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a happy birthday wish

A happy birthday ode to my one-and-only. Happy 28th, B! Can’t wait to celebrate with you in 3 weeks <3

Ode to Brandon
28 years, where does time go?
A silly question, one we’ll never know.

Yet every year on our birthday we tend to ask
why does time go by so fast?

For the last two years you’ve been down-under, in the tropics and sun
leaving everyone back home envious of your adventures and fun.
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But most people don’t realize the sacrifices you’ve made
leaving home for an international opportunity, things could change, relationships could fade.

You left having no fear at age twenty-six
a tall, handsome, American ready for his Australian fix.

Fresh off the plane in 2012 with no family or friends
can you believe it now, when you think about then?
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First up was wrong-side of the road driving coupled with a stick shift, too,
you were an instant pro, excelling as you always do.
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Then nailing down an apartment with quite a view
I’ll never forget living there, sharing those moments with you.
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Meeting new people, making best mates
becoming an avid cross-fitter with a constant 5:30 p.m. date.
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You’ve seen New Zealand, Dubai, all of Australia and more
true experiences that have opened so many doors.
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Leaving home at 26, soon returning, now 28
this opportunity it must have been fate.

It showed you the world, exposed you to new  people, places and things,
even when you missed home, you embraced this time and all that it could bring.
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Two years have come and gone, where did they go?
For you, they went fast, for me they went slow.

My wish is to never spend another birthday apart;
can’t wait to have you home, love you with all my heart.

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xoxo

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This week, In a nutshell

This week, in a nutshell, I’ve been quite an emotional basket-case. It’s my last few days here, which means it’s crunch-time. Time to cancel contracts (gym, phone, etc.), deal with the last of my university withdrawal paperwork, order books for classes back home, and above all else, say goodbyes. UGH, I dread goodbyes. Oh and I should probably start packing too, but I despise packing. Clearly this means I’ll likely be doing this right up until the morning I leave #likemotherlikedaughter  (kidding, kind-of…haha love you, Mom!)

Anyway, in other news this week:
-I’ve had quite possibly the sorest throat of my life (maybe this is my body’s way of telling me it doesn’t want to leave Australia?) Either way, it’s been fun to soothe it with pretty coffees, tea, and  and lots of gelato and fro-yo:
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Sue and I on a cappuccino date : –)

-I’ve had to say goodbye to some of my closest girlfriends here:
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Love you girls! Please come visit in the U.S.A.!!!

(Side-note: I wore my new high-low dress, and although I was a bit scared to buy this and not-so-sure about this trend, I’m loving it! #tjmaxx4life)
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-I’ve drank my favorite sparkling wine every night with Sue to celebrate/mourn the last of vacation and this beautiful place:
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-I’ve taken advantage of outdoor workouts and walks daily, to soak up this view as much as possible:
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-I’ve done a lot of cooking because I’m really going to miss this kitchen and the view:
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-I may not have started packing…but I did find the perfect suitcase:

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hehehe thanks to Brandon’s Dad for posing. Look how big that thing is!

-Any other last-minute packers like me out there?
-Do you have a high-low dress/what do you think of this trend?
-What’s your week been like in a nutshell?

Focusing on the firsts

Happy weekend, all! Can you believe it’s August? I for one sure can’t. But so far, I’m loving August, and especially loving our special visitors:
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They’ve only been here a few days, but we’re loving every second. It’s going to be a fun two weeks : –)

Anyway, I wanted to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for your comments on my last post. It was difficult for me to write and express what I was feeling, and I truly appreciate the heartfelt words.

After writing that post, I got to thinking and I must admit I was getting sad, too.  August is going to be full of ‘first and last’ experiences for me in Australia. What I mean by ‘firsts and lasts’ is: ‘first trip here, last meal there, last dinner here’, etc.  I realize it’s a pretty depressing way of thinking, so I know I need to change that. Instead of getting sad over this, I’m making it a goal of mine to embrace each and every experience I have left in my two weeks here and focus on the ‘firsts’, instead of the ‘lasts’. This week’s firsts included:

My first rugby games (Go Cowboys!):
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First meat pie (it was actually roasted vegetable, but it was deeeelicious!):
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First official ‘winter porridge’ in Australia:
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First run in my new sneakers (I am loving these Nike Free’s!):
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First trip with B’s parents to Hervey’s Range:
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First fancy coffee’s with Sue at Jam Corner (flat whites and cappuccinos, yes please):
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First attempt (and a successful one, at that!) cooking potatoes on pizza:
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First time wearing my ‘Boston Strong’ tee (love you Michelle!):

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First attempt cooking Cauliflower Rice (my new favorite side dish, I think!)
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First hat shopping experience in Australia:

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First time wearing my starfish scarf (I seriously have an accessory problem addiction):
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(Sidenote: I am REALLY going to miss wearing t-shirts in the winter!!)

