“The Happiest 5k on the Planet”

Today I was lucky enough to participate in The Color Run!  As far as I know, the originally American event is making its first tour of Australia and Perth got a piece of the action this morning.  I was lucky to have signed up early, because the event ended up completely sold out! I started the morning early by heading to my friend Thuy’s where a small group of us took photos and pumped ourselves up for the fun morning ahead.

Me and Thuy getting ready
Me and Thuy getting ready
Thuy and Michelle prepping
Thuy and Michelle prepping
Michelle, me and Thuy before the Color Run
Michelle, me and Thuy before the Color Run

We caught the bus and headed down to Langley park in the CBD with thousands of others.  It was great to see people running around in crazy outfits and identical Color Run gear.

I'm all ready to go!
I’m all ready to go!
Teri, Thuy and I "before"
Teri, Thuy and I “before”
Treble Clefs!
Treble Clefs!

In the end there was a group of about 10 of us sticking together as best we could.  Thuy, our other mates and I skipped, danced, jumped, jogged, walked and occasionally ran our way through the 5k course.  At every k, enthusiastic volunteers shook bottles of colorful powder at us.  After the first k (the color blue), we quickly realized we’d need to run right up to the Color Run crew as we went to ensure maximum color coverage.

My loves :D
My loves :D

All in all it was a fantastic morning.  We had a blast and it went by way too quickly.  At the end of the race we were given a bag of color powder each to be thrown in a group colorfest at the stage at the end of Langley Park.  They counted down until we all threw our dust in the sky together.  Thousands of us gathered and it was a beautiful five seconds of color flying up into the sky, before cascading down upon us in a cloud of deep red, green and pink.  The vibrant haze it created was breathtaking both figuratively and literally.  (It’s quite hard to see or breathe when standing in a giant fog of color dust.)

Michelle and Thuy (fairies!)
Michelle and Thuy (fairies!)
Thuy and I waiting for the bus
Thuy and I waiting for the bus

After catching the bus back to Thuy’s, I hustled home to show Matt how much fun I’d had.  He took this lovely picture for me before I commenced a very long scrub session in the shower.  There are still traces of the dust between my toes and on my neck and elbows.  I kinda like it there…

The Color Run Effect
The Color Run Effect

Check out The Color Run to see when it storms into a town near you!  (Mpls peeps, it’s coming this summer, don’t miss it!!)

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Luck Be (with) a Lady

Sadly I forgot the handy little cord that links my camera to my computer, so no trip photos until I reach my parents’ home in 2 days.  I pray my sisters will have something I can use to bring my images to the public.

There are so many things I could say about our trip so far.  Matt has already written a couple of great posts using images from his iphone camera.  But I don’t want to go into much detail without the photos to illustrate, so I will just touch on one small aspect.

As an avid globetrotter, I have had the chance to see so many amazing places.  Cathedrals, monuments, memorials, my repertoire is chock full of ’em.  But what often gets me most excited are art museums and exhibits.

I prefer to explore art exhibits alone if I’m being honest.  I enjoy taking it at my own leisurely pace and soaking up everything around me.  I wouldn’t say I am any kind of connoisseur, but I certainly know what I like.

Image
Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective

Matt and I were lucky enough to see Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective the other day in D.C.  I have seen some of his work here and there in various locations, but this was as comprehensive a collection as I have never seen before.  I was so impressed by the work and by the sheer number of pieces they had collected.  I found this poster on a site advertising the exhibit at the Tate in London.  Evidently that will be its next stop.  How wonderful to see such amazing American art for free! National Gallery of Art

The last time I visited the National Gallery, I just happened to see an Henri Rousseau exhibit.  It was completely brilliant, and also included an impressive amount of his work.  To be able to see these sorts of things for free is such a gift. Henri Rousseau: The Complete Works

My best memory of happening upon a wonderful exhibit was on my birthday in 2009.  This was days after I’d first met Matt, and my friend and I were stopping in Milan for one day before returning to France.  We’d been on a two week holiday, and were tired, cold and anxious about our overnight train to Dijon.

