Michael’s 36th Birthday!

September 21, 2015

Happiest of birthdays to you my love!

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Due to the fact that I was working and also preparing for my job interview on Michael’s birthday, we decided to hold off on celebrating until the following day.

Instead, we had a low key night at home. I made him one of his favourites – bacon and mushroom risotto – for dinner.

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September 22, 2015

The following morning, I had my job interview, which was over quite quickly (more about that in a separate post) and I soon found myself back home with Mike!

Luckily, he had the day off as well and we had planned a dinner date/celebration at Tsuruya – a well known Japanese restaurant at the Capricorn Resort in Yeppoon.

We still had the whole day to ourselves though! Always nice to relax at home together on the our days off, catching up with TV shows and just enjoying each other’s company.

Made another special for Michael – shrimp toast for lunch.

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I spent the majority of the morning making the components of Mike’s birthday cake. He requested a ‘German Chocolate Cake‘ because he’d had it before and it was so richly chocolate and decadent. I had never made a German Chocolate Cake before, and after reading its description, insisted that he was mistaken. But the birthday boy was insistent that’s what he wanted! 😉

We headed out to Yeppoon in the early evening for a stroll on the beach and to enjoy the sunset before dinner. Beautiful as always!

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Sculpture on Yeppoon beach front against the sunset

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Framed

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Gorgeous sunset colours

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One last photo together before heading to dinner!

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I will talk about our awesome dinner at Tsuruya in the next post!

We saved room for dessert, birthday cake! It doesn’t look the prettiest, but I tell you, it was tasty! Turns out German Chocolate Cake is not German at all! Invented in the US by a man with the last name German. Chocolate cake topped with a coconut-pecan frosting. Despite the discovery of a new delicious cake, Michael eventually conceded that what he had in mind was, in fact, Belgian chocolate cake, the silly man!

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I also finally gave Michael his birthday present… a scavenger hunt with 20 clues, each one with money inside. It didn’t take him too long to solve all the clues but he loved it, yay!

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Got himself a nice golf club (60deg wedge) with extra birthday money leftover for other enjoyments! Happy birthday my dearest! Here’s to many more to come!

Capricorn Food & Wine Festival 2015

The Capricorn Food & Wine Festival 2015 took place over September 18-20th against the backdrop of the Fitzroy River in Rockhampton. A 3 day, fun-(celebrity chef)-filled weekend with activities such as the Candlelit Gala Dinner, Fitzroy Food Court, Wine Pavillon, Bundaberg Distillatorium, High Tea, etc!

With the way our schedules worked, we were able to take part in the Friday evening festivities. Unfortunately, Michael was working Friday-Sunday and couldn’t come along!

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There was a $10 entrance fee, which included a lovely etched wine glass. With said wine glass, you can visit the Wine Pavillon at your leisure for wine tastings. And for any wine that tickles your fancy, drink tickets can be purchased for $2.50 each. Most glasses of wine cost 2 drink tickets.

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The purpose of our visit is, of course, to eat and drink! Numerous food stalls made up the Fitzroy Food Court – yum! “Sample a great range of gourmet food stalls, local produce, cheese platters, pastries, nibbles and more. Shop a range of home and kitchen wares, gourmet food to take home and enjoy”

Many food stalls to choose from, sweet to savoury, catering for all tastes!

We enjoyed a number of dishes including savoury deep fried flat bread from Hungarian Langos and refreshing iced teas from Too Teaz.

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We also had this great combo platter from The Smokin’ Yak which included beef ribs, pulled pork, sausage and the collective favourite – Brahman hump – all with a side of drippings, coleslaw, mashed potatoes and homemade pickled cucumber and onions… delicious!

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Great night out with friends! So many laughs.

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The above was a shot taken while we were reminiscing the best of all ‘Cinnamon Challenge’ videos… this one 😛 No explanation needed.

The event was immensely popular as you can see! Packed with people enjoying themselves 🙂

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Jess and Jin looking at some photos

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The cute Kon & Amanda! 🙂

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Definitely looking forward to the Food & Wine festival next year! Hopefully our work schedules will allow us to experience more activities – until next time!

