Farewell Melbourne, until we meet again!

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Our final week in Melbourne was a week of how much more delicious Melbourne food can we eat?

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Melbourne is a foodie city which is why I love it so much, it speaks my language – the language of food in many cuisines. Melbourne is an absolute delight to visit, and there are always many superb restaurants to discover! My sister told me about a place called Lankan Tucker in Brunswick – as one of my last lunches with my foodie friend Cath we went for a feed of pan rolls and stuffed roti, it was absolutely delightful. The day before we had visited my uncles take away Sri Lankan shop and had a pan roll and brought home many treats we had with dinner – the kids wanted more by the time we left, which is always good. Sri Lankan food is always an excellent find – these treats of pan rolls and stuffed roti are quite time-consuming, so it is a real score to find them. At Lankan Tucker, the toilet was the best with some sayings we used to hear all the time from our parents, these sayings were described as “Lankanisms”, an absolute classic! Indeed, we would love to go back for more next time we go to Melbourne, and we will be visiting Uncle Glens take away for an order of pan rolls from Curry and Chips.

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We always find well-made coffee in Melbourne that is just amazing but the kids even score with a beautiful hot chocolate as well – to me it is all about the ritual of coffee and tea, enjoying time over a cuppa. None of this takeout and go business, no thank you!

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On Sunday we celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary – it was a hot day, so off we went to downtown Mountain View for dinner of a $12 salad from sweetgreen – I really like their ethos towards food sustainability and their support of local food and agriculture. I felt like a salad and scored a salad a mighty big one at that, it was chilli hot which added to the salad and our first time there. It was OK, but I think it may have been better with pickles, everything is better with pickles. As steel was the element for our 11th anniversary, I said to my hubby hey we were in a steel aeroplane for a very long time I think that makes a great anniversary gift – a trip home to Australia! Even though I have been living here for nearly 11 years, Australia is where I feel I belong.

So I was very excited to come back and see the ladies at the ranch – I love the chickens, and the Bantams have grown so much, time for some selfies with the chicks!!

On Monday it was hug a chicken day, in our neck of the woods! I don’t think they were that excited to see us but we bought them some treats, so in the end, they were happy. The kids really spent so much time with them and gave them lots of hugs and attention. Now it is back to reality, and I actually start a full-time job in August as a Teacher Assistant, life is going to start to get real busy!!

Friends, Food and Family

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A whole week of planning with the kids as my third teaching period for University commenced. To start the week off, I said to the kid’s let’s visit my friend who manages a book store to stock up on your fave author David Walliams. The USA does not get his book releases as much as Australia. So we did that and went to the cinema on cheapo Monday at the Nova to see Chicken People. We loved it as we are all a bunch of chicken lovers and enjoyed the quirkiness of the chicken obsessed at a chicken show in Ohio and Nashville!

I had to balance some study time in with catching up with friends and their kids for the school holidays. There is nothing like art time and then playtime for the kids and wine by the Yarra River.

I started two units, so I had to devote some time to carving into the work for this week, so I spent a morning in and took the kids shopping in the city and on the way back we found a park to play in complete with a flying fox.

The big day last week was quite random as I wanted to check out the National Trust House property of the Rippon Lea Estate as it is Aunt Prudence’s house from the Ms Fishers Murder Mysteries series that I love so much! The bonus of visiting Rippon Lea Estate is there was a fashion exhibit Night Life focusing on clothing on the 1920s-30s!!

Oh my,  I had such a fun time with my friend checking out the clothing and accessories worn around Melbourne in the high times of partying and living it up in this fabulous city. I loved this era in fashion especially with the bias cut dresses and the beaded dress silhouette including the accessories!

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On our way back to the train station I found this very famous restaurant Attica in the streets of Ripponlea. I had only seen this on a show on Netflix and wondered where it was in Melbourne – the chef is very innovative and forages for a lot of bush food in the dishes and had me glued to the television when I watched it, and it did make me yearn to come back home.

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Oh and the dramas of public transport – we made it to North Melbourne, and one of the kids wanted to get off the train to go to the toilet, so we did with only two stops to our destination. Next train disappeared off the schedule, and the next thing over the loud speaker was we have problems with the train this evening we do not know when they will be running again, now this was 4 pm on a Thursday night – peak hour rush just on the horizon. So what happens next was this disjointed plan to get back to our place via the tram with everyone else leaving the city sardine packed into them as they travelled by. It was a difficult choice to make especially with having the kids with me, so we just walked to the 57 tram near the Victoria market and waited… and waited… it was two and a half hours later, and we were finally home. My phone was dead we got back to the house and plugged in to see what was happening with my dinner plans. So, of course, everyone else was in the same situation, so we just stayed in had a bitch session about how crap it was and had some pizza and wine and catch up such a way to end a Thirsty Thursday!

