Five on Friday

Happy Friday everyone! I feel like this week went by too fast, and I’m ready for the weekend. So without further ado..

| ONE | March 1 marked the first day of fall in Australia, and it’s funny because when we returned to Sydney on Monday, it definitely felt a touch cooler. Not to mention I can bear to sleep with a blanket on top of me for the first time…well, since we moved here. That being said, endless summer: Ill miss you!

| TWO | This weekend, Sydney hosts the annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade, celebrating the vibrant community here in Sydney. They’re already shutting down streets in anticipation for this weekend’s event – over 10,000 people are scheduled to participate – and Nick Jonas will be performing. I cant wait to see this!

| THREE | Is a funfetti cake ever a bad idea? I love that that Molly experimented with different sprinkles. A girl after my own heart.

Give me ALL the sprinkles, please (image via

| FOUR | Have y’all seen the Ad Council’s recent video on love, inclusion and diversity? If you haven’t, do yourself a happy favor and watch below – how much better is love than hate? Love is patient, love is kind.

| FIVE | Last, but certainly not least, my mom is coming to visit at the end of the month, and I cant wait! I tried not to think about it too much up until now as it still felt quite a ways away, but now that we’re in the same month as her arrival, I’ve started the planning process! Already booked our Sydney Opera House trip: Madame Butterfly :D

Happy March, everyone! Until next time…


A Liz Adventures | North Carolina Charm | Hello! Happiness | The Good Life

The one in Tasmania

This past Monday was the first day of fall in Australia and Labor Day (or Labour Day, if you’re going to be Australian about it) in Western Australia, so we decided to make an escape to Tasmania. And we had a devil of a time (see what I did there?) :) Frankly, I thought that Tasmania was a different country than Australia altogether, but I was mistaken: it is a state within the country. (Remember this as I feel like it could be a trivia question or something..)

Bridport, Tasmania

Bridport, Tasmania

It was kind of a last minute trip (shocker for us), but essentially the journey revolved around relaxation and golf. I’d love to get back down there one of these days (though I see it as being unlikely) to see Hobart and the famous MONA (Museum of Old and New Art – love the name!) and the food scene there, but this trip was all about northeast Tassie, as many call it. (I choose not to.)

We flew from Sydney to Launceston on Saturday morning (it’s about an hour and a half flight) and spent the morning in this little town. In typical Blanton vacation fashion, it rained (at least on day 1), but we made the most of our time in Lonny, as some call it (I choose not to.)

The Cataract Gorge in Launceston, Tasmania

The Cataract Gorge in Launceston, Tasmania

The number one attraction in Launceston is the Cataract Gorge, so rain be damned, off we went!

Cataract Gorge in Launceston, Tasmania

Cataract Gorge in Launceston, Tasmania



While Launceston, Tasmania is quaint, there isn’t a whole heck of a lot to do there, especially in in-climate weather, so we decided to make our way further north to Bridport.

The Tamar Valley in northeast Tasmania

The Tamar Valley in northeast Tasmania (image via

Why Bridport? Well, I mentioned the golf. Bridport is home to two world famous, top-ranked golf courses at the Barnbougle Resort: the Dunes and Lost Farm. Both are ranked as top 100 courses in the world. While we were down under, Barr (an avid golfer) was all about trying to play as many cool courses here as possible.

Barnbougle Dunes golf course in Bridport Tasmania

Barnbougle Dunes golf course in Bridport Tasmania

Thankfully the weather cleared up for us for the remainder of the weekend! While Barr hit the little white ball around the links on Sunday, I hit up the Barnbougle spa (nothing to write home about – with the exception of the views):

The views of the coast from Barnbougle's spa

The views of the coast from Barnbougle’s spa

I cant even

I cant even

And then headed to the Bridestowe Lavender Farm, which was about 40 minutes from Bridport. Unfortunately, they had just harvested the lavender so the fields weren’t in full bloom, but it was still a breathtaking sight.

