Welcome back to our most recent edition of ‘I left my job and we moved to America and now we’re having adventures’! Not a very catchy title, but I’m sure I’ll eventually come up with something. Highlights of this week’s update include: wanting to buy a cat, making pavlova, a Friday night party, (almost) winning a new car and an expedition to Bed, Bath and Beyond.
So last Friday night, our Aussie neighbours, Dave and Lee, held a party to celebrate our arrival. It jointly celebrated Australia Day too; since the weather over here is too terrible to have an Australia Day celebration in January, they moved it to a more meteorologically appropriate of the year (of course). It was a pretty great party (more on that later), but the lead up proved to be a little bit stressful, because I decided that I was going to make pavlova. Yaaaay pavlova! Yaaaay contributing to the party!
It seemed so simple.
But it ended up being a crazy and tumultuous journey that almost saw me reach my wits’ end. Twice. To start with, we don’t have a mixer. That seems like a fairly small obstacle and it was easily solved by borrowing one from Lee, even though it was 6pm on Thursday night and she was going to need it later. We’d bought some egg whites from the on-post commissary and I grabbed a decent-looking recipe, set up the kitchen and took to it with gusto. This was only the second time I’d ever made pavlova, but it seemed to go ok. I mean, the egg whites really resisted stiffening up, but they eventually reached the point where they held shape well enough to go into the oven. I decided to make one large pav and a bunch of smaller ones and I was pretty flushed with success when I put them into the oven and set the timer for 45 minutes. This is where it all really started to go downhill. At the 45 minute mark, they looked pretty good, but the recipe said to cook them for an hour; so, against the advice of my better human, I put them on for another ten minutes.
Next thing you know, there’s smoke curling it’s way out of the stove top and the air smells of burning pavlova and I don’t understand because the pavlovas don’t look burnt at all. I panicked (as you do) and smacked the oven off and yanked the door open to let smoke billow into the kitchen. It filled the whole room and triumphantly spilled into the adjoining rooms and all the while I’m standing there staring at my mini pavlovas… They burnt on the bottom. Bastards. So there I am, with mini pavlovas that are unsalvageable (believe me, they were doomed) and the large pavlova stuck to the paper and I’m like… “Can you use wax paper in the oven?”
Why, oh why, did I not google that before cooking them?
To be fair, a post-catastrophe google revealed that (theoretically) this particular wax paper is fine to be used in the oven. I think that the manufacturer is a heartless liar who likes to crush people’s hopes and dreams and their prize pavlovas. But whatever. I also put the mini pavlovas on the bottom shelf of the oven, which is clearly not where they belong. There have been a lot of lessons learnt out of this particular baking experience. I decided to retire in defeat and try again the next morning.
Sadly, the next morning didn’t necessarily go much better. I couldn’t get the meringue to stiffen at all and I ended up pouring it into a cake tine and making meringue slice which I topped with cream that also wouldn’t whip up. Is this an American thing? Non-whipping cream and non-stiffening egg whites? I retire confused, with some exceptionally tasty if structurally unsound pavlova and a vow to try again for the next party!
But it was a great night and a huge success, and that is a big deal coming from a woman who likes to sit inside alone most of the time and, as a result, avoids parties like the plague most of the time. [As an immediate follow-on to that: no, it wasn’t a success because I hid in my bedroom until it was over. I actually went.] But there were stacks of people, easily fifty or more, and I knew about six. Two of those people were James and I, so that gives you an idea of how many names I had to learn. Let me be honest here: in that kind of quantity, I forget names. Normally, I’m not too bad, but when you’re meeting someone every few minutes and shaking their hand and introducing yourself, you just start to lose track of all of these humans and their details. But everyone was really friendly and very welcoming and we had a good time. I also met a fellow writer who is an amazing human being (I’m really looking forward to getting to know her better!) and an editor for a hospitalist magazine who was absolutely lovely… So a few new connections for the writing world, which is super exciting! I’ve been working on building my Twitter connections as well and it’s such a great way to meet people who are interested in writing and want to talk about their work with you. Online communities rock!
We’ve also recently had a brush with fame and fortune. Earlier in the week, we got something in the mail told me that we had DEFINITELY won a new Kia or $15K. I’m the idealist in our household and James holds the mantle of realist and he was at work; left unsupervised, I had fantastic visions of striding into the car dealership, smacking my letter down on the table and being awarded my $15 000. It was a pretty amazing time for me. I mean, in Australia: hells to the no. That kind of thing is a hoax. But in America…? The possibilities are endless.
I’m sure none of you will be surprised to hear that we actually didn’t win either of those things and we drove thirty minutes out into some random place, to some random car dealership to be told we didn’t win and to be given a scratchie… That we also didn’t win. Le sigh. But the point is – we could have won. We didn’t, but we could have. Next time! I refuse to give up hope.
Speaking of giving up hope, we made the mistake of walking into Petco over the weekend… And I saw a cat. She was called Clementine and was an adult cat (which means by adopting it, you’re doing a really good thing, right?). Not only was she super fluffy, but she also had a super cute meow and I desperately wanted to get her.
But we didn’t. 🙁 The only thing that has soothed my pain is the promise of a pet on return to Australia. That is 110% happening.
We also went to Bed, Bath and Beyond, which is a healing process for grief, I’m pretty sure. It really is beyond: it is just like in ‘The Other Guys’ (for anyone who has never been before) and you could get lost in there forever. Considering how much both of us love homewares and associated items, that probably isn’t saying that much. It was a perilous and expensive journey – but we needed that stuff. Definitely needed it. *cough* Maybe.
Prep for uni has started (Trimester 2 at UNE starts on Monday!) and I’m still slogging away on my novel: the plot is being a bit resistant to my efforts at the moment, but I’m sure I can bring it to heel eventually.
Don’t forget to get your votes in for my short story submissions – the competition closes 27 June and I need to pick which one of the three I’ll put in! I’d love to hear your thoughts on my work and help me decide which one to put into the competition.
Finally, a huge welcome to my new blog subscribers!! It’s so great to have you along for the ride: feel free to get in touch or comment on any posts with your thoughts, ideas and any requests for content. 🙂 Otherwise, I’ll see you all here again next week for some more poetry, short stories and Oklahoman adventures!