Archive | July, 2013

WIAW Australian Style

31 Jul

Happy Wednesday!

It’s Kayla checking in again. Devon and I thought it would be fun to feature a WIAW post Australian style.

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To be honest, Australian food is pretty American. Despite the occasional kangaroo burger you may find in the grocery store, it’s mostly filled with typical American food.

While making the decision to study in Australia I knew I would be living in a dorm again. Although I am not a huge fan of dorm life my favorite part about this program was the fact that I was not required to have a meal plan. Instead, each dorm is equipped with industrial kitchens so that students can prepare their own food.

Although we have community refrigerators, I opted to purchase my own bar fridge for my dorm room. What can I say, I like my food right where I can see it.

Although at home I prefer to eat at least one salad a day, sometimes that isn’t possible here. Instead I try to fill my plate with a huge serving of vegetables, some type of whole grain, and a protein. Meat is pretty expensive here, so it is good I am not a big fan. Instead I have been surviving off of tuna, canned beans, lentils, and brown rice.

For breakfast I usually have either oatmeal with fruit and peanut butter or cottage cheese with fruit and nuts.

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Sandwiches for lunch have been super easy as well as filling. My favorite combinations include:

Scrambled eggs, feta, mixed greens, and hummus

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Tuna and hummus

Smashed chickpea and avocado

Cottage cheese and tuna

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Hummus, feta, and mixed greens

I always pair my sandwiches with carrots and some piece of fresh fruit.

Last week I visited the Victoria Market in downtown Melbourne and was able to score tons of cheap fruit including 5 pink lady apples for 90 cents as well as a huge bag of Australian oranges for $3, amazing.

Veggie burger salads have been my go- to dinners. They are simple, quick to throw together, and super filling. I found Australian chickpea and sunflower seed veggie burgers at the grocery store. They rock.

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Huge bowls of random goodness have been enjoyed a lot as well. This one includes brown rice, cauliflower, kidney beans (they are there-I promise) and avocado.

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I have not been able to find any granola bars I like lately so I’ve been snacking on nuts and fruit as well as yogurt topped with raw oats and buckwheat groats.

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Eating out in Melbourne is expensive. Yet again, everything is pretty expensive in Melbourne. So far I’ve tried to limit my eating out to once a week if at all possible. Most of my friends are broke exchange students too, so that works out nicely.

Finally, our school provides a bus free of charge on Saturday morning that runs from campus to a local shopping center. The shopping center has a large grocery store as well as an Aldi. I’ve tried to buy the majority of my food fresh and here is a picture of my latest grocery haul!

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A cashew, almond, hazelnut & coconut cereal, pearl barley, balsamic vinegar, mixed grain bread, mixed greens, spinach, bananas, carrots, apples, avocados, chickpeas, rice cakes, greek yogurt, cashews, hummus, lentils, cottage cheese, tofu, tuna, sardines, and a Chobani greek yogurt (sadly at $2/piece they are a luxury item).

Although I definitely prefer my American kitchen with a fully stocked pantry and fridge, i’m definitely getting by just fine!

Do you have any questions about my stay in Australia that you would like for me to answer? 

A Marvelous Weekend Getaway

29 Jul

One of the top places on my “to-see” list included the small town of Charlottesville, Virginia. From researching online, this small town seemed to have it all. Everything was within walking distance, there was always something going on/to do, people were friendly, the town was adorable, and the surrounding restaurants looked A-mazing. So, when my parents asked me where I would like to visit for a weekend getaway, I knew exactly where I would pick. Charlottesville! And let me tell you, boy am I thankful that I picked the town that I did. Our weekend getaway was perfect! The weather couldn’t have been better [not too hot, not too cold minimal rain] and we got to see and do everything on my list. I am so grateful to have such a wonderful mom and step-dad who put up with all of the crazy things on my list. Here’s a little closer look at what I did during my weekend away and some of my top “must-do” things on my list.

During the trip, we stopped along the way to check out the beautiful Virginia Mts. We also stopped in a few other towns for a little sight seeing, gas stops, and to stretch our feet. Here’s a photo of me and my mom at a beautiful stop along the highway.

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Once we got into Charlottesville, we checked into our hotel, took a quick nap, and then went out to explore the city.

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I was trying to get some good photos, but these ones are just so-so. I was having too much fun walking around, people watching, and soaking up the fact that we were actually here! We spent awhile walking around before we got hungry and decided we needed to sit down for some dinner.

First up on my list, dinner at The Citizen Burger Bar.