Well, I’m off to enjoy this beautiful Sunday. Have a special rest of your weekend!

Did you have any ‘firsts’ this week?

Never Too Old For Dress-Up

Happy weekend, friends! How are you? Having a restful weekend? I sure hope so. I’ve  rested for most of the day today because I may have had a littleeee too much fun last night.  A sure sign of this was that Brandon and I both woke up with headaches! Luckily, we were both craving the same thing this morning: scones. I  was just recently told about a bakery in town that sells fresh scones with cream and jam for just $3.00, so that’s exactly where we headed. Good, fresh scones that aren’t crumbly are extremely hard to come-by in my opinion, but these are spot-on!  We’ve become hooked after just two visits. Just look at these raspberry beauties:
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Anyway, I needed that cappuccino in a bad way this morning because we attended a masquerade ball yesterday evening (our first) and it was a blast. I felt like I was playing dress-up all night thanks to my mask. I must say, getting dolled up every once-in-a-while is so darn fun!
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Since this was my first masquerade ball/mask-wearing experience, I had no idea what to do with my hair. Most of my friends here got their hair professionally done, but I really enjoy curling/doing my hair (and I need to be saving money!) so I opted to experiment with a curly low side-ponytail:
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I was happy with my decision to wear it up, especially at the end of the night. I always find that when I wear it down and curly, it is just so straggly after a few hours. Not this time! : )
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Isn’t my date handsome? Winking smile
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The masquerade ball was put-on by the gym Brandon and I are both members of here, which I think is pretty out-of-the-ordinary for a gym to do! They held the ball as the concluding ceremony to their 12-Week Challenge competition that they sponsor each year.
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Basically, any gym member can sign up for the challenge, and while I’d heard this competition was always popular in the past, this year it was more popular because the winning prize was $10,000! Besides that, the winning personal trainer also received $1,000. Our friend Zac was actually the winning trainer, and Brandon had some fun stealing holding onto his giant check:
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“I always wanted to do this!”-Brandon

I really enjoyed the night as a whole. In addition to having drinks and a nice dinner with many of our close friends, it was so inspiring to hear the top-10 participants speak and see their ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos revealed. In total, the contestants lost 654 kilos (which is about 1,442 lbs!!!). Plus, I loved seeing people from the gym all dressed up that I’d only ever seen previously in work-out clothes!
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I owe a HUGE thank you to my Mom for mailing me my dress. I bought it last year for a black-tie event at Brandon’s company but haven’t had a reason to wear it since. I didn’t pack-it when I moved to Australia because  I certainly didn’t think I’d need many (if any) formal clothes as a student. It is easily the most comfortable formal gown I’ve ever owned, so I was excited to have the chance to wear it again. You are never too-old to play dress-up, at least not in my book!

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Does anyone else hate paying so much money for a dress and only having the chance to wear it once-or-twice?
I do, so I was ecstatic to wear this a second-time around. It makes me feel like I got my money’s worth : )

Have you ever been to a masquerade ball?
Do you like to dress-up?
I love it, and I’ll find any excuse to do so!

In with the new

Hey there and happy weekend! Thank you all so much for your warm well-wishes for my Dad. I Face-timed with he and my Mom last night and he was LOVING his first official day of retirement. Their plans included a long walk in the morning, followed by a boat ride and a lobster dinner with friends. What a day! I’m so proud of him. 
Anyway, I did some new-to-me things this past week and got some new things too, so I thought it might be fun to share : –)

First up, New hair: After 6 months, I finally took the plunge and got my hair colored in Australia. This was a huge deal for me because I have gotten my hair cut and foiled by the same hairdresser back home since I was 16 years old. That’s an 11-year relationship right there! To say I was scared to branch out and try a new one  (especially in a new country) was an understatement. I love the end result and finally feel like “me” again. Is it just me, or does a hair appointment make anyone else feel SO much better?!
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Right after my appointment
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New hair half-up for a night-out with the girls!

