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Quick lunch @ Peony Asian Fusion

March 24, 2014

I had been running errands in the city all morning and hungry for some good food. Mike was also joining me for lunch as well so I did a quick search to see what was good in the area. In the mood for asian cuisine and based on Urbanspoon ratings, we chose Peony Asian Fusion.

Seating areas available both indoors and outdoors, with ordering at the counter made for a simple dining experience. The menu is limited but carries enough variety, with the majority of items under $10 – very affordable.

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We ordered BBQ pork buns ($4.50 for 2) which were unfortunately very bland with crumbly dough consistency. Tasted like poor quality store bought frozen buns that had been steaming for too long.

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Mike ordered a Chicken Karaage Don ($7.95) that was simple and tasty.

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I ordered Omurice, Japanese style prawn fried rice with ketchup ($12.95). A generous portion with tasty rice. Unfortunately, the omelette wrapping the rice was very cold and chewy, most likely pre-made well in advance. Also, many large prawns but very flavourless, wish they had been marinated in at least some salt, pepper and garlic beforehand!

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Peony Asian Fusion is a good stop for cheap, quick and no-fuss meals. The quality of food although decent, is below par. For a little bit more money, we definitely prefer Jackpot Dining next door.

Peony Asian Fusion on Urbanspoon

 

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Delights at Crust & Co. Artisan Baking

Located on the side of the historic Red Brick Bakery in Newmarket, Crust & Co. Artisan Baking emits tantalizing smells of freshly baked breads and pastries. Open Friday to Sunday from 6am to 12pm, owners Sebastien Pisasale and Lara Sample are sure to have something tasty to please!

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Taken from their Facebook page: Sebastien draws on his French and Italian heritage to produce a delicious range from crusty sourdough to flaky croissants while Lara, of Chouquette Patisserie Boulangerie (New Farm), brings her experience running a successful artisan bakery business. 

Be sure to get there early! Although most likely there will already be a line up when you arrive ;)

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Once inside, there is a small counter lined with all the available delicacies, including traditional baguettes, sour dough loaves, multiple types of croissants, brioches, danishes, tarts, quiches, biscotti, muesli, and more. And yes, there is even coffee!

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We got a number of items to try, and none of them disappointed!

Savoury breakfast brioche with mushroom and egg

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All the croissants were amazing, I believe we picked up one of each.

The plain croissant – flaky and buttery

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Pistachio croissant with spiced syrup. Subtle, yet flavourful and decadent!

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Chocolate hazelnut croissant… mmm.

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Trio: Pistachio, plain chocolate, and hazelnut chocolate.

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They have a selection of fruit danishes, our favourite – blueberry

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Traditional baguette ($3) that we finished before the day was over. Next time, we are definitely trying the sour dough!

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The best part? Crust & Co. is definitely an affordable, regular treat with items ranging from $2.50 and up! It has become a favourite for us and we certainly look forward to every chance to visit!

Stop by Crust & Co. in the early morning Friday to Sunday for a delicious breakfast and stock up on beautiful breads and pastries for the rest of the weekend! ;)

Crust & Company Artisan Baking on Urbanspoon

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2014 in The Daily Sands

 

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Obstetrics & Gynaecology: The biggest privilege

Yesterday, I took part in, what I believe, is one the biggest privileges as a medical student: Delivering a baby.

One of the most intimate moments for a woman and her family, where inhibitions are lost and emotions quickly bubble to the surface – pain, excitement, fear and joy.

Thank you to all families who allow us medical students not only observe but even deliver your child as part of our training experience, especially to the two women whose babies I delivered yesterday. New life is such a miracle and the experience of being the person who catches a baby as he/she is born and hand him/her to mum is one that cannot be easily written into words.

I also cannot forget to mention the lovely midwives who I have been working alongside with. Without their expertise, patience, and teaching, I would not have been able to comfortably embrace such a special experience, thank you!

 
 

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Obstetrics & Gynaecology: End of Week 4

Hello friends!

What an exciting, long and busy 4 weeks! Can’t believe so much time has past since my last joyful post! Thank you again to family and friends who have shared their congratulations with us! We certainly appreciate the love, friendship, and support very much.

I am completing this rotation at a different and smaller hospital outside the city, and it has taken a toll on me! Waking up at 5am in order to be at the hospital for 8am and not usually making it home until 6:30pm. As you can guess, there’s quite a bit of transportation time involved. With that being said, at least I have 3 hours of dedicated study time during my trips on the train? :P

There are only 4 other O&G students at this small hospital, 3 of whom I already know, which is great. We have lots of opportunity for hands on learning and the teaching has been quite good as well. Our schedule revolves around clinics every day, as well as time in the operating theatre which isn’t so bad. However, all of us would really appreciate having dedicated studying time as well!