FriYay and I spent most of the day studying except for lunchtime when I met a friend for lunch in the city, and we went out to Lygon Street for dinner in the evening with my sister in law, her hubby and the cousins. The kids had already had fun though exhausting time with their cousins playing all day, so we had pizza and gelato and headed on home.

Another friend catch up on Saturday with a very old friend of mine from way back when and we went out for Laksa to a favourite haunt of ours from back in the day, the Laksa King and it still tastes amazing! After lunch, we wandered around the hood to check out the million dollar houses and matching fancy cars.

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It was back to school for the kiddos this week in Melbourne, so we had our goodbyes to the cousins and the animals at their house. The menagerie of cats, chickens and dogs was enjoyed by everyone. I will miss my friends and family, but I know I will be returning real soon and knowing this does not make leaving Australia to feel all that bad.

Groove is in the Heart

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The weekend started with a lunch at CERES (the Centre for Education and Research in Environmental Strategies) in Brunswick East – a stones throw away from where we are staying. We have enjoyed visiting CERES since living on this side of town years ago and loved the fact that there is a native nursery, market, cafe, bike repair station, chooks and so much more, all environmentally focussed. The kids enjoyed playing at the adventure playground and we joined in the fun as well! See how you can decorate your garden beds with used bike wheels.

This beautiful tree nest is created with sticks and bicycle wheels on top of a platform in the lower branches of the tree. We found a hole big enough to fit through and escaped the wind chill for a while before we had to slip back down. We met our friends who we met in the Valley many years ago who have now moved back home to Melbourne and reestablished their life here. It was so wonderful to catch up and hear how the transition went for them coming back and how everything gets back into a groove after a time.

On our way to CERES we came across this amazing vintage market called the Lost & Found Market and lucky for us we got to spend a fair amount of time here over the weekend to check out their racks of clothes and vintage wares. There was so much to check out – fortunately for me vintage sizes are generally small, otherwise I could be adding to my luggage! Lots and lots of fabric that I could have added to my luggage were up for grabs but I have bought so much fabric already so I just need the time to get sewing now! My uncle has a vintage market at his house which would be perfect in this space 🙂

Saturday night I caught up with a long lost friend who we haven’t seen since we got married 10 years ago. So much happens in ten years and the kids are a testament to that – it was great that her 4 kids enjoyed time with our kids too. We found chillis in the garden and the kids were eating them just for kicks, so we had to deal with some chilli burnt kiddos!

Sunday came around all too soon and we met my long time work friend from the publishing days for brunch. We met again at CERES at their cafe called The Merri Table with their excellent selection of organic, free range and cruelty free goodness I was so happy! So rather than a coffee I opted for the Golden Milk and what a treat that was with local honey to sweeten the spot. The base is turmeric and ginger to give it that beautiful golden glow.

On our walk back to the tram we saw this huge fluffball cat sitting atop a fence. Just one look at her and it was our cat Bellas Melbourne fluffy cousin. She was so soft and very happy to get some pats in the winter sunshine.

Monday we finally made it to the National Gallery of Victoria – friends of ours enjoyed a day off and hung out with us. At the entrance of the NGV is a waterfall wall and the kids went straight to it – oh it’s really wet they said!

Once we were inside the gallery has many a photo opportunity – the mirror art walk through sculpture piece was just the best for pics! Look above you in the great hall to see the stained glass. And we found this stunning video installation by Lisa Reihana: In Pursuit of Venus – excerpt from the NGV website:

“A live-action video that is inspired by the colonial nineteenth century panoramic wallpaper, Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique (1804–05), produced by entrepreneur Joseph Dufour in Neoclassical France. Les Sauvages draws upon journal accounts of Pacific voyages of exploration but Dufour and his team harvested information from different historical sources and relocated the bodies into a fictional Tahitian landscape, removing these Pacific Islanders from their cultural, historical and political reality and dressing them in Neoclassical attire. The Pacific performers unbind the shackles of colonialism by bringing forth visual poetics of Indigenous culture and knowledge and thereby recalibrate colonial history from their own standpoints.”

The kids had a blast at the Fake Food Park by Catalan food designer Martí Guixé has created a vibrant environment in which children are inspired to think creatively about common foods via drawing challenges on the computer and hands-on activities using food shapes in a kitchen.

