Wedding Rehearsal

May 13, 2016

It was less of a rehearsal and more of a family meet and greet.

Thanks to Atong, we had a perfect location to host our wedding rehearsal. We were pretty sure that we wanted an informal get together and the rental space in her apartment complex was a great venue to a meet and mingle.

Also a big thank you to Michael’s parents, Gregory and Caroline, for their generosity towards dinner.

Although this was not the first time our families were meeting each other, not everyone had met before so it was a nice opportunity to get to know each other.

My bridesmaids were absolutely amazing with their help in making sure the night went smoothly. This even included buying and carrying cases of water and juice from a few blocks away. Believe it or not, we remembered to buy the alcohol but not the water!

My brother also brought names tags and markers, which I loved! Everyone had the chance to learn people’s names and their relationship to the bride and groom. I would highly recommend this idea to anyone with a huge family like mine!

For dinner, we ordered shawarma from… you know it… Shawarma Palace, the best place in town. Always a favourite for everyone! And for dessert, my sister made delicious lemon and s’mores squares, I made brownies.

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We took the opportunity to thank Michael’s parents, my mom and my grandparents for their love and support. We saved our gifts for the bridal party for getting ready the following day.

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Selfies took place… a lot of selfies.

Our 3 MCs: Elvin (and soon to be wife Jenn), Vinh and Amin

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3 of the 4 groomsmen! Bill, Matt, and Dan (4th is Michael’s brother Matt)

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My brother Andy and Kien’s (cousin) partner Samme

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Andy and cousins Janet and Justin

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With some of my family, including my grandparents, aunts and uncles!

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Photo with the immediate Brown family!

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Michael’s Aunt Patsy and her husband Uncle Dan!

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My sister Jenni and Michael

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Janet, Jenni and her partner Edward

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Being themselves ๐Ÿ˜›

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Justin… always ruining our photos!

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As you can probably tell by now, my family is… special ๐Ÿ˜‰

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My grandparents, mum and aunt

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Cousins

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We even had props! Although mostly forgot to use them!

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(Note Samme’s name tag… see? Useful!)

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Like mothers like daughters

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Cousin love

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My mum!

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Somehow… Michael and I ended the night without a single photo together ๐Ÿ˜› Thank you again to all our family and friends who took the time to attend, and for all their love โค

It was hard to believe we were getting married the following day! After cleaning up, Michael and I then headed over to Four Points by Sheraton in Gatineau and called it a night. We even did a bit of much needed first dance practicing ๐Ÿ˜‰ We would highly recommend getting away from everyone and spending the night before the wedding with just your partner – to have quality time together and reflect on exciting times to come!

Mother’s Day in Canada

May 08, 2016

Happy Mother’s Day!

We celebrated with the entire family, which is something I’ve missed while in Australia!

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Menu of the day consisted of egg noodles and lobster – delicious! (Courtesy of chef Uncles)

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Yay, all 3 of us girls home in Ottawa at the same time!

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My grandparents still looking great at 80+ years old!

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The tradition conditions with all of us presenting my grandmother with cards and gifts – from the offspring of her oldest to youngest children! My brother was working and unfortunately couldn’t make it.

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Family photos!

My grandparents and their 5 children

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With their 2 girls

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And with us!

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My aunt and mom!

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G-pa is wiped after dealing with all of us ๐Ÿ˜‰ Love how he goes for the hammock despite a perfectly fine bed

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SEE ALL PHOTOS HERE

And of course, some late night selfies with our very own wonderful mother!

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None of us would be here today without her sacrifice, love, and dedication – we love you! โค

Bachelorette

May 07, 2016

To be honest, I didn’t think I would have a bachelorette (hen’s day/night). After all, we didn’t have an engagement party or a bridal shower. Not to mention I wasn’t even in the country until 2 weeks prior to the wedding! However, my amazing sister (maid of honour) and bridesmaids made sure to give me an incredibly special day.

I was told in advance that Saturday, May 7th would be my bachelorette and that it would take place over the whole day – how exciting! I had been previously asked what I would want for a bachelorette. My reply was high tea and a good meal. Definitely no need for clubbing/strippers please!

With that, my sister planned everything and presented me with this list of instructions:

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She even found a gorgeous white dress for me as I couldn’t find one in time!

Started the day with a gift from my sister – thank you so much!

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A bridal Pandora bead with bride on one side and groom on the other.

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Janet, my cousin and bridesmaid, picked us up and the adventure commenced!

First off, a beautiful high tea with my gorgeous bridesmaids at Nectar Fine Teas.

A menu consisting of fruit, soup, sandwiches, scones, desserts and chocolate. And pots of tea of course!

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In love with the china!

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As usual, lots of silliness and laughs with these girls!

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Fruit cup with jasmine tea syrup – so refreshing and not too sweet!

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Hearty legume soup sipper

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My beautiful bridesmaids!

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Check out the food – mmm! We had wasabi egg salad, smoked salmon & chevre, lemon chicken & mango chutney, and red pepper cream cheese & cucumber mini sandwiches. Also vanilla bean and cranberry-orange scones with preserves and clotted cream. Up top were dessert slices and an assortment of truffles. All the food was fantastic!

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Took a look around their shop after high tea. Nectar Fine Teas lives up to its name – such an amazing selection of teas and all the accessories you might need!

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After high tea, we got back into the car and started driving… Eventually we reached Quebec and at one point I was sure they were taking me to Omega Park (which I love!) which was when they made me shut my eyes and keep it a surprise.

The first place they stopped at advised that there would be a wait of a few hours… so we bailed (I still had no idea what was going on). We then we pulled over to a candle making shop – I was so excited! Only to be told it was actually a joke and we got back on the road. I was a bit disappointed to be honest. We finally arrived at a backup location. Still keeping my eyes shut, the girls guided me to the entrance.

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We were at Amerispa! For the rest of the afternoon we enjoyed pools, spas, saunas, silence, relaxation, laughs, and good conversation. Sorry, no photos!

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Afterwards, we all freshened up and changed into our outfits for the evening. Colour coordination was involved – me in white and everyone else in black!

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Julia always comes prepared… even with theme appropriate snacks!

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What a surprise! So many lovely ladies joined us for dinner! My friends as well as all my female cousins – thank you so much guys!

Atong, Julia, Tina (who I later found out was pregnant, yay!) and Jenn

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My now very grown up cousins – Lilian, Flora, Christine and Kim

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My cousin Janet and sister Jenni

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Had such a fantastic time catching up with everyone and I think we all enjoyed the delicious (and pretty reasonable priced) food at Fauna Food + Bar

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Have a look at some of the tasty dishes we enjoyed!

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Duck with kimchi fried rice

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Rabbit with squid ink pasta

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My sister, who is amazing, even went as far as getting us a beautiful congratulatory cake!

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Many of those sitting around us offered cheers of congratulations and lots of smiles – this girl really felt the love!

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The restaurant were happy to plate out our cake for an additional $3.50 a person. For the beautiful plating with icecream, cookie, and fruit caviar garnish, we all agreed it was definitely worth it!

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I even got presents! Thank you so much cousins for the lovely candle and selection of teas!

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A heartfelt thank you to all you gorgeous ladies for making me feel so special and loved to soon before my big day! Love you all!

Exactly one week until the wedding!

More wedding meetings

May 06, 2016

Today was another busy wedding prep day! We started our morning meeting with our wedding videographer – KB Production – which I will write a dedicated post to later.

Then a pit stop at our favourite bakery downtown in Byward Market – Moulin de Provence for a morning bite! Always too many options to choose from!

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Have you ever had a black forest danish? Yep, I assure you it is as good as it looks!

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Quick bathroom break before heading to our cake tasting! A perfect message in my toilet stall given our upcoming wedding!

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View of the Byward Market Square from above! Not too busy as it was still quite early.

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CLICK HERE to read about our cake tasting!

After finalising our cake details, we headed to my hair trial! I will also write a dedicated post for my hair and make up. But to give you an idea, she charged $60 for a trial and spent hours on my hair and doing 3 completely different hair styles. We were quite happy with her skill level and Michael even asked if she would be comfortable giving him a wedding haircut – which she did to his absolute liking!

The timing of our hair cut/style was perfect as we were having our engagement photo shoot that evening – couldn’t have planned it better!

WEDDING FOOD

May 05, 2016

Today was the exciting day we (finally) did our menu tasting! Being the week before our wedding, we were incredibly lucky that our caterer – Distinction by Sodexo – allowed us to do our menu tasting so last minute (usually done 1-2 months prior).

By this date, we had already confirmed our menu selection and the wine had also been selected ahead of time by the Distinction Sommelier. That meant although our menu was set, we could make recommendations for adjustments if the dishes didn’t suit our taste.

At the time of our booking, we chose the Symphony option. It was the most expensive at $125/person excluding 17% service charge and 14.975% taxes (cheapest option $85/pp). Despite it being pricey, it really had everything we wanted. Our #1 wedding priority was food (the more the better) so that’s where a majority of our budget went.

The Symphony Package included the following:

  • 1 glass of sparkling wine per person during cocktail hour
  • Passed canapรฉs based on 3 pieces per person (choice of 4) during cocktail hour
  • Fresh rolls and butter
  • 5 course meal with a choice of soup, salad, granitรฉ, main course and dessert
  • 2 glasses of upgraded wine per person during dinner (selected by Distinction Sommelier)
  • Cake cutting service served after dinner with coffee and tea station
  • Late night snack
  • Colored tablecloth, napkins and choice of white or black chair covers
  • Votive candles, china and glassware, table numbers and stands

Below was the menu available to us at the time, with our selections in bold

Canape Selections:

  • Smoked Salmon on Cucumber Medallion
  • Turkey Tenderloin with Applewood Smoked Bacon Skewer
  • Beetroot Hummus on Crostini topped with Goat Cheese
  • Vegetable Spring roll with Chive Plum Sauce
  • Herb Risotto Lollipop with Pesto Sauce
  • Canadian Coast to Coast mixed Crab Cake topped with Ponzu Aioli
  • Bison Meat Ball Mini Fork with Berry Jelly
  • Watermelon with Aged Balsamic and Mint Leaf

Soup selections:

  • Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Puree, Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
  • Coriander and Carrot Soup, Chive Oil
  • Parsnip Root Soup, Apple Infused Sour Cream Crostini Garnish
  • Braised Curry Chicken and Coconut Kaffir Lime Leaf Chowder, Basil Oil

Salad selections:

  • Grilled Cortland Apple and Parmigianino Shavings, Arugula, Trebbiano Grape Acidulated Fig Dressing
  • Mixed Young Greens, Shaved Pickled Red Radish, Cherry Tomatoes, Basil Dressing
    and Powdered Balsamic Vinegar
  • Arugula Greens with Crumbled Goat Cheese, Dried Cranberry and a Raspberry
    Vinaigrette
  • Kale Caesar Salad with Grated Parmesan, Spicy Lemon Garlic Roasted Croutons,
    Crumbled Free Range Egg and Topped with Pickled Crispy Capers

Chef’s selection of granite – which ended up being a refreshing palate cleanser similar to sorbet!

For Mains, we paid an extra $4/pp for guests to have a choice between 2 proteins. A vegan/GF/LF alternative is also offered at no additional costs.

  • Pan Roasted Free Range Chicken Breast, Mushroom Herb Cream Sauce served with Potato Flan and Market Vegetables
  • Maple and Sichuan Peppercorn Salmon over a Panko Crusted Risotto Cake served with Market Vegetables
  • Ricotta and Spinach Cannelloni topped with a Roasted Tomato and Pesto Creamย  Sauce
  • Pan Seared 6oz Canadian Beef Tenderloin topped with a Thyme and Roasted Shallot Reduction served with Potato Flan and Market Vegetables
  • Pheasant Breast Stuffed with Thyme and Niagara Apple topped with a Port Reduction served with Potato Flan and Market Vegetables
  • Pan Seared Veal Chop and Veal Jus infused with Star Anis served with Potato Flan and Market Vegetables
  • Alternate Dish (vegan, gluten free, lactose free): Vegetable, Tofu and Portobello Stacker on a bed of Risotto and Roasted Tomato Coulis

Dessert selections:

  • Cheese Cake with Raspberry Compote and topped with Ginger Sour Cream and Honey Powder
  • Soften Half Baked Double Chocolate Brownie topped with Sichuan Peppercorn
    Raspberry and Whipped Cream
  • Salted Caramel Square with Mini Upside Down Coffee Mousse Cone and Whipped
    Cream
  • Lemon and chives crusted tilapia with a white wine cream sauce

Kid’s Meal included veggies and dip, chicken fingers and fries, chef’s dessert and juices/soft drinks.

