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.

IMG_8393

IMG_8397

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.

IMG_9944

IMG_9947

IMG_9949

IMG_9951

IMG_9955

IMG_9956

IMG_9957

IMG_9958

20160513_193641

IMG_8730

Selfies took place… a lot of selfies.

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

20160513_194503

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

20160513_194412

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

20160513_194136

Andy and cousins Janet and Justin

20160513_194145

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

20160513_195359

Photo with the immediate Brown family!

20160513_194243

Michael’s Aunt Patsy and her husband Uncle Dan!

20160513_194314

My sister Jenni and Michael

20160513_195431

Janet, Jenni and her partner Edward

20160513_195459

Being themselves πŸ˜›

20160513_195643

20160513_195651

20160513_195658

Justin… always ruining our photos!

20160513_195725

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

20160513_195757

My grandparents, mum and aunt

20160513_195835

Cousins

20160513_200202

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

20160513_200357

(Note Samme’s name tag… see? Useful!)

IMG_9988

Like mothers like daughters

20160513_201409

20160513_201455

IMG_9973

Cousin love

IMG_9974

My mum!

IMG_9995

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

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 πŸ˜‰ 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!

Wedding Manicure

May 12, 2016

This was a photo taken after the wedding but my sister, mum and I got wedding manicures together!

(During this time, May 11-12th, Michael was in Montreal with his mates having an awesome bachelor party)

I loved my colour with an accent nail! (Excuse my dinky pinky)

IMG_8672

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!

MOTHERS DAY 2016

MOTHERS DAY 2016
Menu of the day consisted of egg noodles and lobster – delicious! (Courtesy of chef Uncles)

MOTHERS DAY 2016

MOTHERS DAY 2016

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

MOTHERS DAY 2016

My grandparents still looking great at 80+ years old!

MOTHERS DAY 2016

MOTHERS DAY 2016

MOTHERS DAY 2016

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.

MOTHERS DAY 2016

MOTHERS DAY 2016

MOTHERS DAY 2016

MOTHERS DAY 2016

Family photos!

My grandparents and their 5 children

MOTHERS DAY 2016

With their 2 girls

MOTHERS DAY 2016

And with us!

MOTHERS DAY 2016

My aunt and mom!

MOTHERS DAY 2016

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

MOTHERS DAY 2016

SEE ALL PHOTOS HERE

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

MOTHERS DAY 2016

MOTHERS DAY 2016

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

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:

IMG_8022

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!

IMG_8028

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

IMG_8031

IMG_8033

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!

IMG_8035

In love with the china!

IMG_8040

IMG_8050

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

IMG_8036

IMG_8049

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

IMG_8044

Hearty legume soup sipper

IMG_8045

My beautiful bridesmaids!

IMG_8056

IMG_8318

IMG_8060

IMG_8053

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!

IMG_8064

IMG_8326

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!

IMG_8067

IMG_8066

IMG_8074

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.

IMG_8328

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

IMG_8085

IMG_8087

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!

IMG_8169

IMG_8165

IMG_8161

Julia always comes prepared… even with theme appropriate snacks!

IMG_8090

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

IMG_8092

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

IMG_8097

My cousin Janet and sister Jenni

IMG_8100

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

IMG_8312

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

IMG_8102

Duck with kimchi fried rice

IMG_8103

Rabbit with squid ink pasta

IMG_8106

IMG_8305

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

IMG_8108

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

IMG_8304

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!

IMG_8300

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

IMG_8171

IMG_8130

IMG_8128

IMG_8125

IMG_8121

IMG_8112

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!

Update

Dear friends,

If you are reading this… thank you! I can’t believe you are still here despite the fact that I am nearly one year behind on my blogging.

As you know, I use my blog as a journal of my life’s events so I will continue to try and blog in chronological order and catch up as soon as I can.

I thought it was only fair to update and let you know why I have been so absent – especially since I have not neglected this blog so much since its inception in 2010!