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Their menu is basically just a step by step build your own burger with a few of their favorite combinations down below. Their main idea is grass-fed, local ingredients for the best burgers. I don’t eat ground beef, but my mom and step dad loved that their menu was made up of local ingredients. They both agreed it was one of the best burgers they have ever had. I on the other hand, had my eye on the vegan beet burger. This burger was made with red beets, millet, and quinoa! I got mine served on a multi-grain bun with arugula + onion + sprouts + tomato. It stayed together, was so flavorful, and I was quite impressed.

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The only downside to eating here was that they accidentally lost our order, and we had to wait FOREVER to get our food. However, they did a great job of apologizing for this mis-hap, and even gave us a free round of drinks! Say hello to my new favorite IPA.

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Star Hill Brewery Double IPA. [FABULOUS + STRONG 9.0%]

Until we got done with dinner and back to the hotel, we were all exhausted. We fell asleep relatively early so we would be well rested for the busy day ahead of us tomorrow.

I was so excited that I didn’t even sleep that well. I was tossing and turning at 4:30 am, 5:00 am, 5:15 am, 5:45 am, 6:00 am, 6:45 am, and then finally I just gave up and got out of bed around 7:15 am.

Although the hotel had a free breakfast, we kind of made our set up in the hotel room. Minus getting utensils, coffee, hot water for tea, and fruit from downstairs.

My breakfast was 1/2 Trader Joe’s blueberry bran muffin, 1/2 banana, strawberries, cantaloupe, a plain Fage greek yogurt, and some Trader Joe’s raw trek mix granola.

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After getting ready and enjoying breakfast, we headed out to check out the local farmers market. It was another thing on my to-do list.

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At the farmers market I got a package of No Bull Burgers because I absolutely love them, and they are made locally in Virginia, 2 pints of blackberries because they were seriously the size of strawberries, and cville crunch bread + cville granola from GREAT HARVEST BAKERY! I was in heaven. Pure heaven.

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After the farmers market, my mom and I walked around in downtown Charlottesville to check out some more local shops.

We walked downtown for a few miles and around 1 pm decided we needed to get some lunch. We went to another place on my to-do list: Eppie’s. We both enjoyed the Santa Monica Salad with chicken! With lots of our own water + lemon on the side. We carried around huge bottles of water all weekend long!

SO GOOD.

The afternoon was spent walking around, stopping for homemade ice cream for my step-dad [he’s a huge fan], and taking an afternoon nap back at the hotel. We stopped by Whole Foods to check out the Charlottesville location, and even my step dad was in love with the store. They had everything! I got some twin oaks tofu because I have wanted to try it forever, and I also picked up a locally made kombucha.

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My mom and step dad were even excited to find a huge bottle of a beer they have been wanting to try forever. So of course we went back to the hotel room to celebrate our finds with a little happy hour. I loved the Appalachian Trail flavor that I got. It had ginger in it, and was perfect. So glad I picked that one! I would definitely get it again.

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Dinner was once again downtown in Charlotesville. We decided that we only wanted something small, and opted for the good looking pizza place we checked out the night before! The name of it was Christian’s. My piece had fresh tomato, mozzarella, and basil. They had so many unique combinations to try. They even had pizza with avocado on top. I was tempted, but couldn’t turn down the slice that I got.

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After dinner, we went back to the hotel and relaxed with some more locally made beer and a new Netflix series. It is called Orange is the New Black. Has anyone ever watched it before? It is kind of addicting. I have seen three of the episodes so far. Maybe I’ll watch another one later this week.

The next morning we slept in until 9:30am, then got dressed, had breakfast, packed the car, and headed home. We stopped along the way at Panera for some lunch, before getting back home around 3:45 pm. I was greeted upon my arrival home by this cutie.

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He actually smilies! I don’t know if you can see it that well in this photo, but he gets so excited he can’t stop sneezing and smiling. I think he missed me, don’t you?

I unpacked the car, went for a quick run, and roasted everything left in my vegetable drawer for dinner.

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I got to try my twin oaks tofu! Can you say yum! I love it. Why can’t we get this around here? I seriously think that I would eat it over chicken anyday. It is so flavorful. Have you ever tried it? I bought the herbed kind.

Thanks Katie, over at Healthy Diva Eats, for giving me a reason to share my marvelous weekend getaway with you all! Be sure to check out what everyone else was up to this weekend.