The late night snack option was too easy: Poutine with fries, cheese curds, and gravy! (Or Sliced Canadian Deli Meats and Canadian Cheeses, Mustards and Basket of Mini Ciabatta Buns)

For alcohol, we decided to have an Open Bar/Host Bar – luckily for us, our guests didn’t drink nearly as much as we estimated and we ended up getting a partial refund!


The Tasting:

Josee Pilon (josee.pilon@sodexo.com) is the catering representative and met us for our tasting. It was our first time meeting her (used to be someone else when we first signed our contract). She was friendly and easy to get along with, which was great!

The tasting also took place in the Panorama Lounge, which was the upstairs venue we had booked as our backup indoor rainy day option so it gave us the opportunity to scope it out some more ๐Ÿ™‚

They also had the table set up so we could appreciate what the settings would look like. Of course, it would look slightly different with our own centrepieces, napkin arrangements, menus and wedding favours!

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Josee stayed with us through out the tasting to make notes of our feedback and finalise reception details. We initially thought it would be weird to have someone watch us eat, but surprisingly, it was pleasant and not awkward at all!

We were also surprised to find out we’d be having full servings! It was explained to us that that way, we could appreciate the presentation and serving size of each dish – definitely not expected but well appreciated!

Bread rolls and butter

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First course was Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Puree, Toasted Pumpkin Seeds which was warming and delicious. We were definitely off to a good start.

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Then came the Grilled Cortland Apple and Parmigianino Shavings, Arugula, Trebbiano Grape Acidulated Fig Dressing.ย  We wanted to choose a non traditional salad that would still appeal to a majority of guests and were very happy with how nicely the sweetness of apples worked so well with the saltiness of the cheese and the acidity of the dressing!

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We also got to taste the red wine that would be served – Domaine Houchart, Cรดtes de Provence, France. Unfortunately, the white (Flying Solo, Grenache Blanc โ€“ Viognier, France) was not available to taste on the day! We quite enjoyed the red and wish it was sold here in Australia so we could buy some!

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Michael and I shared the 3 mains, thank goodness!

First was the Maple and Sichuan Peppercorn Salmon over a Panko Crusted Risotto Cake served with Market Vegetables. The salmon was seasoned and cooked beautifully and we especially liked the risotto cake which was moist and very flavourful with hints of citrus.

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Pan Seared 6oz Canadian Beef Tenderloin topped with a Thyme and Roasted Shallot Reduction served with Potato Flan and Market Vegetables. Beef was cooked medium rare and was nice and tender. The only comment we had was the reduction was just a little too salty for our tastes – which was noted.

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Last of the mains was our alternate dish Vegetable, Tofu and Portobello Stacker on a bed of Risotto and Roasted Tomato Coulis. Although we definitely preferred the previous 2 dishes, we appreciated that this dish was quite substantial and filling. Not your typical salad/pasta vegetarian option.

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And finally, dessert Cheese Cake with Raspberry Compote and topped with Ginger Sour Cream and Honey Powder.ย Ginger sour cream is a flavour we’ve never had before and it was definitely a winner!

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If our guests ate the same meal we did (which will also include a granite and canapes we didn’t have the chance to try) – surely they will be happily stuffed! ๐Ÿ™‚ We left the tasting incredibly happy with our choices!


On the Day:

Michael and I had to take family photos and did not have the chance to try the canapes! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ We hope everyone else enjoyed them on our behalf.

The soup and salad were just as good as we remembered it. I’ve been told that the beef was cooked nicely and wasn’t overly salty. Unfortunately, myself and a few others who had the salmon did find it overcooked and slightly dry. In particular, I was disappointed with the risotto cake which was dry and lacked the punch of flavour that impressed me so much at our tasting. Otherwise we had no complaints with our food!

Everyone loved the poutine bar! Despite it was gauged at 4oz/pp there was heaps for anyone who wanted seconds, even thirds! The best part? Real cheese curds!

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We cut our cake during dinner service, which was later put out for guests to enjoy. Our package was meant to include ‘cake cutting service.’ The tiers of our cake were separated (top tier saved) and set on the table for guests to self serve – which was fine as they could help themselves to whatever they wanted.

None of our guests brought up any concerns at the wedding reception. It seemed like everyone had a good time and were happy with the service and the food.

There were a few stand out/feedback moments for us:

  • Despite providing a seating plan with everyone’s meal option, my husband and I personally witnessed 2 (of 5) vegetarian guests served the wrong dish – one who was a groomsman at the head table! It was eventually sorted out but surely a simple “I’ve got a vegetarian dish for so-and-so?” should’ve been easy?
  • Dry salmon and bland risotto as mentioned previously
  • My mother told me after the wedding that a server had been incredibly rude towards my grandma for using cutlery in the wrong order. Apparently she had used her main knife and fork for her entree and was rudely told she shouldn’t have done that when the table was being cleared.
  • The lack of announcement that poutine and/or cake was being served meant that those too busy on the dance floor/photo booth didn’t realise food was available! Especially since our cake was brought out to our ‘gifts table’ closer to the entrance of the venue, even we didn’t realise it! Our suggestion would be for the staff to ask the DJ/emcee/another guest to make an annoucement when late night food and/or cake is available so everyone has the chance to enjoy!
  • Would have been nice for guests to have a bar menu to know what was available to order. We were told this would be provided but unfortunately it wasn’t to be seen!
  • A minor detail that doesn’t change anything but it was a little disappointing to see our napkin placement was not as we had wanted – for such a simple design too!

This was the photo we had provided, loved the wide and long hanging napkin design that would give us a nice pop of colour as we planned to place a menu and wedding favour on top.

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Our setting on at the wedding reception – the napkin was placed much higher on the table. As a result, less colour seen and less flow of napkin into the tablecloth!

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Overall…

Aside from the few glitches above, we were very happy with our wedding reception and the all encompassing catering service!

We would definitely recommend the Museum of History and Distinction by Sodexo to any of our friends looking for a beautiful wedding/reception venue that includes everything from set up to tear down for your peace of mind ๐Ÿ™‚

The wedding packages offered by Distinction by Sodexo at the Museum of History seem to have undergone an overhaul since our booking. You can view their current options HERE. The packages appear more expensive now and do not include the same amount of options that we had.

Their most expensive package is now called Distinctly Unique ($150/pp) and has the following differences: less options to choose from for every course, 3 instead of 4 chosen canapes, 3 and not 5 course meal, no upgraded wine at dinner, no glass of champagne included with canapes, late night snack not included (poutine bar an extra $10/pp).

Man are we glad wedding planning is officially behind us… weddings are expensive!

Wedding Cake Tasting

May 06, 2016

Through a Facebook wedding group, I found the one who would make our wedding cake!

Irina Shainski of Sweet Song Cakes has made beautiful and delicious cakes. It was incredibly easy to communicate with her via email from Australia and she provided reasonable quotes and drafts for our cake based on what we wanted.

You can visit her website HERE and her Facebook page HERE to see what she has to offer.

You can also contact her via the details below for more information:

ishainski@gmail.com
(613) 290-0349

We only had to send her a $50 deposit to secure our date. She assured us that the only thing she needed to know well in advance were the colours and designs of flowers we wanted on our cake so she could make them. The final design and flavours of the cake we could finalise last minute when we finally met her a week before the wedding for the tasting (with fingers crossed)!

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Irina invited us over to her house for the tasting of our 3 pre-selected cake flavours:

  • Carrot
  • Chocolate orange
  • Red velvet
  • Paired with 3 icings: cream cheese, vanilla, chocolate

We liked all 3 flavours, with carrot being our favourite. She encouraged us to go ahead and select all three flavours if we enjoyed them, so we did (cream cheese with both red velvet and carrot)! There were plenty extra so she happily packed them up for us to take home and share the tasting with family ๐Ÿ™‚

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The only negative: At the time of the tasting, the red velvet cake had been over-mixed (cake was dry with lots of large tunnels) – as an amateur baker, I knew it’s an easy mistake when you’re busy. We had faith and chose the flavour anyway – was not disappointed!

So the details were finally official! For $500, we ordered a beautiful 4 tier, 3 flavoured wedding cake to feed 120 people (not including a top tier to keep for ourselves). We only had 90-ish people at our wedding – but that meant more cake for everyone! And of course, we decided on carrot cake for our top tier!

This was the first sketch Irina provided us after our initial email communication.

3 tiers cake

I had browsed through all the photos of cakes Irina had made and posted on her Facebook page and website, gathering ideas. The final design I chose were a medley of features from a variety of cakes she had previously made. It was especially comforting knowing that these were Irina’s own details and that for sure she could replicate the design I had in mind. For your reference, these were my inspiration cakes:

Flower colours as per this cake:

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Simpler flower placement (just roses and small flowers) like this cake:

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Elegant design of tiers like this one…

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With gold ribbon trimming and simplistic piping like this cake:

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This was the beautiful cake she delivered on our wedding day…

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Irina also made sure to confirm the venue, access roads and time of set up. She and her husband delivered the cake themselves and Irina put the finishing touches on the cake once assembled at the venue.

From feedback, all our guests enjoyed having some cake, which delighted us! We also knew in advance we would have plenty of cake (especially because dinner included dessert) and had takeaway containers ready for anyone who wanted to take some cake home as well!

We would definitely recommend Irina to anyone looking for a delicious and gorgeous cake for their special occasion! Beautiful details, easy communication and wonderful prices!

Michael and I look forward to being back in Canada in the near future to dig into the top tier we’ve saved in my mum’s freezer! Thanks again Irina!

FIRST SUSHI BACK IN OTTAWA

May 4, 2016

Our second day back in Ottawa and the day my sister Jenni (maid of honour) arrives from Vancouver! We had a long list of things we wanted to eat and of course, sushi was on that list!

Family reunion lunch at 168 Sushi Buffet!

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We ate, and ate, and ate. It was not the BEST sushi, but it was still pretty darn good! Especially for Michael and I, who’ve been living in Rockhampton with absolutely no decent sushi!

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Always a fav – seaweed salad

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My brother Andy LOVES his grilled eel! If you’ve never tried, please do! It’s tasty!

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Tempura and rolls

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Edamame

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We went shopping after lunch and I thought this was worth sharing. A store called Marshalls (similar to Winners) was selling this Fendi purse/clutch… FOR $2199! 1) It was dang ugly. 2) Who in their right minds (even if filthy rich) would ever buy this?

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Anyway, a good second day back in Ottawa with family! Tomorrow begins the hectic wedding meetings!

Back in Ottawa!

May 03, 2016

You know you’re back in Canada when…

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Bagels, timbits, and Tim Horton’s coffee – who doesn’t make a pit stop as soon as your plane lands? We certainly did once we arrived in Toronto! Landed in Ottawa and was so incredibly happy to be greeted not only by my mom and brother, but also my grandparents and my Uncle 2 (Cau Hai)! Despite how late it was (midnight!) they insisted on a meal – so we ended up at Pho Ba Ga La in Chinatown!

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I’ve never been out so late with my grandparents! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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It was a good time with the family, but you know me, no Vietnamese restaurant beats homemade food and I still stand by it!

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Thank you to my wonderful family – so happy to be back in Canada!

In case you were wondering where Michael’s family was – they live in Kingston so it’s a drive to Ottawa! Since Michael was planning on staying in Ottawa for the coming couple of weeks for wedding planning, it made sense for them not to drive up but we would see them soon!

Crab a la Jin’s

April 29, 2016

Nothing better than delicious homemade food with good friends.

Actually, there is one thing better. When someone is making the food for you – thanks chef Jin!

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Jess & Jin invited us over for some pretty tasty Chinese crab dishes!

Saucy crab with noodles

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And chili crab!

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Thanks for having us over and feeding us such tastiness guys! ๐Ÿ™‚

Breakfast at Giddy Goat

April 27, 2016

I’m sure by now you are sick of my breakfast posts – but, but, that’s all we’ve been doing! At least you’ll have a few options to choose from if you’re thinking of breakfast options!