Of course, no visit to the city of Melbourne is complete without an excellent cup of coffee from Dukes Coffee Roasters after our felafel lunch from ENA Greek Street Food at Southbank. The kids were wanting some dessert so we opted for Nitro Lab for some ice cream created with liquid nitrogen and taking it one step further with some crazy concotions pulling apart a Golden Gaytime and reassembling it with salted caramel and chocolate chips, taking a mango sorbet and adding some jelly lychee flavours and the milo surprise with m&ms, condensed milk and milo sprinkled atop whipped cream. These guys really take it to the next level with these combos!!

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Lucky my friend and I had a hidden agenda of a little bit of shoe shopping while we were in the city. The boys took the kids to the comic shop Matador while we escaped down Flinders Lane for a bit of a look see – my friend found a perfect pair of ankle boots and I found these lovely red boots by effegie Made in Portugal on sale, how could I resist 😉  I took them for a walk today to the local park and they were so comfortable! I love European design and it is so hard to find fun shoes back in Cali so it’s best to grab these bargains while I can, great justification for a second pair of new shoes! The first pair I purchased as I accidentally went into the Camper store when all their shoes were half price and an absolute steal, we all love an excellent shoe deal!

Home is whenever i’m with you

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Home, let me come home
Home is whenever I’m with you
Home, yes I am home
Home is wherever I’m with you

Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros

This week we have spent a lot of time in the city – meeting friends, catching up eating and drinking! Melbourne is at it’s finest with the incredible food that is available for whatever cuisine that takes your fancy. We found vegan superfood at a fancy shopping centre and enjoyed sushi and juice with a former work friend, in fact, the editor of the magazine I used to work for. We enjoyed many a deadline together working late into the night with the publishers. He is coming stateside next week for a while to see what goes on, so with some luck, we will catch up and chat – living life in the U S of A.

In exploring our local hood we discovered a kitschy cafe called True North down the road and hidden amongst the cafe are cats. Cats in the loo, cats on the wall, cats on the shelves and cats up high. The kids really enjoyed the American influenced menu with Quesadillas, bagels with cream cheese and a passionfruit jam, Rueben sandwiches and granola, food that they are totally familiar with! They enjoyed the hot chocolate and was gulped down so fast I didn’t even get to try it! The flat white coffee was so strong and damn good – I enjoyed a cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese and jam rather than a slice of pie with that coffee. Next time we go I will try their sweet pies from Blackberry Belle Homemade Pies – as I am a big pastry fan!

Shining in all its glory on a Wednesday night throughout the winter are the Winter night markets at the Queen Victoria Market. Being a food lover this is a foodie paradise! I had seen the Okonomiyaki (the Japanese omelette) on their Instagram but I did not realise it was on chopsticks and ready to eat covered in Kewpie mayo – just divine, I wanted more! The hubby went for smokey baked beans and brisket from Burn City Smokers, who love American BBQ. Missy went for a Sicilian margarita pizza with a base so thin and cooked to perfection. Dessert was a hard call – do we go for the M&M sundae, no thanks M&Ms suck so instead we went for the Creme Brulee and Chocolate Cannoli. Holy moly cannoli so glad I ran out of cash as I could have been eating way more dessert and staying for late night movie shorts and eating popcorn, it was such a fun night out with the kids.

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I had a hole in the calendar and I thought, ‘Maybe I can carve out some Mama time?’ I asked my hubby to hang with the munchkins and managed to score a trip all on my lonesome to the 200 years of Australian Fashion exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria Australia. I am happiest wandering through a gallery solo at my own pace learning and being inspired so it was a wonderful way to spend the morning. On the train, I was listening to Big Magic read by Elizabeth Gilbert – such a perfect way to spend my free time being inspired for when we get back to our other home in California.

In wandering through the 200 years of fashion to a more contemporary time the 1980’s I found the queen of knitwear of that era Jenny Kee and her co-collaborator Linda Jackson. I watched a video of the history of how these twin souls met in Sydney. They enjoyed creating clothes just for fun and with this collaboration their Flamingo Park Frock Salon began. The ladies work with colour reflecting the Australian landscape and to this day they still enjoy colour!

There was a cool soundtrack to the exhibition and the sounds of the 1990’s  were coming through the next room I knew I had to be in there! This room was full of the 1990s clubbing fashion and disco tiles for the dance floor. Again by some strange serendipity, I found an Australian star of upcycling, Jenny Bannister. To think that back there in the early 70’s she was making sun dresses out of curtains. She was such an innovator back in the day using whatever she had on hand to create art. I enjoyed seeing the fusion of art and craft in fashion at this part of the exhibition.