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Unfortunately, Monday for me means back to work and back to reality. Oh well. I’m looking forward to my next little getaway in a few weeks to Erie, PA. Lets hope it’s a relaxing one. Until then, I am going to daydream about relaxing by the ocean water and wiggling my toes in the sand.

What are you daydreaming about on this Monday morning?

A Dinner Date + WIAW

24 Jul

Happy Wednesday! Are you thankful it is officially hump day, and officially half-way through the “work week”? I am! Want to know why? Because this weekend we are taking a little road trip to Charlottesville, VA to explore the cute little town, check out some local restaurants, and get away for a little bit. So this week, I am working the traditional Monday thru Friday schedule, minus Friday, because I got the day off! Woo-hoo. It is definitely worth celebrating for.

Another great thing about Wednesday is the weekly link-up over at Peas and Crayons blog. This link-up rounds up close to 200 bloggers who are all sharing their most recent eats and food choices on their blogs. Be sure to check it out if you haven’t already, and link-up if you have a blog of your own. I have so much fun capturing photographs of beautiful food, and I love having yet another reason to do so-when I get to share it all with you!

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When I first woke up today, I took the time to relax with a large glass of hazelnut iced coffee before having my breakfast. I am on this routine of one day hot coffee, two days iced coffee, because it takes me that long to finish an entire pot. I hate to waste it, and cannot drink more than one large cup or I find myself hyped up and shaking from a caffeine overload [exaggerating just a little, but you get the idea].
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After enjoying my coffee and writing Kay an email, I got my overnight oats out of the fridge and smothered them with fresh blueberries and almond butter. Plus some cute lil’ almonds for crunch.
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I have noticed recently that if my breakfast doesn’t have something crunchy on it, I think about what I could add to it to have that crunch factor. Does anyone else notice that something crunchy helps to keep them fuller longer?

After breakfast, I finished getting ready for work. I worked today from 11-7pm, the worst shift ever! It throws off my entire day when I work this shift. Especially on a day when I have my body pump class at 5:45 am. Luckily, I didn’t have my class this morning so it was not too bad of a shift. Lunch was enjoyed around 3:30 pm, the first time I was able to get away from the sales floor!
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I enjoyed a mixed greens salad with tri-colored beans, sweet potato chunks, peppers, TJ’s cilantro hummus, a chunk of multigrain bread, a little balsamic, and an apple. So satisfying.

No time for an afternoon snack but I did find myself grabbing some carrots, peppers, and sugar snap peas I brought from home and kept in the fridge all day. Planning ahead pays off- those veggies kept my hunger under control until I got off.

Dinner was enjoyed with one of my great friends, Hope! She came by after I got off and we enjoyed a delicious meal together. I grilled us some black bean burgers, eggplant, and quickly made some kale chips in the oven. What an easy meal. She loved it too. Glad to share delicious food with people I love in my life!
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By the time Hope left and I got my lunch ready for tomorrow, it was already after 10 pm. I needed to get some sleep. 5:17 AM was going to come pretty quickly if I did not watch myself.

I put together a quick snack because I was still kind of hungry shortly after dinner.
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cottage cheese + cinnamon + vanilla almond milk + a nectarine + muesli fusion raw oats

Genius right? You must try this combination if you haven’t yet. It is one of our favorites!

I also spent the evening catching up with Kay via Facebook Messenger and checking my emails, blogs, and what’s going on in the world around me. I have to catch up on my Royal Baby news, because I love nothing more than hearing about the Royal Family. I am one of those obsessive people who woke up to watch the wedding at like 4 am before school my senior year. It was such a great memory, and I am so excited to watch their baby grow up. I was checking my news feeds and yahoo mail a ton to find out when Kate was finally going to go into birth. Kay was actually the one who told me when I was sound asleep in the middle of the night. She was wide awake in Australia!

Are you as obsessed with the Royal Family as I am?

Smiling

23 Jul

Inspired by a post from Gina over at Health, Love, and Chocolate I decided to fill you in on what is currently making me smile this week.

1. The first one is obviously Skype dates with my other half! Our first was at 2 AM my time, but she has also enjoyed breakfast while I’m enjoying my dinner on the other side of the world. It is crazy to think that she is so far away it is a completely different day there.

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2. Fresh produce from the farmer’s market. Hello XL zucchini, eggplant, cantaloupes, and kale! Plus strawberries, peaches, and nectarines featured in this beautiful Sunday morning breakfast.

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3. All of the friends and family that have reached out to me over these past few days to show their support during this hard transition. It is times like these that I realize who truly cares about me and wants me to be a part of their life. To all of you, thank you. I really really appreciate it more than words can explain.

