Photo #366: THE END

February 28, 2013

Thank you to everyone who has taken an interest in my Photo-A-Day project which began on February 29, 2012 and finishes today. I’m so glad to have taken this opportunity to document a moment a day for the last year πŸ™‚

There were moments of creativity and inspiration and there were also moments of desperation and laziness. There were days when I forgot to take pictures, other days where someone took the picture for me, and even some days where I lost pictures. My first Photo-A-Day project and I certainly hope it won’t be my last!

I leave you with my last picture. My favourite photo that I took in the last year – orchids at The Singapore Botanic Gardens – Photo #96. A mosaic composed of all 366 photos I took this past year! I hope you like it πŸ™‚


Some of my Christmas presents :)

I mentioned that I would share some of my Christmas presents in an earlier post – I’m finally getting around to it!

Christmas with the family was really lovely this year, thank you again for all the gifts!

16 tupperware containers (so compact!) and a hand food processor from my mom and sister. A silicone mat from Mike’s mom, Caroline, and a Crustache (which I am definitely going to use as a cookie cutter) from his sister, Meaghan.

A Pandora bracelet from my brother and charms from my mom and sister!

A Calvin Klein shoulder bag (that I can use in the hospital!) from my mom and a bottle of nail polish from my cousin Janet!

Funny t-shirts from my siblings

‘I miss my wonderful family :'(‘ t-shirt from my sister – I will wear it proudly

50 Shades of Chicken cookbook (lol) from my cousin Janet and a 32GB USB from my brother. The USB is so tiny, I’m afraid I will lose it soon…

There were other gifts as well, including yummy edibles and red envelopes filled with $$ πŸ˜€ Looking forward to next Christmas!


Last day in Ottawa with the family

January 03, 2013

Today was my last full day in Ottawa and it turned out to very full and busy!

We invited my grandparents and my cousin Janet to lunch at Play (as you can tell by now, I really like that place). Most people had never been there before and I thought it would be a good experience.

We had reservations for 12pm and asked specifically to be seated upstairs because I find it nicer. πŸ˜‰

Once everyone arrived, it took us a while but we eventually decided on our 2 dishes each. There were a number of repeats at our table, including the hanger steak, sweetbreads, Walleye, scallops and clam linguine

My brother, grandpa and I had sweetbreads (thymus of a calf/lamb) for the first time. Unfortunately, it’s not on the current menu so I can’t give the full dish description. I didn’t know what to expect and I’m glad I can say I’ve tried something new, although I didn’t love it. The taste and texture was a mix of really soft chicken plus mild liver (and I don’t like liver, unless it’s pate). The blend of flavours was good though!

My mom and grandpa ordered the scallops / cider / cauliflower / raisin / bacon / brussels, which were quite tasty, although I don’t have a picture of them. 😦

My grandma and sister ordered the Walleye / chorizo / beans / grapefruit / fennel / brown butter. Like myself the other day, they found the dish too bitter and the beans too crunchy for their taste.

My mom and Janet had the little neck clams / linguine / parmesan / chili / soffritto /garlic. The portion was enormous, but apparently the dish was just way too bland. Very disappointing!

My grandma and brother got the frog legs / polenta / truffle / eggplant / radicchio / caper. I think both were underwhelmed with the dish, especially my brother who wished he had chosen something else.

Janet and I also got the grilled hanger steak / mushroom / frites / aioli. Yum! Unlike Mike’s steak from the other day, this one was super tasty and I was really glad I chose this dish.

Lastly, my sister’s second dish was the beef slider / cabbage / bacon / cream cheese / matchsticks. I don’t think she fully enjoyed this dish, especially because there was a spread similar to tuna on her beef slider. The matchsticks were also not as good as having actual frites.

It was still a fun experience though!

For dessert, we went back into Byward Market for baked goods at Moulin de Provence – one of my favourite bakeries in Ottawa and also home of the famous Obama cookies.

Doesn’t this amazing selection make your mouth water? And all for such good prices too!

“I don’t know what I’m doing!”

Trying to smile with food in her mouth…

We walked through the market before saying good bye to our grandparents who were going home first.

The rest of us went shopping at Rideau Mall for a while until our stomachs had enough room for… Beavertails! For those who don’t know, they are delicious fried dough pastries, a Canadian treat! Waiting in line for our order…

Some shots in the market as we wait…

Mmm! I got the Kilaloe Sunrise – which is the classic cinnamon & sugar beavertail with a spritz of lemon juice – delicious!

We didn’t get home til after 5pm, which is when my cousin Flora, invited us to go skating with her siblings. There’s an outdoor rink outside City Hall called the Rink of Dreams, that is apparently gorgeous at night. How could I say no? Janet went home to grab her skates and belongings since she planned to stay over. We would meet her at the rink instead. My sister also decided that it would be a good idea to invite the rest of our other cousins to come over afterwards for my last night in town.

The cousins who went skating!

Some footage of the pretty Rink of Dreams and of my sister falling! πŸ˜€

Heading home!

The cousins came over shortly after we got back from skating. We had a few good solid hours of boardgames, food and laughs. Thank you so much for coming guys! I hope we do it again soon!

I stayed up late to finish packing, but finally called it a night and went to bed around 3am!

FYI: On the day I left Ottawa, 40cm/16″ of snow (should be more since some melted and compacted) had fallen!

Visiting Dad & Cha Ca La Vong

January 02, 2013

My siblings and I finally went to visit my dad today at Beechwood Cemetery. Gosh, it was so cold! It had also snowed so much this season that my dad’s headstone was half buried.

As mentioned in an earlier photo of the day, we brought out my dad’s little dog statues to keep him company. My sister had given my dad these dogs a few years back, they represented his 3 children since he was born the year of the dog.

My sister then took us to try a bakery in Orleans… but too bad it was closed! Instead, we went grocery shopping before I headed back to my grandparents’ house to meet up with my cousin, Christine, to learn how to make Banh Bo.