Bridestowe Lavender Farm, Tasmania

Bridestowe Lavender Farm, Tasmania

Bridestowe Lavender Farm, Tasmania

Bridestowe Lavender Farm, Tasmania

Monday (Western Australia’s Labour Day) we got another full day in Tasmania. I wanted to walk the Dunes course with Barr, and we had a great time. The course butts up right on the ocean and in typical Australian golf course fashion, we saw plenty of kangaroos. The greens were really tricky and I know my husband was thoroughly challenged – but definitely didnt want the round to be over; I wasnt even playing, but I didnt either!

Barnbougle Dunes, Tasmania

Barnbougle Dunes, Tasmania

Barnbougle Dunes, Tasmania

Barnbougle Dunes, Tasmania

Barnbougle Dunes, Tasmania

Barnbougle Dunes, Tasmania

Obviously from the pictures above, the town of Bridport, Tasmania is on the coast, and the beaches were incredible. It was a wee bit cold to take a dip, but again, like so many beaches in Australia, everything is just so untouched and rugged.

Bridport Tasmania 5

Bridport, Tasmania

Bridport, Tasmania

Bridport, Tasmania

I’d definitely recommend a visit to Tasmania if you’re nearby. Bridport is a bit remote and quiet, but if you’re into golf, you really cant miss it – it’s one of a kind. Although we didnt see any Tasmanian Devils, it was a one of a kind experience. Until next time…

Local Legends: The Six O’Clock Swill

This week’s Travel Tuesday is a little bit different than previous Tuesdays as this week’s has a theme: local legends. So here we go with a pseudo-local legend here in Australia (and New Zealand, for that matter): the six o’clock swill.

In the states, most of us have heard of the Prohibition era of the 1920s (Al Capone, etc), but you may have not known that similar movements to curb alcohol sales were occurring around the world at approximately the same time, Australia and New Zealand included.

An ad urging citizens to support the 6PM closing of pubs (image via (

A Kiwi transplant here in Sydney first mentioned the six o’clock swill to me as a blog post idea (thanks, Phil!) when we were discussing the nomenclature of pubs/bars throughout Australia as “hotels”. Ever since we lived in Perth, I never really understood why so many of the local pubs and restaurants were suffixed with “hotel”: Subiaco Hotel, Unicorn Hotel, Coogee Beach Hotel, etc. You can’t drive two blocks without seeing a “hotel”, but these aren’t the type of hotels you’d book into for a week’s stay. (We were really confused at first, too.)

The Subiaco Hotel in Subiaco,, WA – one of our favorite hotels in Perth (image via

So what’s up with the name? Well, the reason dates back to late nineteenth century when, after pressure from conservative “Temperance Leagues” (kill joys?), new liquor legislation was implemented with a number of restrictions, including a stipulation that forced pubs to also provide accommodation. The presence of a few rooms (rarely used) and the “hotel” name then gave some impression the rules were being followed. Fast forward to present day, even when a new bar pops up, for the sake of continuity and history, the suffixation of hotel has stuck.

So what does this all have to do with the six o’clock swill (and what is that exactly?)

After World War One, there was a revival of temperance and the improvement of public morality in Australia, and in 1916 (following a particularly violent, drunken riot in Sydney), the hotels were required to close at 6PM. This obviously led to a huge surge of folks rushing to get their pint in after work ended. What’s more interesting is that many hotels and pubs completely changed their feng-shui to allow for more patrons to get in during that after work surge – billiard tables were removed, chairs and high boys were taken out, the bar tops were reconfigured into horseshoe shapes to allow for more patrons to be served and more doors were added to all sides of the establishment to ensure they were letting in as many people as possible from as many entrances as possible. Even today, in most of the older hotels, you’ll notice that there are plenty of points of entry for patrons and the bar is in a horseshoe shape.

A Melbourne hotel during the six o’clock swill – gotta get your booze! (image via

Although these restrictions were created to reduce public intoxication and crime, it seems to have only encouraged this type of alcohol-fuled mayhem due to the small window allowed for drinking (between ending work and the six o’clock closing). Car crashes and domestic assaults reported actually increased during this initial period, and of course, the black market for alcohol still existed (and thrived.)