4. Morning runs in the cool air before temps reach the 90’s! This past week temps hit the upper 90’s. If I didn’t run by 9 am, I was done for. I am up to about 2.5 miles in about 22-25 minutes. Soon I want to bump it up to 3!

5. A fun day at the orchard with Becca! We didn’t get to snap any photos because we left our phones in the car. We picked peaches and nectarines- so much fun. I always enjoy fruit a little bit more when I can say I picked it off the tree myself.

6. Mother-daughter dinner dates. Quiche was on the menu one night; toasted sandwiches + roasted veggies for another!
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7. My crazy kitty, Luna. She has been keeping me company these past few days when she decides to come home for a little bit. I have been giving her lots of cat-knip so she’s hanging around the house much more. She’s addicted.

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8. A hair-cut and highlights appointment at a new salon! Mixing it up and trying something new is one of the best decisions I have made regarding my hair in a long time. If you are in need of a good salon in the Lancaster area, let me know. I can recommend a great place! My stylish even talked me into a few layers. Thank goodness I listened to her- I love them.

These are just some of the things that have made the first week without Kayla go so smoothly. Here is to hoping that the next 18 weeks go by fast. We love our countdowns, and tell each other every day how many days are remaining until we get to embrace in the airport terminal.

I would love to know, what has made you smile this past week?

Australia Check In #1

21 Jul

Hey guys, it’s Kayla checking in all the way from Australia.

As of today, I have officially lived in Australia for one week!

This past week has been filled with a whirlwind of emotions. I’ll be honest, the first few days were pretty rough. Upon arriving I was extremely home sick and even had thoughts about coming home.

However, with tons of support from my family and friends I’ve managed to feel a lot better and no longer wish to come home tomorrow, as I felt may have been my only option during my first few days.

I guess being homesick just validates what a wonderful life I have back at home. I feel so blessed to have such a supportive family and don’t know what I would do without them.

Settling in and meeting new people definitely has helped me feel better. On my third night in Melbourne I went to the city and fell in love. Melbourne reminds me of New York City except it’s so much cleaner! The city is absolutely gorgeous.

Highlights of my trip so far are definitely going up in the Eureka Skydeck and visiting the Victoria Market.

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The Skydeck was an 88 stories view of the entire city. I never realized how big Melbourne was until then.

Besides that the past week has been pretty low key and involved getting over jet lag and gathering all the stuff I need for the semester.

Next week is another orientation week although I only have to attend an event on Tuesday. This means the week is pretty open and I hope to explore the campus more, have my first real Australian coffee at a ma&pa shop, attend a couple fitness classes at the gym including body pump (!!!!), and Friday there is a day trip to the zoo! I’m pretty excited to see my first kangaroo!

Hope everyone else has a fabulous week! I hear the states are experiencing some pretty hot weather! Unfortunately, it’s winter here. Although I can’t complain because last week one day it was 70 degrees! Definitely not “winter” in my book.

A big thanks go to Katie, over at Healthy Diva Eats for hosting her weekly marvelous link-up. Australia sure is marvelous, and I cannot wait to share more of my adventures with you all.

MiMM

**This post was actually published on my Monday morning in Australia, but it is still Sunday night in Pennsylvania! So you got Monday’s post just a little early!

Eggs, Tofu, and a Fabulous Vegan Burger

17 Jul

The first few days without my other half have been pretty lonely. Don’t get me wrong, I have tons of love and support from my friends and family, but nothing is the same as having Kayla around to share fun stories about my day, new recipes, great food, and more with. I am happy to report that Kayla has arrived safe and sound in Melborne, Australia and is getting adjusted to dorm life, orientation, and finding her way around the campus.

I have been keeping myself busy with work, body pump, cooking, and relaxing. I had my mom and step-dad over for dinner and I got to make them some yummy flatbread pizzas and a fresh fig + roasted eggplant salad. I think they loved it, and I can’t wait for them to join me for more meals in the future.

This Monday I started off the day with a huge breakfast plate filled with fruit, 2 scrambled eggs, and a thin bagel topped with almond butter + nature’s sprinkles. Paired with iced coconut coffee [a TJ Maxx find].

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Lunch was consumed during my break at work. I had a tofu salad with Trader Joe’s cilantro hummus, peppers, carrots, cucumbers, sprouts, a slice of multigrain bread, and balsamic dressing. This was consumed way past my usual lunch time. Our store was just too busy today for the two of us working.
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And some juicy watermelon!