I noticed, in the main square, posters announcing a Rene Magritte exhibit nearby.  In the National Gallery I caught one of his paintings out of the corner of my eye and dragged Matt over to see it.  Most museums showing modern or surrealist art have at least one Magritte.  I get to see them here and there all over the world.  To come across an entire exhibit of his (my favorite painter) on my birthday was incredible!

I wandered around at my leisure, Courtney opting not to come along.  It was breathtaking.  I never wanted to leave.  Good art is something to be savored, and though you can find it on the internet, nothing beats seeing it in person.

My recommendation to the unseasoned traveler is to keep your eyes open for cool exhibits.  There are some fantastic FREE museums around the world, and it’s always a shame to miss great art when it’s right at our fingertips (figuratively, of course).  Even pricey exhibits are almost always worth it.  I have paid willingly to see Magritte, Van Gogh, Juan Gris, Picasso, Alphonse Mucha and many others.  See what you’re lucky enough to come across in a foreign city and check it out!

Absentee, But Not Alone

For the second presidential election in a row, I am living abroad.  Last time I was up all night in France watching coverage and awaiting the results.  This year I have been much more casual.  (This is mostly due to the fact that The Colbert Report isn’t available free online outside the U.S. this time around, and paying attention isn’t as fun anymore.)  At about 1pm today, friends started messaging me and people were coming up to me at work (total strangers mostly) and fist-pumping with phrases like “four more years!” and “OBAMA!”  I didn’t know so many people were aware of my Americanness.  Usually people assume I’m Canadian “to be polite.”

I’m not writing this post to share my opinions about the election.  My main reason for saying anything at all is that I want to share the love that Australians have for America today.  Between gay marriage being legalized in Maine and Maryland, and an internationally respected politician being reelected, it seems people around my new country are celebrating.  (P.S. I am so proud of the wins for gay rights today!  Go America!)

My Facebook is full of celebratory statuses from my Aussie mates.  It’s pretty cool that people get so into the politics of another country.  At home the country is divided 50/50, so it’s amazing to see people of all ages and backgrounds here on the same page.  I have to say that foreigners often have a harsh opinion of America and Americans, but I find that since Obama has been president (or more accurately since Bush STOPPED being president) people abroad have a greater respect for our great nation.  I know it’s not the only thing that matters, but it makes being an American abroad a little bit easier.

Here are some statuses from Aussies for your entertainment:

“four more years.”

“Maryland approves same sex marriage, Colorado legalises marijuana, and OBAMA has another 4 years!”

“Obama!! :D”

“So nice of Obama to speak about me in his acceptance speech. Love you too Baracky.” (from another Michelle)

“To see the look on Bill O’Reilly’s hateful, squinty face. Go Obama!”

“God bless America and god bless Obama!! I love this kind hearted soul!!! U def had my vote best public speaker everrrrr!!”

“Phew! The world dodged a bullet”

“OBAMA!!!!”

Much like in my country, people in Australia are split about 50/50 in political affiliation.  Makes it that much cooler that everyone who has commented or approached me today has been really positive.  They love Barack over here.  My French students did as well.  While in the US it’s a bit rude to ask “who did you vote for?” everyone both during this election and the last one was dying to know.  It’s like they wish they could vote for my president as well and want to live vicariously.

But I digress.  Mostly I just wanted to say it feels amazing to be a citizen of the world today, because that is what I have become in the last 4 years.  I love my life’s journey and wouldn’t change it for anything.

Making Lemonade

Not often do I use this blog for product promotion, but this time I’ve stumbled upon something truly special.  Yesterday I was browsing my Facebook news feed when I noticed a link post from an old college acquaintance.  Her description announced it was her “latest blog post for The Zesty Digest.”  Not knowing she was a blogger, I was intrigued.