New breakfast: I’m an oatmeal lover, but I was getting tired of my apple-cinnamon oats combination. I decided to mix it up with frozen blueberries (because fresh are WAY to expensive to even justify buying here), and I’ve been loving the result. With cinnamon, almonds, raisins, and brown sugar mixed in, it reminds me of blueberry muffins. Yum!
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New sneakers: At my job we’re required to wear all-black everything, including sneakers, which I didn’t have since I much prefer neon or bright-white colors over black any-day. I quickly picked up an inexpensive $10 pair at Target for my first few shifts and it was one of the worst decisions ever. At a job when you’re on your feet all day, good sneakers are so important.  Since I tend to develop chin splints quite easily, my feet, ankles, shins and knees were not happy with me for the last few weeks; I seriously felt pain all over! I quickly ordered these Nike Frees (5’s) and I’m loving the support they offer. Plus I think they’re pretty cute for black sneakers!
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New dinner: I try to keep frozen shrimp on hand for simple meal ideas, and these worked great in a stir-fry dinner last week. I combined shrimp, cabbage, peppers, broccoli and water chestnuts with teriyaki sauce, garlic and some brown sugar, and served it over a bed of pad-thai noodles. This was a winning dinner!
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New baking buddy: Brandon helps me prepare dinner quite often, but I usually bake by myself. However, this weekend  he joined me and I have to say, I really enjoyed the company! We made Funfetti cookies together (we’ve been hoarding the boxed mix from back home since Christmas…we’re slightly obsessed), and then I whipped up some homemade vanilla cupcakes, too. Such a fun weekend treat!
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I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Did you try anything new last week?
Do you tend to go to the same hairstylist over and over again?
I just love mine and feel like I’m “cheating” on her if I go elsewhere!

What’s your favorite brand of running sneakers?
Lately, I’m loving my Nike’s, but I love Asics too!

three things thursday

Hello there and happy Thursday, how has your week been? First, I wanted to say that both Brandon and I are so saddened by the devastation that has occurred in Oklahoma.  Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those affected <3

On another note, I can’t believe how quickly this week has flown by!  One more week of class is complete and I have just one more to go (not that I’m counting or anything) : –)
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I was just a litttttle excited to be off to my last lab of the semester!

I’ve actually been quite productive on the study-front this week, so I am hoping (fingers crossed) I’ll get enough accomplished tomorrow so that I can take most of the weekend off from studying. We shall see. Anyway, last Thursday I shared three things that had kept me on track and focused all week, so I kept that in mind for this week, too. Here’s three things that helped keep me focused and productive this week:

1)  Staying organized:
I’m not sure what I’d do without my planner. Maybe I’m stuck in the dark ages, but I just can’t get used to an electronic calendar or planner.  I know there’s Google Calendar and zillions of other options, but I have always felt like I NEED to see something written in my planner for it to be a legitimate plan. Also, call me crazy but I love buying a new, fun, decorative planner each year. I always look forward to it because it makes it seem like I’m starting out the year with a clean slate!
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2)Rotisserie chicken to the rescue:
I struggled with meal-planning this week because I wasn’t really craving anything and I knew I wouldn’t have much time to devote to cooking dinner each night. All I can say is thank goodness for the easiness and versatility of rotisserie chicken. Most of the time, it’s actually cheaper than buying fresh chicken breasts here, and it saved me so much time! Plus, we ate it for multiple meals. First, I added it to a vegetable risotto to give it a protein boost…

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…and then I used it in a South-western  black-bean quinoa stuffed pepper meal. I’ll share the recipe soon, I was so happy with how they came out!

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3) Maximizing my time outside:
Fresh air truly does wonders for me.  To take advantage of the beautiful weather, I opted to study outside on our balcony multiple times, studied outside before and after classes rather than opt for my usual table inside the library, and exercised as much as possible outdoors, too.  I felt more awake, revived, and just felt happier. I love the outdoors, and I am especially loving Autumn in Australia!

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Thumbs down to Anatomy…thumbs up to outdoor studying
(Please excuse the hanging laundry!)

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Can’t beat that sunrise after my work-out on Wednesday : –)

So, does anyone else use a planner or am I seriously stuck in the dark ages?
Do you ever buy rotisserie chicken? If so, what do you make with it?
I often just shred the chicken and use it as salad toppers and inside of wraps or sandwiches, but I really enjoyed adding it into meals this week!

