Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Aussie Gift Guide

It seems that July is the perfect time for American expats to head home for a holiday.  It's a chance to escape winter in Australia and soak up some North American summer.  Americans are off school for the summer and most Aussie schools have a 2-3 week holiday break in July.

Annual home leave is a nice little perk that most expats enjoy.  A chance to reconnect with family and friends back in America.  And many of us want to bring gifts to all those people to let them know that even though we live on the other side of the world we haven't forgotten about them.

One can only buy so many stuffed koalas and coin purses made from kangaroo scrotum.  That's why I have put together the following Aussie Gift Guide.  There's a little something for everyone.

For Her:

An Oroton Bag
These beauties are designed in Australia and sold in boutiques around Oz and Europe.  As far as I know they are not widely available in the US.  A great gift for someone special.  They also sell key fobs and umbrellas if you're looking for something less expensive.

Von Treskow Coin Jewelry
This collection featuring Aussie coins that have been turned into necklaces, bracelets and earrings is one of my favourite things.  They're beautiful and wearable and Australian without being cheesy.

Ken Done Hoodie
These hoodies are nicer than your typical souvenir shop sweatshirts.  The colours are fun and Done's signature kangaroo silhouette is eye catching.

Havianas Aussie Beaches Flip Flops
Of course, in Australia they call them thongs.  These sport a small metal charm in the shape of Australia and they have the names of popular Aussie beaches printed on the sole.  So cute!  And everyone loves Havianas.

For Him:

Australian Wine
My favourite bottle shop is the Australian Wine Centre near Circular Quay.  They are helpful and have a great selection.  They will even package up your purchase in a box that can be checked as luggage on any major airline. 

Havianas (see above)
In addition to the Beaches version, Havianas also come with an Aussie Flag on the strap.

Bush Hat
These kangaroo leather bush hats are fun, and the Squashy collection are easy to pack in your suitcase.

Photography Prints
Ken Ducan has some amazing photographs of this beautiful country.  One of his prints (or a less expensive calendar or book) would make a great gift.

For Kids:

Between the Flags Gear
This shop benefits the Australian surf lifesavers, so you can feel good about shopping here.  Plenty of cute kids swimmers, hats, and towels.  Great sales in June- I saw lots of items for only $5 each! 

Candy by Sticky
This shop in The Rocks is a big hit with kids.  I picked up the cutest candy with a tiny koala on each piece.  Packaged in cellophane bags they make great little give aways for friends at home.

Anything from Paddy's Market
Paddy's Market (in Chinatown) is the place to go for cheap souvenirs.  If you need 30 pencil sets with Aussie animals on them, you'll find it at Paddy's.  They also have bags, towels, t-shirts and, strangely, a huge selection of trashy lingerie.  But that's another post.  Paddy's is a good place to go if you need to buy cheap gifts in bulk.

These beautiful little wooden toys are designed in Australia.  The Aussie pouch, containing an echidna, koala and wombat is my favourite.

For Yourself:

Now that I'm back in the U.S., the one thing I wish I had more of is video.  I found a 45 second video of Balmoral on my phone today and watched it over and over.  I would love to be able to look back at quick snippets of our life in Sydney.  It would be the best gift of all.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

How We Said Goodbye

Repatriation.  After 2+ years working to build a life in another country, we suddenly find ourselves about to return "home".  We spent our last week saying goodbye to all the people, places and things that we loved in Australia.

The kids each had parties at school and needed small gifts to hand out to their classmates and friends. I scoured Pinterest and found this adorable idea for s'more kits.   I tweaked it a bit to fit our purposes and printed our email and skype info on the back.  Such a cute little way to share an American tradition and encourage the kids to keep in touch.

We hosted a party, with sushi from our favourite place Goeman, to say farewell to our Australian, American, Canadian, and British friends down under.  

We went into the city and had lunch at the Opera Bar, and one last hot chocolate at Guylian.  We tracked down our favourite street performers and stocked up on Australian wine to bring back with us.

We walked from Bradleys Head to Balmoral one more time on our last full day in Sydney.  It was the most gorgeous winter's day.  Sydney was wishing us a fond farewell.  It was the perfect way to appreciate the beautiful spot we have called home for the past 2 years.

View on the bushwalk

On our final morning, 2 of my dear friends stopped by to wave us off.  It was emotional.  We loaded the kids (and 9 suitcases!) into the van and I went back to do one last sweep through the apartment.    It was surreal.  I walked through each room trying to take a mental picture.  This was my home.  I want to remember the happiness we felt here.  I want to carry this experience around with me forever.  And as the door to the elevator closed that last time, I knew I would.  I will always have Sydney.


Sunday, July 3, 2011


Last week I had a birthday.  A milestone birthday. 
Yes, that one. 
To mark the occasion I decided to get myself a gift.

I first read about it at Simple Mom and knew I had to have one for myself.

The format of the book is so clever.  I love the way it chronicles your life for 5 years and allows you to easily look back and see what you were doing exactly one year ago.  Some people have suggested occasionally having your children write in the journal to record what their handwriting looked like.  The one line a day format is not intimidating- I think I'll actually be able to keep up with this journal.  I'm looking forward to recording all my adventures in its pages.

I love this little journal so much I decided to gift it to my children's teachers and coaches as a way to say thank you to them before our big move.  A little kraft paper and a strip of printed map made for pretty wrapping.

I hope the recipients love this little journal as much as I do.

xx  Jenny
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