Category: Latest News & Updates (page 1 of 9)

Learning by blogging: My Gardening Adventures

Blogging is an important part of how I learn.   The process of sharing information in posts helps me reflect deeper, document information I want to refer back to and provide a mechanism for others to provide input into aspects I hadn’t considered.

It’s also important to blog about what you’re passionate about , and what interests you.

The purpose of this post is to reflect on my veggie patch progress.  While the topic mightn’t necessarily be of interest — you might find it helpful to observe how someone like me uses blogging for learning and why it is important to encourage students to not only blog for school but allow them to blog about their passions.   It might also help those the develop school vegetable gardens with students.


Mid last year we decided to help improve our diet, and the variety of what we eat, we would have a new rule for home cooked meals — each meal had to be different.  Isn’t necessarily the easiest of rules  but has been achievable by working through recipe books by well known chiefs.  For those wondering my favorite is Curtis Stone’s What’s for Dinner.

Fresh herbs are an important part of many of these recipe.  Buying weekly fresh herbs isn’t cheap and I was frustrated by the wastage when they weren’t all used.   This inspired me to work on my gardening skills at the same time as improving cooking skills.

I don’t necessarily have the greenest thumb.  Our climate is temperate – warm summers with low humidity and cool winter with average annual lowest temperature of 5 C (41 F) which helps but our soil is sandy which isn’t the best for growing veggies.  It’s been trial and error; and I’ve been experimenting with a range of herbs and vegetables.

Gardening Frustrations

Trial and error is very frustrating.

My local store is always stocked with an extensive range of herb and vegetable seedlings.  I regularly purchase seedlings I hadn’t intended to buy (they call me!) that are either hard to grow, don’t suit our soil conditions or it isn’t the right season for planting in our garden.

Apparently it’s a common problem and the best ways to avoid it is to have a list of what you want to buy before going plant shopping.

To solve the problem I’ve developed my own planting guide for Perth based on recommendations by other local home gardeners and Gardenate.   Belle’s Vegetable Garden shares great insights into their gardening.  Their humor makes me laugh!  SilverbeetGood to grow if you like to eat it. Personally I think it is like eating dirt …

Plant Plant in Garden
Celery Nov, Dec
Coriander Sept, Oct, Nov
Basil Oct, Nov, Dec
Chilli Sept, Oct, Nov
Chives Any month except June, July, August
Curry Plant Oct
Dill Sept, Oct
Oregano Any month except June, July, August
Parsley Any month except June, July, August
Radish All months
Silver Beet Any month except June, July, August
Spring Onions Sept, Oct, Nov
Thyme Oct, Nov
Tomato (Cherry) Oct, Nov, Dec
Zucchini Nov, Dec
Mulching Garden bed Add Straw mulch late spring (November)

I haven’t included lemon tree, lime tree, mint, sage, tarragon in the planting guide as these shouldn’t need regular replanting.  Oregano and thyme don’t need regular replanting but have been included because both herbs have suffered from hubby turning off watering system.

My Herb Garden

Herb gardenMy herb garden is fairly small but includes all the herbs I need for cooking (except not all herbs are available year long).   I occasionally plant some vegetables among my herbs in the hope they may grow.

I also have a separate garden bed with a lemon tree and a lime tree as well as three rectangular small planters with a mixture of herbs and some veggies.

Below is a summary of the different herbs (and some veggies) I grow with links to recipes I enjoy cooking.


Basil is an annual plant that doesn’t like colder weather.  It should be planted once the night time temperature is above 10 C (which could be any time from late August to October in Perth).    It’ll continue to grow through until about mid May (unless your husband turns off the watering system and upsets the plants!).

Basil flowers during summer and the flower spikes should be regularly pruned to encourage bushiness.

Basil is easy to grow with a wide variety of basil to choose from.  I have three varieties of basil: sweet basil; Greek Basil and purple basil.  I confess I haven’t always been the greatest fan of eating basil but it has grown on me.  Haven’t been game enough yet to try my purple or Greek basil and they are on my to do list.

My other ‘to do’ is to look at preserving fresh basil as I produce more fresh basil in the growing season than we eat.


  1. Pesto glazed chicken breast with spaghetti
  2. Orecchiette with Brown Butter, Broccoli, Pine Nuts, and Basil (I add chicken as well).




Chilli are fairly easy to grow.  My biggest challenge is finding the right chilli varieties to grow!  Chilli’s I grew a few years ago were so hot only my friend could eat them.

Fortunately chilli seedlings now includes a chilli hottest rating to help with selection.

This summer I grew Chilli mild and Chilli Jalapeno.  Both produced chilli that were too mild for what I needed.  Next planting season I’m going to try some slightly hotter chilli varieties.

Chilli heat vary considerably even when they look the same.  A handy tip for working out the chilli heat is to cut the chilli in half, run your finger along the inside of the chilli, then rub it on your bottom lip.  If you feel nothing it is very mild.  Slight tingle means it is mild and you’ll know if it is hot.  Following this technique when using Chilli in a recipe helps ensure you get the desired amount of heat (or mildness).


  1. Grilled Fish Tacos with Pico De Gallo




Chives are perennial and easy to grow.  They die down in winter and return again in spring.

To harvest you should snip close to the ground rather than snipping ends of shoots otherwise stalks become tough.