It was a lot easier than I had anticipated, and in the end, it turned out nice! Thanks Christine! I will try to make some here in Brisbane when I can find all the ingredients.

That evening, my mom made her version of a Northern Vietnamese dish called “Cha Ca La Vong” and it was delicious! Definitely one of my favourite dishes πŸ™‚ The combination of salmon, dish, fermented shrimp sauce, onions and peanuts is amazing – you must try it if you get the chance!

And in unrelated news, I tried a sapodilla fruit (sapoche) for the first time today! It was tasty and despite my apprehension, I wasn’t allergic! The taste reminded me of persimmons and be careful not to choke on the hooked seeds!

And in more unrelated food news, I had a pretty artful lollipop πŸ™‚

Happy New Year!

Michael stayed to celebrate new year’s with my family, which consisted of champagne (okay, sparkling wine), snacks and board games. Hurray!

My mom didn’t stay up late with us because she had work the next day. Instead, we celebrated with an early breakfast at Perkins before taking her to work πŸ™‚

Like previous years, our entire family was supposed to celebrate New Year’s on the 1st at my grandparents. Unfortunately, the majority of my relatives were really sick, so our family festivities were cancelled!

I hope you all had a wonderful time with your family and friends – either out partying or just having a good time relaxing! πŸ™‚

Fardella’s Classic Bakery & Internet Cafe

December 28, 2012

While in Kingston, Michael took me to a bakery his brother Matt had introduced him too – Fardella’s Classic Bakery & Internet Cafe.

I can imagine the Fardellas have turned their bakery into a home away from home for many customers – I know I would be one of them if I lived nearby. Friendly faces greet you as you come through the door, an enormous center table full of baked delights immediately draws you in and then you look around and instantly feel like you could come here everyday.

A cozy living room area lets you sit and watch TV, grandfather clocks and other decor make you feel like you’ve stepped into the comforts of home, and of course, there’s always wifi! As a student, I crave exactly this kind of establishment, but unfortunately, no such thing exists here in Brisbane. Did I mention it’s open 24/7? I know! Isn’t that awesome?

The way customers are served is unique and enticing as well. You can place your order for prepared food at the counter, then help yourself to drinks and pastries, pick up your order and then sit down and enjoy your meal. Once you’re done, just head to the cash to pay, and perhaps you’d like to pick up some fresh bread and jams, or even more pastries on the way out!

Michael and I both decided on fritters, I got apple and he got blueberry. Both were $1.90/each and the size of my face – for real. And more importantly, they were delicious!

I really wish I could’ve made many more visits in order to try everything on their menu – but alas, perhaps next year!

Fardella`s Classic Bakery & Internet Cafe on Urbanspoon

Shawarma & Perth Road Village

Just continuing on with my catch up blogs!

December 26th…Boxing Day. No, I didn’t go shopping because I really dislike shopping in huge crowds – people are crazy! Instead, I had shawarma… again πŸ˜€ and I got to hang out with Amin! Not only that, but Max and Jason showed up too, so I got to see them as well πŸ™‚

Everybody busy feasting on their delicious food

Unlike everyone else, Amin didn’t finish his food. When he’s back in Toronto, where they don’t have Shawarma Palace and he’s craving it, he’s going to think about this moment and wish he had finished his plate πŸ˜›

Michael came up on December 27th to take me down to his place for a few days. Before leaving Ottawa, we went for lunch at Play – one of our favourite places in Ottawa. They are still offering 2 plates for $20 and it’s always hard to make up your mind because so many things look good!

After some deliberation, we finally made up our minds and ordered. Enjoyed some bread and butter while we waited for the food…

My first dish: Walleye / chorizo / beans / grapefruit / fennel / brown butter.
Thoughts: Loved the fish, it was beautifully cooked. The dish was a little too bitter and the beans were a little too crunchy for my taste but overall, it was enjoyable.

Michael’s first dish: grilled quail / rutabaga / rosemary / mushroom hash / scallion
His thoughts: Quail component of the dish was super tasty but the scallions were tough to cut and didn’t add much to the dish.

My second dish: frog legs / polenta / truffle / eggplant / radicchio / caper
My thoughts: Delicious! The flavours worked well and the frog was super tender. I only wish frog legs had less bones. Also my first time having radicchio, never knew it was so bitter!

Mikes second dish: grilled hanger steak / mushroom / frites / aioli
His thoughts: Steak was just ‘meh’, which was a surprise because everyone I know loves this dish. I tasted it too, and unfortunately, it just wasn’t as good as the other times I’ve had it.

Overall, a yummy lunch and soon we were off for the 2+ hour ride back to Michael’s place in Perth Road Village.

Play Food & Wine on Urbanspoon

Made it there before suppertime where Mike’s mom had made Turkey Tetrazzini – yum! That night we played Settlers of Catan – our new favourite game πŸ˜‰

December 28th: Heading into the Kingston!

After nearly dying the night before due to cat allergies, we started the day late with breakfast and a stroll around Mike’s place.

Walking in a winter wonderland!

The allergies were killing me, I do not look good, haha!

One of the culprits of my suffering – Napoleon, Michael’s cat of nearly 7 years. He may look a little evil in this photo, but he is such a darling. He always wants to be close and have your attention – it’s too bad I’m allergic 😦

We then headed into the city to watch to visit Fardella’s Bakery (more on this next post!) and to watch The Hobbit. The movie was good, but much longer than it needed to be. With that being said, I do look forward to watching the next 2 installments.

After the movie, Michael took me for an outdoor skate at Springer Market Square. So cold, but so much fun to be on the ice outdoors again – loved it!

Went back in time to help Mike’s parents take down their Christmas tree before having dinner. I didn’t last too long after that, went to bed early because the cat allergies were killing me. 😦

The next day, December 29th, we went to his Aunt Patsy and Uncle Dan’s home for lunch and stayed throughout the afternoon until dinnertime. It was really nice (and scary) to meet so many of his family members at once, but everyone was really easy going and lovely to talk to.