Triple birthday dinner at The Ranch

September 12, 2015

Thank you to all of you who came out to celebrate our September babies – Garrett, Jess and Michael! I was amazed at the number of attendees on such late notice – you guys rock!

We decided on dinner at The Ranch Bar and Grill for a few reasons:

  • Very recently opened, so none of us had visited yet
  • Numerous good reviews
  • Convenient location for everyone!

The Ranch had just recently opened, so some hiccups were expected, but we luckily didn’t encounter too many! We initially made a reservation for 12 people at 8pm. However, because our friends are awesome and more people responded than anticipated, we had to change our reservation last minute to 16. The staff were lovely and more than accommodating with our request, however it did take quite a bit of time to set up. By the time we were seated, it was almost 9pm and we had to rush to get our orders in before the kitchen closed.

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I called in advance to make sure it would be okay with me bringing a cake. Yes, and they were more happy to keep our cake in the fridge – thank you! Made a banana chocolate raspberry cake with Nutella icing 🙂

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They have a bar area (room to sit and stand), which was great while we waited to be seated, perfect to mingle and talk. A variety of beers on tap and a couple of special cocktails. For some reason, we weren’t able to order other bar drinks (ie. gin & tonic) – wasn’t sure why, but we didn’t push it!

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Did we mention there was live music? Yep! I have to admit, our group was more busy catching up with one another than tuning into the music, but the other patrons were certainly enjoying it!

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The menu looked great and everyone was happy with their meals! The portions were also generous and the food freshly cooked!

Both tables ordered the Wagon Train – Entree Combination Platter ($32 for 2 and $48 for 4) – Let’s just say… if you’re ordering the platter, you don’t need a main meal! A mix of potato skins, chicken tenders, stuffed jalapenos, and spicy chicken wings – a great value!

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2 of our birthday boys

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Everyone was quite happy with their steaks, which were cooked medium-rare. Unfortunately, due to the rush, they weren’t allowed to rest for the appropriate amount of time so all the juices ran out on the plate as soon as the steak was cut. Hand cut chips in the mini pails were a cute touch!

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Birthday girl, pretty in red!

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A terrible photo but my San Antonio Chicken Burger ($17.90) was yum! The succulent, crispy chicken really makes the burger!

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It was getting late by the time we were finished dinner and ready to move on to cake cutting. The staff were wonderful! They insisted it wouldn’t be too much trouble and even insisted on finding us enough matching tableware for the cake cutting/eating.

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Thank you so much! It worked out much better than taking the cake away and having to all head over to someone else’s house to eat it.

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Happy birthday you three!! Thank you to the staff at The Ranch! And of course, to all our friends for coming out to celebrate!

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We will definitely be coming back for more meals in the future!

Triple Birthday Dinner

September 12, 2015

We had 3 lovely people celebrating their birthdays within 1 week:

  • Garrett – Sept 14
  • Jessamine – Sept 18
  • Michael – Sept 21

So it made perfect sense to me to organise a birthday celebration for the September babies!

Started the day with a late morning picnic gathering at the beach. The initial plan was Rosalyn Bay Beach but it was incredibly windy so we opted for Lammermoor Beach instead. Thank you David, Farrah, Pei Yee, Amanda, Bryan, Usama for coming out! Unfortunately, both Jess and Jin were working during the day, so it was just for Garrett and Mike.

We drove to Keppel Bay Marina for a late lunch at The Waterline Restaurant. Beautiful views and delicious food! The lunch specials are great and they’ve got Brewhouse specials that are definitely worth checking out!

Can’t be a birthday celebration without a good dinner! More about that in the next post 🙂

Hiking up Mt Archer

September 06, 2015

After our outing at Capricorn Caves the day prior, our weekend was not yet over. Instead of the suggested 14km Zamia Walk (Grade: Difficult) DOWN Mt Archer (604m above sea level), our locum consultant, Neil, suggested we should take on the challenge and hike UP.

It was a beautiful Sunday morning. Wonderful… and let me tell you, there were moments of regret! But we conquered!