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For the finale, this piece was commissioned by the designer Dion Lee – a young designer out of Sydney. It was a larger than life dress made out of stretch jersey fabric covered with Swarovski crystals – in the light this was breathtaking. I loved his architectural line detail in his clothes especially on the braided felt detail on the back of the jacket he created for Woolmark.

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I couldn’t leave the gallery without wandering through the collection to see what the gallery has in its collection. One sculpture I remember from long ago is this larger than life Ricky Swallow piece entitled Model for a Sunken Monument.

To enjoy this time out is a true blessing and I am so thankful for the time I get to spend alone and surrounded by art.

 

Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows

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The next stop in our journey was an hour or so up North to the beautiful Sunshine Coast to hang with my sister and my 5 year old nephew. The day when we arrived the weather was warm and sunny – a perfect Queensland winters day. As it was the perfect day for a drive we headed on up to the lovely town of Maleny in the Sunshine Coast hinterland.

Wandering through to the local town centre we found these lovely blooms on the way to a hot chocolate. The local town had a co-op and a fabric store that I love, called Sapling Textiles with fabrics from India – I was sad that it was closed! Also we found a cool local non-profit with beautifully designed clothes from India called The Industree where I found a lovely hummingbird jumper AKA sweater that matches my tattoo!

On our way to The Shak for a Sunday brunch to meet up with family we found this secret sacred garden called Wunya Park in honour of the Indigenous people of the area. A lady places random crocheted items around the garden for wanderers to find and follow.

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Finally we made our way to The Shak a legendary local, organic cafe for brunch and excellent coffee. The menu was just amazing and I enjoyed the Avo’ Smash, just delish!  Check out the iced chai with their coconut mylk made in house, just perfect!

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These amazing Moreton Bay fig trees are just a walk down from The Shak on King Street in Buderim and are perfect photo subjects.

Some more of these beautiful trees in colour. They are the best trees for climbing.

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We enjoyed some winter beach time and hanging out with my friend from Portland while we serendipitously met at the Sunshine Coast for our Stateside summer vacations!

Farewell my Fine Feathered Friends

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Today I say farewell to the first part of our journey down under… We came to Redcliffe my hometown first to see my family and from here we are going up to the Sunshine Coast (a place where I also lived up at Peregian Beach). Then we will be going down south to feel the real winter of Melbourne and traveling over to Adelaide for a weekend getaway to see my husbands family. Whoa I am exhausted just thinking about it but time is flying by – only 11 days and I see my hubby again! Still it is always paced gently and generally centered around food with family and friends, which I like very much.

Thursday we travelled by train – a trip I know all too well when I used to work in the city and did the journey every day. This was when I returned home from a 2 year trip to the United Kingdom and need to save some $. Sometimes you wonder when will this day to day cycle ever end and it sure did with moving down to Melbourne, finding a partner, having a baby, buying a house, getting married and then relocating to the Northern Hemisphere. The finding a partner, baby, house, marriage and relocating happened in a mere 3 years!!

I digress, so back to our day trip to South Bank in Brizvegas and it was a sunny and warm winters day in Queensland. We visited the rainforest walk and the Nepalese Peace Pagoda from World Expo ’88 – such a beautiful piece of craftsmanship created in Nepal over 2 years transported from Nepal and assembled for the Expo. I remember going to the Expo in 1988 and visiting the Pagoda and it is wonderful to see that it is still here. The area of South Bank by the river is a thriving tourist hub and a very beautiful place to visit and I am sure in the summer it would be a lot of fun to go swimming at the man made beach. It looked inviting with life guards there at the ready for those brave enough to jump into the chilly waters.

We had a pub lunch at the Plough Inn that has been in South Brisbane forever – more beer battered chips, so good! The smoked salmon on rye bagel with the chips was a treat but my uncle who took us out for the day enjoyed his roast lamb that the pub serves every Thursday. How I miss pub meals. After lunch we needed a walk and took the kids to the museum to see the dinosaurs and the fantastic collection of taxidermy animals including lots of Australian animals. We finally saw a platypus plus and the kids enjoyed checking out the possums and flying foxes who we have been watching traveling the sky at dusk.

