Around Melbourne | World Rice Festival

I love rice. I could eat rice every day. When I was little, sometimes I would eat just a bowl of rice with butter (I was skinny, I needed the carbs!). I love curry with rice, fried rice, sushi rolls, sweet rice with mango, even risotto counts. Anyway, when I heard about the new World Rice Festival coming to Melbourne, I knew it was for me! My husband and I aimed to try as many dishes as possible, but we got full way too quickly. The pork belly from Rice Paper Scissors was one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted! There were flamenco performances and cooking demonstrations, so we could sit and let everything digest happily.

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pork belly from Rice Paper Scissors

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Flamenco

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Japanese curry from Maedaya Sake & Grill

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sushi class

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paella class

There was a lot more to see, but I couldn’t stay for the whole day. I hope this festival comes back every year!!

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Hawaii | Pearl Harbor

December 7th, 1941. “A date which will live in infamy.”

I’ve been saving this post for today (it’s still December 7th in America!). When we went to Hawaii earlier this year, we got to see Pearl Harbor. Actually, for my family, it was a must-do. The number one thing we had to see. When we got there, I was surprised at just how much there was to experience. There are some exhibits that show the lead up to the attack, and President Roosevelt’s famous speech. Then you are ushered in to a theatre, where you watch an amazing short documentary about the attack. Hearing and seeing the USS Arizona explode in actual footage from that day is something I will NEVER forget. It absolutely shook me. The USS Arizona Memorial itself was closed, but they drove everyone by it in a boat.
Also, we didn’t tour the USS Missouri, but we got to see it. That is something I’ll never forget, too.

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1,102 sailors and Marines are buried with the USS Arizona. 2,403 people in total died in the attack.

Never forget.

Around Melbourne | Royal Melbourne Zoological Gardens

After living in Melbourne almost two and a half years, we finally went to the zoo! There were some particularly cheeky animals. I recommend going to the keeper talks to get good views and information. Every major exhibit has a message about conservation, such as recycling cell phones and buying products that don’t use unsustainable palm oil. A lot of renovation is going on, so we couldn’t see some things like the frog house, but I think the improvements will be really nice!

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Around Melbourne |The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia

On one side of Federation Square in Melbourne sits a small museum featuring Australian art. It’s part of the National Gallery of Victoria. The temporary exhibitions change constantly and they always surprise and inspire. Everything from photography to furniture, audio/visual and interactive collections, including Indigenous art.
The best part? Free entry!

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The Reyes Family | Documentary Family Photography in Melbourne

I met the Reyes family on a sunny day at Elwood Beach. We had a short session in the sand and at the park. This American family has been in Melbourne for a year! Three little boys make for some fun moments 🙂

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christina hardcastle photography’s 1 hour session includes some portraits!

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the session ended with a sweet hug ❤

For information on 1-hour “unscripted” sessions like this one, as well as other services, click here!

Kauai, Hawaii | ATV Tour

In a last minute adventurous decision, my family signed up for an ATV tour at Kipu Ranch in Kauai. It was really beautiful and really, really dirty. We left completely covered in a thin layer of dirt.
A lot of movies were filmed on this ranch, including Raiders of the Lost Ark, and we got to swing on a rope into the river where the opening scene to that movie was filmed. We saw a beach from a distance that supposedly has a lot of skeletons from when Hawaiian warriors tried to take Kauai from its last king. We also saw taro farms that have been there for a very long time.
Overall, it was an awesome tour, and the guides made it really fun. I highly recommend it!

 
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Buddha’s Day & Multicultural Festival | Melbourne

This past weekend, at Federation Square, the annual Buddha’s Day and Multicultural Festival took place. It celebrates Buddha’s birthday and promotes cultural awareness and inclusiveness. There were many interactive opportunities, including a tea ceremony and an art installation. It was really cool to see people learning about a culture they weren’t familiar with, and participating with open minds. The food was also very, very good!

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buddha festival at federation square

Alms giving ceremony

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Bodhi Tree art installation

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Tea ceremony

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Bathing the Buddha

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Melbourne | Parliament of Victoria

Another touristy post!
Living in Melbourne, I have always wanted to tour Parliament. I never got the chance until recently. We only did the short tour (15 minutes), which was extremely rushed, but still really interesting. I would recommend taking one of the longer tours, because there is so much information! I got the impression that the guides prefer leading the longer tours, too.
Here are some quick photos I got of the building and details.

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Immigration Museum in Melbourne

Australia has a very interesting and dynamic history of immigration. The Immigration Museum is full of surprising facts and amazing stories! They have an exhibition that chronicles the life of Mahatma Gandhi, and a British immigrants exhibition that closes this Sunday. I think the ‘Identity: yours, mine, ours’ exhibition should be seen by everyone. It is a wonderful opportunity to teach kids about diversity and acceptance.