  1.  Matt Preston’s Potato Salad (this is our favorite potato salad recipe).


Coriander grows best during cooler months. My coriander grew well during winter and spring but went to seed as it warmed up.



Pushing boundaries I planted two new advanced Coriander Slowbolt seedlings in summer. Slowbolt is a fast growing but slow bolting variety of coriander (i.e. bolting = goes to seed). Both plants are growing slowly and so far haven’t gone to seed.

Coriander and flat leaf parsley look very similar; it’s a good idea to keep them separate.


  1. Grilled Fish Tacos with Pico De Gallo




Lemon is the most common ingredient I use weekly and I can use up to 7 lemons per week which can cost about $7 per week.   We had an advanced lemon tree planted last November.

It’s already bearing fruit however I’ve discovered lemons gradually mature and it can take up to 9 months for lemons to change from green to yellow.

Apparently patience is a virtue.  Hopefully both my lemon and lime trees will eventually bear fruit.


  1. Roast Chicken with lemon & shallot asparagus
  2. Matt Preston’s Chicken with oregano, lemon and garlic.




Mint is incredibly easy to grow.  Once planted it keeps propagating and can take over the garden as it is very invasive.  I learnt the hard way years ago that the best option is to plant mint in pots otherwise you end up spending a lot of time pulling it out.

It dies off in winter and comes back in spring.


  1. Vietnamese-style chicken salad 




Oregano is a small perennial shrub that grows to 30 cm and produces white flowers in late summer.

My oregano hasn’t fully forgiven me for that time I didn’t realize the sprinkler wasn’t working. Need to do some more trimming to remove damaged leaves.


  1. Grilled lemon oregano lamb chops with rustic bread salad.
  2. Matt Preston’s Chicken with oregano, lemon and garlic.


Flat leaf parsley

Flat leaf parsley (Italian Parsley)

I have both curley leaf parsley and flat leaf parsley (Italian parsley).   Flat leaf parsley is used more in recipes because it is considered to have a more robust flavor while curley leaf parsley is more associated with decorating.

Parsley is one of the easiest herbs to grow.

My first batch of flat leaf parsley grew well over winter but went to seed early and had to be replaced.   Should have lasted 1 to 2 years.

Curley leaf Parsley

Curley leaf Parsley

I replaced with a range of different sized seedling batches but planted them when it was hot (they survived!).

Parsley doesn’t like being transplanted and are more temperamental if you plant seedlings during periods of warm weather (oops).


  1. Cheesy Garlic and Herb bread




Rosemary is one of the few plants that is Sue proof!  Easiest herb to grow.   Great for flavoring meat and roast veggies.

Perennial herb that produces spikes of lavender blue flowers from early August to October and should be pruned after flowering to maintain a dense shape.

My rosemary is a bit yellow and probably needs fertilizers.  Checking my soil pH is on my to-do list.


  1. Moroccan beef skewers


Sage is a tough perennial that has so far survived me (and the hubby factor).  There are several different varieties of Sage.

I have the common sage which has velvety, grey-green leaves, grows to 75 cm and produces pink flowers in spring.

  1. Homemade Ravioli of Pumpkin and Parmesan with Roasted Pine Nuts

Tarragon French



French tarragon is the most popular variety of tarragon because it has the peppery tarragon taste.  It needs to be propagated from cuttings as it really ever flowers.

It has thin grey green leaves on a sprawling bush that dies down in winter and returns again in spring.


  1. Poached Salmon with Green and Yellow Beans
  2. Easy flatbreads




Thyme is a perennial that grows to about 30 cm and produces pretty flowers in summer.

It is the most flavorsome when in flower.


  1. Fettuccine Bolognese
  2. Turkey meatballs with marina sauce


I’ve had varying success with tomato plants!  Bellie’s veggie garden reports the same issue.  They’ve been successful with cherry tomatoes but struggled with larger tomato varieties.

I’ve accepted defeat and next planting season I’m planting cherry tomatoes.   Proof it is in the best interest of the tomato plants.


  1. Homemade Pizza with Mozzarella, Cherry Tomatoes, and Pesto

Your tips?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!  What else should I consider growing?

Still trying to work out how often I need to fertilize and what to use.  What is your advice?

I’ve also had a look at some of the gardening apps.  Do you use or recommend any?

And always looking for new recipes to try!  Feel free to share links to your favorite recipes.  You can check out my Recipes for Inspiration Flipboard magazine to see what I’m trying to learn or are thinking of trying.

An Aussie’s adventure in USA Part II: New York and Niagara Falls

As promised here’s the summary of our adventures in New York and Niagara Falls for those who have been following our Journey on Twitter and Instagram.

As mentioned in my previous post:

  1. Connecting with other educators on Twitter has enhanced the experience.  My twitter network have helped recommend places to check out and it has been invaluable for connecting face-to-face with other educators in the different cities we’ve visited.  You’ll find my guide to using Twitter here.
  2. Instagram has been a great way to quickly share photos from our trip.  Here’s how to use Instagram.

Here is where you will find all our photos:

  1. Photos from New York!
  2. Photos from Niagara Falls!
  3. Our photos on Instagram
  4. My video of Niagara Falls
Apologies but it is another long post.   Feel free to jump to the sections that interest you!