Due to my allergies, Mike and I went back to Ottawa tonight, a day earlier than intended – but we were concerned I might not actually be able to breathe this time if I stayed.

And that marks the end of my adventures at Michael’s!

Noel, Noel, Noel!

Christmas festivities at my grandparents with the entire family!

Some of the goodies our family made:

We made butter ‘bark’ cookies

I made Hors d’Oeuvres (ricotta & spinach, potato & mushroom, 3 cheese & olive)

My mom made Nem Chua (pink – cured fermented pork) and Cha Lua (white – Vietnamese ham/cold meat)

My mom also made scalloped potatoes and my grandpa provided a turkey, cooked by Cau Hai’s family!

Canh Ga Chien – Crispy garlic chicken wings from Cau Hai’s family. And salad from Cau Ba’s family in the background.

Banh Mi Chien – Deep fried baguette toast with shrimp paste from Di Nam’s family

Goi Du Du – Papaya salad with beef jerky from Cau Tu’s family

Soo much food!

All the kids

With Di Nam and my mom!

There are way too many pictures of our grandparents reading cards and opening presents from all the kids to post, so here’s a few!

All the kids received wrapped boxes of chocolate from my grandparents and the adults received gifts from them as well.

We then played boardgames… for hours and hours. And ate another meal during boardgames… and played some more until everyone had to go home.

Christmas was a great day. The kids even had an ugly Christmas sweater themed photo shoot, but more on that later…


Christmas Eve with the Grandparents

Our pretty Christmas tree with presents!

We went to church tonight and also cooked up a yummy turkey dinner to have with our grandparents!

But before that, we took some family pictures. You’ve already seen the “proper” family photo in a previous ‘photo of the day’, here are the better looking ones πŸ˜›

I love turkey soo much, seriously.

The spread

Family picture!

Time to eat!

My mom after a drink, her face suddenly matches the colour of her sweater πŸ˜›

A family photo courtesy of my grandpa

My grandma was also in the middle of baking and filling many many Banh Xu (aka Choux-CrΓ¨me)… these are super delicious and a hit with anyone who tries one!

We ended the night back at our house opening presents. I received such lovely presents, will have to write a separate post about them once I’m back in Australia and have taken pictures of them! πŸ™‚

Past to present

Alright, I’m going to go back now and catch up on blogging about everything from my last (not including Photo of the Day) post on December 16th!

Actually, before I do that, I need to share a few pictures from November 19th! My Cau Ba (third uncle) is off work on Mondays and he made “Vit Nau Chao” (Duck in soy bean based hotpot) for lunch with my grandparents and I was invited to join. Yum yum yum, thanks Cau Ba!

Mike was up visiting Dec 18-20 and of course, we had to go to Perkins for breakfast one day! We were pretty greedy and ordered not only huge breakfasts, but sweet potato fries as well.

We also contemplated trying their ‘Cake Pies’ but decided to spare our bodies and left it at that. Dinner that night? Shawarma of course!

November 21st: Down came the snow!!

It didn’t fall as snowflakes, it fell in huge clumps!

After clearing out the driveway, my sister and I headed out to run errands. We ended up at a Rexall pharmacy where they were providing flu shots. Guess who’s vaccinated this year? You should go get yours too!

I made baked gnocchi for dinner that night… thought it turned out okay! πŸ™‚

Absence and now back to Brisbane

My apologies for being so blog silent over the holidays! As you can imagine, the holidays take up so much time! πŸ˜›

I do have lots of stories and pictures to share though, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, Mike and I are currently on our way back to Brisbane.

Firstly, thank you to those I was able to see this break and my apologies for those I couldn’t meet up with: Bea, Ruixi, Mel, Sareda, Soph, etc. I was out of town, then sick, then super busy and unfortunately couldn’t see you… next time okay? πŸ™‚

Secondly, thank you to all my family who came to the airport to see me off! I look forward to being home again!

Our flight from Ottawa to Toronto was delayed, and as a result, it caused us to miss our connecting flight to Sydney last night.

We landed over an hour late, and then we had to waste several more hours figuring out new flights, finding our luggage, grabbing a shuttle, waiting for food delivery, etc!

Despite the delay and the extra night in Toronto, things worked out nicely. We were given a nice room at Days Hotel with food vouchers. Additionally, because the same flight to Australia was full for today, we were rerouted and will be flying through Los Angeles… in Business Class πŸ˜€

By the time we got to our hotel, it was already 11pm. The hotel restaurant was closed… thank goodness for ordering food for delivery!

Mike and I had breakfast at the hotel today before grabbing the shuttle bus back to the airport at 8am. We gave ourselves plenty of time to go through US Customs and Security. Priority access makes the airport experience a breeze and luckily, we didn’t run into any trouble. Our baggage is checked through to Sydney, so fears of traveling through the US temporarily relieved!

Because we were flying business, we had access to the Maple Leaf Lounge… very nice. I wish I could fly like this all the time! Comfy seating areas, showers, food, drinks, internet… it’s nice πŸ™‚

I love priority lines! Business class on our flight to LA were not the pods, sadly, but still very enjoyable. We had good food and drinks and more room for my bum.

This chicken wasn’t very good actually.

Mmm, tenderloin.

Warm chewy cookies AND gelato? My flight is complete.

A mother and 2 children were sitting in front of us. While they were settling into their seats, the son (around 11 years old) turned to his mom and said incredulously, “We’re in business class?” The mom laughed and said yes. Mike and I were amazed at not only how well these children behaved, but at the end of the flight, he turned to his mom and said, “I really enjoyed this flight. Thanks mom.” So cute!

The view as we prepared to land in LA.

