path

Over the years, I have learned how to locate the key contact in whatever situation I find myself and talk them into giving me what I want. This is not a characteristic of which I am particularly proud. The equality warrior in me says this is cheating… For instance, when I applied to my first choice college and interviewed, my interviewer turned out to be a friend who had graduated from my high school three years before me. By the way, this was a highly rated school…so…”right path.” (and I ended up attending)

When I landed my first internship (in Congress = right path), it was because I accompanied a friend to his interview and was offered an internship in the same Congressional office. When I landed my first job (working for a Congresswoman), it was through connections from my internship. Every sport I’ve played is because my father signed me up (when I was 5 years old) and wouldn’t let me quit (in hindsight I’m quite glad but still, not really my decision) and my teammates were involved in clubs, committees, etc. and were easily able to help me get involved and excel.

The first thing I’ve done completely on my own without using connections or charm or because I was forced to be there…and also without thought to what might be the “right” thing to do…is walk away from my job in the U.S. It is the first time I’ve looked at a decision and instead of letting the status quo tell me what I should do, I let my heart.  I was working for a highly respected political news organisation. Sure, I wasn’t making a lot of money, but I got to be in the thick of things! My job wasn’t particularly exciting, but every once in awhile I was allowed to cover Congressional Hearings and Markups and interview Members of Congress and pitch story ideas to some of Washington’s most decorated editors…but I really disliked my job, and I also decided that I wanted to experience more before I died. When Josh heard of an opening in Sydney for his company, I cheered him on full stop. I was ready to go. What I hadn’t told him, is that even if he was not offered the job, I was still going to quit my job, haha. But he did. I walked away from prestige and security, because the prestige wasn’t buying me happiness, compliments weren’t making my job worth the unhappiness I spent there. I walked away from the “wow, good for your daughter” job my parents could brag about, and I moved with my boyfriend (not even fiance!) to a foreign country with no job set up for when I arrived. Crazy.

Walking away from my job, despite the prestige, despite its reputation…felt damn good. A lot of people would call me crazy, but I have not regretted my decision for a single second. It is an accomplishment of which I am quite proud.

Blue Mountains Day Trip – Round Three

Last weekend, Josh and I hopped on a train with our friend first thing in the morning and and made our way up to the Blue Mountains! Sunday travel in Sydney, if you’re going by public transport, is only $2.50 all day. Lucky for us the train goes all the way out to the Blue Mountains (about a 2 hour journey north of Sydney), so we decided to take advantage.

We arrived at about 10:30 a.m. and it was QUITE a bit colder up in the mountains than in the city. Silly us, of course it was! We hailed a cab and made our way to Echo Point (home of the Three Sisters) to embark on our hike down the Giant Stairs.

All in all the hike took us about 3 hours to complete, and weary, we walked into town to grab lunch at the local pub before heading back to Sydney.

Enjoy the photos!



A Little Home in Australia

My best friend arrives tomorrow early morning. She will get in to the International airport at 6:30 a.m. from Bowdoinham, Maine. I have not seen her since her wedding in September of 2011. It has been far too long and we have much catching up to do.

Isn’t it funny how the years can slip by without one really noticing? I am looking forward to sipping on some hot tea, going on sea-filled walks and sharing everything we’ve missed in one another’s lives since we’ve been apart, and sitting or walking in comfortable silence as we are known to do as well.

She heads off to Brisbane after two days in Sydney, on a solo trip. I envision it as a strengthening trip, screaming her independence and strength as she arrives recently separated from her husband of almost three years. She will take some alone time to reclaim a part of herself that does not need a partner.

I will take my time with Josh, catching up, spending some none-routine time soaking in one another’s company with the luxury of time and no schedule.

We are still in the dead of winter here in Sydney, with cold cold nights with no heat indoors. The days aren’t so bad though…a little sunlight and you warm right up.

Why is life so busy the older you get, but the routines fill up so much space. So much space.

Happy Father’s Day

It’s Father’s Day in the United States, and I know a couple of dads we would’ve loved to spend the day with…

Being away from family is probably one of the most difficult things you face as an expat…especially as an expat in the country FURTHEST AWAY FROM YOUR HOME. To say I get homesick at times would be an understatement.

Josh is a different creature than me. I think he would happily live the rest of his days in Sydney. I approached him about going home for Christmas this year, and he flatly refused, saying that his parents needed to come visit Australia first.