All Australian states had abolished this legislation by the 1960s (Tasmania led the way as early as 1937), but the legacy and legend of the Australian hotels, six o’clock swill and prohibition live on throughout Australia. Next time you’re down under (or in New Zealand), pop into one of the local “hotels” and scope out the decor; I’ll bet you’ll note plenty of entry points and a very expansive bar. And thankfully, you can still grab a beer after 6pm in Australia :) Until next time…

Travel Tuesday Abbys Roads


What a Wonderful World | MishFish | Rhyme & Ribbons | Where the Heart Is

5 American Habits I Lost When I Moved to Australia

I recently came across this article: 15 American Habits I Lost When I Moved to Australia. I lol-ed incredibly hard at some of them as they were bang on how I felt about a handful of habits or ways of thinking I picked up since moving to Australia almost a year ago (a year ago?? Man y’all, time flies…)

Now some of them are a bit hard on us Yanks and I dont necessarily agree with them, but others – like the five below – are perfection.

Being a super tourist on my first week in Perth

Being a super tourist on my first week in Perth – definitely still acting American here ;)

Anyway, here are my top 5 American habits that I feel I’ve lost since moving to the land down under for the weekly 5 on Friday.

Image via

| ONE | Disregarding loose change. I think I learned this back when I lived in Canada, but it was certainly reinforced once we moved to Perth and then onto Sydney. Those $1 and $2 coins, annoyingly heavy as they may be (primarily the 50cent pieces), add up to a glass of wine quickly!

| TWO | Expecting air conditioning on full blast, everywhere I go. Our Sydney apartment was case in point (Perth was a wee bit hotter and therefore we did have A/C), but I guess most flats and homes dont have A/C or heat for the winter for that matter. That being said, having the windows open when the breeze is up works almost as well. Either way, I miss air conditioning!!!

My current means of air circulation

My current means of air circulation

| THREE | Looking left when I cross the street. I’m not as bad about this as I used to be, but I know I must look like a goon when I look the wrong way down a one way street. Totally give myself away…(this also applies to getting in on the proper side when driving our car.)

| FOUR | Tipping. The concept of tipping in Australia is similar to that in Europe: it’s of course up to you based on the service you receive, but it’s certainly not expected. In fact, we’ve had more bartenders or bell hops (particularly the latter) about give themselves in aneurysm over their glee should we slip them even a dollar or two (perhaps some of that extra change?) I feel weird not tipping, but I with food/hotel/taxi prices what they are in Australia, I’m slowly coming round.

| FIVE | Using a dryer. We have a washer/dryer combo, but like a shampoo/conditioner combo, the two have very different roles and I dont believe that when they’re combined, either can do their job properly – so I still use a drying rack and our balcony to dry our items. Dear (solo) dryer, I miss you, but I’m now used to life without you.

Until next time…


A Liz Adventures | North Carolina Charm | Hello! Happiness | The Good Life

The one with “Pop to Popism”

Pop to Popism Sydney 2

The Art Gallery of New South Wales is currently holding an absolutely amazing exhibit entitled Pop to Popism. (It’s only around for another few days, Sydney-siders so be sure to check it out!)

Image via Art Gallery of NSW

I had a big plan to take great shots of my favorite pieces, but sadly, there was no photography allowed inside the exhibit for copyright reasons, but you’ll have to trust me when I say that the pop to popism pieces that the gallery brought it were spectacular, particularly quite a few that I had never seen before by some Australian pop artists.



Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons, Roy Lichenstein, and Jasper Johns (my personal favorite) are some household names when it comes to pop art, and the exhibit had plenty of pieces by these renowned pop artists, but Aussie pop artists (like Martin Sharp, Colin Lanceley and Bridgid McLean) got love too.

This was part of the Pop to Popism exhibit you could snap a shot of, but they also had the original Marilyns by Warhol

This was part of the Pop to Popism exhibit you could snap a shot of, but they also had the original Marilyns by Warhol, too

The exhibit itself was packed, especially with plenty of school children there on field trips (oh the days of field trips!), and I can understand why. If you’re in Sydney this weekend, be sure to stop by before it closes on March 1! Until next time…

The Art Gallery of NSW with the Pop to Popism exhibit highlighted

The Art Gallery of NSW, with the Pop to Popism exhibit highlighted

The one with the Sydney running routes

Yesterday, Barr and I met for lunch in Sydney’s CBD and we couldn’t help but notice all of the lunchtime runners. Where were they running? I didnt stop them to ask, but Sydney-siders are definitely super active. And why not? There are plenty of Sydney running routes all around the city.