We haven’t been to the Giddy Goat Cafe & Bar since it was renovated and were pleased with the results!

Still spacious with plenty of varied seating both indoors and outdoors, good service, quick food, and an inexpensive menu to choose from.

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Mr good looking!

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Can you guess what Michael ordered? You know it! Eggs Benedict with toasted English muffin, ham, poached eggs, and Hollandaise sauce ($13.00).

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I quite enjoyed the Brekkie Hash – sweet potato, onion, mushroom, capsicum, topped with a poached egg, asparagus and avocado ($13.00, and vegan!).

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As you can guess from the previous photo, my avocado was gorgeous and perfect! My poached egg, however, was a little overdone ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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During another visit, I ordered the Rustic omelette with chorizo, onion, cherry tomatoes, grilled capsicum, eggs, parsley, and melted goats cheese with thick toast ($14.50) – yum!

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For an easy going and tasty breakfast – don’t forget to check out the Giddy Goat!

A WEDDING DRESS & OUTLOOK CAFE

April 23, 2016

Many would say I’m crazy for cutting it so close, but ONE WEEK before flying back to Canada for our wedding, I finally picked up my wedding dress! Hurray! As previously mentioned, I will be posting a wedding blog series to document our adventures of wedding planning and the big day itself!

After the final fitting and carefully packing my dress away in the car, we decided to stop for breakfast before driving 1.5hours back to Rockhampton.

We have been meaning to try The Outlook Cafe – glad we finally did! Located on the hill by Auckland Point Lookout with great views!

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Very simple set up and modest decor, with areas of seating protected from the elements.

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Can get a little stifling protected from the breeze!

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I quite enjoyed a very filling Brekky Wrap – 2 Bacon Rashers, Egg, 2 Hash Browns, Cheese, Hollandaise sauce & BBQ sauce in a tortilla ($13.90) plus a side of sweet potato chips ($3.10). Chips were crispy and sweet – really enjoyed it!

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Michael, of course, had his Eggs Benedict – English muffin with 2 poached eggs, shaved ham, and Hollandaise sauce ($18.50).

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And while Michael orders his usual flat white, I couldn’t help but get a refreshingly cold Real fruit mango smoothie ($7.50).

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Worth a visit if you’re in Gladstone! We had a great breakfast with much excitement for our upcoming trip back to Canada – getting married soon!

Degani @ Rockhampton Post Office

April 16, 2016

After a LONG night at work, Michael picked me up in the morning and took me out for a much needed meal. Our first visit to Degani at the Rockhampton Post Office – and certainly won’t be our last!

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It was 8am in the morning, but I had not had anything to eat all shift and was ravenous. Luckily, the staff were great – they didn’t blink an eye when I requested a burger and fries for breakfast – and it was also not a problem for the kitchen!

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I chose the Works Burger with hamburger patty, salad, egg, bacon, pineapple & cheese ($15.80). Everything was fresh and the burger was so big, I had to use a knife and fork to slowly hack away at it ๐Ÿ˜‰ Chips were nice as well!

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And of course… I got this. Because who doesn’t need chocolate first thing in the morning?

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Mike was much more breakfast-appropriate, having Eggs Benedict Degani Style with two poached eggs, hollandaise sauce, shaved ham and toast ($15.40).

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We finished everything, had a great morning catching up, and a good night’s sleep once we got home – thanks Degani! See you again in the future!

Workshop Cafe

April 12, 2016

I previously mentioned that working night shifts gave us an opportunity to enjoy many more breakfast dates!

One of the more unique places for breakfast (or anytime snack) in town is the Workshop Rockhampton Coffee & Crรชpe Bar on East St! I have previously mentioned East St Markets at The Workshop, which is also definitely worth checking out!

The Tokyo-styled cafe is partnered with Coffee Roasters and serve their signature Samurai Blend. Apparently, the coffee is always good. Food wise – a delicious selection of sweet and savory crepes! They also serve galettes (buckwheat crepes), waffles, toasties, baked treats and soups of the day – yum!

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Both their cold and hot matcha drinks come unsweetened – so you’ll have to add some sugar if you prefer it sweeter like me!

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My tired date ๐Ÿ™‚

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Not on the current menu, Mike got the Fancy Pants with crisp apples, prosciutto, double brie, baby spinach, Moscato glaze ($11.70)

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I quite enjoyed my Protein Hit with a 2 egg omelette, truffle salt, Otafuku sauce, and cheddar cheese ($8.70). The combination of Otafuku sauce, truffle and mayo flavours was a win!

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I have also tried one of the galettes – Fun Guy with mushrooms, cauliflower cream and spinach. I absolutely love mushrooms but unfortunately found the galette to be overall very bland. It was also an odd texture due to the grainy cauliflower cream that also made the galette very mushy. I would definitely recommend trying one of the others on the menu!

During one of our visits, the soup of the day was Pumpkin Soup – creamy and delicious with chunks of ham – definitely try it if you have the chance! Hearty and soul warming ๐Ÿ™‚

Looking forward to another visit for the sweet crepes and waffles. Happy visiting!

Comforts!

April 6, 2016

When you’ve got some time on your hands, nothing beats some homemade comfort foods.

My first time making tomato soup – fresh, tangy, healthy, yummy! As a kid growing up, I loved having the Campbell’s tomato soup with Premium Plus crackers. Now I know, homemade soup is on a whole different level!

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Cheese and Biscuits Cafe

March 31, 2016

Cheese and Biscuits Cafe is one of our favourite places in Rockhampton! Which makes it the perfect visit for a breakfast date.

They offer a simple menu revolving around delicious toasted paninis, baguettes, and sandwiches, as well as a variety of drinks, and a display cabinet full of tantalizing sweets. The service is always quick and friendly. Laid back atmosphere with both indoor and outdoor seating. A testament to their service and food is the familiarity between customers and the staff – obvious frequent customers.

The cafe is also loved by the community for proudly being a breast feeding friendly establishment, making the news in May 2015, which you can read about HERE.

We have yet to try all the sandwiches, but these 2 are definitely our favourite (all of them are super tasty though!)

Bonnie Loch ($12.50) with smoked salmon, red onion, dill creamed cheese

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The Dlough’y ($12.50) with BBQ pulled pork, cheese and coleslaw.

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Toasted to perfection with perfect flavour combinations – they never disappoint!

Coffee is tasty and they also offer a selection of (huge) smoothies ($6.90) which are subtle in flavour and not too sweet – made with greek yoghurt, skim milk and ice.

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We also never pass up an opportunity to grab something sweet – like this black forest cake – to have for later! We keep hearing about how amazing their caramel tarts are but haven’t yet had the chance to try!

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Definitely recommend a visit – any food choice you make, you won’t regret it! Wish I had taken more photos to share ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

Breakfast Date at The 2 Professors

March 29, 2016

Around this time, Michael and I were both working night ward call, alternating each other’s schedule… so when I was off, Mike was working and vice versa. Luckily, with only a little bit of difficulty, we successfully inverted our schedules. That meant, we were consistent night owls and slept during the day (12pm-9pm… ish)

That also meant, the opportunity for so many breakfast dates! Which never happens!

Finally had the opportunity to try out The Two Professors – a local favourite joint.

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Great open space with nice decor and variety of seating options. Order at the counter and grab your own seat.

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Michael (and many people we know) said the coffee was fantastic.

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We were incredibly excited that they offered REAL bagels! So you know what we had…

We both had Benny’s in Detention ($16.50)

Michael enjoyed smoked salmon with sauteed spinach and poached eggs with house made hollandaise

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I had the Italian sausage patty, bacon, poached eggs and sauteed spinach with house made hollandaise

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We both agreed that the bagels were great – dense and chewy. However, my Italian sausage was not flavourful and terribly salty. In addition, it was a very long wait for our food.

Didn’t deter us from returning, as we soon came back for another breakfast. Again, there was quite a long wait for food. This time, I had the Cherry Ripe Pancakes – ricotta coconut pancakes with house made nutella chocolate syrup and black forest cherry ice cream ($15.50). A generous serving, however, I must not be a fan of coconut pancakes. In addition, the main reason I ordered this dish was the promise of ‘black forest cherry ice cream.’ Unfortunately, they served plain vanilla ice cream and when I inquired, the server didn’t even know if that was normally served. I was later told that it is the combination of the berry compote and vanilla ice cream that makes up ‘black forest’ Just a little underwhelming!

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Despite that, I would still recommend The 2 Professors to those looking for a new place to visit for breakfast. However, I will wait until my next bagel craving! ๐Ÿ˜‰

The Two Professors Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

New joint in town – Burger Urge

March 26, 2016

For those who don’t know, a new eating area has opened at Stockland Rockhampton. The Terrace now houses a number of familiar names including Max Brenner and Guzman Y Gomes. My favourite? Burger Urge

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Not the first time we’ve been, check out this visit to a Brisbane location years ago!

Always bustling! But you are quickly served and the staff are nothing but friendly and attentive.

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Our company for the night ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Burger Urge is licensed which is great if you want a drink with your meal!

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Have a look at the menu for the variety of burgers (beef, chicken, lamb, vege) available. If not, you could have a salad or po boy sandwiches.

This is the Natural Born Griller ($12.50) with beef, grilled field mushroom, melted American style cheddar, truffle mayo, aioli & salad – yum!

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New Yorker ($12.50) with beef, crispy maple bacon, pickles, melted American style cheddar, hickory BBQ sauce, aioli & salad

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Our favourite at Burger Urge, which we never fail to order, is the Share Plate ($13) with thick cut fries, sweet potato chips & onion rings served with trio of dips (truffle mayo, aioli & ranch). Crispy, well seasoned and oh so generous, perfect for sharing between 2… or more!

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We have been back a number of times already, each time we have left satisfied with both the quality of food and service. Some people aren’t a fan of the beef patties as they appear to have quite a significant amount of filler in them. We don’t disagree… but still like! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Breakfast at The Grind

March 26, 2016

After hearing great things about The Grind (Yeppoon) for weeks – we finally had the chance to check it out. Breakfast date with Jess & Jin!

Beautiful weather, which was already a win ๐Ÿ™‚

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Minimal seating inside but can’t complain about sitting outside in this weather!

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Neat mismatched decor

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The Grind serves a range of Yenda beer… too bad it was breakfast time!

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My husband in desperate need of a haircut

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Everyone agreed the coffee was great!

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Michael and I each enjoyed a filled bagel. Michael enjoyed the Smoked Salmon Classic ($11) – smoked salmon, cream cheese, capers, red onion, black pepper, rocket & lemon.

I chose the BRAT ($10) with bacon, rocket, avocado, tomato & aioli.

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We both agreed that the bagels were delicious and filled with fresh ingredients. But, they are most definitely NOT real bagels. Just soft white bread shaped into bagels. As you might know, being Canadians, we are huge fans of bagels and were unfortunately quite disappointed ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Jess and Jin enjoyed their tasty fish and chips with a fresh salad, crispy fish, and generous amount of tartare sauce!

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Have been looking forward to visiting again for their tapas nights – unfortunately, no opportunity yet but hopefully soon!

For dessert, as per the recommendation of a friend, my first Long John (bar shaped, yeast risen, filled donut) from O’Gradys Bakehouse! Chewy, just the right amount of cinnamon sugar and cream filling – so yum!

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March Moments

March 3, 2016

Second year post graduation and now practicing medicine without restrictions. You know what that means… we can finally apply for Australian permanent residency! The downfall? It’s SO EXPENSIVE. Like, thousands of dollars. Not including the few hundreds of dollars we had to pay additionally for the mandatory health check (and a 1.5 hour drive)!

At least we got fancy disposable gowns for our chest x-rays and nice bandages for our bloods tests ๐Ÿ˜›

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And that evening, we enjoyed some good BBQ from Up In Smoke!

4 options available: beef brisket ($18), pork ribs ($17), pulled pork ($15) and mini sliders ($16). Each are served with 2 of the following sides: creamed corn, coleslaw and roasted sweet potatoes.

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Our favourite was the beef brisket – tender and moist with good flavour. The pork ribs were unfortunately just too dry and didn’t fall off the bone. The sides, as you can see, were nothing spectacular – particularly the sweet potato which were quite wet!

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With that being said, good value for the price! And yes, we would come back and try again!