Day 1:

  • Rockefeller Center
  • Empire State Building
  • Grand Central Terminal
  • Times Square
  • 4th July Fireworks on Hudson River

Rockefeller Center

We started off the day with a visit to the Rockefeller Center where we saw the Today Show being filmed outside as part of the 4th July celebrations.  It was great walking through the crowd seeing all the people wearing 4th July clothes.

Today Show being filmed live outdoors at the Rockefeller Center for 4th July

Empire State Building

Visiting the Empire State Building was a prefect way to start off our visit to New York.  You can now purchase an audio-visual tour, which uses an iPod Touch.  As you view sights from the Building the tour provides an excellent introduction to New York and the Empire State Building.  Well worth paying the extra for the audio-visual tour.

We also visited the Empire State Building 102nd floor which is something I didn’t do last time I was in  New York.  My Mr13 hadn’t been keen to go up to the 102nd floor but was really glad when we did and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Being less crowded made viewing the sights better.

Empire State Building

Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Terminal is an important New York landmark and is located 5 minutes walk from our hotel.  Well worth the visit to check out the beautiful architecture, Grand Central Market and the Apple Store (a must visit for all Apple lovers).

We had wanted to do the audio tour of Grand Central Terminal but ran out of time.

1. View of Grand Central Station from a balcony 2. Grand Central Station 3. Apple Store in Grand Central Station 4. Grand Central Market

The Apple Store is located on a Grand Central balcony overlooking the Station and is one of the most impressive Apple stores I’ve visited.

Apple Store in Grand Central Station

Times Square

Times Square is one of the World’s most visited attractions.  The zoning ordinances in Times Square requires building owners to display illuminated signs which gives it a very distinctive feel.

It is also where you’ll find most of the Broadway shows.  And before any one asks — No!  We did not go to a Broadway show.  We were time challenged!

Times Square at night on the 4th July

4th July Fireworks

We finished off our day watching the 4th July fireworks near the USS Intrepid Museum on the Hudson River with our Aussie friends Ann MirtschinKathleen Morris and Nate Morris.   The best part of this was spending time with our Aussie friends.

I didn’t enjoy the fireworks but am glad we went to see what it was like.  I really had expected it to be much bigger, and better, than Perth’s Australia Day Sky Show when in reality it was the opposite.  It made me appreciate how special our Sky Show is and the work involved in making it happen.  But I also appreciate now why they couldn’t do the same as our Sky Show in NYC.

Our sky show has a crowd ranging in size from 200,000 to 400,000 supervised by a strong police presence.  It is a full on event with scheduled activities happening all around the Swan River during the day and into the night.  The fireworks are coordinated to Australian music which is simulcasted through a local radio station; and everywhere you can hear music while watching the fireworks.  The fireworks stream off tall buildings and are on barges on the Swan River.

They also start our fireworks with an Australian flag being flown around the Swan River under a helicopter with our National anthem playing.

NYC has millions watch the fireworks and it would be impossible to supervise that number of people if they tried to hold an event similar to ours.

4th July Fireworks in NYC

Day 2

  • Central Park
  • Museum of Natural History

Central Park

I really love Central Park.  You could spend days in Central Park and still never see  everything Central Park has to offer.

Central Park, NYC

Museum of Natural History

There is a trick to not getting lost in the Museum of Natural History and I still haven’t learnt it!

This time I downloaded their Museum of Natural History Explorer app (you can check out all their apps here).  The Explorer app is packed full of lots of great Museum adventures including Dino Tour and Night at the Museum Tour.  Even with the built in directions and GPS I managed to get lost.  Fortunately Mr13 is good at reading maps!

We really enjoyed the Museum of Natural History.  We would have loved to spend a lot longer there.  Our favorite exhibit was the Ocean Life Hall.

Museum of Natural History

Day 3

  • Manhattan Experience (8 hr)
  • Top of the Rock

Manhattan Experience

Each city we organised an all day tour so we make sure we see the city highlights.  In NYC we did the Grayline’s Manhattan Experience.    The tour was okay but I preferred the See it All NY tour we did last time I visited NYC.

With the See it All NY Tour you get off the bus with the tour guide at each stop.  The tour guide walks you to the location so you get a really good view of the sight and an excellent overview of what you are seeing.

On the Manhattan Experience you drive past most the sights on the bus, which I struggled to see, and only stopped at four locations to get off the bus.  One of the stops included 40 minutes at a souvenir shop.  I would have rather spent longer at General Grant’s tomb so we could have gone into the tomb or gone to China Town and walk through it than spend time at a souvenir shop.  The tour included a stop at Little Italy and people could have brought their souvenirs there.

1. General Grant’s Tomb 2. Little Italy 3. Charging Bull 4. Statue of Liberty

Top of the Rock

The Top of the Rock was included in the Manhattan Tour but you could use the entry ticket at any time so we decided to visit it at night because we had already done the Empire State Building during the day.

The Top of the Rock and the Empire State Building both give you views of NYC.   Personally we liked the Empire State Building more because the audio-visual tour enhanced the experience.  I also preferred the view during the day rather than the NYC lights at night.

Day 4

  • Rest day

Day 5

  • Subway
  • Brooklyn Bridge
  • Wall Street
  • Charging Bull
  • Trinity Church
  • St Paul’s
  • The High line

Subway Adventure

The NYC subway is one of the oldest and most extensive subway systems in the world and we decided we wanted to learn how to use the subway.  We did feel a bit intimidated initially because it is big subway system and we rarely use public transport at home.