The Zesty Digest is a daily blog by an ezine called Sweet Lemon Magazine.  After reading Margaret’s article about healthy snacking, I found myself clicking through the archive finding myriad interesting posts.

The most exciting part, however, was the photo on the right under “magazine stand.”  The cover girl for the current Sweet Lemon issue is Inslee Haynes, a fellow W&L grad!

I discovered Inslee’s company by chance (again through Facebook) as we weren’t close back in college and I didn’t have her in my friends list.  I’m fairly certain I would have mentioned her site before, but I’ll do so again anyway.  She is an inspiration to girls with a dream.  She took what most would consider to be a “hobby” to the next level and has made it into a career.

Inslee by Design is absolutely fabulous.  As a fashion illustrator, Inslee makes cards, calendars, sketches, prints, invitations and does commissions.  I have been a fan of hers for quite a while now; her cards are great to give as presents or to keep.  I will soon be getting some of her prints now that Matt and I are redecorating the office.  I’m also planning on snapping up the 2013 calendar and some more cards for Christmas.  (Gift idea alert!)

I won’t post more images from Inslee because I want my readers clicking the links and checking her out!  Her site has always been in my blogroll, but feel free to browse her blog and also her Facebook page.  I find creative people so inspiring, and I am so happy that she has been such a success.

But back to Sweet Lemon for a moment…After reading through some of the back issues and the current issue cover to cover, I have learned a lot, and I cannot wait to write-up my own pitches for submission.  The great thing about Sweet Lemon is that even if every article doesn’t apply directly to me, it’s still great seeing so many strong, talented 20-somethings on the pages of a magazine.  I’m getting really tired of all the celebrities and the mags focusing solely on sex.  This magazine is about fashion, cooking, travel, lifestyle and above all REAL PEOPLE.  I have several ideas floating around in my head and I cannot wait to put them on paper (well, in internet form).

Even if you don’t have time to browse the whole magazine this weekend, at least check out The Zesty Digest.  They post new articles everyday from real women around the country (and presumably the world).  I hope I can be a helpful Aussie correspondent!

Gridiron Saturday

As my own form of social belated celebration for the 4th of July, I organized an American Football afternoon with friends.  Matt and some of his friends have played together some in the past, but yesterday I introduced them to the concept of “flag football.”  We all wore socks or towels tucked into our shorts to make for tackling without all the injuries.  Though there were several late withdrawals, we still had 11 people show up to play.  Despite forecasts of rain all weekend, it was a gorgeous day.

My friend Thuy is the best at celebrating.  She’s flying high here when her team was winning!

I love Mike’s victory dance post-touchdown.  Traditionally a rugby guy, he picked up NFL really quickly.  Loved his enthusiasm.  He and Maria were naturals at gridiron!

I think after every play we mostly just couldn’t stop laughing.  It was a great game because everyone had fun and got involved.

Ian’s looking serious with his cool gloves.  Some of Matt’s and my friends are just as into NFL as we are, so they came to play in all the right gear!  Though, Maria and I did wear our football boots, so I suppose we brought our A-game as well.

It was hard to get good photos at this time of day with all the shadows from the sun.  This was Matt’s team.  Luckily we don’t get too competitive when we play on opposite teams.  Though he did tackle me “for real” once by accident.  Claims he was trying to punch the ball out while I was running after a catch…lol.  Didn’t hurt me of course, it was all in good fun.  Everyone was in a serious fit of giggles.

This was my team, plus Li who was playing offense for both teams.  I’ve had a bit of a throw and kick with Danny and Li before, so I knew they had the skills, but I was blown away by Jonny’s throwing abilities.  We’d never played together before, but he sure was a great weapon at quarterback!  Also at one point he turned a not-so-great throw from me into a fantastic touchdown catch.

By the end of it, lots of us were pretty beat.  I always forget how tiring football can be.

Yes I am wearing shorts.  I’m so glad we had some girls show up today.  Next time we hope there will be more.

Ha, my fringe is out of control.  Matt and I taking our post-game photo.  We both had a lot of fun yesterday.