March 5, 2016

For all you who say, “No you’re not!” whenever I say I’m literally going bald… believe me now? It’s for real!

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March 8, 2016

Jess & Jin treated us to something we’ve been meaning to try for a while – 3 in 1 Kitchen. In particular, trying out their Vietnamese subs ($5.90) and fruit smoothies ($5.90-6.90).

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As promised, their smoothies were fresh and delicious. You have the option of picking up to 4 fruits and the staff are happy to offer suggestions.

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Some of my readers might know, but my mom and aunt used to run THE BEST Vietnamese sub shop in Ottawa. With real, freshl, daily baked crusty Parisian baguettes and every single ingredient (all the meats, garlic mayo, pate, pickles, etc) homemade – 3 in 1 subs just doesn’t compare. I’ve been way too spoiled my entire life. However, for the option of having Viet subs in Rockhampton – these are not bad! They are just no where close to being the best Viet submarines have to offer ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Would definitely come back to try their other Asian options including hot curries and noodles!

March 17, 2016

Homemade burgers at Chez Jin’s! Yummy yummy in our tummy ๐Ÿ™‚

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For dessert – gelato at the newly opened Gelatissimo at The Terrace! No complaints here!

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March 19, 2016

Drove down to Gladstone today for my first wedding dress fitting! Who would’ve thought a size 0 (zero!) would be too small for me!? Needed to have it taken in more at the waist and of course, hemmed for my height! I mentioned previously, but will be doing an entire wedding series to share my wedding planning experiences and reviews of my vendors – tell you more then!

Kitchen Moments of February & March 2016

February 21, 2016

Roasted Japanese eggplant!

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February 27, 2016

A nice batch of homemade kimchi – using mom’s famous recipe and my favourite – sugarloaf cabbage!

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And I have perfected a new favourite in this Canadian household – Butter pecan tarts! Now we don’t have to crave them anymore!

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March 2, 2016

I made one of our favourite Vietnamese dishes – Bun Rieu Cua – vermicelli served in a crab infused tomato broth with crab cakes, tomatoes, tofu, mushrooms and greens. A frequent request from Michael! Had Jess, Jin and Richard over to enjoy as well – the had seconds, I think that’s a good sign!

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March 5, 2016

A homemade Vietnamese classic – rice topped with fish sauce and scallion oil served with BBQ pork!

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Classic banana fritters

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March 6, 2016

I made an apple pie from scratch… for the first time! After a few goes, I think I’ve got my pastry recipe down. My crust looks laughable, but dang, it was good!

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March 19, 2016

Butternut squash on sale = making one of my favourite soups = perfection on a cool day

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March 22, 2016

An easy, but impressive favourite, crispy skin duck roast! Served with salad and golden roasted potatoes

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March 30, 2016

Somehow, I realised I had the right combination of ingredients in the fridge – pork mince, Chinese sausage, eggs, peas, onions, garlic, etc… for my mom’s traditional ‘banh bao’ or ‘steam bun’ However, I had also been craving her famous pate chaud. So we made the best of both worlds – puffed delights filled with the comforting flavours of steam buns.

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It was a kitchen day – also made a ton of my favourite white choc cranberry cookies for the O&G staff! The end of the first rotation of the year already, can you believe it?

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$40 Tapas & Wood fired pizza at Kanangra Heights

February 20, 2016

Richard and Jess joined us for a really nice dinner a top hill just outside Yeppoon in a villa-styled restaurant called Kanangra Heights.

After a day of rain, it finally stopped on our way to dinner!

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We arrived at the restaurant just as the sun was beginning to set, giving off fabulous colours and making a nice background with this old parked bus…

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The restaurant has a lovely relaxed ambiance, with both outdoor and indoor seating. There is mosquito repellent for you to use if sitting outdoors, which is very much appreciated by someone like myself.

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The furniture and decor is mismatched but sweet and romantic – really a perfect place for a romantic date night!

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Importantly is the food! Kanangra Heights offers a selection of different menus on different days, please check out their website for more information!

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We participated in the AYCE Wood-Fire Pizza & Tapas for $40/pp – definitely worth the visit and the money.

Pizza bases are pre-made for you to create your own pizza! We are always impressed at the number of toppings available, including: brie, olives, mushroom, roasted pumpkin, roasted eggplant, pineapple, sundried tomato, prawns, calamari, chicken, beef mince, salami, and more! With the toppings come a variety of sauces (bechamel, napoli, bbq, etc) to match your toppings. The pizza are then fired in the oven for you as you wait – doesn’t take more than a few minutes if there is no wait!

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For tapas dishes, you order directly with the staff. They encourage only ordering a few at a time as to not waste food. And depending on the number of people at your table, they will bring the perfect number to share (ie. If the menu says 2 pieces, they will bring you 5 pieces if you are a table of 5).

Wood fired garlic bread – yum!

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Seasonal Mushrooms in a Creamy Garlic Sauce served on Freshly Baked Puff Pastry Points

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Salt & pepper calamari, prawn cutlets and chips with tartare sauce

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Almond-Brie Croutons on Light salad of Apple and Salad Greens

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Moroccan Spiced Lamb Spring Rolls served with Minted Yoghurt Dipping Sauce & Lemon & Herb Dukkah

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They also have a few different specials each night which is listed on the board by the main door… worth checking out as well!

This was one of the specials… haloumi cheese with garlic rice

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And another… scallops on a spoon with chili

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Some dessert options, all of which are served with ice cream or cream

Chocolate Mud Cake

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House Made Cheese Cake

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Sticky Date Pudding served with Warm Caramel Sauce

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Eton Mess – a Parfait of Fresh Fruit, Whipped Cream and Meringue

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We have now visited twice for the tapas and pizza special. The food is overall good, however, taste and presentation are not consistent, despite the same menu. In addition, service is great but the food takes forever to arrive. Perhaps this is a clever tactic to stop you from overeating, but we arrive hungry and really do want to try all the dishes!

During our last visit (June 16, 2016), it took us 3 requests to have our scallops served. We had also ordered some buffalo wings and prawn cocktails that never arrived. Towards the end of the night, the staff returned to ask us if we still wanted them or move on to dessert. At that point, we decided to just move on to dessert and she began clearing our plates before we even finished the remaining food (calamari/prawn/chips)!

Despite the above, we would still recommend visiting Kanangra Heights at least once. The venue, location, and ambiance are all very lovely. They have a good drinks menu and the food is overall tasty. Worth coming for the experience!

MOMENTS IN FEBRUARY 2016

February 8, 2016

Officially upgraded with new hospital ID!

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February 11, 2016

Homemade traditional Malaysian laksa by Jess & Jin! Thanks for dinner you two!

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February 13-14, 2016

Valentine’s Day Getaway on Great Keppel Island with Jess & Jin! The weather was great, we couldn’t stay away! Stayed in two of the cabins with The Hideaway which was a great choice, would do it again!

Can’t get over how beautiful this place is!

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Hello to my first gray hair! And definite baldness!

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We got back to the main beach right as the storm came rolling in…

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Even with a storm, how gorgeous are these views?

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Can you believe Michael bet me $5 that the rain wouldn’t reach us? That silly man!

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As we had access to kitchen facilities, we went fancy ๐Ÿ˜‰ Sausages and caprese salad – yum!

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Amazingly, the storm passed and Valentine’s Day was beautiful. Clear blue skies and calm ocean waters! Had a great time paddle boarding – J&J’s first time!

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Found a hut supported by lots of lost thongs/flip flops

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Chilled out with food and cold drinks before heading back to reality… Happy Valentine’s Day!

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February 20, 2016

It was a rainy day today…

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But Yogoland had a $5/cup special… and it was awesome! I ate whatever I wanted but wasn’t too greedy ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Lightbox

February 7, 2016

3 months before our wedding, I finally found and ordered my wedding dress! And actually, Jess did too (unexpectantly)! Thank you to Gladstone Bridal for everything… which I will share more about in another blog post ๐Ÿ˜‰

After our dress adventure, we met up with Michael (who was killing time waiting around for us and Mike R to catch up over dinner. Both Mike R and Kon were in Gladstone doing an Emergency rotation, but unfortunately, Kon was working the evening shift.

Michael has been to lightbox for tapas dinner in the past and loved it. We have also all enjoyed an awesome breakfast there previously… check out this lightbox breakfast with eggs your way, bacon, sausage, roasted roma tomato, mushroom, baked beans and sourdough ($24).

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Given our previous good experiences, it was a no brainer to meet up at lightbox for dinner!

Service was impeccable as always. We arrived a little early for dinner but the place was packed later in the evening.

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We enjoyed a number of tapas dishes including the following:

Leek & manchego croquette with spicy mayonnaise ($9)

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Crispy Moroccan wings with lime aioli and lemon ($14)

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Lemon pepper calamari with tartare and lemon ($12)

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Sweet potato wedges with sweet chili mayonnaise ($8)

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Bruschetta with mushrooms and savoury schurros with cheese (sorry, I can’t remember exact name and price, and they are no longer listed on the menu)

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All the dishes were nice and as stated in the menu. Good serving size for price and I always appreciate generous servings of sauce! Great food, day and night, always friendly service and a changing menu. Would love to go back for dinner and try their main dishes! Definitely worth a visit if you’re in Gladstone!

Lightbox Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

East St Markets

February 6, 2016

Michael and I dropped into The Workshop earlier in the evening to leisurely savour all the food stalls of East St Market before meeting up with hospital gang for a hang out night ๐Ÿ˜‰

From their website:

Real foodies with real passion put happiness on a plate every Friday and Saturday night til 10pm.ย Many foodies are in fact chefs! ย Live entertainment from 7.00pm- check our What’s On page for who’s playing next. Indoor pop-ups, art classes and in-house Barber add to the unique, ever-changing experience.

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Look who we ran into! Daniel and his partner finishing up their dinner ๐Ÿ™‚

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We had Okonomiyaki (Savoury pancakes) &ย Gyoza dumplings from Izakaya @ Workshop – both yum with extremely friendly service!

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One of our favourite dishes of the night (came back for seconds!) came from Taste of Everest – Cumin potato curry with fried rice bread for $5! They have a number of other all vegetarian dishes to try! Wonderful service too!

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We also tried a couple of dishes from Bulgogi House – bulgogi (of course) and some mini savoury pancakes. The bulgogi was great but we wouldn’t get the pancakes again as they were bland.

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Dishes are around $15 maximum and there are always a number of stalls to choose from. And don’t forget the live music, bar, and company of friends! A good venue to unwind and have a good time with friends ๐Ÿ™‚

Moments in January 2016

January 24, 2016

Date night with Michael at Ribs and Rumps! Once in a while, I have cravings for ribs and Michael indulges me ๐Ÿ™‚

We shared the Signature Pork Ribsย  – 1/2 rack for $39 – so expensive, I know! Always good though…

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And we also ordered the Entree Platter for Two – with boerewors sausage, honey bbq glazed buffalo wings, & seasoned panko crumbed calamari with nam jim dipping sauce ($29). Good value and tasty – would recommend the platter for sure!

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January 26, 2016

Hang out day with Jess & Jin! Started with breakfast at their place – we brought over stuff to make pancakes ๐Ÿ™‚

Cookie wanting a share of pancakes as well…

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Chilled

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And then decided to go watch The Hateful Eight. As this empty movie theatre can tell you, don’t waste your time. All 5 of us couldn’t stop fidgeting and agreed the movie was a waste of time.

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For dinner, back and J&J’s for a delicious baked snapper – thanks guys!

January 30, 2016

A day to be hoity-toity with the girls – Jess, Sabrina, Rachel and Micah. Thanks for hosting the High Tea Jess!

Impressive display of homemade goodies and tea sets ๐Ÿ™‚

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Sabrina made a Japanese styled cheesecake, Rachel made lemon squares. There were finger sandwiches and savoury pastry bites – yum! I went a little crazy for Jess and made carrot muffins, apple tarts, lemon rosemary scones, and cinnamon rolls.

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Needless to say, there was enough food and tea to keep us filled and last us hours of good conversation ๐Ÿ˜‰ And we still had enough food to share with the boys who went out and enjoyed a round of golf!

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And again, Cookie always wanting a part ๐Ÿ˜‰

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HAPPY NEW YEAR!