The main things to be aware of are:

  1. Use with caution during rush hour as you may get trampled – almost happened to me).
  2. Don’t use at night – use taxis.
  3. Watch out for pick pockets – pretty sure a woman tried to pick pocket me on my first subway trip.
  4. Learn which direction is Uptown and which is Downtown – or in my case use the HotStop app (see below).

The subway is definitely the cheapest way of getting around NYC and all you need to do is buy a Metrocard.  You just swipe the metrocard as you enter into the subway.  We purchased 7 day unlimited metrocards but we would have probably been better sharing a Pay-Per-Ride Metrocard.

Easiest option for finding your way on the Subway is to download the HotStop app which you use to work out which subway station and subway you need to take.

Only other point I would make is last time we used a 3 Day Hop on Hop off bus pass.   This was good for the first day but wasn’t time efficient for other days because you are restricted to waiting while the bus stopped at every stop to get to the location you want to go.

Brooklyn Bridge

I’ve always wanted to walk the Brooklyn Bridge because it is one of the oldest suspension bridges in USA with an interesting history.  So we were both very excited to walk across the bridge!

I really wish I had read Jo Hawke’s post on Brooklyn Bridge before doing it as she has so many cool tips of extra things we could have done!

The Brooklyn Bridge

Around Wall Street

Wall Street is the financial District of NYC and is what makes NYC one of the World’s principal Center’s.

Wall Street is a key tourist location as people come here to see sights including the NYC Stock Exchange, the Federal Reserve, Federal Hall National Memorial, The Trinity Church, St Paul’s Chapel, the Charging Bull, the Bowling Green, the World Trade center and it is close walking distance to all major ferry piers (such as Statue of Liberty tours, Staten Island, Governor’s Island).

Since 9/11 there is a very strong police and security presence in this area.  The biggest change since last time I visited NYC is they now have 24/7 police guards on the Charging Bull.

The Charging Bull is located in the Bowling Green near Wall Street and represents the aggressive financial optimism and prosperity.  It is one of NYC’s most photographed artworks and a popular tourist destination.

The aspect that had the biggest impact on us was visiting St Paul’s Chapel and learning more about their work during 9/11.  St Paul’s churchyard is opposite the World Trade Center.

1. Wall Street 2. The Federal Hall National Memorial 3. NYC Stock Exchange 4. The Charging Bull

The High Line

The High Line is 1.6 km linear park built on a section of the former elevated rail road which runs along the lower west side of Manhattan.

The High Line park was a sight that my Twitter network recommended that we visit and I’m really glad we did.  It is very spectacular; they’ve done an amazing job building this park along the elevated rail road.   It is an extremely popular tourist destination.

Day 7:

  • Statue of Liberty
  • Ellis Island

Statue of Liberty

I was undecided if we would go to visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island because it was very busy at this time of the year and the Statue of Liberty is currently undergoing 12 months restoration.

But I’m very glad we did.   The queue to visit Statue of Liberty wasn’t bad and nothing beats standing on Liberty Island looking up at the  Statue of Liberty.

Audio tours for the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are now included in the cost of the visit which makes it one of the most economical NYC full day activity.

We started off our visit to Liberty Island in the Information Center watching  the Story of the Statue of Liberty.  This provided us with a very good introduction to the history of the Statue and then we followed it up by checking out the sights while listening to the audio tour.

Rather than being put off by the restoration work I found it fascinating.  I enjoyed watching them transporting the concrete trucks on the barge.

1. Looking up at Statue of Liberty 2. Close up of Statue of Liberty 3. Statue of Liberty Restoration work 4. Transporting equipment for restoration work

Ellis Island

Ellis Island was America’s largest and most active immigration station. From 1892 to 1924 over 12 million immigrants were processed on Ellis Island.

Last time I visited Ellis Island I struggled to get a lot out of the visit.  This time I was determined to get a better understanding of it’s role in immigration.

This time we started our visit off by watching the “Island of Hope, Island of Tears” Movie.  This really helped me understand it’s history so when we walked around listening to the audio tour we could visualize what it might have been like for the immigrants. Our afternoon on Ellis Island made me reflect on why my ancestors decided to migrant and why they chose Australia.

An interesting fact I hadn’t appreciated before was steerage and third class passengers were processed through Ellis Island where they underwent medical and legal inspection.   Whereas first and second class passengers normally weren’t subjected to this process, unless they were obviously sick, and were free to enter USA because it was believed if they could afford the cost of the ticket on the ship then they were financial enough to support themselves.

1. Ellis Island 2. Registry Room 3. Registry Room ceiling 4. Board of Special Inquiry Hearing Room

Niagara Falls

While staying in NYC we organize a 2 day trip from NYC to Niagara Falls.  It’s probably really good that I never checked how far Niagara Falls is by bus from NYC or we might not have gone :)

We covered over 1400 km (over 800 miles), and over 8 hours per day traveling on the bus, to visit the USA and Canadian side of Niagara Falls.  It was worth every minute!

You really need to see Niagara Falls to appreciate how incredible it is!

Hopefully my video of Niagara Falls gives some sense of how impressive it is?