So, we landed in LA around 3pm and had to walk over to a different terminal and go through security again. No trouble this time either and the lines went quickly so we were pleasantly surprised! Our flight to Sydney doesn’t leave until 10pm so we decided to pay for access to the United Club Lounge. So far, very worth it! We’ve got about 4 more hours to wait around… and then finally off to Australia!

Guess who’s catching up on her blogging, finally?

Michael enjoying his drink (and plethora of snacks) and saying, “Hello!”

Photo #309: Keeping Dad Company

January 02, 2013

My siblings and I went to visit my dad at the cemetery today. There was so much snow that his headstone was half buried, not to mention it was SO COLD. Years ago, my sister got these 3 dogs as a small gift for my dad, they represented his three children since he was born the year of the dog. Today, we marked them with our Viet names and brought them out to keep my dad company in the snow.

Photo #306: Learning My Wines

December 30, 2012

I failed at taking a picture today 😦 So sad, I’m sorry! But I did find this fun and informative flowchart. I’ve already tried quite a few and now I’m thinking of attempting to taste everything on this list (and others not on here) in my lifetime… want to join?


Photo #304: Finally on the Ice

December 28, 2012

For the first time in 2 years, I went skating… outdoors! My favourite, how I’ve missed this! It’s really too bad that the Rideau Canal in Ottawa will never be open before I head back to Australia after the holidays. Instead, Michael took me to the Springer Market Square Rink (at City Hall) in Kingston – fun!

Photo #303: Tender Frog Legs

December 27, 2012

Mike came into town and we were heading back to his place for a few days. Decided to stop for lunch at our favourite restaurant in Ottawa before hitting the road. I’d only ever had frog legs done the “Asian” way (battered and deep fried, then tossed in salt, butter and sauteed garlic) so thought this would be a nice dish to try – the frog was so tender!

Photo #301: First Cousins Portrait

December 25, 2012

Can you believe that we’re all grown up but today was the first time all 13 of us took a picture together?! Yea, me neither. Obviously we are quite special though.

Although I took many pictures today, this photo shoot (photo cred: Andy Nguy) was my favourite! Not bad for a first ugly Christmas sweater attempt?

Photo #298: Holiday Gifts

December 22, 2012

This year, I finished buying and wrapping all my Christmas presents before December 24th. My gifts were first under the tree, woo hoo! How nice it is to be done a few days early and not have to stress out about it, I should procrastinate less often πŸ˜‰

How about you? Are you ready for the holidays yet?

Photo #295: Gift of the Day

December 19, 2012

I had a lovely visit and catch up with my ‘front-door’ neighbours today: Dinesh, Kiran and their 3 children Sahil, Khristee and Angelea (great names right?). The youngest, Angelea who’s 5 years old, took it upon herself to gift me with one of her pieces of art, which I thought was super adorable. Thanks again! ^_^


Photo #292: Looking Back

December 16, 2012

My siblings and I visited our old house. My parents used to rent this place more than 13 years ago, before they bought the one we live in now. Seems like nothing has changed, even the small adjacent dwelling to the left hasn’t had any upgrades.

Halifax Day 7: Tea and a Christmas Treer

December 10, 2012

Continuing on with our last day!

This is the Market Hall on the way back to our car from Salty’s

We returned home to bum around until our coffee date with Michael H at 4pm. If you don’t remember from a previous post, both Michaels used to work in the same lab and now both are in med school πŸ™‚

We ended up meeting at Just Us!, a certified organic fair trade cafe.

Mike and I opted for jasmine green tea. I really liked the fact that they gave us a timer so we could steep our tea for an optimum period of time.

The cafe had a good atmosphere and service. Very beautiful and spacious Victorian property, there was an upstairs level as well, and catered to many students.

And look! I took a picture this time! Michael^2

The date was over too quick. Until next time! I hope you, your wife and children are doing great πŸ™‚

Totally wish there was a cafe like this back in Brisbane so I could come to study. I would be here multiple times a week if that were the case!

Just Us! Coffeehouse on Urbanspoon

After tea and saying good bye, we again, went back home to chill. A lot of laziness today, haha. In the evening, we were invited over to Dan R and Leigh Anne’s new house for dinner and to help them decorate their first and real Christmas tree.

Leigh Anne, Mike and I put up the lights while Dan picked up some yummy take out Thai food. We shared some laughs, ate good food, had some wine… and then Dan butchered the tree (he perhaps shouldn’t have cut off some of the lowest branches, but he had no evil intentions!). Haha, maybe Dan had to feel Leigh Anne’s wrath after we left but we think the tree turned out nice! These pictures were also taken earlier in the night before the decorations were put up, so it was even prettier by the time we left.

The lovely Dan and Leigh Anne and again with Mike

Can’t wait to hear all about and see all the wedding pictures you guys! πŸ˜‰

Packing was waiting for us when we got home that night, which we couldn’t put off any longer because we needed to leave at 7am the next morning. Got to the airport around 8:30am, our flight wasn’t delayed for too long and before we knew it, we had landed back in Ottawa.

It was such a pleasure meeting everyone. I had an amazing time in Halifax, loved the city. And a huge thank you to Bill & Nina and to Matt & Laura for their generous hospitality.

Everyone, please let us know if you’re ever in Australia… we’d love to see you there!

Until next time… πŸ™‚

And that marks THE END of my week long vacation in Halifax.


Halifax Day 7: A Date with Michael @ Salty’s

December 10, 2012

So… our last day in Halifax! So sad that time has gone by so quickly!

Michael and I spent the morning running errands in terrible weather but also had the chance to relax before our lunch date.

We had reservations for 1pm at Upstairs at Salty’s. Salty’s is a 2 level restaurant, where downstairs is casual and upstairs is more formal.

Michael had specifically asked for window seats, which was a treat! It’s too bad the weather wasn’t nicer but it’s the company that matters right? πŸ˜‰ You look tired!