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Melbourne | Queen Victoria Summer Night Market

We have lived in this city almost 2 years, and we still do the tourist things. Everyone thinks we’re tourists anyway because of our ‘accents.’ I love the Queen Victoria Night Market because you have tons of local shops and food all in one place. Clothes, art, books, souvenirs; they have everything, in all different price ranges. You can get drinks, dinner, and dessert (see sangria, nachos, and Nutella loukemades below). There is also entertainment, like live music and street performers. Most weeks even have a theme; this one had flamenco and salsa music.

Today is the second to last summer night market! I already can’t wait for the winter one.

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The band is Malcura. They were awesome.

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Bonus pictures courtesy of my husband: a performer chose me as an ‘assistant’ and I had to basically pull the sword out of his throat. It was so weird and I was thoroughly embarrassed. I cannot control my face in most situations, so here you can really see me freaked out. Haha!

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Mount Macedon

We took a day trip to Mount Macedon recently. It was beautiful and everything was so well-kept. There are a lot of small walks to drive to that offer incredible scenery! The Top of the Range tea room is very cute and gives you the chance to enjoy a glass of wine with a view. We will definitely be back again!

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Memorial Cross

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Major Mitchell Lookout

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View at Camels Hump

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Sanatorium Lake

NGV Triennial in Melbourne | Flowers and Skulls

Two of the most visually striking displays at the NGV Triennial are Yayoi Kusama’s Flower Obsession and Ron Mueck’s Mass. One involves an explosion of bright red flowers, and the other is a room full of giant human skulls.

When you walk in to Flower Obsession, you are given a flower sticker to place anywhere you want in a recreated living space. The flowers have now taken over, illustrating a hallucination the artist had as a child.

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“They killed all those giants! How sad!” -my husband, who sometimes thinks he’s 12.
One hundred individual skulls sit in the historical collection galleries of the NGV. It is so strange and cool.

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More photos of the NGV Triennial to come!

New Zealand | Road Trip in the South Island

As we continued our New Zealand adventure (see last post), we didn’t have much planned other than we would rent a car in Greymouth and drive south. We took the TranzAlpine train from Christchurch to Greymouth, which was very relaxing and beautiful. We walked around Greymouth a bit before starting on our road trip adventure. It was a few days of spontaneity and getting lost in the best way!
We walked to a view of the Franz Josef Glacier, where the biggest amazement was seeing how much it has receded so quickly. At least half of the 45-minute walk used to be covered in ice, less than 100 years ago. The only way on the glacier now is by helicopter (we didn’t splurge).
We stopped by many random beaches. One had a coffee truck right on the side of the road. One had a pod of dolphins jumping right by the shore. We stayed as long as we could stand the sand flies.
We stopped at scenic lookouts, short walking tracks, and even a distillery. Eventually we made our way to Te Anau, the gateway to Milford Sound (which will be featured in my next New Zealand post!).

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Franz Joseph Glacier

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Knights Point Lookout

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Dolphin at Ship Creek

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A First Birthday Party | Melbourne Documentary Family Photography

My first documentary family session of 2018 was a birthday party! Sharee turned one year old, and her family threw her an intimate party in the backyard. The weather was perfect, and she loved her cake (made by her mum!). Her big sister had fun with bubbles and the trampoline. Next year they’ll be running around together!
So grateful this beautiful family let me share in their day!

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Melbourne Latin Summer Festival

This past weekend we checked out the Melbourne Latin Summer Festival. It was a small festival set up in the Royal Botanical Gardens. We saw a lot of amazing salsa dancing and ate some great food. One band that I really liked was the Huanchaco Band (last 2 pictures). They made some beautiful music!

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And now I want to learn how to salsa.

New Zealand | Around Christchurch

My husband and I just turned 30, and to celebrate we went to the south island of New Zealand for a week (as you do). For the first couple of days we stayed in Christchurch. I had no idea how much the earthquakes affected it; the whole city was under construction! Still, we loved Christchurch. There is so much to see and do. The new buildings are awesome and there are some really good restaurants. This post is dedicated to what we mainly did there: sample the local alcohol 😉
We started at a Mexican restaurant (we’re from Texas, we just need Mexican food sometimes). They had all kinds of tasty margaritas, but their salsa was just not spicy enough for us Texans. The next day, we went on a wine tasting lunch tour in the Waipara Valley, which was AMAZING. We had so much fun and the scenery was absolutely beautiful. Drank some awesome white wines, and met some hilarious people.

Featured places:
Mexico Restaurant
Canterbury Leisure Tours
Waipara Hills Wines
Greystone Wines
Torlesse Wines

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Stay tuned for a couple more posts featuring our trip to New Zealand!

Day in the Life – The Stewart Family

What are the best souvenirs for grandparents who come visit from the other side of the world?
Photos!
These grandparents decided a short day in the life session was the perfect way to document their time spent with their family. We went to the park, made pizzas, and spent quality time at home.

Here is a tiny sample of their four hour day in the life session in Hawthorn East.

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