So dont worry, Mom (and other fellow runners who live in or are visiting Sydney): I’ve narrowed down some of my 3 favorite Sydney running routes:

  • Bondi to Coogee (or vice versa) – 10k: I’ve gone on and on about this one, and it really speaks for itself. I mean, you’re running on the coast without the extra pain of running on the sand. The only downside? It can get a bit crowded in the afternoons and weekends, so if you’re serious about your jog, stick to the mornings and evenings.
Coogee to Bondi Trail

Barr and I trying our hand at the Coogee to Bondi trail last June (yes, the water is literally the same shade of blue as his shirt)

  • Harbor-side track – 12k: These paths take you past some of Sydney’s most iconic landmarks – the kilometers (or miles) go by before you know it when you have places like the Sydney Opera House, The Royal Botanic Gardens and Mrs Macquarie’s chair to keep you distracted. I’d recommend starting at Circular Quay, make your way over to the Opera House, cut through the Botanic Gardens (don’t bypass Mrs Macquarie’s chair!), up through Hyde Park. Stop here, or you can continue on Liverpool to Darling Harbor, before crossing Pyrmont Bridge to head back into the city and ultimately, Circular Quay.
  • The Bay Run – 7k: One of my favorite runs, probably ever – though I’ve only done it once. This loop takes you along the coast of Iron Cove Bay, and given that it’s all on the water, this busy trail stays relatively cool.

Iron Cove Bay running loop (image via Map My Run)

In addition to these 3, there are so many large parks to keep runners or walkers occupied any day of the week. There are so many great Sydney running routes and trails, and I love to find the same in new cities I visit.

That being said, do y’all have any suggestions for your cities? Id love to hear them! Until next time…

Linking up with Travel Tuesday – check out plenty of other blog posts from travelers around the globe.

The one with the aperture overview

I am by no means a photography expert. Not even close. I’ve took a month long Photography 101 course during our time in Dubai last December, but have zero training beyond that – which I think the photos on my blog are a testament of ;) That being said, I can take my DSLR or my mirror-less (aka micro 4/3s) cameras off of the auto setting and shoot in several of the different modes.

When I was back in the states last January, a few of my friends asked if I would do a handful of posts on just some basic camera tips I learned from both the course I took as well as trial and error (the latter being a key one to my photographic education), which I loved the idea of, but I did want to write the above disclaimer so that everyone was fully aware that I by no means deem myself an expert – hopefully Ill just put some camera/photography tips in layman’s terms and we can all learn a bit together :) Dont forget to scroll down for the aperture overview cheat sheet at the bottom of the post.

Aperture Overview Camera Tips

What is aperture?

  • On your camera knob, it’s the “A” letter on the dial
  • It dictates how much light you let into the camera
Camera settings may vary, but here you can see the "A" aperture mode on my mirror-less camera

Camera settings vary, but here you can see the “A” aperture mode on my mirror-less camera

Why use it?

  • You know those pictures where part of the photo is really clear and focused and maybe the background is blurry? That’s feature of the aperture function – also called “depth of field”

How to apply it?

  • Twist your camera’s knob to the “A” function – this means you’re manually controlling the depth of field and your camera will automatically correct the shutter speed accordingly
  • On the screen or camera’s settings (each one is different, so reference your specific manual or Google), you’ll see a range of numbers (called “f-stops”) – here’s you cheat sheet overview for aperture:
    •  Smaller f-stop # = shallow depth of field = blurrier background
    • Larger f-stop # = more depth of field = everything in the photo is crisp

Depth of Field Comparison Aperture

When do to use it?