We were the only diners (Again! It seems to happen to us quite a bit) so service couldn’t have been any better.

Apparently, Upstairs at Salty’s uses the same lunch menu as their downstairs restaurant, which was fine with us.

We started with a glass of white before making our decisions.

Love good bread at a restaurant. Our food came quite quickly, which is always a treat.

Mike ordered the Maple Ginger Salmon ($17.95)
(roasted fillet of salmon with Nova Scotia maple syrup & ginger glaze, mashed potato, and seasonal vegetable)

Seasonal vegetable was indeed singular! Haha. Mike said his dish was tasty, but personally, I think his dish was lacking. Come on… you couldn’t add in some other veggies? And a little bit of effort on plating would have made such a difference. I also really don’t know what the sprig of parsley is trying to achieve…

I got the Beer Battered Shrimp ($15.95)
(served with fries, lemon mayo, and coleslaw) – I substituted sweet potato fries with curry mayonnaise (+$2)

The shrimp was good but the best part of my dish were those sweet potato fries. I will gladly exchange anything for those fries any day. So nice and crispy on the outside and light on the inside. However, the plating was once again disappointing. This is a nice restaurant… Why are my sauces coming out in plastic containers? You were able to get my coleslaw into a little dish, couldn’t you go all the way with the sauces?

Overall, we had a good time, especially with the restaurant to ourselves. The service was great and I wish the sky cleared so we could enjoy the view even more but perhaps next time.

Next time you say? Well the food was pricey… tasted good but nothing great. However, the good service and location warrants another visit – but we’ll try dinner next time, that menu is much more enticing.

Salty's on Urbanspoon

Halifax Day 6: Yacht Club, Crystal Crescent Beach and Homemade Alfredo Sauce

December 09, 2012

We had a late start today. It was raining, I blame it on the weather. πŸ˜›

We did follow through with brunch plans though!

Laura was at a meeting but Matt took us to eat the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron (yacht club on the Northwest Arm of Halifax Harbour).

Tidbit I didn’t know: RNSYS lays claim to being the oldest yacht club in North America, with its beginnings dating back to the establishment of the Halifax Yacht Club in July 1837

It’s too bad it was raining, the views would’ve been lovely!

I had the best (albeit first) seafood chowder ever! My grilled lobster sandwich was such a loser… trying to contend beside the bowl of chowder. πŸ˜›Β  It warmed me up inside, especially on such a gloomy day. Thank you Matt!

On the way back, we stopped at York Redoubt:

“Established in 1793 on a bluff overlooking the harbour entrance, and expanded in the 19th and 20th centuries, York Redoubt was a key element in the defence of Halifax Harbour.”

Unfortunately, it was SO foggy, you could not see a thing. I’d never been so close to fog before, it was pretty exciting. Don’t judge, I’m serious!


We headed back to Matt and Laura’s. They were soon leaving for Florida so we hung out until Laura got home from her meeting to say our goodbyes. I hope you guys had a great trip!

It was already afternoon… but the sky was clearing up… so we had to get to the beach!

Michael decided we were going to visit Crystal Crescent Beach:

“Crystal Crescent beach is one of the best known beaches in the Halifax region.Β  What is less known is the coastal trail that originates from the beach called the Pennant Point trail. The trail is an amazing coastal trek.Β  It is a 13 kilometer loop that hugs the coastline for most of it.Β  The trail is a lot of fun for rock climbing and scampering. The landscape is amazing…”


We were too cold to go very far along the trail, but this is one place I would definitely want to come back and see during all 4 seasons. What a beautiful place!

Unfortunately, my panorama photos failed horribly, but here are some other shots

Shadow hug!

We headed back into the city after this. Stopped for a snack of delicious onion rings at A&W before going home. Ended up just chilling at home reading and watching TV before heading over to Mike C & Christine’s for dinner!

They have a lovely home! My favourite thing about their house is this little closet/room that Mike C had renovated into a ‘personal room’ for Christine. A place just for her to go and escape from everything and get lost in her music… how sweet!

For dinner, Christine made pasta with an amazing alfredo sauce… she makes me want to try to make my own sometime as well πŸ˜€ There was also salad and bread and lots of sugary deliciousness for dessert, including some chocolate cake we brought, and Mike C’s baked goods.

We had a really nice time at their place (I haven’t played Foosball in so long!) and I’m glad to have had the chance to get to know some of Michael’s great friends πŸ™‚

And that marks the end of Day 6! I know, I failed at taking people pictures… again. However, FULL ALBUM HERE

Halifax Day 5: Markets, Settlers of Catan and Brussels

December 08, 2012

Saturday! Time to hit the markets!

The Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market:

“Founded in 1750, The Halifax Farmers’ Market Cooperative is the oldest continuously running farmers’ market in North America. The first market vendors were Acadian – the original European immigrants to the land. Currently, the market has over 200 vendors selling some of Nova Scotia’s best local products including fresh produce, maple products, crafts, flowers, cheeses, meats, baked goods, coffee and so much more!

The Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market moved to its new location on Halifax’s Waterfront during the summer of 2010 at Pier 20, the busiest tourist entry point in the province. It is the heart of the cultural, social and community centre that is emerging in the Halifax Seaport Development.

We left Matt and Laura’s a little earlier than everyone else, just to take our time looking around. Soon, we had met up with Dan B & Natalie, Bill & Nina (New Germany), Matt & Laura and Mike & Tina (Bridgewater). Mike and I spent most of our time wandering and eating one dish after another, but don’t worry, it wasn’t all about us. We picked up a few gifts as well. πŸ˜›

Unfortunately, Bill & Nina’s daughter Lily was sick and staying at home with her grandma, Uta, so they couldn’t stay long. Everyone else was busy too, so it was really nice to see them one more time before going back to Ottawa, even if just for a few hours.

Matt and Laura headed home first while Michael took me to check out the Brewery Market. Unfortunately, most shops had closed up so we only did a quick walk around.

