I love my siblings…!

All the little things they do and say that just make me smile and happy I have them.

Yes… I have been missing my family! 😦

My brother’s note in my Farewell-to-Australia card
(Yes, my sister and I really do call him ‘Brother’)

My sister’s birthday greeting this year that came with a chocolate bouquet
(I really did cry… and they were not tears of joy. They will never let me forget that)

Brisbane Festival: Santos City of Lights

The 3 week long Brisbane Festival (Sept 4-24) features a nightly “choreographed spectacle of lasers and lights that can be seen across the city” called Santos City of Lights.

Recommended by Fiona, we went down to catch the 7pm show on Friday before the festival ended. Great festive atmosphere, tons of people with their family and friends, cheap hot foods available at tents, and even live music!

The show lasted only about 15 minutes but worth the trip!

Some pictures of the show

Light beams and lasers off many of the highrises

Pretty lights dancing to music. They had a number of these set up along the river.

(Photo cred: M. Brown with my nifty)

10 000+ blog views, woohoo!

At some point yesterday, I received my 10 000th blog hit!

I’m sure that is nothing for some people, but for me – awesome! *does a happy dance* My wish was to obtain 10 000 hits by Christmas so this makes me feel all bubbly inside.

One year, 9 months and 25 days of blogging = 530 entries = 10 085 views = yay!

Thank you lovely readers! It’s great to know that you are interested in how I’ve been doing and what I’ve been up to. I apologize for not blogging more often lately (I blame it on the Ipad) but that shall be rectified as of now!

Oops, it’s been over a week!

Dear lovely readers,

I apologize for not blogging this past week! Honestly, no excuse. Just lazy and no inspiration for posts lately.

However, a few updates:

  • Had a lovely curry dinner with PBL mate, Fiona, the other evening
  • I got an iPad. 32GB with wifi and it was cheaper than getting it in Canada. I love it so far – so very useful for school and reading novels. Unfortunately, my OS is 4.3.5 – no jailbreak available yet 😦
  • It was Mike’s birthday today! Made and enjoyed dinner with him, Tap and Jawn: Vietnamese roasted pork, crispy garlic chicken wings, and salad with rice. Birthday cake? Lemon cupcakes with creamcheese icing, strawberries and chocolate – yum!
  • Still don’t have results for midterm yet! Wrote it on Sept 5 and still waiting…
  • Applied for our Vietnam Visas last week online via http://www.myvietnamvisa.com/. We all applied for a 3 month, multi entry visa. Cost us each a $30 admin fee and we received our letter of approval within 1 day. Once we land in VN, just need to hand them the letter, passport photos, fill in a form, and pay a remaining $50 stamping fee. Altogether costs us $80 – much better than what the travel agent quoted us – $170.
  • After this weekend, I will only 2 weeks of class left – crazy.
  • I very much admire some of my peers – always on top of everything, yet working and keeping up with other extracurricular activities – need to be more like them!
  • Exam studying has started – feeling good and hoping to end the year on a good note!
  • Started a list of goodies to bring back to Canada for family and friends – must go shopping sometime soon!
  • I’ve been reading a few novels a week lately. My last read: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – loved it, can’t wait to read the others. Currently reading: The Fifth Vial by Michael Palmer.
  • Current resolution: more Pilates, fruits and veggies!
  • Been eating too many: strawberries. Would be a good thing except it’s always paired with melted chocolate and/or whipped cream. But so good!
  • The mock-orange bush (not jasmine as previously thought – although certainly smells like it) is in full bloom. Makes everything smell wonderful, including my room.
  • It’s getting so hot! But the weather is perfect – hot, sunny and most importantly, not humid – hopefully it stays like this for a while!

Okay, let’s stop it there before I bore you to death! Thank you for reading ❤

My favourite drink (after water): Aloe vera

So refreshing and light with great flavour and tons of aloe vera chunks. Yum!

This is my favourite brand, Yoosh, that is made in Korea and I tend to get the 1.5L bottle for around $3-4. They’re cheaper if you buy from Asian grocery stores but not much more expensive in supermarkets.

It has a slight green/yellow tint and lots of aloe vera!

If you haven’t tried yet… you should!

How do I justify having this drink often? I don’t drink coffee… this is a nice and healthy (loads of Vit C) habit!

Celebrating Lunar New Year in Brisbane

Lunar New Year falls on September 12th this year, but the festivities (Valley Moon Lantern Festival) took place during the weekend (10 & 11) in Chinatown at Fortitude Valley.

Unfortunately, it was too windy and cold to stay for too long – I wasn’t dressed for the weather 😦 But I did manage to catch some of the earlier acts like lion dancing, magic show, martial arts performances, and bamboo dancing.

Checked out the banh trung thu (mooncakes)… but they all had lotus seed and red bean fillings! Mommy, I miss your delicious banh trung thu thap cam!

Here are a few pictures, I didn’t take many:

Lion Dance – giving away mandarins and candy to the audience

The night fell quickly, this was the paper lantern stall

I think this is new, or I’ve never noticed it before – statue of a koi fish

One of the dragons at the Chinatown gate

Chinatown streets at night


First time making gnocchi

(FYI: Gnocchi are thick soft dumplings)

Man, it was SO easy! Not made from scratch of course. With the ready-to-cook package, all you need to do is boil a pot of water, dump in gnocchi, wait until it reboils (which is in less than a minute), strain, and serve with sauce! So much faster than making pasta… I love it! And it was quite yummy!