To play it smart, you should do the following 5 things:

  1. Drive to Mt Archer in 2 vehicles. Whether you decide to hike up or down Mt Archer, park one vehicle at the top and one at the bottom. That way, you keep it a one-way 14km hike. Because trust me, you won’t want to double back.
  2. Bring enough water! It will take 3-5hrs depending on your speed and you want to stay well hydrated.
  3. Bring snacks. Because food makes everyone happy.
  4. Wear good shoes. And be sun smart of course!
  5. Don’t forget to bring a camera!

Neil has a very interesting background and is incredibly fit for his age. While Jess, Jin and I struggled to keep his pace, he powered on without seemingly breaking a sweat.

Some of our views along the way up!

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The trails vary in terrain as you go up but the tracks are well developed so you can’t get lost! This photo was taken at the bottom of the hill heading towards the start of the Zamia trail.

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Nearby views on the way up!

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There are always a few fires going on around Mt Archer 😛

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Neil, always ahead of us!

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Did I mention Jin was doing this hike on his birthday? Yep, how admirable! If anything, I would be as lazy as I could on my birthday!

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After much huffing and puffing, we finally made it to the summit around 4 hours!

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Woo hoo!

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Was it worth it? Yes! Even if only to say we did it 😉 And surprisingly, we weren’t sore the following day!

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August 2, 2015

But what if you don’t want to hike that far? Don’t fret! Mt Archer offers something for everyone! You can drive to the top of Mt Archer and enjoy hanging out in the picnic areas. From there you can also choose the Walking Track Circuit (500m) or the Bracken Fern Way (1.4km return), both easy-grade with incredible views!

Here are some photos from our visit earlier in August with Jess, Jin and their dog Cookie!

The Walking Track Circuit – pretty easy as you can see!

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And the views you can enjoy on the Walking Track Circuit

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Cookie, the fluff ball, enjoyed the walks as well!

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We also walked the Bracken Fern Way trail – definitely worth it! It’s a little bit more difficult in terms of terrain, but still pretty easy!

Lots of little things to see and enjoy on this trail 🙂

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Don’t want to be bothering this!

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Numerous interesting plants I’ve never seen before

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If you stop to listen and look, you will see so many busy bees!

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Never seen this insect before… I imagine a type of wasp?

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Camouflage

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Doesn’t take long to reach the lookout 🙂

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There’s even an area to sit, rest, and enjoy the view – which we did of course!

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Gorgeous views!

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Whether you’re in the mood for some nice walks with great views or up for a more challenging hike – Mt Archer is definitely worth visiting! And don’t forget to drive up at night to enjoy the pretty city views as well!

Jin’s birthday!

September 5, 2015

Celebrating one day early, thank you for inviting us Jess! Always lovely to spend time with friends and what makes it even better? A fire pit, of course. Happy birthday Jin!

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Ice cream cake for the birthday boy!

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They have matching eye smiles! 🙂

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CAPRICORN CAVES

September 05, 2015

Finally visited Capricorn Caves! I’m currently on my surgical term, and one of the visiting consultants, Neil, gave me the afternoon to organise a group out to visit the Cap Caves with him. I think I did pretty well, with a total of 7 including Clarence, Konstantin, Chris, his partner Lynda, Shant, Neil, and myself!

Only a half hour drive from Rocky, not too bad! We bought tickets for The Cathedral Cave Tour ($30/adult) which was led by an informative guide who put a lot of effort into keeping us all entertained.

Before I continue, I must say, if you have ever seen caves in your life… this visit might be a bit underwhelming and you may find it a waste of time and money. The caves are pretty small and we didn’t chance upon any wild life.

Personally ,this tour reminded me of our time in Malaysia visiting Batu Caves and more specifically, going on a tour of the Dark Caves ($11) which were much larger and pitch black. A more thrilling adventure in hard hats (to protect yourself from bat droppings) and head lamps, and actually seeing lots of wildlife, including huge pools of guano (bat poo). I’ve also had the chance to visit Dong Thien Cung (Heavenly Cave) in Ha Long Bay Vietnam – the caves are enormous with beautifully light towering stalactites and stalagmites. As a result, the much smaller structures at Cap Caves are nowhere near impressive 😉 However, it still has its own charm and worth a visit if you are living in the area!