I hesitate to travel without him because I am AWFUL at traveling…seriously, a nightmare to deal with. I get so motion sick and bored and can’t sleep and my feet don’t touch the floor because I’m so short and it really messes with my spine … basically, I need a Josh I can lay out on. A Josh who doesn’t mind. So dear parents, Josh is the main reason I am not coming home to you this Christmas.

But I regress…Father’s Day. We both had the opportunity to speak with our dads this morning, and well..it was pretty fantastic.

My dad was telling me all about a blues festival he went to just over the weekend, and that my mom was making him some BBQ for dinner, sounded lovely. Also, made me remember that neither of my parents have dads to call to wish a Happy Father’s Day and it made me a little sad, and very grateful that they are both just a phone call away.

Josh on his dad:

I talked to dad about golf that he’s played over the last week and some upcoming golf he’s got coming up this week. My brother is visiting him, so they’ve played more than a little bit of golf.

My parents have been at their summer camp enjoying the warm weather – as warm as New England can get.

We’ve been talking with both sets of parents a lot about them coming out to visit, but we’re still unsure when or if it will happen. I’m lucky to be able to Facetime with them whenever I want, but it would still be nice to show them this little corner of the world we live in.

Shelly Beach, Manly

Josh and I went to Shelly Beach in Manly a couple weekends ago with several friends. We can’t let too many weekends pass us by without snorkelling, once we discovered it. LOVE snorkelling on Shelly Beach; it is the hidden gem I always talk about because you can see SO much down there and it’s relatively sheltered with enough people around to give you a sense of comfort without crowding your style (and scaring the marine life). The photos didn’t come out great of fish and sharks we saw, but rest assured, they were down there! Enjoy 🙂

Something that cost less than $5 that brings you a lot of happiness

Today was a long day for both me and Josh. We both stayed at work for an extra hour (and a half in my case). So coming home was definitely a nice relief, but it was difficult to turn the brain off. Josh cooked dinner (we use HelloFresh and LOVE it for busy weeks because all the ingredients and recipes are included in a box that is delivered on Monday), and today we had a marinated beef stir fry and it was DELICIOUS.

After dinner we watched an episode I had saved up of Extreme Weight Loss. I’m hugely addicted to tv shows and while the rest of America is obsessed with The Biggest Loser, I find Extreme Weight Loss to be much more inspiring and you receive the satisfaction of seeing the person’s transformation by the end of the episode.

We were so inspired and tired of our day that Josh turned to be and said “how about we go to the gym right now?” Sure, why not? So we changed quick smart and crossed the road to our gym. Greatest idea 🙂 Nothing like endorphins to put you in a better mood.

Which leads me to the focus of this post….”Something that costs less than $5 that brings you a lot of happiness”

My last job in DC wasn’t as challenging as the roles I’ve taken on since, and I often ended up with a lot of spare time on my hands, having completed my work load. Because our responsibilities were so vertical, there was no opportunity to “help” out in other departments if we had extra time…Given this, I spent a lot of time prowling the internet in search of knowledge, entertainment, news…anything to make me feel a little more alive, a little more connected to this world, a more meaningful way to while away the hours until I could clock off and resume living my life.

Whilst mid-prowl one day, I came across a youtube channel featuring very uniquely choreographed dances to familiar and trendy songs. I was hooked. Modern dance coupled with meaningful songs send me to a happy place. And thus, I found my less than $5 thing that brings me a lot of happiness.

Please enjoy:

This is in my purse and I have no idea why…

Brief happenings update:

Last night Josh and I went to Vivid, a festival of lights in mainly around Circular Quay and Darling Harbour (and this year at Martin Place too). I’ll post photos at a later date. It was a little drizzly on and off, but we managed to see almost all of the exhibits without getting too wet. And it was also the Queens Birthday holiday 🙂 so we got this Monday off.

Earlier in the day, we went shopping at Birkenhead Outlets and Westfield. I think Josh was more excited to look at clothes than me! We bought some absolutely toasty comfy flannel sheets for our bed (seriously, so wonderful). Josh almost bought several sweaters, but my budget-conscious guy decided to hold off until the EOFYS (also known as the end of financial year sale – fiscal year ends 30 June here in Australia so the sales are upon us!).