You can check out all our photos from Niagara Falls here!

We hadn’t appreciated the amount of mist Niagara Falls produces.  The volume and speed of the water flowing over Niagara Falls creates an incredible mist plume which you see from miles away as you’re approaching the falls.

Mist rising from Niagara Falls

When we stopped next to Horseshoe Falls the mist was being blown at us and it was like standing outside in the rain (which is why Mr13  looks so wet).

The amount of mist and height of the mist plume is directly related to the temperature difference.   The greater the difference between air temperature and water temperature the more mist produced and the higher the plume.

Mr13 getting wet from mist falling from the Horseshoe Falls (Canadian Falls) at Niagara Falls, Canada.

Probably like most people I hadn’t realised that Niagara Falls is made up of three falls.   American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls are located in USA.

View of American Falls from the Maid of the Mist viewing platform on USA side.

The Horseshoe Falls (also known as Canadian Falls) is located mostly in Canada and 90% of the water flow from the Niagara Rivers flows over the Horseshoe Falls.

The Maid of the Mist going under the Horseshoe Falls.

Viewing Niagara Falls from both sides is definitely the way to go.  A visit to Goat Island in USA allows you to get scarily tooooo close to all the falls.

American Falls from Goat Island.

And yet again Twitter was invaluable!  We had an excellent time exploring Goat Island with Heidi Chaves.

Visiting Goat Island with Heidi Chaves.

Final thoughts

Hope you’ve enjoyed the highlights of our travel so far. Our next destination is Los Angles which I’ll cover in my next post.

An Aussie’s adventure in USA Part I: ISTE, Washington DC, Travel Tips and Understanding all things USA

Those that follow me on Twitter are aware that I’m currently traveling around USA introducing my 13 year old son to the wonders of America after attending ISTE.

We’ve been learning a lot, and it’s really hard to explain everything in 140 characters,  so I’ve decided to share everything in more detail here.

Apologies for the long post but I’ve tried to include a bit for everyone from travel tips for Aussies. ISTE to what we’ve been doing.   Feel free to jump to the sections that interest you!

And educators feel free to get me to Skype into your class to discuss differences between Australia and USA.

ISTE and San Diego

ISTE is an annual conference held in USA where 20, 000 people from around the World come to share and learn more about educational technology.  It’s impossible to explain how much is gained from attending ISTE.

Networking online is great but you gain even more when you make those face-to-face connections.  Check out more from what some of my friends gained here:

  1. Alice Mercer
  2. Kathleen Morris
  3. Ann Mirtschin
  4. Sue Wyatt
  5. Tracey Watanabe
  6. Linda Yollis

Please let me know if you’ve written some posts about ISTE so I can add them to my list!

Sue Wyatt, Tracey Watanabe, Ronnie Burt and me

Too many highlights to cover but an important one was meeting Ronnie Burt, my work colleague, face-to-face for the first time.

We’ve worked together now for over two years and talk almost daily so it did surprise many that that this is the first time we’ve meet.

Final comment is that ISTE was held in San Diego this year.

I was surprised to see that San Diego is very similar looking to my home city Perth.  Lots of the same vegetation including Kangaroo paws.

You can check out my complete set of San Diego and ISTE photos here!

San Diego

I really need to learn to check the climate when traveling.  I’d assumed that San Diego would be hot whereas the temperature was very similar to the current daytime winter temperatures in Perth.

Current Perth winter vs San Diego summer

Understanding all things USA

I’m always caught out traveling in USA; I find it harder than any other country I travel in.  I think it”s because I assume it should be very similar to Australia when there are so many subtle differences that you don’t appreciate watching American TV shows or networking online with Americans.

The Food

Food has been my most exciting adventure this time.   Most American food is very different from what we eat in Australia, and how you order meals is different.

This trip I’ve encouraged my American friends to surprise me by ordering food.

1. Memphis styled Pulled chicken burger with corn fritters and cinnamon butter. 2. Refried beans, Spanish rice and beef enchiladas 3. Indian Taco 4. NYC Pizza

Here’s some food facts:

  1. Pulled meat is any meat that has been slow cooked for 6-8 hours and then pulled apart using a fork.  It’s quite common for chicken, pork and beef.
  2. Sandwiches are anything between pieces of bread.  Burgers, rolls and buns are all called sandwiches in USA.  For example, on a McDonald’s menu you will see burgers listed as a meal or sandwich price.  Australians use the term sandwich to mean any  food between two slices of bread.
  3. In Washington DC, Jeff Meade took me to the Native Food Cafe in the Museum of American Indians.  Mr13 and I enjoyed trying out the different Native Indian food.  Our favorite was the Indian Tacos.
  4. There are containers of garlic. Parmesan cheese, oregano. chili etc which you sprinkle onto your NYC pizza after it has been cooked and before you eat it.
  5. Aussie meals tend to be as per the menu while in USA you’ll have lots of options so you need to be prepared to say what sides (e.g. fries, rice, salads, potatoes), what type of cheese, what type of dressing, how you want the meat cooked when ordering your meal.  Good luck working out what some of the sides are!
  6. The trick to ordering a McDonald meal is to say the meal size and number of the meal e.g Medium No. 1 means a medium Big Mac Meal.  In Australia we would say it as a medium Big Mac Meal.  If you say that here you might get a Big Mac with a drink minus the fries.  Also here there is no such thing as a small meal at McDonald’s.  The smallest size is the medium and the largest meal is considerably larger than McDonald’s meals I’ve eaten any where else in the World.
  7. Most cafe and restaurant include free top up of soft drinks so you only pay once for a soft drink (soda).
  8. A USA biscuit is similar to what we call a scone while a biscuit to an Australian is a cookie to an American.  But to make it confusing they also do occasionally have scones :)
  9. What they call a pickle is what we call a gerkin.
  10. Donuts here are apparently a breakfast food while in Australia we eat them any time of the day but not for breakfast.
  11. Our method of cooking bacon is known as Canadian bacon while bacon cooked here is very crisp and commonly eaten with fingers.
  12. If a salad comes with the meal it’ll often be served before the main meal in USA where in Australia the salad is always served at the same time as the main meal.