The tour starts at the cave entrance with fig tree roots clinging to the limestone walls.

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Close to the entrance…

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This is the Tectaria Devexa var devexa fern. Although it is found across Sri Lanka, SE Asia and Vanuatu – Capricorn Caves is the only known site in Australia! In 2006, the fern population declined to almost near extinction with only 21 plants. Fortunately, organisations worked together and funding was secured to save the fern.

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There are interesting cave decorations (speleotherms) to note, including some cave coral…

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A very tiny stalactite!

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More cave views…

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Looks like a camel’s backside 😛

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I see a hanging skull… do you?

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Through the caves, we eventually reach the Cathedral Cave. The natural acoustics make it a popular venue for weddings. Also, twice a year (May & November), there are sell out performances from Underground Opera Company. Some of Australias finest performers singing a selection of Opera’s greatest arias and duets. This I would love to see!

Once you enter the cathedral, you are asked to take a seat in the pews and hear the natural acoustics of the cave via the song Amazing Grace. During this time, the lights are dimmed play along with the song. It’s a beautiful and enchanting few minutes.

Candles burning add an extra element of ambiance to the caves. On the day we were visiting, the crew was setting up for a wedding to take place later in the Cathedral Cave.

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Hauntingly beautiful!

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This is a view in Belfry Cave, where the Summer Solstice Light Spectacle occurs. “A natural phenomenon unique in the southern hemisphere, occurs throughout December and early January. Due to the alignment of the sun over the Tropic of Capricorn brilliant direct sun light penetrates the darkness of the Belfry Cave through a 14 metre vertical shaft in the cave roof at midday. The effect is electrifying. The colour of peoples clothing is reflected all round the cave walls and a disco mirror ball creates light patterns on the roof.”

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Check out some of the photos of that event HERE. Looks pretty neat!

At the end of the cave tour, we have the option of exiting through a narrow zig zag passage (duh, of course we did it!) and leaving the caves via 2 suspension bridges – wee!

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The visit ended with a stop at the souvenir gift shop… of course 😛 Where I wanted to buy a very cute quokka hand puppet but had absolutely no reason to do so.

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Have you ever visited Capricorn Caves? What did you think? Overall, it was a great time with the company I had! 🙂

Rangoon – the only Burmese restaurant in Ottawa

March 02, 2015

While back in Ottawa, I had the opportunity to dine at a lovely Burmese restaurant named Rangoon. Recommended by both Julia and Atong, I knew this dinner date would go well 🙂

As we stepped inside to escape the chilly weather, we were immediately engulfed by warmth and the smiling face of a lovely lady who ran the restaurant who would later explain that Rangoon was a family run restaurant.

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We were having quite an early dinner so had the pick of dining tables. It is overall a small establishment but I imagine it can get quite busy during weekday lunch rushes, especially being near the business district. They also have really well priced lunch specials!

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I love restaurants that offer patrons an opportunity to learn a little more about the country and cuisine they will be enjoying.

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After 4 years of hearing all about them, Michael finally had the chance to meet two of my best friends, Atong and Julia! Today was also the day I asked both girls to be my bridesmaids and I couldn’t be happier when they accepted! Love these girls!

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Dinner is always indulging when you have 4 people who all LOVE food. We decided to go with the Dinner for 4 Combination ($85) which included the following dishes:

  • Spring Roll (1 per person)
  • Lentil or Coconut Soup
  • Tea Leaf or Ginger Salad
  • Chicken or Beef Curry
  • Steamed Jasmine Rice
  • Burmese Tea

And as we were a group of 4, it worked out well because we were able to try each option!

KawPyentKyaw – Burmese vegetable spring rolls. Fresh and crispy with a lovely dipping sauce. A filling very unlike Vietnamese spring rolls which was a nice surprise!

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Lentil soup (PaeHinnyae – pureed lentils, celery, carrots) and Coconut soup (Oh NohHnnyae – pureed chickpea flour, ginger, garlic, onion, coconut milk)

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Both beautifully presented and comforting in the cold weather. However, perhaps due to my personal tastes, I did find both soups quite bland.