Friday favorites-australia edition

Hey friends, happy Friday! I started the day off by waking up at the awful hour of 5 a.m. to finish studying for 3 hours before FINALLY completing an anatomy quiz I’ve been preparing for all week. (Professors who think that it’s possible to complete 20 questions about the bones, muscles, and systems of the human body in 20 minutes are NOT my friends today!) It was not fun but I did well in the end so the extra studying was worth it! To celebrate, I headed to the spin class that I love but don’t usually get to go to given the random 9:15 a.m. class-time. I followed it up with a short jog to cool-down. It felt great to sweat, as always.
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Side-note: Thank you all for the kind comments about my new job. The first week went well, and I’m really enjoying it!

Anyway, since it’s Friday and I haven’t done an “Australia Favorites”( or “favourites” as it’s spelled here) post in far too long, I figured I’d share some of my newest favorites down-under today. 

1) Koala ice-cube trays: I don’t know about you, but I’ve always loved fun-shaped ice-cubes. These koala shapes took my love to a whole new level! I found these in Sydney and had to have them. They were TOTALLY worth the $14 in my opinion…totally. And while we’re on the subject of ice-cubes, coffee ice-cubes just may be the best invention ever. Brandon and I have been freezing our left-over coffee into ice-cubes at night and it makes our glasses of iced-coffee last so much longer. Genius!
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2) Sugar Free and fruity alcoholic beverages: I don’t drink that often, but when I do I like to  enjoy the taste of what I drink! I am a big fan of twisted teas and hard lemonades back home, so I was hoping to find something similar over here for a treat every now and then.  I was introduced to these “Sugar Free Cruisers” by a friend and I’m really enjoying them. They come in a variety of different flavors and they don’t leave an acidic feeling in my stomach like many other fruity drinks do. Right now, I’m loving the mixed berry.
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3) Veggie Burgers and sweet potato fries: I have lost count of the number of nights that I’ve consumed packaged veggie burgers and sweet potato fries in the last month, but I’m okay with that. These are an easy, healthy option when I’m in a time-crunch or don’t feel like cooking and it’s much more affordable and healthier than the fast-food alternative. Plus, if I can’t have my Morningstar Farms Black Bean Burgers, then I’ll take these!
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#ketchupproblems

4) Blue Ribbon 3-in 1 Light Ice-Cream: I remember enjoying Neapolitan ice-cream (chocolate/vanilla/strawberry flavor) as a child, but I don’t ever remember seeing it made with other flavor combinations…until I moved to Australia that is. This.is.awesome. Light vanilla/caramel/honeycomb ice-cream, all-in-one. I am hooked!
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5) Sun-shields for cars: Nearly everyone I see parked around town or at the University has a sun-shield for their car, except for me. It’s important because it saves the interior of the car from fading and keeps it cooled off from the constant glare of the sun.  I’ve been waiting to find the perfect one, and I think I found it:
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Hehehe…just kidding!  I laughed SO hard when I saw that.

6) The “cooler” weather: It’s autumn here now which means the humidity is gone. Bring on the scarves and sweaters! I had been dying to wear the new scarf and bracelet Brandon’s brother and sister-in-law had given me for Christmas. I finally had the chance!
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7) Outdoor stair work-outs and outdoor exercise in general: To me, it never gets old exercising outside since I was only able to do it about 4 or 5 months out of the year in New England. Where we are now, exercising outdoors is even better with the cooler weather. Just look at these stairs!
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8) Weet-Bix Bites: My favorite cereal just got even better with a brand new flavor. This combination is made with wholegrain wheat, oats, chunky shredded coconut, and golden syrup. I’m literally shipping boxes to America when we move home…I have an addiction!
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9) Sunrises and sunsets: I’ll always love them, especially in Australia. Look at the pink skies I saw one night on my ride home from class!

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10) Seeing these little boys: I know they aren’t in Australia, but seeing my nephews ALWAYS puts a smile on my face. I hope they make you smile, too!
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Have a great Friday!

What are you up to this weekend?
On Sunday, I’m planning on running in a Mother’s Day 5K with some friends. Since I can’t be with my Mom, I’ll run it in her honor : – ) Love you, Mom!
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