I will be rostered on Birth Suite for the entirety of this coming week. As a requirement of our O&G rotation, we must ‘catch’ 4 babies. This means following and caring for mothers while they’re in labour until delivering their child with your own hands. Unfortunately, the other 4 students have not been able to get all 4 of their catches during their Birth Suite week, hopefully I have some more luck!

So what do I have the privilege of seeing on my O&G rotation?

A lot of antenatal care (regular follow up and high risk pregancies), post-menopausal bleeding, heavy, irregular or painful periods, abnormal pap smears, contraception, urinary incontinence and more. In theatre, we often have the chance to see minor procedures like hysteroscopy with dilation and curettage, endometrial ablation and tubal ligation to more extensive surgeries like hysterectomies (removal of a uterus) and Caesarean sections.

Only 4 more weeks to go until the end of this rotation! How time flies!

 
 

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Michael & I are engaged!

And we wanted to share the happy news! :D

Michael and I spent our week off, from Monday to Friday (March 10-14) on a beach getaway on Stradbroke Island.

We stayed at Allure Resort, in a lovely privately owned beach cabin (Shack 18) that you can read more about in this previous post

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First selfie after arriving :)

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Just 2 minutes walk from the beach

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With absolutely gorgeous weather

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We had brought all our own groceries so cooked and indulged in many delicious meals in our beach cabin. We had lots of private time, and enjoyed quite a bit of relaxation including catching up on our favourite TV shows, watching movies, reading novels, and playing Splinter Cell on the Xbox. Yes, we even brought our Xbox to the island. ;)

More importantly, we had lots of fun in the sun! Spent hours swimming in the cool, crystal clear waters and went for long walks on the beach.

It was actually during one of our walks on the beach, on March 12, 2014, that my wonderful partner of 3 years asked me to marry him.

Here is what Michael would like to share:

I had been contemplating for weeks how exactly I wanted to ask the love of my life to marry me. I opted for a simple plan that involved doing something that has brought so many days of fun together, asking her during a day at the beach. From our previous camping trip to Straddie, I recalled that there is an interesting area of beach with boulders and other various rock formations accessible at low tide as Deadman’s Beach transitions to Frenchman’s beach. So, with keeping the schedule of the tides in mind, around low tide I suggested we make our way towards Frenchman’s beach.

My plan was initially to double back on Sandra during our walk, hiding among the rocks in order to find a private spot to write my proposal in the sand. Luckily, as we were walking through the completely empty beach, Sandra suggested we stop so she could shoot a video of the waves and rocks. I immediately jumped on this, disappearing behind the largest of the rocks to quickly extract the ring from my backpack and write “Sandra Marry Me” in the sand. I really would have liked to put it in a question…but I was unsure exactly how much time I had before her recording was over, so I kept it to the point with just three words.

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Just as I finished the last letter, I poked my head out from behind the rock to see she was done and looking for me. I called for her to come around the rock to check out something cool. As she walked around the rock and her gaze shifted to the writing, I dropped to one knee, opened the box to display the ring and said, “Sandra, you are the love of my life, you make me so happy, I want to be with you forever. Will you do me the honour of marrying me?”. She said YES! We kissed and I proudly placed the ring on her finger :) I’m a happy man.

Right after he put the ring on my finger :D

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I thought Michael was hiding behind a boulder trying to scare me. Imagine my surprise to see his message in the sand and then down on one knee!

There was no hesitation before I said, “Yes!”  In the past 3 years, he has shown me what love for another should be by showering me with it. He has been immensely kind, caring, and supportive. He praises my strengths and accepts my flaws, encourages me and pushes me to be the best person I can be. He treats my family with love and respect and I am extremely lucky to have been embraced by his family from the beginning. Michael is my best friend and the love of my life. <3

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We are very happy and extremely excited for what the future will bring!

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Here is a short video of our time on Stradbroke Island!

We have kept our engagement quiet these past few days in order to let our families and close friends know first. It was even harder to do because we had no internet service during our time on Stradbroke Island and had to wait until we were back in Brisbane. But now we want the rest of the world to know as well!

Family and friends have asked a few similar questions, so I will share my answers with you here.

1) Were you surprised or did you know it was coming? Well, Michael and I have talked about getting married for some time now. While we were back in Canada over Christmas, he surprised me by asking me to go look at rings with him. He had also asked my mom for my hand in marriage and received her blessing, so I definitely knew it was coming, but it was certainly a surprise when he proposed! Like I mentioned earlier, I thought he was trying to scare me. It never crossed my mind that he was about to ask me to marry him!