This is the ginger salad (Gin Thoke) with shredded ginger root, cabbage, tomato, roasted garlic, topped with peanuts, peas and sesame seeds. I remember this salad didn’t have the ‘ginger punch’ I was anticipating but still delicious!

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This was the dish I was most excited to try, a traditional Burmese appetizer called Green Tea Leaf Salad (LaphetThoke) with fermented tea leaves, lettuce, tomato, tossed with roasted garlic and topped with peanuts, broad beans, peas and sesame seeds. Extremely tasty with a variety of textures and a very unique flavour that I’ve never experienced before!

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Moving onto the mains. We tried both the beef curry (AmmethaHinn) and chicken curry (KetthaHinn). For both dishes, the meats were succulent and extremely tender. However, similar to the soups, we found the curries (along with steamed veggies) to be bland and underwhelming. Perhaps we are too used to the powerful flavours of Viet, Thai, Indian curries?

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In addition, Julia said we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try BazunKhwekyaw – Crispy Shrimp & Bean Sprout Fritters ($12.95). Very flavourful and went nicely with the veggies, definitely recommend!

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An extremely filling meal for a very reasonable price. I’m really glad to have visited the only Burmese restaurant in Ottawa. Overall the food was tasty and coupled with wonderful service. Definitely worth a visit if you have the chance! I normally enjoy stronger flavour profiles, but would look forward to trying some other dishes in the future! I also have to say… you can even do online ordering and delivery!

Can’t wait to see you girls again! ❤

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Rangoon Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

A visit to The Works

Despite being one of my family’s favourite, it took me years to finally visit! The Works also happens to be very close to Beechwood Cemetery, making it a convenient stop after visiting our dad’s grave.

The atmosphere is always warm and inviting – service prompt and friendly. The prices seem a little high but the ambiance, portions and quality make it worth it.

I had heard of these magical enormous milk shakes and the endless variety of burgers to choose from – boy, had I been missing out!

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Initially, I thought the whole burger process was a little confusion, but it’s as easy as 1-2-3! Seriously, start by picking one of the many topping options – over 50 choices! Then decide on 1 of the 7 patty options, sides and a bun! Easy!

The options for sides include classic fries, slaw, steamed veggies. Or you can pay a little more for fancier sides like sweet potato fries, poutine or deep fried dill pickles!

Did I mention there are also tasty beer options? And the fact that you can make your milkshakes more ‘adult’ by adding rum or vodka?

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The Poutini Martini is always a favourite – classic poutine with crispy onion rings… delish!

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A variety of burgers and sides… there is definitely something on the menu for everyone!

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Their chips (fries), sweet potato fries, and onion rings are all amazing. Crisp on the outside, cooked well on the inside, and not dripping in grease.

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Crispy dill pickles was something I had never tried before… interesting textures but I think I like my pickles cold!

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Always a good grub with the fam!

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Definitely recommend coming in hungry for a satisfying meal with friends or family! You won’t leave disappointed 😉

The Works Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

New hobby – Golf

This year has provided us with many opportunities for Michael’s new hobby – golf. We also have a number of friends who enjoy it as well, which is great, because the more the merrier!

Golf is surprisingly quite affordable around Rockhampton with at least 6 different courses. And tagging along gives me lots of time for photography! Of course, I could definitely use more practice on my swings, but plenty of time for that right?

Below are some of my favourite photographs taken while golfing so far this year, enjoy!

Moon at dusk

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Mike and Jin sharing a few laughs

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Garrett’s really good! Always nice to have him around to give tips 😉

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Jess keeping an eye on the guys

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Candid moments

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Beautifully quiet

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Perfect advertisement moment 😛

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Rainbow!

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Always meeting new friends!

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Golf = happiness?

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Beautiful sunsets

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FULL ALBUM HERE if you’re interested! I’m sure this album will keep growing throughout the years!

Weekend trip to Bundaberg!

August 8-9, 2015

We finally took a weekend off to visit our friends Yoni, Josiah, and his wife Danya! Josiah and Danya are settled and working in Bundy this year, while Yoni was rotating through for his surgical rotation. and coincidentally also working with Josiah.

