We’re officially on holiday, and I couldn’t be more excited about the next two weeks. We have lots of little trips planned to the farm and the Hunter Valley Wine Country, and a big trip to the Outback for New Years!
We kicked off our first non-work week (I don’t actually work outside the home so while Ben is now home playing video games while I write) with a mini vacation to Sydney for a BBQ with Ben’s best friend Dave, girlfriend Elissa, and some of their friends. I didn’t actually take any photos from the BBQ or our night there – bad blogger. But I did make this salad (for the third time in 3 weeks – it’s amazing!) and our crew stayed up until 3am playing Cards Against Humanity. I lost terribly – probably because I am such a good person – just kidding. I had terrible cards.
Sunday morning after breakfast we went for a walk along the beach, not the same as the hike we took our last visit to Sydney, but just as brutal.
The sun beat down on us like no other, and although the beach walk wasn’t strenuous in the least my face was red as a lobster for a good 2 hours after. Not a sunburn just over heated.
After showers, goodbyes, and merry Christmases we left Dave and Elissa’s place around noon and headed to the mall for final present shopping.
We stopped along the way at Oceans Café in Narrabean for Ben to get an iced coffee. I absolutely cannot stand coffee, and still being warm from the walk, hot tea didn’t appeal either. Instead I asked if they could make an iced chai latte. I’ve had regular chai over ice from Panera, so I hoped it was something they could do even though they’d never made one before.
Let me tell ya something… this iced chai was the best chai I have ever had! I have no idea what they did to it but if I had to guess it was chai, cinnamon, ice, milk, and vanilla ice cream in a blender. Holy mackerel!!! We took our drinks to go, but I made sure to tell the barista to make one for herself because it was fantastic!
The mall was about an hours drive from where we had been staying in Sydney, but it was the halfway point to home which made it a great stopping place. The real reason we stopped there though, Mad Mex.
Mad Mex is Australia’s Chipotle. It was started by a Californian who was living in OZ and was pissed there wasn’t good Mexican food here – I’m right there with him. My friend Jessica who blogs at Peachy Keen Mumma told me about Mad Mex last weekend (the closest one is 50mins away,) and since then I have had it 4 times. Oh the things we do for burrito bowls!
Time for shopping!
Ben and I walked the mall together and I pointed out different things I wouldn’t mind getting for Christmas. Ben had already bought my gifts, but not stocking items. I think he may have forgotten about those.
As we shopped around together we ended up finding real(ly fake) snow; but the “coolest” science experiment ever!
Somehow these little white balls, when added to water expand to produce 4 cups of snow! We bought 8 cups worth! Between the snow we bought and all of my portable fans it looks like Christmas may just feel like Christmas in the States.
By the time we were ready to split up I had a list of over 12 stocking ideas for him, and he had this list, and was texting my mom for advice (smart boy).
We met up together after an hour or so of solo shopping, picked up wrapping paper and gifts for his family.
As we were leaving the mall we came across a restaurant called “Lone Star” which was a Texas themed rib house. The menu items were super silly, but Ben, who is obsessed with the idea of moving to Texas someday said we must go there. I on the other hand saw the $3 happy hour special on all cocktails and was sold!
He was so excited he couldn’t stop talking in (the worst) Southern accent. Never ask an untrained Aussie to speak like an American. It’s not pretty.
The best way to cap off an afternoon of Christmas shopping is definitely with 3 cocktails, fries, and ranch!
We picked up more Mad Mex for dinner, drove home, reheated, and ate while watching I’ll be Home for Christmas. A perfect mini vacation to kick off our Christmas break!