December 31, 2015

New Years Eve was going to be a quiet night with board games. Somehow, we became the ‘cool kids’ and people wanted to hang out at our place. Of course we didn’t say no!

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Beers and board games for everyone! Rang in the new year with new friends and old… happy new year!

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There were even confetti poppers… I don’t even remember where they came from!

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I think everyone enjoyed themselves, and so kind of them to help clean up before heading home. Look at us starting the new year with this sparkling house!

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January 01, 2016

In reference to my previous post about Malaysia House, we spent a quiet first day of the new year with delicious takeaway! Pad Thai, Beef Rendang and Golden Sands prawns with leftovers for another meal… mmm!

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January 02, 2016

How lucky, still off work!

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We went to Yeppoon – Rosslyn Bay

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So you know it, we had a picnic and I got to bust out my brand new wicker picnic basket – I love it!

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Wine, croissants, biscuits, and more. Perfect food for perfect weather!

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I remember we toasted to the new year and all the excitement lined up… including moving up from interns to Junior House Officers, vacation, and getting married! Happy new year!

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Malaysia House

December 29, 2015

More recently opened in Rockhampton, we highly recommend visiting Malaysia House for some tasty food!

It’s just a little more expensive than other Asian restaurants, but definitely good value and the food is always delicious. With a drinks menu, lots of seating room, and friendly service,ย  we have never left Malaysia House dissatisfied.

We have frequented the restaurant a number of times, including for takeaway – here are a few dishes from our visit with friends shortly after Christmas!

Laksa – Malaysian style curry, coconut mil, vegetables and rice noodles ($13.80-18.80)
Has been one of favourite noodle dishes since first trying it in Singapore – and this dish does it justice!

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Golden Sands – deep fired in batter made from duck egg yolks ($20.80-24.80). This is my favourite dish at Malaysia House and I always recommend it to anyone who asks for suggestions. Salty, crunchy, and decadent, try both chicken and king prawn!

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Along with Amanda, Farrah, and Pei Yee, we had these two with us at dinner!

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Assam Dish – fish or king prawn cooked in tangy tamarind sauce with fresh tomatoes, okra and onions ($20.80-22.80). I didn’t have this dish, but was told it wasn’t bad!

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Angel hair king prawns – crispy king prawns in buttery egg floss and fresh curry leaves ($23.80) Tasty, but I still like Golden Sands more!

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Roti Canai – traditional flat bread that is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Served with curry dip and sambal paste ($3.00)

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Char Kway Teow – wok fried flat rice noodles in spicy sambal and bean sprouts ($14.80) Love the wok flavour and never overdone!

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Some of our other favourite regular dishes:

  • Curry puffs (3 for $7.80)
  • Rendang beef ($17.80)
  • Homemade BBQ duck ($25.80)
  • Salt and pepper silken tofu ($15.80)
  • Pad Thai ($14.80)
  • Nasi Lemak ($14.80)

They also have a Lunch Special menu, each dish less than $15! If you’re craving Asian food, looking for new place to try, stop by Malaysia House!

Malaysia House  Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Christmas Festivities

December 24, 2015

A quiet Christmas Eve together at home. And of course, Michael can’t do Christmas without some eggnog, rum and cinnamon!

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Also spent the night baking some of my favourite white chocolate & cranberry cookies to share on Christmas.

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December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

We slept in, which was glorious. And then we opened presents together… our 5th Christmas together, how I love this man!

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We agreed not to spend too much on each other for Christmas presents this year (around $150)… gotta save up for the wedding!

Some stocking stuffers from Mike – I think he got me the Toblerone because it’s his favourite and he knew I would share ๐Ÿ˜‰

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A card from Michael’s parents

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Some of Michael’s stocking stuffers

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The Paediatric Ward did a Secret Santa gift exchange… I got some beautiful earrings and a notebook – thank you Santa!

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Gifts from my sister… all the way from Canada, thank you so much!

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Michael was so incredibly proud of his Christmas presents to me, and to be honest, I was amazed! He got me so many great things at such incredible deals, he stayed within the budget!

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I’ve always wanted a wicker picnic basket, and this one had 4 complete sets of stainless steel dinnerware and cutlery! And now that we have a beautiful island to visit, he’s bought me some fins to complete my snorkel gear. And a ground pad and inflatable pillow for camping (after getting me a sleeping bag earlier in the year!) And a girl can never have too many underwear – thank you so much my love!

Some of my gifts for Michael. Friends made fun of me for getting him a textbook but I thought as this is his current, most serious, decision in life – it would never hurt to have a good (recommended) reference book

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This was our first year away from family at Christmas, a little sad! But so kind of Nerissa to invite us to join for lunch with her parents (Aunt Neetha and Uncle Danny) visiting from Brisbane. We had a great time and it felt like having a family away from home ๐Ÿ™‚

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Old man Jin helping with lunch

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Started with a fresh watermelon and prawn salad with feta, mint and proscuitto

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We were treated to a full home cooked dinner complete with a turkey! And even got to try a different styled stuffing with a base from chicken liver, something tasty we’ve never had before!

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We had no idea, but there was even a gift exchange, which was so lovely! Thank you so much to everyone for including us two Christmas Orphans!

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How cute are these two?

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Garrett mugs for everyone!

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A Corelle set from Jess & Jin, mug from Garrett, Spa kit + men’s set from Aunt & Uncle… thank you so much guys!

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Love you guys!

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Dessert

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With these avid fishers, once the topic of fishing came up… it didn’t stop ๐Ÿ˜‰ Not only did they go down to fish in the evening, they also made plans to go fishing bright and early the following day ๐Ÿ˜›

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Thank you so much to our friends for a warm and beautiful Aussie Christmas celebration!

December 26, 2015

Family Christmas get together in Ottawa! Got to skype the g-parents the join the fam jam ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Even from afar they think of us too โค

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These two!

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A beautiful Christmas gift from Amanda – diffuser with mood lighting

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A few days later, a package came in the mail for us – from Michael’s parents!

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So many delicious goodies!

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And some beautiful Christmas cards from our friends โค

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Moments in December 2015

December was a busy work month, but also lots of fun moments!

December 4, 2015

Boat cruise to the Keppel Islands with the gen surg + ortho crew! Sail, eat, relax, and swim for an entire day in beautiful weather – does it get better?

We went on The Grace with Sail Capricornia – which was great and we highly recommend! Especially if you have a group of friends and want to rent it out for a private day!

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Group photo courtesy of Sail Capricornia – check them out!

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December 6, 2015

Breakfast date, checking out the Sizzler’s breakfast – not too shabby for less than $20! Easy fans, we have since been back a few times! I always enjoy some hot food including eggs, bacon, mushrooms, and hash browns before moving on to the sweet pastries, fruit, and of course, ice cream.

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December 10, 2015

The Great Debate: Interns vs Registrars. An annual tradition debating silly topics. This year, ‘Are clothes pins best left on the clothesline?’

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The interns (Jin, Marco and Chuan) debated yes while the registratrs were against the argument. Anyone would common sense would know you should always take the pins off the line: it’s more effort leaving them on and having to shuffle them and take them off each time to hang new laundry, they erode/get dirty/crack in the sun, and spiders!

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Unfortunately, the registrars were doomed to fail as the winning argument was decided by the volume of cheer awarded. Given it was a room full of interns… well you know what happened.

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The Paediatric Unit put in so much effort to decorate the ward for Christmas (Theme: Beach). Every year, there is a hospital wide contest, but unfortunately, we didn’t place first!

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The AMAZING stone fruit available this time of year. So good and so cheap! Can never get enough

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And also on December 10th, we had dinner with the Paediatric team at Stonegrill Restaurant (Ascot Hotel)! A chance to spend some quality time with colleagues outside of work.

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I’d read good reviews about the restaurant, but unfortunately, didn’t enjoy it as much as I had hoped.

Because we were a large group and they served everyone’s stonegrill at once, the ones prepared first were pretty much already cooked to nearly well done by the time they reached the table. I was one of them, which was sad because it really defeated the purpose of cooking my own steak, to my own liking.

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The service was really good though. The owner (?) spent time explaining the types of meat available and the proper way to cut and cook our steaks on the stonegrill – unfortunately, a few of us had to eat our food as quick as possible before it turned into a tough chewy mess. There were very few chips and they (as you can probably see from the photo) were soggy! The sauce was also very dilute and flavourless. For $30+/person – unfortunately left disappointed! I don’t often say this, but I would lean towards not coming back unless I had no other new restaurants to try ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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


December 11, 2015

Michael and I made a delicious home cooked meal with slow cooked pulled pork, sweet potato mash, summer salad, cauliflower gratin and cinnamon buns! To share in the yumminess, we invited Amanda, Kon, Mike R, and Farrah over to join us for an early Christmas dinner!

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Thai Taste

November 24, 2015

Starving after a long day of work, Pei Yee, Amanda, and I dug in and caught up with each other over a delicious meal at Thai Taste.

One of the most popular Thai restaurants in Rockhampton, this was only my first time visiting.

The restaurant is pretty spacious, maybe even seating approximately 100 people and was decently busy for weekday night.

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For starters, we had Todmun Pla – Thai spicy fish cakes served with sweet chili sauce ($8.50). Good chewy texture!

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We also had some Tom Kha Gai – Chicken coconut milk soup with lemongrass, galangal, lime leaves and mushroom ($10.90). This is my favourite Thai soup, with has so much depth of flavour is always belly warming!

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We shared a few main dishes, including Chicken Pad Thai – stir fried noodles with egg, carrot and topped with peanuts ($16.90). The flavour of this dish was really good, however, the noodles were too saucy for our liking.

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Tamarind Prawns – slowly cooked with special curry sauce, cashew nuts, and vegetables ($20.90). As you can see, this dish is the furthest thing from being aesthetically pleasing, which could explain why the other girls didn’t quite like it. I’m unsure, but think the odd texture is due to scrambled eggs? Although not terrible, we would not order this dish again.

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And lastly, Crispy Chicken ($16.90) which is self explanatory and very hard to go wrong ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Overall, we had a lovely time and would definitely be back to try more dishes, especially the curries as we didn’t have any this visit. Service was great and the prices are reasonable for the quality and quantity of food served!

There was an article recently published – the owners of Thai Taste will be opening a second restaurant on the South side of Rockhampton – yay, closer to my house!

Thai Taste Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Must-stop in Yeppoon: Afishionados

October 15, 2015

Michael and I were in Yeppoon for a day and had been craving fish and chips for a while! We’d heard many good things about Afishionados by the coast and finally decided to visit – we were not disappointed!

It was a very late lunch/early dinner for us – so not many other patrons, most of them takeaway.

The shop was very spacious, clean and bright. We liked the simplicity of decor and the mix of both private and communal seating.

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Fresh flowers at each table is always a stunning and appreciated touch.

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Some shops can be stingy on condiments, napkins, etc, not this place with their tidy self-serve area!

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A very uncomplicated menu, but something for everyone.

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One of the us had the Fishermans Basket with battered flathead, crumbed whiting, calamari, prawns, scallops, oyster, served, with chips, lemon, cocktail & tartare sauce ($18)

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The Local Snapper served with chips, fresh dressed salad, lemon & tartare sauce ($17) was not available but another fresh local fish was available. I’m sorry I can’t remember the name, but the flesh was white, dense, and flavourful – a really good choice!

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The panko crumbed option is the best in my opinion. Perfect crunch ๐Ÿ˜‰ Some fish and chips are greasy, soggy and taste fishy. Ours was light, crispy and fresh – everything fish and chips should be! The presentation was also beautiful. Generous amounts of sauces served on oyster shells and food served on ‘modern’ newspaper lining – specifically printed on special paper for the store.

We don’t make it down to Yeppoon often, but would definitely visit here again because our food was fantastic ๐Ÿ™‚

I note that as of March 2016 – Afishionados is under new management. Their menu now includes specials like fish burgers, seafood chowder, seafood skewers, and more! Would definitely want to go back and check out the new menu – sounds delicious!

Afishionados Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

HALLOWEEN THANKSGIVING!

October 31, 2015

Canadian Thanksgiving landed on October 12th. However, due to busy work schedules, we decided to take the opportunity to celebrate together with Halloween!

It was quite a special occasion because Michael and I, for the first time in the history of our lives in Australia, bought and roasted a turkey. That’s right, a whole turkey! I’ve never even made the turkey at family thanksgiving meals before… but dang, it was a success!