Gnocchi with carbonara sauce and sausage

I treated myself to a jewellery armoire

Such a great thing to have! Functions as a full length mirror and it allows me to organize and hold all of my jewellery. I no longer have to fish around for my earrings or untangle my necklaces from boxes. And it’s locked with key 🙂

Earrings, necklaces, bracelets… even my nail polishes 🙂

Axolotl : The cutest fish ever?

I think so!

Been thinking of getting a small pet but realized that I will be gone for 3 months in 7 weeks so… I guess not until I come back! That didn’t stop me, however, from visiting pet stores – which is when I came across these guys:

How adorable are they? The limbs with digits and external gills just win me over 🙂

Axolotl are actually salamanders – so amphibians, not fish! Their looks are due to a phenomenon known as neoteny. Ordinarily, amphibians undergo metamorphosis from egg to larva and finally to adult form. The Axolotl, however, remains in its larval form throughout its life. It retains its gills and fins, and it doesn’t develop the protruding eyes, eyelids and characteristics of other adult salamanders. Not only that, it has amazing regenerative abilities! This site has great information for further reading.

And that’s my random fact post of the week 😛

Cooking Update!

A few dishes over the last few weeks I was too lazy to put up:

Chicken tandoori masala with pappadums and rice

Sweet and sour chicken stir fry

Crispy lemon pepper pork (with red wine/soya sauce chicken stir fry in background)

Rustic baguette with homemade garlic butter and topped with cheese

Springrolls! I made them on my own! For the first time! From scratch! And they tasted good!

Seasoned seafood tempura with fish, mussles, calamari and shrimp

Sunsuper Riverfire: Brisbane Festival’s opening night!

Taken from brisbanefestival.com:

On 3 September, more than half a million people will converge on Brisbane’s riverbanks to watch the city sky ignite in a continuous burst of spectacular colour, music and special effects. Sunsuper Riverfire, the most iconic and beloved event on Queensland’s calendar is back and set to be bigger and better than ever.

And from Wiki:

It includes 30 minutes of non-stop pyrotechnics and fireworks from Brisbane’s three major bridges (the Victoria Bridge, the Story Bridge, and the Goodwill Bridge), as well as from boats and buildings, and often includes a flyover and “Dump-and-burn” from one or more of the F-111 Strike aircraft based at RAAF Amberley.

My PBL mates said this event wasn’t to be missed if you’d never seen it before and that people camp out all day at vantage points and along the river for the best views. They weren’t kidding.

We made it to South Bank around 6:30 pm … soo many people. After having our bags checked for alcohol, we were allowed in and started to make our way to the river. Could not believe my eyes – people everywhere all down the river and all across the bridges – what an exciting atmosphere!

We retreated back to a less populated area and waited for the fireworks display. Unfortunately, I don’t think it lived up to expectations – but maybe that’s because I grew up on Canada Day fireworks in Ottawa. It is also a shame that the F-111s were just retired, because I think it would’ve been amazing to see the dump-and-burn!

My cheap tripod broke just as I was mounting my camera so pictures were a fail! Here are a few I was able to salvage:

Best part was the finale – found a clip on YouTube!

We were having a little picnic at Roma Parklands just before heading down to South Bank when some of the F-18 Superhornets put on a display over the city. There were Blackhawk choppers going around too but we kept missing them

Headed out right after the fireworks. The train ride home… when thousands of people are trying to get somewhere at once. Needless to say, I’ve had enough of crowds for the week!

Hello, long time no see!

I’ve been hiding this past week focused on studying, believe it or not! Wrote my midterm Friday afternoon (1-3pm) which went quite well except for a few questions that I answered stupidly. Grr! Don’t you just hate it when you answer a question wrong not because you didn’t know it, but you had the knowledge to and didn’t answer it correctly? Anyway, time to move on and focus on the final exams coming up in October!

In celebration, I finally used a Scoopon for fish and chips at Cosmos Cafe in South Bank. Huge piece of battered fish, chips, salad and a pop can for $6! Not bad, I have one more coupon to use so I will probably be back soon in the future.

In Brisbane, we have ibises… pretty much the seagull equivalent. Massive and everywhere, at least they’re not as loud and as annoying 🙂

Always love seeing the walkway down in South Bank

Washed that down with an amazingly delicious dessert at Max Brenner’s nearby. Delicious waffles drizzled with toffee, sprinkled with sugared pecans and served with melted chocolate and vanilla ice cream. It’s not on the menu (so ask for it) and really does taste like a piece of heaven. Best dessert ever!

I have a huge forehead! And in great need of a haircut! 😛

Ended the night watching my first ever live sports event – Australia vs Thailand – first World Cup 2014 qualifier match! Game was held at Suncorp Stadium with over 24 000 people in attendance. So much fun!

I was really excited to finally have an opportunity to use my telephoto lens after letting it collect dust on my shelf for months. Unfortunately, I was stopped at the gate after a bag check and was told that my lens wasn’t allowed. 😦 Apparently, the max zoom allowed was 200mm and my lens was 250mm. “Aww no! I didn’t know, or I wouldn’t have brought it!” Luckily, after speaking to a manager, he approved my camera and called in my seat number so security wouldn’t hassle me when they saw me taking pictures. Because of that, I was able to get a few decent shots!

Thailand (red and blue) and Australia’s Socceroos (yellow and green) warming up

Thailand fans congregated in one section

Some action going on

Thailand faked quite a bit, eliciting boos from the entire stadium each time

Pretty decent crowd!

Australia won (of course) 2-1!