Only ~2.5hrs from Gladstone, we left early Saturday morning and stopped at Agnes Water along the way! Didn’t swim but had a nice picnic and the beach reminded us of an undeveloped Noosa 🙂

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We arrived to Bundaberg in the late morning and decided to visit their Botanic Gardens.

Two conclusions:

  1. So many birds!
  2. Definitely worth a visit if you have time!

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Japanese Gardens

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Chinese Gardens – look at all the turtles!

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So peaceful 🙂

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Picking up Yoni after he finished work, yay – finally reunited!

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As Josiah was still busy moving into their new house, we decided to go for a late lunch and meet him later. For the first time this year, Korean food! How I missed you! Had a great meal at Korean food&Cafe “Hello” consisting of…

Bibimbap!

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Tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes) and a side of Kimbap! So good!

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Always ruining my photos!

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Not only was the food good, the restaurant even had a ‘Korean Grocery Store’ section – allowing us to stock up on all our favourite Korean snacks for cheaper!

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The city centre reminded us of Rocky!

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Danya was unfortunately out of town Saturday, but we had a lovely dinner and catch up with Josiah and Yoni at City Elements, which I will share more about in a separate post!

The following morning, August 9th, we enjoyed a delicious breakfast at Botanica Cafe with some of the most generous portions of food AND hollandaise sauce!

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Of course, a visit to Bundy just isn’t complete without stopping at Bundaberg Rum Distillery!

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Definitely worth paying $15 for a self guided-interactive tour. If you have time, sit and watch the National Geographic segment: Bundaberg Rum Megafactory. Very informative and interesting!

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Did I mention at the end of the tour, your price includes 2 drinks? And those drinks can include the limited edition MDC Black Barrel – Distilled 2005, valued at $139/bottle? Worth it!

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The boys went to play golf in the afternoon at Bargara Golf Club while I recuperated in bed from a viral illness. Luckily I was feeling much better by late afternoon when Danya returned from Brisbane!

So nice to catch up with these guys!

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One last meal together at the Spotted Dog Tavern before driving back to Gladstone – until next time friends! We miss you!

Past moments in Gladstone & Rocky!

A few more memories! Haven’t been posted but certainly not forgotten! 🙂

Celebrating one of my fav ladies’ 24th birthday (June 17)! A nice meal at Gracemere Hotel and, of course, cake!

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Obviously very happy with the company and the cake 😛

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The numerous drives back to Rocky every weekend while we were in Gladstone. Gosh, it was always good to be home and sleeping in our own bed!

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Ocean visits! Walking along the beach never gets old with perfect blue skies and good company! Especially when it’s so close by!

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Celebrating Kon’s birthday (June 28) with cake, boardgames, and wine!

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Plus what better birthday gift than a hockey jersey of your favourite team from your girlfriend? 😛

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Making it out to Rockhampton River Festival (July 11) – enjoyed some good food and even watched fireworks in the pouring rain!

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And only once in our 10 weeks in Gladstone did we have a visitor – Jin coming down to visit Jess!

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But it did make for a pretty darn good breakfast out at lightbox. I mean… check out their breakfast special for $23! Easily one of the tastiest breakfasts I’ve had. And for the first time in Australia, when I answered, “I’d like my eggs over easy please,” they understood exactly what I meant!

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Good coffees too, thumbs up lightbox!

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The boys played golf whenever they had the chance – I had a lot of time to take photos on the golf course… enough for a whole post on its own!

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Not forgetting to enjoy some good homemade food in Gladstone!

Having Jess and Ian (surg PHO) over for some Viet subs, savoury sticky rice and stir fry!

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And being treated to chicken curry and spring rolls made by Ian and Jess, respectively! Yum 🙂

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Selfie during our last meal together before Ian heads back to Brisbane! Thanks for being good to us!

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More good times to come!

Turning 28!

July 28, 2015

My fifth birthday away from home, how time flies! But also my fifth birthday with Michael, which is awesome!

We were still working in Gladstone on my birthday, but Michael made sure (as usual) that we celebrated with good food and wine – dinner at Rocksalt Bar & Restaurant!

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Absolutely love my company on date nights!