Of course, we invited all our Canadian (and other) friends to share in some of the warmth.ย  The catch? Wear costumes as it’s obviously Halloween, and bring a little something to share!

Michael and I prepped, stuffed, and roasted a turkey – what.

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Naps while the turkey was cooking ๐Ÿ˜›

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We don’t know how it happened so well to be honest… so juicy and tender!

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We also made some roasted potatoes, mashed potato and salads – coleslaw and diced tomato & cucumber. We absolutely could not find any fresh or frozen cranberries so after a bit of internet research – I attempted to make a cranberry sauce from Craisins. It was surprisingly, really good. I would definitely make it again!

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For the first time in my life, I made stuffing from scratch… and it was good! I’ve learned the key spice to stuffing is sage – which is now a staple in my pantry. Growing we have always loved (and still do) Stove Top dressing, but homemade is pretty easy too!

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And of course, can never miss dessert – whipped up apple danish logs and mini pecan pie muffins!

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I thought our burglar costumes were pretty economical. Bought a striped shirt that I can wear on a regular basis and a toque from the Reject Shop (less than $5) with LED lights that could actually be useful in a power outage/camping situation!

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Amanda came as a goth and I could not stop laughing at Kon’s – a Russian dressed as a Mexican ๐Ÿ˜›

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Michael thanks you two again for his birthday gift! Those glasses were just perfect for him to enjoy with his collection of scotch!

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Lisa was a gypsie/fortune teller and we happened to have just the prop she needed to complete her look – an LED ball.

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Chuan came conveniently as himself, a Habs fan and his girlfriend Angela was obviously much more creative as Medusa!

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The little minions of the gathering – Jess and Jin – we were impressed at their costume dedication.

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Even their dog Cookie came dressed as a witch!

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Thug Rachit representing his hometown Toronto ๐Ÿ˜‰

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A third Canadian boy who was costume lazy and donned his Canadian gear – Garrett! Pei Yee was a vampire! Although I don’t have close up photos of her, she was a pretty one ๐Ÿ˜‰ And there was one without a costume, I’m looking at you Bryan!

Obligatory Canadian group photo

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It was a night of gluttony, with many beers brought and consumed alongside some additional tasty food from everyone!

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Including Mediterranean risotto from Lisa

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Pasta bake with beans and cheese by Angela

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Sweet potato cups by Amanda

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Spicy fried rice by Bryan

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It was also Chuan’s birthday on November 3rd. He brought an ice cream cake for early celebration with everyone – hip, hip, hooray!

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2 Jins?

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2 Gs?

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Hope everyone left stuffed – we sure were.

And the best thing about any Thanksgiving meal? Leftovers for days!

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Until next year!

Catch up dinner at Park Avenue Hotel

October 25, 2015

A restaurant initially chosen for its convenient location close to Jess & Jin’s house – we left Park Avenue Hotel pleased!

The ambiance is bright with ample seating room. We didn’t have reservations but were seated promptly in a booth that allowed more privacy.

For starters, we shared a trio of dips with grilled ciabatta bread ($10) – the dips of the day included balsamic & olive oil, olive tapenade, and pesto. Very generous servings of dips, we wish they served it with more bread so they wouldn’t go to waste!

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Our dinner dates!

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2 of us had the fish of the day. If I remember correctly, it was salmon on roasted asparagus and kipler potatoes with chardonnay cream and topped with crumbed scallops ($28)

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Crumbed fish, prawns & scallops served with coleslaw, beer battered chips & tartare sauce ($29). With a craving for fish and chips, – these hit the spot! The prawns and scallops were small though!

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Lastly, I got the Chicken schnitzel topped with bacon, bbq sauce & grilled swiss cheese topped with tomato & onion salsa, served with beer battered chips & salad ($23). The schnitzel was well cooked but I think a few tweaks to the dish would make it better. There should’ve been more quantity of BBQ sauce and salsa for flavour, and the bacon should be served as a diced and crispy topping, rather than a whole piece of soggy bacon.

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We enjoyed our time at the PA Hotel and have been meaning to go back for their ‘Put Pork on your Fork’ Thursday special – slow roasted pork belly on crushed honey and black pepper roasted sweet potato with wilted spinach & roasted garlic jus. Includes a glass of house wine or pot of beer or soft drink for $20! You know me, I love roasted pork and crackling more! Keep seeing rave reviews so hope to go sometime soon!

Dinner is a tad on the expensive side, but they also have a great looking lunch menu with $15 specials. Would definitely recommend checking them out if looking for a nice place to eat with good customer service and food!

Park Avenue Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

ADELAIDE: DAY 4 – CENTRAL MARKET, RUNDLE MALL, ETC

September 29, 2016

Our last ful day in Adelaide! How quick time flew by!

We started off the morning going to Central Market with the Lewington Family – so much good food! Michael and I have always loved markets and this was certainly one filled with lots of sights and smells.

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We enjoyed a few snacks for breakfast/lunch including sandwiches, and this kim chi and sweet potato fritter from Let Them Eat!

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We forgot to take some photos but we most definitely also bought cakes/pastries from this wonderful shop! Don’t have anything like this in Rockhampton so definitely had to take advantage ๐Ÿ˜‰

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And who could resist this delectable baklava? Best I’ve had in years!

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We also picked up a snack to enjoy back home – Mushroom Pate from Little Acre McLaren Vale – yum, it was as delicious as it sounds.

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Matt then left for work while the rest of went to see more of the city.

Took a nice walk down to Rundle Mall

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Rundle Mall reminds us of Queen St Plaza in Brisbane

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Caught the end of a street performance with floating glass balls/orbs

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Isabelle had a ton of fun running around in the open and playing by the water fountains

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‘The Mall’s Balls’

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Coffee stop!

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Lots of photos of Isabelle!

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Stopping for coffee gave a chance to people watch…

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The dilemma of having too many choices of board games…

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That evening, we went to Star House for a dim sum dinner with Matt. For the first time in my very short professional career, I had the opportunity to identify myself as a doctor in public. Right as our food was being served, a very intoxicated woman fell to the ground in front of the cash register beside our table. She was conscious and fine, but traveling alone, so we stayed with her until the ambulance arrived. Food was good though!

Spent the rest of the night and the next morning with the Lewingtons before heading to the airport and back to the real world!

Thank you so much to Matt, Laura and Isabelle for letting us stay with them, so great to spend time with you and seeing Adelaide together!

Adelaide: Day 3 – Dinner at The Moseley

September 28, 2015

After a wander down Jetty Rd, we decided to have dinner at The Moseley Bar & Kitchen. They have a sit down restaurant on the first floor and a bar restaurant upstairs.

As we have never been to The Moseley, based on the menu alone, we decided to eat in their downstairs restaurant.

Lovely lighting and what a welcoming view! Bright, uniquely furnished, warm, spacious, and casual – just what we were looking for.

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We had not made reservations but did not have any issues. We were shown to some couches and coffee table as our dining area. Interesting wall beside us filled with old window panels.

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Eye drawing and installed at the front of the restaurant are comfy hanging white wicker chairs. We couldn’t resist a swing after dinner ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Our lovely company for the night!

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Started off the evening with some fresh bread!

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Isabelle and I still working on our selfie game ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Matt and Laura decided on the same dish – Ricotta Gnocchi with kale, broccolini & almonds ($25) which they both enjoyed!

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Michael and I were interested in trying a few of the entrees!

Pork Belly Japanese ramen broth with shaved bug tails and wheat noodles ($15). We both thought this dish could’ve been much better, it just needed actual hot broth! When we first tasted the dish, the pork belly was unfortunately dry, but the egg was nicely cooked, flavour of the broth and texture of the noodles were good. The broth, however, was lukewarm and as a result, the bug tails weren’t fully cooked, not to mention it’s odd eating a ramen dish that was neither hot nor cold. We asked the staff if this dish was meant to be room temperature and she happily offered to ask the kitchen to make us a fresh bowl. Sadly, the second bowl came out at the same temperature! If you are not serving noodles in a cold broth, it should come out steaming hot!

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Aside from the above mentioned fluke, the rest of the food was good!

We had Chicken, leek & truffle pithivier with frisรฉe, bacon & croutons ($16). We learned a new word that night. Normally a sweet dish, a Pithivier is a round, enclosed pie usually made by baking two disks of puff pastry, with filling stuffed in between.

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Twice baked gruyere souffle with apple & walnut salad, Waldorf sorbet, & quince paste ($15). As you can imagine, all the components worked really well together. The sorbet was refreshing but we still don’t know what flavours Waldorf sorbet entails – totally forgot to ask!

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Last, but definitely our favourite of the night, Duck liver pate with goji berry jelly & charred house made bread ($15). Indulgent, and a really nice balance of savoury and sweet. We weren’t expecting the jelly to be a layer overtop the pate but it was great! We couldn’t get enough of the charred bread as well – it should come with more to prolong the enjoyment of the pate ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Enjoyable evening with great service and a welcoming atmosphere. We would love to come back if we lived in Adelaide and definitely recommend a visit!

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

Adelaide: Day 3 – Sunset at Glenelg

September 28, 2015

After the day exploring Hahndorf, we had ambitious plans to watch the sun set at Glenelg – a popular beach suburb complete with numerous hotels and a variety of restaurants.

Unfortunately, we just missed the sunset but there was still light and the colours were amazing!

Walked out onto the pier (it was cold!) to enjoy the lapping waves and darkening skies. Also a number of fishermen on the pier hoping for a catch.

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Pink wisps in the sky

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Enjoying the view

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An attempt at some family photos! Unfortunately, I didn’t realise my camera settings were way off, sorry for the terrible quality!

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At this time, Baby Emeline was coming soon! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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My favourite photo of the night

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Dark blues and pinks

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After sunset, we wandered down Jetty Rd checking out the options for dinner. We ended up deciding on The Moseley Bar & Kitchen and had a fantastic dinner. Will tell you more about it in a separate post!

We went home for a dessert bake off – cinnamon buns – Michael vs Laura. The winner? Matt and I! Haha, both were delicious and everyone was a winner ๐Ÿ™‚

Michael made a yeast dough version which required extra time and love.

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Laura used a non-yeast recipe that was also delicious and even had apples! These were definitely the inspiration for my quick and easy cinnamon rolls now!

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A great third night in Adelaide! Thanks again Lewingtons!

Adelaide: Day 3 – Lunch at the Haus

September 28, 2015

Spending a relaxing morning exploring Hahndorf still worked up quite an appetite! We had walked by the Haus earlier in the day and really liked their spacious outdoor tables and large menu selection, which made the decision easy. But if you’d prefer to sit indoors, there is plenty of seating as well!

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Lots of room for Isabelle to enjoy herself

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Laura enjoyed a light lunch comprising of Soup of the Day $10.90 with Ciabatta bread. She couldn’t remember exactly what type of soup, but it was rustic, definitely made of root vegetables and delicious!

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Isabelle enjoyed a Little Peoples meal of Ham, Cheese & Pineapple Pizza ($9.90) that Laura eventually helped her with as well. Decent sized, cheesy and tasty!

We also enjoyed a side of Haus Beer Battered Chips with Garlic Aioli ($6.90) – yum!

Now this is definitely something we would recommend to another visitor – the Beer Tasting Paddle with your choice of 4 Beers/Cider on tap with Local Nuts/Jerky ($15). Definitely ask for the bartender’s suggestions and be adventurous, this is a great deal!

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Michael and I shared the Trio of Wursts – Chef’s selection of German specialty sausages: Bockwurst, Bratwurst & Cheese Kransky with creamy mustard potato bake, sauerkraut, red wine sauce & German mustards ($29.90). Filling and delicious! The favourite between us was definitely the Bratwurst, but we really enjoyed them all.

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Our disappointment in this meal were the Organic Pretzels ($4 each). Perhaps we are used to the soft, chewy, buttery soft pretzels in North America but these ones were unfortunately quite tough and almost dry. We wouldn’t get these again next time.

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Overall a lovely lunch with great food! The service was fantastic and they have quite an extensive menu with something for everyone. We would definitely come back for another meal to try out more of their food selection if we are ever back in Hahndorf. Check it out if you’re visiting!

The Haus Hahndorf Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Adelaide: Day 3 – Hahndorf

September 28, 2015

After breakfast at home with the Laura and Isabelle, we headed off to Hahndorf – Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement in the Adelaide Hills of South Australia.