Friday was my last day and we had a farewell lunch at Pipel By the Sea and we ate at the cafe. The food was amazing and Mediterranean is one of my all time favorite cuisines. This platter of dips was divine with roast capsicum, blue cheese, olive and hommus with toasted pita bread. The desert was a lemon sorbet in a lemon skin outer with turkish delight and baklava with caramel and coconut – certainly a wonderful treat. I love eating new foods and I have certainly had a fair share of seafood since coming to Queensland, the shish kebabs I enjoyed with lunch were Lemon Myrtle Calamari and Garlic Prawns – my two favorites from the menu.

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The kids found it hard to sit and eat at the cafe so after they had eaten as much as they could they could go and play with the soldier crabs at the low tide. We could see them from where we were sitting and they had a blast digging out the crabs – it was probably a bit cruel! Then they relocated the crabs to a resort they built out of sand leading out to the waves with a pool for the crabs to swim in?!? That kept them occupied for a long time and with the weather at a lovely 21 degrees C they wanted to dip their toes in, so off went the shoes and in they went. I must say the water did feel a perfect temperature unlike the chilly waters of the Bay Area in SF.

My dad enjoyed taking some pictures of the silhouette of the monkey tree on the sand and the shades of blue in the water. It was such a perfect day. Soon it was time to say goodbye to the soldier crabs and head on back to the house for a cuppa and to FaceTime California.

 

There are a few things I discovered in the first part of this holiday –

The trees planted by the beach are called Norfolk Pines not monkey tail trees!

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Pic taken by Ash

These mechanical sounding birds are cool and called top notches by my uncle. Actually they are crested pigeons!

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My kids can actually smile for a photograph.

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More evidence of kids smiling in a photograph – this is the photo shoot we did with the kids when we went to the shops our first week here.

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I do really enjoy the beach and spending time there, it is in my genes and makes me feel at home.

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I also enjoy watching the sun set in the evenings – I can only can do this on holidays when I am being a slacker and not working in the kitchen making dinner!

The weekend starts here…

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Off to a chilly winter’s weekend with some fish and chips with friends by the beach for a sunny Saturday lunch by the water. The pier has been recently refurbished into this incredibly long structure with super strong pillars with plenty of space for fishing. We walked through to the end of the pier and we sent the kids racing back to land. The lunch was delicious with the $15 worth of chips to share with some very fresh crumbed coral trout but the one thing I wanted to try which knocked me for six was the potato scallop – it sure brought back some greasy hangover memories. I think this is the last one I will ever have in my lifetime. My body was later saying OK that is enough fried food for today, quick find the kombucha and get digesting!

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A part of our weekend mission to Shorncliff (named Shorn cliff describing the headland when viewed from Moreton Bay) we visited a fisherman and his boat the Sapphire who had caught some fresh tiger prawns out of the bay for $28 a kilogram. While we were there I wanted to see if he had any fish and from one of his many esky’s he pulled out chunks of Barramundi that were from his cousin in Far North Queensland. Our plan was to have a Christmas in June BBQ in Winter for the family. Certainly different cooking outside when the air is a bit cooler but hey it worked and we had an amazing feast of prawns on the BBQ and Barramundi called Baz cooked in a lemongrass, chilli marinade (recipe compliments of my sisters man, Rupert).

We enjoyed taking pictures of the family by the tree with it’s many LED lights – all 300 hundred of them strung from the tree and along the wall.

The Barramundi was paired with the very fresh prawns on the Barbie in a soy, lemongrass, ginger marinade (thanks to my sister!) – they were so tasty. To go with the fish and grilled prawns were a potato salad, fried rice and a green salad – what a feast! And a very special time with the family for Christmas in the middle of the year.

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Cheers to everyone with our feast of Queensland specialities with Christmas in the winter time down under.

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Our star of the show was Millie (Millicent) the cat, she is loved by everyone and is such a love bug. She purrs when you pick her up and is very tolerant of the kiddos – amazing! Apparently she is part rag doll cat so is super affectionate and very friendly. Oh how I miss my fur babies Mack and Bella back in California.

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We wanted to take a picture of the family together for ‘Christmas day’ though we are missing my husband and my sisters man (who took this pic) in the shot. Still I love this very creative shot on the back stairs as it was my last weekend in this lovely Air BnB and a perfect time to celebrate. Traveling back to Oz for Christmas is too expensive and way too hot!!

Santa even had a treat of banana bread left out for him with a big glass of milk a gift from the oldest kid of our bunch. And how can I forget the dessert we enjoyed with a cup of tea after lunch – the good ol’ lamington. The lamington is a sponge cake covered in chocolate and dipped in coconut. I did try to make them once a upon a time and they were quite tricky – actually I really should have checked out this video for the how to make lamingtons complete with an Australian bush sing-a-long.