  • Shallow depth of field (blurry background – smaller #): Use when isolating subjects (i.e., portraits) and best to use in low light
  • Greater depth of field (all subjects crisp – larger #): Use when in a sunnier or well-lit area – this feature is great for getting a clean landscape shot

So there’s a little aperture overview for your photographic pleasure, with a little cheat sheet image below. Happy snapping! And until next time…

Aperture Cheat Sheet Camera Tips



Five on Friday

Another week is almost over – I feel like February has flown by! Happy Friday, y’all and enjoy my five for the week.

| ONE | I recently started two part-time jobs here in Sydney and one is with a photography gallery, and last night, the gallery held an exhibit opening for Australian photographer, Alexia Sinclair. This particular exhibit had increased hype around it as Alexia was recently in the news for her work with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation‘s photography project on the importance of global vaccinations, The Art of Saving a Life. Consider me a fan. (And if you’re in Sydney, be sure to check out Ms Sinclair’s exhibit, Rococo, at The Black Eye Gallery!)

Alexia Sinclair’s powerful pro-vaccination message for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Art of Saving a Life” project (image via

| TWO | My sister sent me this Buzzfeed article on an aspect of a giant (excuse the pun) art installation in Perth last week, Journey of the Giants. Although a bit terrifying, I’m bummed I missed out on this one in Perth, but the pictures are pretty neat!

Journey of the Giants in Perth (image via

| THREE | I hope I dont sound like a snot to everyone back home in the frigid states when I say it’s been quite warm and humid here, but given that weather, it’s tomato season (you remember the Tomato Festival was on my list last Friday), and with that, I’ve been preparing one of my favorite tomato dishes, panzanella by, who else?, the Barefoot Contessa!

| FOUR | Our shipment arrived from the states earlier this week, and I couldn’t be more ecstatic! Although it wasnt much, I loved getting a “new” batch of clothes, our pillows/sheets/towels and lots of pictures and books from the states :)

| FIVE | Speaking of “home”, I was reading Design Sponge (one of my favorites) and saw this new whimsically illustrated book by Carson Ellis entitled Home. I feel like it perfectly depicts all the various definitions of what a home truly is – and given my Eastern European-ish ancestry, I particularly love this one.

Home by Carson Ellis (image via

Happy Friday, have great weekends and until next time…



A Liz Adventures | North Carolina Charm | Hello! Happiness | The Good Life

The one with our beach pad

I’ve previously written posts on our home in Dubai (here and here), and they’re some of my more popular posts – I guess people love to see where other people live. I’m guilty as charged as well, so no shame here :) Lots of our friends and family have requested pictures as well as an apartment tour of our new Australian abode – I really wanted to wait until our shipment from the states got to us, which it just did!, so the pictures would have little touches of us and not just the stock furniture. So without further ado…

Right round the corner from our house

Right round the corner from our house

We’re renting a furnished place in the eastern suburbs of Sydney. Now if you know me, you probably know I’m not a “suburbs” girl – at least it’s not my preference; however, the name “eastern suburbs” as it relates to Sydney is a bit deceptive. Essentially, a lot of what is to the east of the Sydney CBD to the coast is considered part of the eastern suburbs. Frankly, we can get from our flat to downtown in about 15 minutes. Easy!

To the east of the yellow-orange line (the Eastern Distributor) is considered the eastern suburbs

Anyway, you walk outside out place, walk about a block and you’re at the beach – we considered living closer in to the CBD and near the Sydney Harbor, but figured this would be one of our only opportunities to live “at” the beach, so we decided to take advantage of it!

This is the master (and yes, I do have a little stuffed dog on the bed – it reminds us of our pup at home!) Lots of natural light.

Mastern bedroom

Mastern bedroom

The guest bedroom is a little bit smaller, but the closet is much bigger (I use the guest room closet, obviously!)

The guest bedroom

The guest bedroom

While there are two bedrooms, there is just one bathroom. And a small one at that. But if you ever visited us in Dubai, it is not as small as ours was there! Let me tell y’all, Barr and I have gotten really good at sharing this small space and paring down to only necessities. Mercifully, that mirror is a medicine cabinet and there is more storage below the sink.


The bathroom (sink) – small, right???