We spent the rest of the afternoon back and Matt & Laura’s playing Settlers of Catan. If you’ve never played:

“Players assume the roles of settlers, each attempting to build and develop holdings while trading and acquiring resources. Players are rewarded points as their settlements grow; the first to reach a set number of points is the winner. At no point in the game is any player eliminated.”

I had never played before and it initially sounded quite daunting. However, you quickly catch on to the rules of the game and it’s pretty fun. And I won the game, not bad for a noobie!

For dinner we went out to Brussels (another restaurant of the Hamachi restaurant group) where we met up with Dan R and I got to meet more of Mike’s friends for the first time: Christine and her husband Mike, as well as Will. Unfortunately, Laura was busy with work and couldn’t make it out.

Tastefully decorated with really nice ambiance. We ended up only ordering appetizers, but the ones I tasted were good! Everyone was also extremely pleased with the extensive beer selection and reasonable prices – multiple rounds were ordered πŸ˜€

I became slightly annoyed at our server by the end of the night. She was extremely happy and friendly, but got a little too close for comfort. She was constantly at our table taking part (very loudly) in whatever discussion was going on at the moment. Props to her though, she obviously has a lot of interests and is very easy to talk to… but there should be a level of professionalism maintained. When you’ve been standing at one end of the table talking for 20 minutes and someone at the other end can’t even get get your attention to order another drink, you are not doing your job well. Also, a water refill without asking would be nice! πŸ˜›

Good night though! And really nice to finally get to meet Christine and her husband, I had heard so many stories before today! Everyone except Dan R ended back at Matt & Laura’s for a drink before calling it a night.

And that marks the end of Day 5. I’ve realized I did not take any pictures of people today 😦


Halifax Day 4: Citadel, Boardwalk and Sushi

December 07, 2012

After breakfast at The Coastal Cafe, we had to take advantage of the temporary beautiful weather and do some outdoor activities.

First stop was the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site:

“The present Citadel was completed in 1856 and is the fourth in a series of British forts on this site. Today, the restored Citadel is a national landmark, commemorating Halifax’s role as a key naval station in the British Empire and bringing history to life in Atlantic Canada’s largest urban centre.”

Unfortunately, no services are offered between Nov 01 – May 06. None of the shops, exhibits or rooms were opened and there was nobody working that day. It didn’t matter, because we had the chance to peacefully walk around and take in all the sights – and didn’t have to pay a fee.

Just walking around along the bottom

Heading up to the top of the fort

One of the many canons

The view from up top, you can also see the famous Town Clock in this shot

The moat

Graffiti on the roof of the signal post

Before heading off, we stopped on the street to take a few photos of the Town Clock:

“The Town Clock, also sometimes called the Old Town Clock or Citadel Clock Tower, is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the historic urban core of Nova Scotia’s Halifax Regional Municipality.”

“Prince Edward, Duke of Kent commissioned a clock tower in 1800 prior to his return to England. The Town Clock opened on October 20, 1803 at a location on the east slope of Citadel Hill on Barrack (now Brunswick) Street and has kept time for the community ever since.

As a Halifax icon, the Town Clock has featured in many artwork, fictional and non-fictional accounts of Halifax. One among many is a depiction of the town clock as a character named Chimey in the children’s television show Theodore Tugboat.”

Sorry, these pictures are definitely not taken at the best angle!

We then went down and walked along the Halifax Waterfront Boardwalk:

“The Halifax boardwalk is open to the public 24 hours a day. The boardwalk also includes shops at Bishop’s Landing and the Historic Properties buildings as well as the “Cable Wharf” a former cable ship terminal now used as a tour boat base for several vessels including Theodore Too.

The boardwalk’s southern terminus is at Pier 21. It stretches northwards along the coast for approximately 3Β km before it terminates in front of Casino Nova Scotia at its northern terminus. Three notable museums are located on the waterfront. The Pier 21 immigration museum is located at the southern terminus. The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic at the boardwalk’s centre and includes the museum ship CSS Acadia.”

The CSS Acadia

Low season = empty board walk + closed stores

The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic

The popular Wave sculpture. Apparently, it was restored just earlier this year! I was tempted to climb it as well, but didn’t want to break my front teeth… again.

In memory of 2200 known Canadian merchant seamen and 91 Canadian vessels lost by enemy action and those who served in the cause of freedom.

There was a cute old Asian man fishing just ahead with his wife. He was actually able to catch quite a few fish and even lured in curious passersby

Pier 21: Canada’s National Immigration Museum (I forgot to take pictures of the building itself)

“The Pier was the primary point of entry for over one million immigrants and refugees from Europe and elsewhere, as well as the departure point for 496,000 military personal Canadian troops during World War Two. The facility became known informally as the ‘Gateway to Canada.’ It closed in March 1971, due to a significant drop in immigration traffic as transportation modes switched from ocean-going-ships to jet airliners.”

At around this point, we headed back the way we came. Some views along the way back to the car…

With a few hours left before meeting some friends for dinner, we headed across the water to Dartmouth for some shopping at Dartmouth Crossing. Enormous success! Together we spent around $230 and saved around $300 for… many items!

Spying on Michael filling up the tank on the way back into the city

By evening, Matt was back from Moncton and we decided to have sushi dinner at Hamachi Mura. Dan and his fiancee Leigh Anne joined for dinner, giving us the pleasure of meeting her in person for the first time!

It was a good dinner with great company. We ended up checking out Dan and Leigh Anne’s new house afterwards. They were just starting the process of moving in but what a lovely home. Very happy for them! πŸ™‚

Headed back to Matt & Laura’s (where we were staying while in Halifax) with Dan for a drink and a few laughs before calling it a night πŸ™‚

And that marks the end of Day 4 – FULL ALBUM HERE!