2) Did he pick the ring out himself? Yes he did! We tried on a few different styled rings together over Christmas to get an idea of what we both liked, but he secretly got this ring on his own. I love my ring! I especially like that it’s a Canadian diamond surrounded by beautifully delicate and subtle detailing.

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3) When’s the wedding?! Is it going to be in Canada or Australia? We honestly don’t know yet! There are so many factors that are out of our hand at the moment with regards to where we will be doing our medical training. So when we know, we will let you know too!

Whew, if you’re still here then thank you so much for reading and sharing in our good news!

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Posted by on March 16, 2014 in The Daily Sands

 

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Stradbroke: Good eats at Tillers Cafe Pantry

During our stay on Stradbroke Island, we enjoyed ourselves twice at Tilllers Cafe Pantry, a lovely open air dining space right next to the reception of Allure Resort.

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The cafe offers non-alcoholic drinks and a nice selection of breakfast options, as well as sweet and savoury snacks. What we also really liked about this little cafe is the pantry, plenty of neat and unique specialty items to browse through and try.

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Our first visit was for coffee and an early evening snack. We were greeted by extremely friendly staff and the enormous cheesecakes in the display case caught my eye immediately.

I couldn’t pass up a slice of passionfruit cheesecake ($6) that even came with a side of delicious vanilla ice cream! Loved the topping! The crust was quite crumbly but not too sweet and I believe I even tasted coconut flakes.

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Mike enjoyed his flat white… and of course, some of my cheese cake. :P

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The following morning, we came back for breakfast. In contrast to an empty cafe yesterday around 5:30pm, the cafe was buzzing and packed with customers. Definitely a popular breakfast destination!

My wonderful date!

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Photos of the menu. Reasonably priced, tantalizing options!

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Mike didn’t take long to make up his mind: Croissant filled with smoked salmon, capers, sour cream and dill ($14.50) and a coffee ($4). He enjoyed his croissant immensely and was pleasantly surprised at the fresh and delicious side salad that was not mentioned in the menu!

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I decided on the Whole dressed avocado served with sourdough bread, grilled haloumi cheese, lime & dressing of olive oil and balsamic ($12). I never say no to haloumi. And I’m not usually a fan of avocados but this was the most perfect avocado I’ve ever seen and tasted. I know, I sound crazy. But it was beautifully green without a blemish, perfectly ripe and buttery. And I don’t know how they get that dressing so emulsified but it was delicious.

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And I also ordered a plain toasted croissant ($2.50) – best croissant I’ve had in a long time!

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This vacation on Stradbroke Island has been extremely special with wonderful memories during our stay on Allure Resort. Enjoyable experiences at Tillers Cafe Pantry with tasty food options and friendly service will definitely bring us back when we’re on Stradbroke Island again!

Tillers Cafe Pantry on Urbanspoon

 

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Getaway: Straddie Beach Cabin (Shack 18) Review

March 10 – 14, 2014

What we had been looking forward to for a long time… 5 days and 4 nights on Stradbroke Island after our Paediatrics Rotation!

In order to get to Stradbroke Islan you can catch the city train to Cleveland station, where you can connect with one of 2 buses:

  1. The free shuttle bus to the Stradbroke Flyer Ferry ($15 for students) to One Mile Jetty
  2. Bus 258 to the Stradbroke Fast Ferry ($14 return for students) to Dunwich

Doesn’t really matter which ferry you take as you end up within minutes of one another and on the same bus towards Point Lookout.

We were lucky to find and rent Straddie Beach Cabin (Shack 18). A beautiful, privately owned cottage by Harry & Robyn on Allure Resort grounds (Point Lookout) that was within our budget and exactly what we were looking for.

A self contained, air-conditioned beach cabin that contained all the facilities we needed for a getaway.

Taken from their booking page:

The stylish architect designed high-set one-bedroom eco cabin offers a practical, inspirational design, with a mezzanine bedroom featuring a queen size bed & two mattresses for children. The cabin is air-conditioned with open plan lounge/dining. It is self contained with a modern kitchenette, fridge/freezer, dishwasher, washing machine, big screen plasma TV, DVD/CD & Foxtel service.

The resort is located right beside the bus stop, which is great.

Shacks 1 to 20 on Allure Beach Resort! Bright yet subdued colours coat the walls of each shack, very appropriate for the beach surroundings!