We had a delicious dinner in the Westfield food court (seriously my favourite are the “soup” dumplings from Din Tai Fung), and then walked all over Circular Quay and The Rocks to check out all the light art exhibits. Josh and I both agreed that the art on the Opera House was a little cooler last year, but the use of sounds (clapping) at many of the exhibits was very cool 🙂

On to the subject of my post:

Today, Josh has charged me with “this is in my purse and I have no idea why…” Took me half a second to come up with something, and then it hit me! I have a very small travel-sized purel bottle in my purse.

This is normal to most people, but it’s weird for me.

I worry about pesticides on fruit and veggies, but not germs. I’m pretty sure that on occasion I ate dirt as a child. I credit my strengthened immune system to those filthy practices, haha. I only catch a random cold/flu here and there every couple years (touch wood, as they say here).

Back to the bottle of Purel, no idea how it got there, or why I bought it. Sometimes I’ll pass it around my group of friends, and people always take some – heck, I do too when it’s offered to me – I suppose you don’t want to be known as the dirty friend. But yeah, I’m really not a Purel kind of person and actually think it might do more harm than good.

(The one exception to this rule is after I visit an antique store. I ALWAYS wash or Purel after those trips. I think the reason being that I eat often, all the time, and with my hands – and I associate antique stores with dead people – and well, the two shall never meet…etc etc).

Things you WILL find in my purse, ALWAYS:

  1. $2 and $1 coins that I lift from Josh’s pocket change (this can sometimes add up to $30 !!)
  2. SPF 30+ lip balm (because it’s sunny in Australia and there’s skin cancer)
  3. A mini umbrella because being caught out in the rain is terrible (it will rain for a week straight in Oz then be sunny for two months straight, but God forbid you get caught out at the beginning of rainy week without an umbrella)
  4. MyMulti train and bus ticket
  5. Wallet, Phone, Keys
  6. 7 pens (you never know when you will need one)
  7. Roll up reusable bag (thank you, Auntie Diane) – I enjoy shopping for groceries, cards, household items, clothes… on my way home from work)
  8. Seashells from some beach on my last vacation (because I’m weird)
  9. A handful of my business cards, Josh’s business card, random people I have met at events’ business cards…
  10. A book (although this is less frequently found in my purse as I carry too much stuff around as it is)

Hope your week is starting off well!

The one thing that blew my mind when I first arrived in Australia…

Hello and apologies for my absence yesterday. It was Friday. I worked until 6pm (instead of my usual 5pm). It’s cold. Start of the long weekend. Please accept my excuses – I really just wanted to sit on the couch and eat the delicious crispy-skinned salmon that Josh made me for dinner and relax.

A good thing came of not writing yesterday….Josh said I get two byes this month. One gone, one to go…

So, the theme of today’s post is: The one thing that blew my mind when I first arrived in Australia…

Australia is a funny country. You arrive and it’s JUST like the U.S. Sure, people drive on the other side of the street and have a funny accent, but they look pretty much the same and dress pretty much the same and there are familiar things everywhere you go: bars, malls, convenience stores, restaurants….etc etc. So at first glance you are lulled into comfort, thinking you are basically at home only a little different.

But then, you go to do something simple like check your email – as I first did when we dropped our bags off in our corporate housing to let my parents know we arrived safe and sound. No internet. Strange, but oh well, maybe it’s just a cheap accommodation (it wasn’t). So then you go to a nearby cafe to try for their wi-fi, and you’re told they do not have any. And you stop by a hotel lobby and they charge, and another cafe and a restaurant and-and-and….finally you discover that McDonald’s is the only place in the CBD that has free wi-fi (that I could find) and it’s spotty and cuts out every 15 minutes or so especially when used by lost of backpackers. It blew my mind. I realised how much I had taken free wi-fi EVERYWHERE for granted. In Australia you either have to pay for it, or it’s just not available. As a visitor, this is maddening, but for residents it’s not too noticeable because you have your wi-fi at home, and for all other things you use your phone.

The second thing that blew my mind when I first arrived in Australia is the lack of good television shows. Everything good came over from the U.S. and it was late by a day, week or season… I finally discovered My Kitchen Rules (which I love so much now) and The Block, but no good dramas. I still mostly watch American shows (and the odd cheesy Canadian one – I’m an addict). It made me appreciate the creativity and inventive nature of Americans in regards to entertainment.

Other notable things that blew my mind when I first arrived: the cost of everything, the incredible freshness of food, the overall amazing health of Australians in Sydney, work-life balance, laid back Aussie attitude ….

That’s it for now, see you tomorrow!