Hahndorf was definitely worth a visit! Very quaint with many shops to visit – from bakeries, candy shops, finding beautiful handmade candles, puppets and more! And of course, can’t forget the selection of different German restaurants to dine at!

My favourite photo taken in Hahndorf, I hope this will be Michael and I one day! At the very least, our height discrepancies will be accurate! ๐Ÿ™‚

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We almost immediately stopped in Copenhagen for some freshly made cinnamon sugar donuts… mmm!

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With an extensive menu, it was difficult not to order more on the menu, like waffles, pancakes, crepes, and ice cream!

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Mmm, piping hot… could have so many of these!

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My handsome partner!

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Lots of opportunity for nice photos!

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Stopped in for a visit at Heritage Museum Art Gallery. Beautiful handmade pieces of jewellery and art, although no money to buy! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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An empty gallery upstairs with remnants of Autumn Festival lanterns.

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Couldn’t resist a stop into Humbugs to stock up on some sweets! So many to choose from!

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Really delicious selection of fudge!

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Isabelle was definitely excited!

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Quick visit to 3 Wishes Candle Barn to check out their beautiful candles and pick up a gift for our wonderful friend, Amanda!

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Some beautiful wooden works including clocks and puppets at the German Village Shop

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Alpaca fleece products from The Alpaca Shop! Gorgeously soft pieces but also quite expensive!

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All the above mentioned shops are definitely worth a visit! Can surely find a little something for yourself or a loved one without much effort!

Next up – our delicious lunch at The Haus cafe+bar+kitchen!

ADELAIDE: DAY 2 – MCLAREN VALE

September 27, 2015

Day 2 in Adelaide was full of awesome firsts!

We started the day with breakfast with Matt, Laura, and Isabelle before heading out to Pete’s house and meeting his wife Chrissy and their 3 children. We also met another one of Matt’s colleagues, Chi, his wife Joan and their 2 children (plus grandparents)!

Thank you to Matt’s lovely colleagues and families for welcoming us and including us in their day out to McLaren Vale!

Only approximately 35km south of Adelaide, the drive out went by quick! We also passed by John (another one of Matt’s colleagues) and his family on the road, who would also be joining us for the day.

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Isabelle and I mastering selfies during the drive ๐Ÿ™‚

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The McLaren Vale region is known for its dry red wines, which meant our lucky day! We were very thankful that Chrissy had organised the day so well. McLaren Vale would take days to weeks to properly tour and we really enjoyed all the stops she had planned.

First up, Mollydooker Wines Cellar Door. The first thing you notice is the breathtaking view of vineyards against a hilly backdrop.

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Today, I learned that Mollydooker Wines was not only started by Sarah and Sparky Marquis, a husband and wife team, but that mollydooker is also an Aussie term for left-handers. You guessed it, Sarah and Sparky are also lefties! They have a pretty interesting story, you can read more here!

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The Cellar Door had a quirky, retro themed tasting room with easy going staff and generous tastings we must say!

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The boys loved some of the red selection, particularly the Velvet Glove Shiraz and Gigglepot Cabernet Sauvignon. It was also my first time trying Miss Molly (Sparkling Shiraz) and Girl on the Go (Sparkling Verdelho), both of which were great. And we were even served some beautiful, warm home made bread with olive oil and dukka – yum!

They had a promotion going at the time of our visit. Post a selfie with Mollydooker’s Girl on the Go and receive a free bottle of Girl on the Go or a pair of flutes. Was too good not to pass up ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Beautiful backdrop and outdoor seating area to really soak in the surroundings.

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Thanks for a great visit Mollydooker Wines, hope to be back in the future!

Next stop was Serafino Restaurant for lunch ๐Ÿ™‚

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The grounds are immaculate and is the perfect location for a wedding or special occasion – there was a baptism lunch the day we visited – very eloborate!

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I remember waiting a long time for the food to arrive, but it was delicious! Mike had the Beef Wellington and I enjoyed an herb crusted lamb rack with baby veggies and gnocchi – yum! Definitely on the pricier side but worth a visit for a special occasion!

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Last on our McLaren Vale stops – Penny’s Hill Cellar Door. Rustic and charming, it was a relaxing way to end our visit. I also love their elegant and distinct packaging.

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Lots of sitting area, even a restaurant! Can watch grazing sheep or check out the chooks. Great for kids to hang out as well ๐Ÿ™‚

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Both of us concentrating on a game we don’t know how to play

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Isabelle visiting the chooks

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Wine is serious business

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Can’t get over the amazing views in McLaren Vale!

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Took some photos of Laura, looking fabulous at 36 weeks!

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Soon it was time to head back as we thanked and said good bye to our new friends for a great time!

Mike and I absolutely loved McLaren Vale (or maybe we just love vineyards) but definitely hope to visit again… for much longer!

We couldn’t buy too much, but did leave with a nice bundle of souvenirs to enjoy at a later date ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Birthday dinner at Tsuruya

September 22, 2015

Celebrating Michael’s 36th birthday with a special night out! After much anticipation, we drove down to Capricorn Resort Yeppoon for our 6:30pm dinner reservation at Tsuruya Japanese Restaurant.

From their website:

Indulge yourself in the authentic, personalised interactive table cooking and tradition of the exquisite and delicate flavours of Japanese cuisine. Tsuruya also features a Sushi Bar for made to order sushi rolls and the freshest local seafood sashimi prepared right in front of your eyes.

We were greeted at the entrance on arrival and shown to our table. Happy to find that they had given us a table in a corner by the window, a little quieter and more private. The female servers were dressed in nice kimonos which added to the ambiance of the restaurant.

How cute are the place settings? The kimono napkins were a nice touch!

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The birthday boy!

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Didn’t expect the restaurant to be very busy on a Tuesday night during down season, but surprisingly it was! Lots of families with young children throughout the evening.

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Chef at the sushi bar, keeping an eye out on his guests ๐Ÿ˜›

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After perusing the menu, we finally decided on some sets.

Michael chose Sushi (C) Course ($69.50) which included the following:

  • Appetiser
  • Dobin Mushi
  • Steak ‘Japanese style’
  • Assorted Sushi

I decided on Sushi (B) Course ($59.50) which included the following:

  • Appetiser
  • Ebi Shinjoh Age
  • Dobin Mushi
  • Chawan Mushi
  • Yakitori
  • Assorted Sushi

Our appetiser Gyu Sashimi – Raw beef thinly sliced and served cold with a vinegar flavoured soy. We had never had anything like this before, very refreshing taste!

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With the above appetiser, I also received my Ebi Shinjoh Age – Deep fried prawn & fish cake. Nice that there were 2 pieces so I could could share one with Mike! A little on the dark side from frying but good flavours and a nice chewy texture.

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Sitting by the window, we saw a kangaroo come by for a graze on the lawn!

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Our next course – soups!

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Both Michael and I received Dobin Mushi – Seafood, chicken and mushrooms in a clear soup served in a traditional Japanese pot. Absolutely loved the presentation. Served in a teapot, we were instructed to add a bit of lemon juice and pour the broth into the teacup to slowly enjoy. The broth was clear and so incredibly intense in flavour! Also lovely to eat all the morsels of seafood at the bottom of your pot as well.

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My set came with a second soup – Chawan Mushi – seafood, chicken and vegetables cooked in a hot savory egg custard. Extremely delicate, silky and delicious, never had anything like it!

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Onto our meat dishes!

For me, Yakitori – pieces of chicken and onion on bamboo skewers with homemade BBQ sauce. Chicken was super tender and well flavoured. Loved this! Again, the portion was large enough to share with Michael, which was nice!

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Michael’s steak came with a hot stone that allowed him to further cook the steak at his seat, it also came with a light dipping sauce. The steak was tender but served a little overcooked (to his liking) since you’re supposed to cook it more, and a little under seasoned, even with the dipping sauce.

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And finally, our assorted sushi box! Beautifully presented with a mix of scallop, prawn, eel, and fish – with a side of ginger and wasabi. We have heard raves of how fresh the fish is at Tsuruya, but unfortunately for us, we didn’t find the same that night. Some pieces were better than others, but certainly not the buttery textures we were expecting!

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Overall a lovely night out for the birthday boy with some incredibly tasty food! (Except for the sushi unfortunately…) Also great value for money and we look forward to coming back to try the lunch menu ๐Ÿ™‚

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! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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!

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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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!

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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

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

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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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! ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ˜›

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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? ๐Ÿ˜›

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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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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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!

Cafe Bliss – definitely worth a visit!

One of the most popular breakfast destinations in Rockhampton, Cafe Bliss made the perfect choice for our visiting friends, Josiah and Danya, from Bundaberg. ๐Ÿ™‚

And, with a stroke of luck, we were able to grab seating for 4 on a late Sunday morning without reservations!

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Some of the first thoughts that went through our minds

  • Welcoming service
  • This place is very cute. It’s actually the most girly restaurant we have ever been to – which is not meant to be an insult! Splashes of pink everywhere!
  • Very bright with lots of windows and seating distant enough to give patrons a sense of privacy
  • The location of the display cabinet immediately draws your attention, and filled with lots of goodies!

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Look at the menu… hand made scrap books! I have never seen this at another restaurant. Obviously a lot of effort have gone into these menus, a unique pop of character!

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I could not resist ordering the Breakfast Bagel ($15.50). Toasted Bagel with crispy bacon, fried eggs, wilted spinach & Swiss cheese drizzled with outback BBQ sauce and a side of hollandaise. Alright, as a Canadian, this bagel isn’t fooling anyone. It has the consistency of a dinner roll – super light, soft, and fluffy – certainly not a real bagel. However, it looks charming and the perfectly positioned egg yolk is a nice touch. Not to mention, It was delicious and incredibly filling! I would definitely order this dish again ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Both Michael and Josiah share the same code: Always order Eggs Benedict ($15.50) when trying a new restaurant. Why? Because that’s the benchmark against which their other dishes can be measured. Poached eggs, served on a bed of wilted baby spinach & your choice of ham, smoked salmon or bacon set on a toasted English muffin with fresh hollandaise. They weren’t disappointed! Generous salmon and the hollandaise sauce had the perfect consistency and right amount of zing.

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Thanks so much for visiting guys! We hope you have the chance to pop by again soon!

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Unfortunately, my second visit at Cafe Bliss was a lot more disappointing. Came for lunch with a friend and got Chicken Flat Bread Sandwich ($16.50). Premium chicken breast, fresh avocado, crispy bacon, baby cos lettuce, Swiss cheese & garlic aioli on home-made flat bread with beer battered fries. Unfortunately, as you might be able to imagine from the photo, the flat bread was incredibly greasy, tough and chewy. In addition, my chicken breast was under (or not) seasoned and was too overcooked, leaving it bland and dry. The fries were great and crisp though!

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I am hoping that my lunch meal was a fluke, and it certainly won’t deter us from visiting again soon!

We are especially looking forward to a dinner visit with finer dining: Bliss By Night. Their dinner menu looks tantalising and we continue to see good feedback online. Check out their menu HERE.

If you’re thinking of a place for breakfast, lunch, or dinner – would definitely recommend visiting Cafe Bliss!

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Great Chinese food from Dragon Gallery

We definitely have a weak spot for Chinese foodย and were glad to find an establishment in Rockhampton to satisfy our cravings.

Dragon Gallery is located atย 1/295 Richardson Rd – next to the Asian grocery store Food Sing Trading.

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A small, simply decorated restaurant with limited seating so don’t forget toย call and make reservations to ensure a spot! While dining in, we alsoย noticed a very steady stream of customers coming in to pick up their takeaway orders. And speaking from experience, perfect for a night in!

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There may be a wait for food if it’s a busy night, but service is always good with frequent checking in to make sure you’re enjoying your meal.

(Menus provided by Dragon Gallery)

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At our first visit with a few friends, we decided on one of the banquet options for value and variety.

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We decided on the $32/head option and were not disappointed!

Mixed entrees – mini spring rolls, fried dim sims, and fried mashed prawn with sesame on toast.

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The spring rolls were large and delicious with the perfect hint of five-spice seasoning, something I’ve never seenย before. Dim sims were also great. The prawn toast, however, had so little prawn they seemed more like fried sesame bread. I’m a huge fan of prawn toast and make it quite often at home slathered to the brim with prawn paste so it made me a little sad.