Our Aussie language

Besides differences in food you also need to appreciate that Americans can struggle to understand Aussies when we speak.  When they get that look in their glazed look in their eyes you know they haven’t fully understood everything you’ve said.   Our use of different words and phrases with our accent makes it confusing for them.


The other aspect Aussie’s struggle with is tipping.  Tipping in Australia is considered un-Australian and tipping makes an Australian feel uncomfortable.    Tipping is part of life in American.    Take the time to learn how to tip and get used to tipping.

Please feel free to leave some tipping tips as I still struggle with working out when to tip and how much :)


Finally flying!  Make sure you’re domestic flights are linked to your International flight or you will have to pay additional costs for each bag and as an International traveler you generally can’t use the self check in — bypass self check in and find some one on the counter who can organise your boarding pass.

It’s common for flights to be delayed and overbooked — don’t stress if you miss a flight due to delays!  They will always get you onto another flight.

PS always hold onto your luggage claim receipt.  Flights can be tight in USA and your luggage can arrive later or earlier than you.

Washington DC

Lots of people have asked for more information about what sight seeing we’ve done in each location, what we’ve enjoyed the most and any tips.  Here is the information for Washington DC.  I’ll cover New York in my next post.

You can check out all my photos from Washington DC here.

Day 1:

  1. Smithsonian Air and Space Museum
  2. Smithsonian Museum of American History – lunch at Mitistam Cafe (Native food cafe)
  3. Smithsonian Museum of Natural History
  4. Smithsonian Museum of American History
  5. Walk down National Mall to Washington Monument
  6. Walk past Reflecting pool to Lincoln Memorial

Here’s some facts:

  • All Smithsonian Museums are free and most are within easy walking distance from each other on either side of the National Mall.  Best option is to start at a Smithsonian at one end and work your way along the National Mall to check out the Museums you want to visit.
  • Each Smithsonian Museum is packed full of things to do and you really can spend as much or as little time visiting each.  We comfortably visited four Museums in one day but could have easily spent a day in each.
  • Like all important USA sights you have to go through a security check before entering.  Remember no food allowed and if you are allowed to bring in drinks you can only carry water.

Favorite moments were:

  •  The Star Spangled Banner exhibit and Lighting a Revolution at the Smithsonian Museum of American History.  There are lots of really interesting exhibits in the American History Museum that I hadn’t expected and well worth the visit.
  • Mr13 enjoyed all the different Museums.  His favorite was probably the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.  I loved The Wright Brothers & The Invention of the Aerial Age and Barron Hilton Pioneers of Flight
  • Lunch at the Native Food Cafe in the Museum of American Indians.  There was so many different types of foods to try that you wouldn’t normally get an opportunity to try.
  • Walking the National Mall to the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial.  The National Mall is currently undergoing major restoration and the Washington Monument is closed due to Earthquake damage but still a great walk.

1. Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. 2. Smithsonian Museum of National History. 3. Washington Monument 3. Lincoln Memorial

Day 2:

We did the Gray Line’s DC in a Day Tour.

It was a good way to learn more about DC and included stops at the following sights:

  • Tour of Capitol Building
  • White House Visitors Center – you need to walk across the road to see White House
  • Smithsonian Museums
  • World War II memorial
  • Martin Luther King Memorial
  • Roosevelt Memorial

We had sufficient time at each stop to check out each location well.

Our personal highlight was visiting The Capitol.  It is such a beautiful building and we learnt a lot about its history on the guided tour of The Capitol.

1. The Capitol 2. Interior view of the Capitol Dome 3. Martin Luther King’s Memorial 4. Roosevelt Memorial 5. World War II Memorial

Day 3:

Personally I wasn’t a fan of the International Spy Museum but Mr13 really enjoyed it.  We paid to go on a Spy mission which he really loved.

My favorite was the National Archive.  Best place to start the visit is watching their Introductory movie on the National Archives.  The exhibits at the National Archives were informative and interactive.

Loved the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom

  • Declaration of Independence
  • Constitution
  • Bill of Rights

1. White House 2. National Archives 3. White House

Day 4:

We did the Gray Line’s Mount Vernon and Arlington Cemetery tour.

We thoroughly enjoyed this tour as it gave us an opportunity to see sights outside of Washington DC while learning about George Washington.  Mount Vernon is the home of George Washington.  It is where he died and is buried.  A visit to Mount Vernon should definitely be included on your list if you have time when visiting Washington DC.