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I was rostered on a half day at work which meant not only did I have time to relax and read by the marina earlier that day, I finally got a hair cut! She even gave me a nice blow out for our special dinner

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We decided on a number of tapas plates in order to experience a variety of dishes. Our dishes were served on a tiered serving tray, which we actually didn’t like because… well, it’s not high tea and this isn’t finger food! Takes away from the intimacy of a nice dinner experience.

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Pork ballotine, quince paste, apple, seeded mustard ice cream & crackling ($14.90). The dish was unusual as ballotine is traditionally stuffed poultry. This meat was quite crumbly and also pan seared. We were concerned it would be dried out but it was surprisingly moist and tasty! The ice cream was subtle and complimented the dish well. However, please don’t be so stingy on the crackling! There was so little, can you even see it in the photo?

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Chorizo & gruyere cheese arancini with smoked romesco sauce ($14.90). Two words: delicious and indulgent. The combination of chorizo and smoked romesco is delightful.

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Crispy soft shell crab with spiced aioli, avocado salsa & lemon ($14.90). The soft shell crab itself was huge and one of the most generous portions I’ve ever seen in a Western restaurant. However, it was so incredibly salty, even the avocado salsa couldn’t cut it. Soft shell crab is definitely a dish where less seasoning is more.

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Their signature dish: Bacon & 3 cheese stuffed button mushrooms ($14.90). Rich and super tasty. With a 3 cheese mixture, there was a concern that the stuffing would be too dense but it was incredibly light and airy! Would definitely have again and easily a dish that inspires you to create your own versions at home.

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Duck & ginger spring rolls with palm sugar sauce ($14.90). Tasted great but what I appreciated more was the finesse of the rolls. As someone who grew up in a household that made hundreds of spring rolls in one sitting – consistency in the proportion of filling, shape and size of the rolls is just as important as the taste.

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We also had a portion of Beer battered chips with spiced aioli ($9.90). They were decent, but nothing out of this world. Spiced aioli was also served across a number of dishes but the flavours of garlic and spice were very underwhelming.

The service was friendly, prompt, and occasionally haphazard. We had a number of different staff members attend to our table, and as a result, not everyone knew what was going on. For example, we were asked if we wanted to see the dessert menu after our first few dishes of tapas were cleared. “No, I’m sorry, we are still waiting for more food.”

The only aspect of this restaurant that was underwhelming was its ambiance. Sparse decor and red plastic chairs. This restaurant would benefit from a makeover with just a small number of changes like a few chandeliers and more sophisticated dining furniture. Would help them match the aesthetics of their restaurant to the quality of their service and food.

We were glad to have eaten from the tapas menu. Overall had a good experience and some extremely tasty food, would definitely recommend a visit to our friends!

Rock Salt Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

We continued with dessert at home – a Belgian Chocolate Cake from the Cheesecake Shop. I laughed as soon as I saw this cake because I had specifically asked Michael for NOT a dense, rich chocolate cake. I wanted fluffy birthday cake with layers and icing – but no, not this time. Don’t get me wrong, I still love chocolate cake and this one lasted me for days!

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I even got to blow out candles!

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My present from Michael – a sailboat. Not!

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More Pandora beads to add to my bracelet – thank you love!

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An Australian charm – which surprisingly I don’t have yet! Only took 5 years 😉

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And a nice ruby red charm to match my birthstone!

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The most beautiful sapphire necklace from Amanda and Kon!

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And finally, the weekend came! Got to go back to Rocky and sleep in our own house! And even more lucky, Michael organised a birthday dinner with all our friends!

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Thank you everyone for coming out to Thai Tanee for dinner with us! It was unbelievable that most interns came out – we should do it more often! I wish I had taken photos 😦

Back to our place for some drinks and hang out after dinner 🙂 And to my surprise, another cake! A Zebra Torte… exactly the kind of birthday cake I wanted – thank you Michael, you are the best!

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Wait… are there 2 Jins?

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Haha, I changed into my PJs as soon as we got home… I’m sorry if I embarrass you guys!

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And even more spoiled with some L’Occitane de Provence from Chuan & Angela, as well as a frame (in light of my Photo A Day) project from Farrah!

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A really blessed birthday, thank you everyone who was a part of it!