An afternoon snack ended up being non-existant due to a late lunch and a busy afternoon. Boo.

Instead of having something to eat after I got off work, I went home to start preparing dinner. It took a little longer than usual because I was balancing a phone call with my mom/ texting Kayla/ and trying to wash kale!

Eventually dinner was enjoyed. I prepared a vegan veggie burger, an overload of kale chips, and some roasted red beets that are hiding in the corner of the plate.

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I spent the evening re-doing my calendar, soaking up some fresh air on my back patio, and catching up on my pile-up of magazines. Tonight’s read was the August issue of Cosmo.

My late night snack was inspired by my perfectly ripe bananas. I had Sigg’s blueberry natural yogurt, banana slices, strawberries, blueberries, and a qui’a combo on-top. Plus zen Tazo tea.

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Not much longer after my snack I was ready to go to sleep. These past few days my body has only been about 50% asleep at all times because the other half is hoping to hear a text from Kayla at any possible second.

What can I say, I am missing my sister already.

Be sure to head over to Peas and Crayon’s WIAW link up to see what other bloggers are up to during the summer months. Can’t wait to check out the page later myself. Always finding a few new great ideas for my own meals.

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Now that I have so much more solo-time, I want to know what you like to do in your me-time? I would love to hear some of your favorite things to do to help me think of other activities I could do by myself. So far I have been enjoying cooking, reading magazines, blogging, and going on a run.

The Start of Something New

15 Jul

This weekend marked the start of a new journey for my sister, Kayla. As I type this, she is flying halfway around the world to study abroad for the next few months. If you want to get technical, for the next 133 days. Her final destination is Melborne, Australia and I could not be more excited for her.

So the beginning of this marvelous journey is worth sharing. Thanks to Katie over at Healthy Diva Eats, we can link up and share the ups and downs along the way.

MiMM

The past few days have been spent packing, re-packing, buying last minutes necessities [face wash, lotion, a fabulous convertible bra, meals for her trip] getting pampered, cooking together, and being with each other 24/7. These moments were marvelous. Every single one of them. Here is what I captured through photographs.

Pre-pedicure photo outside by our garden.

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Post pedicure photo with matching toes so we can think of each other each time we look down at our feet.

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Outdoor lunch at The Harvest in Hershey. Vegan burgers on house made whole wheat buns were out of this world. Cheers for real food made with local ingredients.

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The view during our outside patio lunch. The Hershey Hotel has beautiful landscaping.

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All smiles.

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The one day we ended up crossing off another thing on our to try list: sardines! We mixed a can with 1/2 avocado and greek yogurt. We are officially fans. Served over mixed greens with simply multi-grain chips.

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A huge bowl of fresh summer berries + a nectarine mixed with greek yogurt + chia seeds before heading off to the airport. We read a few weeks ago that Trader Joe’s trex mix granola cereal was a fabulous granola and a must try. We are so glad that we gave it a try! It is one of our current favorites.

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Pre-departure womb hugs.

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She’s showing off her Australian money.

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Airport goodbyes

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Our last photograph together before entering security!

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When we were on our way to the airport Saturday morning, we spent the last hours together soaking up as much twin time as possible. We were having fun quizzing each other on what our favorite beers, wines, drinks, and foods were so Kayla knew what to look for while abroad. We picked her signature drink to be sparking water, lemon juice, and vodka. Lou pitched in on what beers she needed to try. But most importantly, we talked about what our goals would be for next few months.

For Kayla: she hopes to gain a lot of independence, the ability to be more flexible, perhaps a hot Australian future husband, an adventure worth a lifetime, new friends, and a new outlook on life.

For me [Devon]: I hope to gain my own independence during this experience, a better idea of my future career path and goals, successfully re-do our bedroom, kitchen, and downstairs bathroom, be able to finally run 5 miles or more without stopping, be able to keep up with my intense school/work/life schedule, and skype once a day with my sister. This last one is kinda silly, but I also want to make sure I floss my teeth every night before bed. Writing these kinds of things down helps to remind me how important setting goals are.

I would like to say I think the next 131 days will go by pretty quickly, and I am hoping that I am right. Until then, keep checking back to our blog for updates from both Kayla and I via posts, photographs, and twitter. We will still continue to share recipes, WIAW posts, life events, Melborne life, and more!

I know one thing is for sure, I thank god everyday for giving me Kayla as a sister. Love you sister.