It started to get cold once the sun dropped, but what a beautiful day!  It was sunny, but not hot.  This was definitely a good winter activity.  I think some people were surprised to learn how much fun gridiron can be.  It’s the perfect sport to play with friends because you don’t need previous skills to participate and have a good time.  I am so appreciative to those who came.  Most are keen to get another game going soon.  Hopefully word will spread and we’ll get heaps of new recruits!

My Country ‘Tis of Thee

…Sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.  Happy 4th of July to all of my fellow Americans!!!  Nobody does “the holidays” like us Yanks, and I did my part to celebrate this evening.  4th of July the Emma way means lots of baking!

Last year I made sugar cookies with red, white and blue frosting.  This time around I decided to go with one of my absolute favorite treats: red velvet cupcakes!

Red velvet batter is by far the most delicious kind.  Matt and I were quite eager to clean this bowl.  Cupcake batter turns me into a child; I nearly spoiled my dinner.

I poked a hole in my piping bag the last time I made cupcakes, so tonight I used a makeshift one using a Ziploc bag.  Didn’t turn out as polished, but they still look tempting!  The cream cheese frosting recipe comes from Australian Women’s Weekly.

If you want to make a batch yourself, check out Carrot Top Mom.  (Though I would find your own cream cheese frosting recipe.  Hers hasn’t work for me, and I’ve tried it 3 different times.)

Sadly there isn’t much white in my festive ensemble.  I love this little red and navy shirt/dress.  I got it at Target of all places.  My red H&M tights and navy Keds pair really well with the dress as well.  My watch is the pop of white to complete my patriotic get-up.

For my family, the 4th means spending the long weekend together up at our cabin.  It’s on a small lake in Wisconsin.  I’m sure my parents and sisters will spend the day barbecuing and water-skiing.  I’m sad to miss out, but I’m happy to have indulged my need to acknowledge the day.  And when it almost fell apart (I forgot to buy cream cheese), I had my best buddy around to go pick it up for me.

IKEA, anyone?

I have all kinds of news I’ve been meaning to share, but I honestly haven’t had a spare moment to write a post.  I’ll keep it short, as I have no photos to share at this time.

This has been in the works for awhile, but I hesitated to announce it until it was definite: My mom’s coming to Perth!  It’ll be a quick week layover here in between business trips.  I absolutely cannot wait!  I’ve made all sorts of plans already, though I still need to make bookings.  My life seems to be always running off without me and I’m constantly playing catch-up.

The other huge cause for celebration is Matt’s and my impending move!  We found out a little over a week ago that we’d been accepted for a rental property.  It’s a great 3-bedroom duplex.  An older home, but one with a lot of character.  It’s in great shape as the landlady is quite efficient at upkeep.  She’s very sweet.  I’ve already been to IKEA just for fun and to get prices bumping around in my head.  Matt is being much more practical and making lists and budgets, claiming we’ll only be getting the essentials to start.  I’m so lucky to have a level-headed guy to pair with my over-excitement.  But we are both absolutely thrilled.

It’s wonderful to have these big (and little) boosts every now and then.  I’ve over-scheduled myself to the point that it’s started making me unhappy.  I feel like I’m just waiting for the next few months to pass so I have a bit more free time.  I’ve over-committed to this, that and the other thing and it’s time to scale it back.

The other day I got the best boost in the most unlikely place.  My supervisor at the hotel told me a coworker had left something for me in one of the drawers.  At that time my name tag had gone missing (I found it later) and I thought maybe she’d left it there for me.  But when I opened the drawer, an A&W root beer can rolled forward!  I couldn’t believe it.  It’s been quite awhile since my last root beer and it’s one of those things that is impossible to explain to foreigners.  Much like Dr. Pepper.  I couldn’t decide whether to drink it or share it, but last night Matt and I discovered our local takeaway Mexican place serves all the best foreign sodas.  He had his first sip last night.  Apparently root beer tastes like medicine. Sigh.