Halifax Day 4: Breakfast @ The Coastal Cafe

December 07, 2012

We started the Friday morning with a delicious brunch at one of Michael’s favourite places – The Coastal Cafe

Got there just before the rush and were greeted with excellent service.

We started off with drinks. I got a blueberry pomegranate juice ($1.75) while Mike got a coffee πŸ™‚

Mike had his heart set on his favourite, the McCoastal for $11.25 that included: 2 Fried Eggs, Maple Sausage or Montreal Bacon, Havarti, Roasted Onion Compote in an English Muffin w/ Hash or Salad. It sounded too good to pass up, I got it too!

The condiment stand was behind me – I’ve never seen such a great selection! And love the use of old Perrier bottles as well.

The food came out very quickly. We were also given the option of having a little bit of both the salad and home fries rather than just one or the other.

Breakfast was delicious. Loved the onion compote and Havarti never disappoints me. As we polished off our plates, the restaurant started to fill up and become extremely busy. There were people stopping in for take out as well.

As winner of The Coast – Best of Food Awards! Best Lunch 2008, Best Breakfast 4 years in a row (2009-2012), it comes as no surprise why Michael loves this place so much. I’m a new fan!

The Coastal Cafe on Urbanspoon

Halifax Day 3: Lunch @ Talay Thai

December 06, 2012

It was late afternoon by the time we got into Halifax and we still hadn’t lunch. Needless to say, we were starving! We decided to eat at one of Michael’s favourite restaurants, Talay Thai. Because some restaurants close in the afternoon between lunch and dinner, our only thought while walking towards the restaurant was, “Please don’t be closed, please don’t be closed!”

And it wasn’t!

There were 3 other groups dining when we arrived and were immediately shown to our seats. Beautifully decorated restaurant. The servers were also dressed in traditional Thai clothing, which was really nice to see.

We were immediately offered water and after a chance to ask a few questions regarding the menu items, it didn’t take us long to make up our mind. You can check out their full menu with prices HERE

I believe these are portraits of the younger King Adulyadej (Rama IX) and Queen Sirikit. I apologize if I’m wrong!

Our food came out quite quickly – steaming hot deliciousness! Presentation was beautiful, we couldn’t wait to dig in!

Duck Curry (Red curry paste w/ duck meat, coconut milk, pineapple, grape, lime leaves, basil & tomato) $13.95

This dish was rich, spicy and super yummy. I was also pleasantly surprised that they used only duck breast cuts!

Garlic Squid – Pla Muek Tod Katem (Deep fried squid w/ garlic & pepper)

Also delicious, although the squid was slightly chewy. The pieces were large and it was difficult to take bites. I noticed the squid was lightly scored before being battered and fried, perhaps scoring it a little deeper might help? Still tasted great!

Our tummies were very happy by the time we were done. So filling as well, we didn’t even have room to try their desserts.

Talay Thai has earned numerous awards and recognitions, some of which are posted HERE

Beautiful restaurant, very reasonable prices, delicious food, prompt and wonderful service. I will definitely make Talay Thai a must-stop whenever I’m in Halifax!

Talay Thai Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Halifax Day 3: Mahone Bay, Peggy’s Cove, the city and more

December 06, 2012

Today, we leave New Germany for Halifax. But before we did that, I finally got to see a little bit of Bill & Nina’s property. It was too muddy to go far, but my camera still loved it.

Their chickens!

Bill is in the process of building a new addition to the house

Not sure if this shed is functional, but it made for a cool picture

The barn where the boys jam, with the chicken coop on the other side. I especially like the initial “G” of their last name.

They’ve got water running through their property and even had salmon in their pond at one point. If you look closely, you will see an abandoned car, that was there since before they moved in.

Uta (Nina’s mom) lives on the adjacent property so Mike drove us out to quickly take a look

They’ve got horses!

Uta lives on probably the highest peak in the area, what a great view! And that’s Bill & Nina’s car, which they kindly lent us for the duration of our stay πŸ™‚

The drive into Halifax begins! First off… Tim Horton’s for breakfast, we were hungry.

I discovered they have a Maple Cinnamon French Toast Bagel – best thing ever!

And of course, for the road πŸ˜›

Stopping in Mahone Bay!

Hopefully you can see their iconic 3 churches on the waterfront. From left to right: St James’ Anglican Church (newest, 1887), St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church (1869) and United Church (1885).

We also stopped at the Swissair Flight 111 Memorial at Whalesback, just north of Peggy’s Cove.

Swissair Flight 111 (SR-111, SWR-111) was a Swissair McDonnell Douglas MD-11 on a scheduled airline flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, United States to Cointrin International Airport in Geneva, Switzerland. This flight was also a codeshare flight with Delta Air Lines.

On Wednesday, 2 September 1998 the aircraft used for the flight, registered HB-IWF, crashed into the Atlantic Ocean southwest of Halifax International Airport at the entrance to St. Margarets Bay, Nova Scotia. The crash site was 8 kilometres (5.0Β mi) from shore, roughly equidistant from the tiny fishing and tourist communities of Peggys Cove and Bayswater. All 229 people on board died.[2] It was the highest-ever death toll of any single-aeroplane aviation accident both for Swissair and for the McDonnell Douglas MD-11.

Looking out towards the crash site

The inukshuk I saw off in the distance from the memorial site, thought it was really neat.

Peggy’s Cove! Very picturesque but super windy and freezing!

It was SO windy, our eyeballs and eardrums froze!

And we were soon back on the road continuing into Halifax. Some of the pretty views we saw along the way into the city:

The sun came out for just a few minutes!

My first windmill up close! I was pleasantly surprised to not hear any hum at all until I was about 10m away from the shaft.

Another windmill had been dismantled and lying on the ground next to the scrap metal yard. Thought this picture provided an interesting point of view.

After some fun in the yard, we continued on and finally reached Halifax.

Once in the city, we stopped at Talay Thai, one of Michael’s favourite spots, for a late lunch. I will write a separate blog post about this place because it was delicious!