The kitchen is fine – nothing to write home about, but it gets the job done! The fridges are just so dang small here – I can barely fit a week’s worth of groceries in there. At least we have a dishwasher (which we didnt in Dubai) as well as a combo washer/dryer (also in the kitchen) – yes, that’s a thing.

The kitchen to the left

The kitchen to the left – the fridge is full of pictures and cards from friends and family

The kitchen to the right

The kitchen to the right

Just off the kitchen is the kitchen table – which I really use as a work space.

Eating area,  just off the kitchen

Eating area, just off the kitchen

That brings us to the living area. While those throw pillows aren’t necessarily what I’d use to adorn our sofa in the states, I like having memories of the other cities in which we’ve lived in our beach pad. Why not, right?? A little touch of “home”

See? I wanted pictures with our homey touches - like my festive pillows :)

See? I wanted pictures with our homey touches – like my festive pillows :)

The television/other side of the living area

The television/other side of the living area – and no, there is no A/C in the flat, so yes, we need a fan

I like to call this the “Mema chair” after my grandmother – who else?? She needlepointed that lovely Dubai pillow and gifted me that homemade quilt (quilted by a dear friend of hers) when I graduated from college. I cant tell you how happy I was get our box of items from home – these types of things make our place feel a bit more like ours.

Chair adjacent to the television - the "Mema chair"

Chair adjacent to the television – the “Mema chair”

And just off the living room is this little balcony, which overlooks a shared backyard – very cozy.

Balcony and shared backyard

Balcony and shared backyard

And then the final touch from home would be our framed print of the Dubai painting done by Karen of KJane Studio – I adore it and cant wait to frame the Perth and Sydney prints when we get back to the states.

Dash made this one - love!

Dash made this one – love!

There you have it – our Sydney beach pad! Our life has been in continual movement and upheaval, so again, having these little touches of home make such a big difference to me, especially when the furniture isn’t our own. Until next time…


The one with the free Sydney activities

Like Perth, Sydney ain’t cheap, y’all. No complaints – I am love, love, LOVING Sydney – however, I am all about some free activities in my new hometown. Free Sydney activities for the win!


Given that, how about a round-up of my favorite free activities that I’ve discovered over the last 7 weeks? (Obviously the Coogee to Bondi walk as well as the North Shore hike are on the list, but let’s explore some new ideas, shall we?

  • Art Galleries & Museums: Sydney offers a plethora of free art galleries and museums at which one can meander to their heart’s content – thrifty culture! Here are some of my picks:
    • Art Gallery of NSW: Built in 1871, this is Sydney’s oldest gallery. I love the Aboriginal art exhibit
    • The Rocks Discovery Museum: A neat history museum that walks through the city of Sydney from pre-European days to present – the exhibits are super interactive
    • Australian Centre for Photography: The ACP offers some classes and courses (not free), but they also have rolling photography exhibits that are always interesting to view
    • Museum of Contemporary Art of Australia: Has some really neat installations and temporary exhibits. I also love to go here to get some work done as they have a great cafe with free Wifi

Art Gallery of New South Wales

  • Walking Tours: During my first week or two in Sydney, I was a total tourist and jumped in on a handful of the free walking tours – I love this free Sydney activity. May I offer some suggestions?
    • I’m Free! Tours offers two tours around Sydney, and obviously they are both free of charge
      • The Sights Tours – two walking tours offered everyday (10:30 and 2:30)
      • The Rocks Tour – meets at 6pm in the evening for an in-depth tour of Sydney’s historic Rocks district

Free walking tours of Sydney

Snorkeling on Sydney’s coast

  • Snorkel: Our new neighborhood is a stone’s throw from a small beach that is renowned for its snorkeling. While I haven’t personally snorkeled here in Sydney as of yet, this is a fun in the sun free must-do if you visit.
    • Clovelly Beach, Gordon’s Bay, Shelley Beach and Chowder Bay are all spots that I’ve either heard are spectacular for snorkeling or where I’ve seen snorkelers galore (a phrase I never thought I’d type…)

Do y’all have any other free Sydney activities to add to my little list? What about free things to do in your town? :) I’d love to know – seriously! Until next time…

Travel Tuesday Abbys Roads