This tour included stops at the following sights:

  • Mount Vernon and guided tour of The Mansion
  • Christchurch in Alexandria
  • US Marine Corps memorial
  • Tour of Arlington cemetery including visits to the Kennedy’s graves, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Changing of the Guard  Ceremony
  • Lincoln Memorial, Korean War Memorial and the Vietnam War memorial

1. The Mansion at Mount Vernon 2. George Washington’s Tomb 3. Kennedy’s grave at Arlington Cemetery 4. George Washington’s pew in Christchurch 5. Arlington Cemetery 6. US Marine Corps Memorial

Staying connected

And finally for those wondering how I’m staying connected Internet access is always my first priority as I’m working as I travel.

There is a range of options for International travelers in USA.  This time I went with an AT & T 3 GB Prepaid Sim card from (I’ve hired USB Internet Access Card for my computer on previous trips).

Here’s what you need to know if you use this option:

  1. Make sure you select the correct SIM card.  I selected the wrong one which they correctly fixed before sending the card.
  2. Delivery to Australia is really fast.  You can also have it sent to your hotel.
  3. Telstra unlocks iPhones for free but you need to organise this several days in advance of travelling as it takes a couple of days to unlock and you need to connect to iTunes to complete the process.   I had to do a factory restore to make mine unlock (remember to back up your iPhone before doing a restore).
  4. sends an email with an app you need to install on your iPhone before you can use the card.
  5. I had planned to hotspot my iPhone, like I do with Telstra in Australia, but you can’t using this plan with AT & T in USA.  If I had been aware of this I might have brought my 3G iPad.

Having a pre-paid SIM card really is worth it; makes life easier and enhances the experience!  I’ve also installed IM Pro+ on my iPhone so I can quickly IM with my work colleagues if needed.

Final thoughts

Hope you’ve enjoyed the highlights of our travel so far.  Our next destination was New York which I’ll cover in my next post.

Only other things I would add is:

  1. Connecting with other educators on Twitter really enhances the experience.  My twitter network have helped recommend places to check out and it has been invaluable for connecting face-to-face with other educators in the different cities we’ve visited.
  2. Instagram is a great way to share your travels with your network and is a great instant way of sharing your experience.  You’ll find my Instagram photos here.

Here’s where you’ll find my guides on:

  1. Twitter
  2. Instagram


Visiting Melbourne…Want to catch up?

I’m going to be in Melbourne from May 11 to May 18.

My mum’s attending a conference from May12-13 and asked me to join her as she doesn’t get much opportunity to holiday.

Perhaps explains where I get it from my craziness from.

But at 72 she leads an incredibly busy life.  Still works 3 days per week plus does volunteer work.  Between that and family commitments — it’s no surprise there’s not much time to holiday.

Getting to the point 8-)

I’ll be in Melbourne and happy to meet up with any one between our holiday commitments.

I’ll be attending the 2011 DEECD Innovation Showcase on May 12.  I’m using it as an opportunity to catch up with people I’ve been networking with online while she is busy at her conference.  Please watch out for the lost person at the conference — that’ll be me!

Feel free to also suggest must see places to take her in Melbourne.   I don’t think she has visited Melbourne and has made the incredibly BAD mistake of leaving me in charge of all travel plans.   We could be in serious trouble since she isn’t aware of my dirty secret that I can get lost in the simplest locations.

PS needs some extra special suggestions for Saturday May 14 as it is her birthday!

And wish my mum luck — there is a chance I might lose misplace her in Melbourne during one of my famous ‘I’m lost’ incidents

My chances of winning all the chocolate ARE?

Life’s been a bit tougher the past 12+ months which is why there’s been less of Sue around than previously.

And off course, during the same period I’ve also been a bit accident prone so some of my friends, who have been there when I’ve needed them, have decided it’s time for a smile and laugh.

So as a bit of harmless fun they’ve created the Sue Waters’s Injury Sweepstake.

I’ve been lead to believe if I make it to 30 Sept, 2011 without an injury I win the prize of REAL chocolate 8-)

As Phil say’s it all started from his gentle teasing of me being prone to accidents and perhaps we should run a sweepstake on it.

Considering I’ve injured myself three times in the past 12 months — there might be some truth in being accident prone.

History of accidents are:

  1. April 2010 – Grade 2 tear of calf muscle in right leg trying to change the tyre (tire) on my car while on holidays
  2. July 201 0- drove car into a concrete pole in a car park breaking fourth metacarpal of my left hand
  3. Feb 2011 – fell over when car stuck behind boon gate in public car park damaging ligaments in left foot


But am I really accident prone?

My accidents were annoying, and let’s be honest, quite funny.

But evidence suggests that others are like me :)

In the same time period my sisters both injured themselves (walking):

  1. Aug 2010 - middle sister badly fractured left ankle
  2. Dec 2011 – oldest sister broke her left arm/wrist and shattered right shoulder ball joint

Placing your bets

So for a bit of a chuckle, and fun, check out the current suggestions of how I might next injury myself, when and the cause of the accident.  There are some really funny suggestions.

And off course, while there add your own suggestions to the Sue Waters’s Injury Sweepstake.

Wish Phil had made it so my children couldn’t enter :(  They’ve been plotting how they could rig it :)

What would YOU like me to do a Presentation on?