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This was our home for 4 nights, Shack 18. Bathroom is within the protruding structure beside the door.

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Note: The majority of the following photos were taken just before we checked out. We were too excited to move in to take any pictures of the original state of the cabin ;)

View upon entering the cabin.

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Kitchenette to the right, with fridge and cupboards (also containing washing machine and laundry sink) to the left. Dining table in the centre. Further ahead is the seating area with a coffee table facing the entertainment system.

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Looking back towards the front door

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Better view of the kitchenette with a small dishwasher, a 2 burner stove and a convection microwave oven with grill. Ample amount of dinnerware and cutlery, essential pots and pans, as well as cooking utensils.

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Couple of faux wicker chairs and colourful cushions

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One of the best entertainment systems we’ve had in rented accommodation. We even brought our Xbox as well as a USB full of TV shows and movies to watch.

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Some novels, likely left behind by previous tenants (I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Sinner), as well as a Chinese checkers set. There were also magazines lying around.

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View of the bathroom with the toilet behind the shower.

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Up the stairs

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Large comfortable bed with lots of closet/luggage space in front of it, as well as a large mirror.

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Lots of bright canvases adorn the walls of the cabin, adding to the atmosphere.

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Large deck, partly secluded by greenery.

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Also has a small BBQ with 2 potential gas tanks

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Although we were not official guests of Allure Resort, we still had access to their lovely heated swimming pool and gym

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The cabin had awesome natural lighting during the day, there’s even a skylight. However, once the sun goes down the cabin gets pretty dark, mostly because of these wooden shades. I wish the lighting within the cabin could’ve been brighter! It was the one thing we didn’t like about the cabin itself.

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Other things worth noting:

  • Cell phone reception is non existent for those with Optus. Can’t comment on other providers but you can get decent reception simply by crossing the road.
  • Wireless internet is not provided, however, is available for purchase from reception at reasonable rates. $30/week
  • This is not a serviced apartment, although all linen and towels are provided, including a complimentary change for stays longer than 7 days.
  • You are literally less than 5 minutes away (across the street) from Home Beach. From there, you can walk along the vast stretches of beach and stop anywhere to sunbathe and swim if you wish!
  • Tillers Cafe Pantry beside reception is fabulous for breakfast, a snack or gourmet/specialty items!
  • We brought all the wine and groceries we needed and cooked most of our meals in. Definitely doable if you want, however, there are a number of restaurants to eat at in the area. There is also a very reasonably priced bottleshop as well as a Foodworks nearby if you need to stock up.

The one and only major negative aspect of our stay: communication with the owners of the Shack 18, in particular Harry.

Below are screen shots of our texts with him shortly after we settled in.

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He never replied to our last text.

Firstly, we were simply enquiring about items that were promised to be provided.

In our confirmation email, it was stated: “WHAT TO TAKE WITH YOU: As we provide linen and bedding there is practically nothing else but yourself in holiday mood plus your personal items incl. beach towels.” We believe it was fair to assume that there would be sufficient toilet paper to last the duration of our stay. We would’ve been happy to bring some from home, but this should be explicitly suggested. Or even state “Initial supplies only” on the webpage.  As we respected that this was a private booking, we did not contact the resort for any additional requests.

We asked about milk, coffee and sugar because that was advertised as being included with the cabin. The answer we received left us with a bad taste in our mouth. We certainly did not ask about “grocery items,” simply what was promised. And why do you even have to mention a guest stealing your coffee in the past? Are you insinuating we will too? Should’ve just stuck with something along the lines of, “I’m sorry, those items are actually no longer provided and it was our mistake for not updating the online description.” Also, simply removing/changing what was written on the webpage at the time of our booking is neither appropriate nor a resolution.

Finally, we asked for simple resolutions in the last text, which we received absolutely no answer or follow up to. Most services, private or not, deliver on what was promised. We were polite in our communication and treated the property with respect. Cleaning up after ourselves and putting everything back in its place, even though there is a $90 linen and cleaning charge. To respond with silence, unfortunately, shows a complete lack of respect for your paying customers. Not to mention we couldn’t make use of the BBQ!

With all that being said, would we recommend Straddie Beach Cabin, Shack 18 to our friends? Absolutely. It was a wonderfully comfortable stay and perfect for a couple needing a few days of relaxation. The rate is reasonable and you have almost everything you need. However, I’d certainly recommend to bring extra toilet paper and maybe a lighter! And not to be too disappointed if there’s poor communication with the owner. The good thing is, you are given other numbers to contact in case of an emergency, so you should never be stranded.

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2014 in The Daily Sands

 

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