Stopped along a few other places on the way back to Matt & Laura’s:

Saw Theodore Tugboat!

Tufts Cove Generating Station across the water, in Dartmouth

We finally got to Matt and Laura’s in the early evening. Matt was out in Moncton until the next afternoon but it was so nice to see Laura again – and pregnant too! πŸ™‚ We had a bit of time to catch up with her before heading out to meet up with Mike’s old lab mates at Your Father’s Moustache for dinner. The Stache was unbelievably busy because it was Wing Night. And perhaps we should’ve gotten wings, because their nachos were NOT good!

It was really nice to meet everyone: Dan (in 2nd year Dentistry) and his girlfriend Natalie (a teacher), Ryan, Gavin, Michael H and Ayhem (both in 2nd year Med at Dal). Dinner was followed by more drinks downstairs until we called it a night πŸ™‚

And that marks the end of Day 3! There are many more pictures, FULL ALBUM HERE

Halifax Day 2: Lunenburg and Skyfall

December 05, 2012

Woke up to a completely silent house as Bill & Nina were already at work. We started the day with breakfast and Michael gave me a tour of their place. I’d been told many stories last night of the work they had done to the place, which now looks great! Bill still has numerous projects on the go and I guess there’s always more work to be done!

They live on many acres of land (with horses and chickens!) and I really wanted to take a walk around to see their property but unfortunately, it was raining – bleh!

Instead, we headed out to Lunenburg about 40 minutes away.

Boots, check! Umbrella, check (although I soon learned umbrellas are my enemies here)! Cameras, check! Away we go!

We were hoping to see the Bluenose II, replica of the fishing schooner Bluenose (yes, the one on the dime), but alas, it wasn’t docked!

Instead, we had fish & chips at The Dockside Inn & Restaurant.The wall paintings were nice but the furniture was a little outdated. I also dislike carpet in a restaurant because it gets sooo dirty! Food was good though, but we were overcharged which was a little annoying.

Went for a walk after lunch. It would’ve been a lovely view, if not for the rain. πŸ˜› In addition to the weather, it is also low season at the moment, so we did not see another soul!

Fishermen’s Memorial and Tribute in Lunenburg, on South Shore of Nova Scotia.Β  The Memorial forms a compass and lists Names of Sailors (Men and Women) and Ships who were lost at Sea.Β  “Dedicated to the memory of those who have gone down to the sea in ships and who have never returned – and – as a tribute to those who continue to occupy their business in great waters.”

After Lunenburg, we headed into Bridgewater, where we met Bill, Nina, Uta and Lily for dinner at Food Revolution. Unfortunately, the restaurant experience was not as great as we were hoping.

Mike and I were still quite full so only ordered appetizers – those came out quite quickly. I got baked (deepfried) ravioli that were quite bland if not for a creamy dipping sauce they squirted on top. Mike ordered baked brie that came out with plain white toast, a little disappointing. The others had to wait forever for their mains to come out. Bill and Nina got chicken shawarmas and Uta ordered a pizza – I do not know why it took so long for their food. In the meantime, poorly chosen music is blasting through the speakers (eventually had to ask them to change the music and turn it down) and there was a significant cold draft over the table.

After dinner, we stopped by Mike and Tina’s place (they have the prettiest cats and the cutest dog named Molly) to drop Lily off. We hung out for a bit before it was time to head to the movie theatre to watch Skyfall!

The movie was… alright, definitely not as good as Michael and I were expecting. I cannot say this was my favourite Bond movie, but Adele did a great job with the song.

Headed back to Bill and Nina’s for a second night. And that marks the end of Day 2! πŸ™‚ See the FULL ALBUM HERE!

Halifax Day 1: Delays and New Germany

December 04, 2012

My flight for Halifax was at 11:20am. I was happy to be through security and at my boarding gate by 10:45am.

Unfortunately, we boarded late. And then we sat on the plane going nowhere – for an hour. Then they told us to get off the plane where we waited some more. Finally, they put us on a different plane and got us to our destination… nearly 3 hours late. I especially find it annoying when airlines make up excuses to explain the delays (loading luggage, waiting to be cleared for take off, etc). Then the delay becomes too long so they finally tell the truth, which is pretty much, “There’s something seriously wrong with the plane. We thought we could fix it, but we couldn’t and it’s not safe to fly. Sorry!”

But more importantly, I finally made it to Halifax where Michael was waiting to pick me up. So good to see him, even though we had only been apart for 2 weeks. ^_^

He knows me too well, got me Almondillos! Chocolate, my favourite. Instant boost of mood.

We then began the drive back to New Germany to stay with Mike’s friends Bill & Nina (and their amazingly cute daughter Lily). On the way, we stopped at a Sobey’s to pick up some ingredients for dinner since we wanted to pitch in and help out a little.

So dark and lonely on the road.

I think it was around 8pm when we finally arrived at Bill and Nina’s. I felt immediately welcomed and met Nina’s mom, Uta, as well. Nina and Uta made Schnitzel, mashed potatoes, beans, stirfried mushrooms and onions. Mike and I made coconut basil tempura shrimp. Had a lovely dinner getting to know everyone before calling it a night shortly after.

A short post, but that marks the end of Day 1! πŸ™‚

Photo #289: Wanted: NZT

December 13, 2012

If you haven’t watched the movie Limitless (with Bradley Cooper), that’s where NZT comes from. A nootrophic or ‘smart drug’ that makes you entirely awesome in every way. Low doses of that drug to help me with my studies would be amazing πŸ˜‰ I think too much would just make me scary.

Photo #285: Iron in Water

December 09, 2012

One of my favourite places I visited in Halifax – Crystal Crescent Beach. Such lovely views and scenic trails! You can see a little stream (pond?) in this picture with dark brown water, apparently from high iron content. I thought the contrast of blue and brown water so close to each other was neat.