Feel like helping out?

Some background

Reform Symposium 2010I”m presenting at The Reform Symposium, a 48 hour free e-conference that begins Friday, July 30th at 2pm PDT (LA Time) and ends Sunday, August 1st at 2:30pm PDT (LA Time).

You’ll find details for my presentation and how to join here!

But I’ve decided to be different.  Rather than me choose the topic of my presentation.  We’ve invited people to suggest topics (and titles).

I’ve now condensed topic suggestions — all we now need to do is finalise the choice.

Submit your vote

So here’s your chance!  What would you like me to present on?

Can you please vote by choosing your preferred topic from the poll?  And tell all your friends to vote quickly too.

For those wondering:

  • ‘Blogging for teachers” is tips and advice for teachers on blogging for personal and professional reflection
  • “Managing workflow” is how to effectively use tools like gmail, Google Docs, gtalk, Google Reader, Google Calendar etc to colloborate with others and manage your work

Voting has closed and the results are:

Student blogging

Final thoughts

Thanks for helping me out!

And off course — with limited time to organise.

Would love it if you should share your thoughts (for any of the topics) on:

  1. What you would like to know?
  2. What you think I need to cover?

And if you’re enjoying this blog, please consider Subscribing for free!

Free to good home!

Image by a href=Any takers?

I’ve had enough of the work involved with dealing with spammers on Ning sites.

So decided to reduce the workload by getting rid of eTools and Tips for Educators.

It’s a cool name and URL –

If Ning is like blog sites once a URL has been deleted no-one including the original user can create the site again with that URL.

Let me know if you would like to take it over (and use how you want) otherwise I’m deleting in 48 hours.

PS  Unlike my husband who I’ve tried to give away (occasionally) it doesn’t come with an inbuilt snore 8-)

Image by Mubblegum licensed under Creative Commons ShareAlike

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Edublog Awards – Thanks For Nominating My Sites

This is a tough one, which Larry hinted at here

But I think it is important to take the time to thank those who nominated me and my different websites (Sue Waters Blog, The Edublogger and PLN Yourself) in several categories of the 2009 Edublogs Awards.

Thanks Sue Wyatt, Jan Smith, Lesley Edwards, Burcu Akyol, Mike Sansone, David Truss, Gail Desler, RliberniDarcy Moore, and Shelly Terrell.

I’m honored to have been nominated by you all (and apologies if I’ve missed anyone from the list — please let me know if I did as it defnitely isn’t deliberate!)

As Larry Ferlazzo says:

‘the really important thing about these awards is that they provide an opportunity for everybody to learn about great blogs and other resources out there that can be helpful to our teaching’.

So take the time to check out the 2009 Edublogs Awards — because it’s a great way to discover cool ways of using social media in an educational context!

PS Please tell me about some of the cool ideas (and/or sites) you find when checking through the Edublogs Awards nominations!

Can Addictions Scare Readers?

Can be only one response to this tweet! Readers should answer it 8-)

Image of chocolate addict

Personally I find it hard to believe for two main reasons:

a) I’m a chocolate addict – I think we need a clarification of addiction!

b) That it could be very scary!

Your thoughts:

  1. Is Ashley Proud right?
  2. Does it make me scary? And can an addition scare readers?
  3. Perhaps truth – he’s a chocolate hater?

Disclaimer: Sue Waters is a serious blogger

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The Great USA Coca Cola and Chocolate Scandal!

It’s my last day in USA and I’m taking home so many lovely memories of USA…..except for Coca Cola and Cadbury chocolate.

IMHO it is a scandal!

The Taste of American Coca Cola and Chocolate

Being well known for my Coca Cola and chocolate love (it’s what I’m holding in my avatar) I feel a need to expose this scandal. Worse still that I have to confess I’ve been drinking Pepsi and feeling physically sick from the memory of eating Cadbury Carmello chocolate.

While other Aussies rush off planes from USA to grab a true Aussie meat pie all I’m thinking about is drinking my first real drink of Coca Cola in 3 weeks. It may be an extremely long flight home for the Qantas flight attendants if they serve American Coca Cola and not Australian. Off course I’m also now concerned that I will no longer cope with the sweet taste of our Coca Cola and our chocolate :( .

Reason for the taste difference

Before coming to USA I was aware that the chocolate would taste different but assumed that Coca Cola tastes the same World wide (as did most non-USA people in my network).

So why the different taste? Well here they use high-fructose corn syrup instead of sugar. Besides not being as sweet it has a horrible taste.

In USA the price of sugar is considerably higher than the World sugar price due to factors such as sugar quotas on the import of sugar and government subsidies of USA sugar growers (read more here about the history of USA inflated sugar prices). The solution for reducing food production costs has been to replace sugar with high-fructose corn syrup or move production to countries like Canada where sugar is cheap.

Meanwhile Americans who want to drink soft drinks containing sugar go to stores that sell Mexican imported Coca Cola and Pepsi.


I’m arriving into Sydney airport Monday 13 July at 6.15 AM. Hopefully no one gets in my way as I run to grab some real Cadbury chocolate!

Sigh with a short time between my flight from Sydney to Perth hopefully in my rush to get some chocolate I don’t miss my flight home :(

PS yes I will tell you more about my USA adventure than just the chocolate and Coca Cola scandal. What else would you like to know?

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