Pork with vegetables in oyster sauce. The pork was tender, vegetables still crisp and the sauce not too overpowering or salty!

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Boneless crispy chicken in lemon sauce. Piping hot and crisp with a delicious sweet and sour lemon sauce – always a favourite.

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All the dishes were served with generous portions of Fried Rice. Unfortunately, I forgot to grab a photo but it was simple and delicious.

Mongolian Beef – Sizzling hot, incredibly tender and not overpowered with onions.

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Honey prawns. This dish is always a treat. Perfect when they’re fresh out of the fryer with a delicate crisp batter coating and tossed in a sweet honey concoction… delicious!

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Included in the banquet is the option of dessert – banana fritter with ice cream or deep fried ice cream. We chose deep fried ice cream that came on a bed of canned fruit. The batter was interesting… coconut based and crumbly. I think we would choose to try the banana fritters next time.

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We prefer dining in as the food is piping hot and fresh but takeaway is a great option as well – we love the family options! Your foodย is often ready in the time frame given when you place your order. The only disappointment involved with takeaway is having to get the food home before you can eat it. And in that time, crispy dishes can get soggy from the steam!

Head in to Dragon Gallery for some delicious Chinese food! You won’t leave dissatisfied! ๐Ÿ™‚

Club Med Turkoise – Turks & Caicos

March 05-12, 2015

One week. One glorious week full of beautiful weather, gorgeous beach with turkoise waters, delicious food, sun and fun.

Where? Turks & Caicos. A British Overseas Territory consisting of the larger Caicos Islands and smaller Turks Islands, two groups of tropical islands in the Lucayan Archipelago.

More specifically, we stayed at Club Med Turkoise on Grace Bay, Providenciales (Caicos Islands – home of most local residents) – one of the most beautiful beaches in the world – ranked #2 on Trip Advisor!

As you might remember from our previous Club Med experience in Bali, we are huge fans of the Club Med all inclusive experience. The location, the activities, the food, and the people you meet are some of the best reasons to choose Club Med for a fun-filled, stress free holiday.

We were supposed to fly from Ottawa to Charlotte then onwards to Providenciales. Unfortunately, our first flight was delayed so we got re-routed from Ottawa to Toronto to Miami and finally Providenciales. Due to the delay, we didn’t arrive until late evening of March 5th as opposed to midday. A whole day, wasted! Thanks a lot United Airways!

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Morning came and all our troubles went away. What a beautiful, amazing place!

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For this trip, we bought an underwater camera that was also perfect for vlogging. I invite you to watch our video and check out our adventures in Turks & Caicos!

It is easy to see why Grace Bay is one of the prettiest beaches in the world. In addition, Club Med has the widest, cleanest, and nicest spread of beach on Grace Bay – definitely a winner!

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Crystal clear, turquoise waters at the perfect temperature. We spent many hours of every day in the calm peaceful ocean.

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The perfect summary to our holiday:

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Club Med Turkoise has the usual array of included activities such as tennis, basketball, and trapeze. What won our hearts? All the water sports!

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Sailing, kayaking, snorkelling, and paddle boarding… we tried to as many water activities in a day as possible.

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Snorkelling was twice a day and great! We even brought our own snorkels and masks but their provided equipment is pretty decent as well!

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So many things to do!

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Sailing quickly became a new favourite hobby. And we didn’t capsize once!

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The food was also great! The main buffet restaurant, Grace Bay Restaurant, was where we ate most of our meals. A repeating breakfast and lunch spread throughout the week but enough variety to keep us happy. For dinner, there was a different theme every night. We love food and there is definitely enough choices and something for everyone. Our favourite? Their famous white chocolate bread! Yum!

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The social aspect of Club Med is one of its main appeals. Most dining tables fit 6 people so you will always meet new people at meals (if not during the day). We met a variety of interesting and wonderful people!

They also haveย a reservation-only a la carte restaurant, Lucayan. We lined up to secure a table but were incredibly disappointed. The atmosphere is nice and it was really good to have a private meal with just the two of us, however, the food simply did not measure up to our expectations.

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Lastly, they have Sharkie’s Bar – one of our favourite spots to hang out in the afternoon. Simple menu with the best chicken burgers and fries. Food, drinks and fun live entertainment – what more do you want?

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Perfect beach for nice long walks ๐Ÿ™‚

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Gorgeous sunrises and beautiful sunsets… every day!

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Sunrise from our room!

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Enjoyed numerous sunsets on the beach

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Did I mention the local beer, Turks Head, is pretty tasty? ๐Ÿ˜›

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Last night on Turks and Caicos and one year anniversary of our engagement! How tanned we were by the end of our vacation!

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Couldn’t get enough and look forward to the opportunity to return! Thanks for an amazing time Club Med Turkoise!

Moments back in Ottawa

We had a few goals this time back in Ottawa:

  1. Spend time with family
  2. Plan our wedding
  3. Relax

Didย we obtain our goals? Yes!

One of the things I was most excited about was seeing my grandfather. As some of you may know, my grandfather has been deaf my entire life. He had sudden loss of hearing shortly before I was born – I suspect the hearing loss was precipitated by a viral illness. He had contemplated a cochlear implant at thatย time but decided against it… until last year.

With the suggestion, help, and support of the family, my grandfather proceeded with a cochlear implant surgery on November 4, 2015. My mom sent me photo updates, including some very cute ones of my grandpa bundled up on the hospital bed before going into surgery. Unfortunately, I do not have those photos at this time.

I’m sure he was feeling quite anxious at the time, but what was even more prominent in his facial expression was optimism!

Yes, we are THAT family when a family member is at the hospital.

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Here are some photos of my grandpa after coming out of surgery – smiling and hopeful ๐Ÿ™‚ And aside from ugly stitches, he experiencedย no complications!

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After a month of healing, his implant was then activated, tests were completed, and he started (and still continues) his audiological training, with help from my uncles. What started off as indiscriminate clicking noises and echoes eventually became recognisable sounds and words, yay!

Of course, there were frustrations. My grandpa described not being able to set the perfect program for his implant, often returning from his appointments with more background noise than before, sometimes feeling dejected and unwilling to train. The annoyance of having the external transmitter continuously fall off – the magnet is not as strong as you think! He has tried different methods of securing the transmitter but it remains an inconvenience.

Upon coming home, for the first in my life, I had (mostly) a verbal conversation with my grandfather! By speaking slower, enunciating well, and using shorter sentences, I was able to freely converse with him! My entire life I have always spoken to him via notes (piles of paper and books have amassed over my lifetime) which take considerable time to write – what a change! My written Vietnamese is at the higher level it is today thanks to the dedication of my grandparents to teach me and the numerous opportunities to put it to use when speaking with my grandpa. I am also quite lucky because my grandpa said my voice is easier for him to understand compared to other family members. Now we can just sit and talk, with an occasional written note, how awesome is that?

I’m surprised at the lack of photos from our trip back to Canada this time… but here are a few fun moments back in Canada!

Note: From March 05-12th, we went to Turks & Caicos for a one week vacation. It was amazing and will be have its own post!

Target was having their liquidation sales during our time home. The sales were actually terrible and the cash registers were always freezing. Here we are waiting in line forever!

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We came home just after lunar new year. One of my favourite Vietnamese new year’s treats is Banh Tet (savoury glutinous rice with mung bean + pork or sweet banana filling, wrapped in banana leaves and steamed). One of the best things to do with leftovers is panfry the savoury mung bean and pork ones until its nice and crispy… thanks mom for the treat!

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And belated new year red pockets from the family, thank you!

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Having this little one so very excited every time youย walk in the door. And constantly following you around and beggingย you for food at every opportunity. I miss Benny!

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Forgetting how dry Canada is! Cracked, itchy, stinging skin even with moisturizer!

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Enjoying some things you can only get in Canada, like ketchup chips, one of my favourites!

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They have even come out with ketchup Doritos… although I am not a fan.

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Regular stops at my favourite shop – Tim Hortons. I don’t drink coffee but dang do I miss the cheap, delicious, variety of donuts, pastries, and bagels. Now I want a bagel…

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And of course, with Tim Hortons comes Rolllll up the rim to win! Probably one of the most Canadian photos I’ve ever taken…

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Visiting my favourite bakery in Ottawa, Macarons et Madeleines, now at a new location! The best croissants, caneles, and macarons in town. Expensive, but delicious!

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Officially asking these wonderful ladies to be a part of my bridal party!

When my sister agreed to be myย maid of honour ๐Ÿ™‚

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Had to ask my cousin Janet over Skype because she’s studying in London

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Catching up over food and having 2 of my best friends say yes to being my bridesmaids!

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My sister went to Japan over her Christmas holidays and was kind to bring back some Japanese chocolates for us to try!

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Limited free time but still catching up with friends! Sushi at Kiko Sushi Bar – expensive but tasty!

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A visit to another favourite with Mike and Julia – Art Is In – where my brother now works! Amazing food and great atmosphere!

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Ruixi took me to a hole in the wall (Hung Sum Restaurant) for the best dim sum I’ve ever had in Ottawa – literally!

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Visiting my dad at Beechwood Cemetery for the first time in a long time!

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My sister had bought my dad these ornamental dog figurines (representing us) for his garden when he was alive. We brought them out to his grave years ago and although a little faded, they are still around!

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While planning a wedding, still making time to go on dates with my love! We did get a bunch of wedding planning finalised, but I will save that for another post!

Aย skate on the Rideau Canal for the first time in many years, all 16km – how we’ve missed it!

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Waiting in line at one of these huts…

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For some Beavertails and hot chocolate – not a visit on the canal until you’ve had this!

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Of course, we had to have a lunch date at Play, one of our favourite restaurants in Ottawa.

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Mike’s newfound love for beef tartare meant he had to haveย it at Play!

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The food and service almost never disappoints!

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Lots of silly moments with my family

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Quality time with the family… delicious onion ring poutine and burgers at The Works!

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Mom’s Com Hen (basket clam rice) – delicious broth, eaten with rice, ginger, shallots, alfalfa, pineapple, peppers, starfruit, mango, and basket clams!

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My favourite brand (President’s Choice) of hors d’oeuvres! Just cannot find anything like that here

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Can’t visit home without a trip to all you can eat sushi – a family favourite!

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We didn’t have any family events when I was back home, but I did get a chance to stop by and see my Uncle 2’s family!

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I also had the chance to see most of my other family members at different opportunities, which was nice!

A weekend out on Buck Lake to be with Mike’s family… always indulgent and fun!

Focus of attention on the newest member of the Brown family – Rinoa

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She look like a doll or what?

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But their cat… their cat is always trying to kill me. One day, I will need an epipen…

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A last meal out with Mike’s parents, introducing them to play!

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Our last photo together at the airport heading back to Australia – unfortunately my brother felt unwell and stayed in the car! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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Looking back now… what an unbelievably short trip ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Until next year!

Flying to Brisbane!

February 23, 2015

The first 5 weeks of work passed by like a blink of an eye.ย Even so, we were already ready for a vacation, bring it on!

Hung out in the Qantas Lounge at the airport before flying back to Brisbane! Here’s the view!

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We picked up our rental car at the airport and checked in at our hotel – Riverside Hotel Southbank. Clean, modern, good size, and exactly what we needed! Had a daytime nap and rested in bed watching the Oscars.

So nice to being back in Brisbane! After resting, we had a lovely walk around South Bank, bought some Max Brenner chocolates for family, and stopped for a snack at Ahmet’s. Their dinner banquets are definitely worth trying friends!

Excited for food!

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Freshly baked Turkish bread glazed with butter and herbs ($5.50)

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With a side of Baba ghanoush ($4.90) – one of our favourite kinds of dip, made with roasted eggplant

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We also got some Mucver – Green zucchini fritters with tomato salsa, fresh mint & dill yoghurt ($11). Tasty, but much greasier than we personally like.

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Later that night, we went over to Matt and Kristen’s for dinner, joined by James and Kim! So, so nice to see and catch up with them! Felt like forever since spending time with them! Matt and Kristen made yummy chili con carne, James and Kim brought 2 kinds of cheesecake and we brought some wine. So delicious and filling, and in great company too! We miss you guys!

No pictures…sadface ๐Ÿ˜ฆ