Although these are not excuses, there have been a few reasons for my absence…

  1. Long work hours as at the hospital
  2. Marrying my best friend and love, Michael, on May 14, 2016
  3. Vacation pre and post wedding (in Canada, Melbourne and Brisbane)
  4. Quickly falling pregnant after the wedding (literally 2 weeks after) and being extra tired working my usual hours. I was honestly coming home from work only to have dinner and fall straight asleep
  5. Finally, giving birth to our beautiful daughter, Laurel Linh Xuan Nguy on February 16, 2017. She’s now nearly 8 weeks old and as you can imagine, I have only rare moments to myself!

I can’t wait to catch up on my blog and tell you all about it and more!

Post engagement shoot dinner at MUST

May 06, 2016

Still feeling romantic after our engagement photo shoot with Kim Ing and taking advantage of the fact that we looked pretty spiffy – Michael and I ended the busy day with a dinner date.

We didn’t have a particular place in mind but knew there would be plenty of good dinner options around Byward Market.

A short walk later, we decided on MUST – Kitchen & Wine Bar. Warmly greeted, we were shown to a table upstairs. Given it was Friday evening, we were happy they had room without making reservations! The restaurant atmosphere was quite cosy – dimly lit with cobblestone walls and live music.

IMG_2102

Unfortunately, I can no longer remember our drinks selection but I certainly enjoyed the Sauvignon Blanc option at the time and Michael was very happy with his tasting flight of reds! Thank you to the waiter for his suggestions!

IMG_2105

Luckily, we are both fans of sharing tapas dishes when the option is available at restaurants – gives us a chance to try multiple different options!

IMG_2096

This was the menu available at the time – the current one can be found HERE

IMG_2098

We had the 3 selections Charcuterie Platter which came with crostinis paired with a selection of terrine, pate and cured meats ($18). All were delicious, especially the terrine which paired very nicely with the house pickles and fruit jelly!

IMG_2106

Pretty happy and excited! Not just about date night, but soon getting married!

IMG_2101

My handsome soon to be husband!

IMG_2100

One of our favourite dishes of the night: Bison tartare with gerkin, anchovy and lime aioli, stilton, crispy capers, and crushed walnuts served with grilled baguette ($18). We love tartare but find it’s often a one dimensional dish in terms of texture – not this one! Loved the contrasting textures – soft tender bison with the added crunch of the other elements of the dish. We would’ve never thought of adding blue cheese but the pungent saltiness really worked beautifully!

IMG_2114

Seared foie gras with sweet confit persimmon, ash rind goats brie, crispy onion, and maple siracha served with baguette ($18). Extremely generous portion for a tapas dish – flavours worked well to create a very rich and indulgent plate! I wouldn’t say it was served with baguette though, especially given the previous dish – they were crostinis – and certainly not enough for the portion size!

IMG_2109

Baked brie and halloumi – phyllo wrapped baked brie, black currant cream, brown butter seared halloumi, honey caramel, and pistachios served with crostinis ($17). We absolutely love halloumi and baked brie… so couldn’t resist ordering this dish. It was rich, sweet and salty, how could you possibly go wrong with a cheese dish like this? Both halloumi and brie are mild in flavour and we found the added flavours of berries and nuts did not over power the cheese – yum!

IMG_2108

The crostinis were appearing across many dishes – we wished there was a little more variety to the vessels upon which many of these delicious elements were being served on! The presentation was lovely though.

IMG_2110

The serving size of MUST’s tapas dishes are definitely more generous than we are used to. I’m glad we only ordered so many dishes as they were not only delicious, but very rich and filling. No room for dessert!

We had a great time. Food was delicious and reasonably priced, nice live music, great service, good location, and lovely atmosphere! Would definitely recommend trying it out and we look forward to the opportunity to go back!

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

Engagement Photo Shoot

May 06, 2016

With fresh hair cuts and styles from our wedding hair trial, Michael and I went home to change and get ready for our engagement photo shoot!

We were very lucky that our photographer, Kim Ing (Facebook Page), was so easy to work with. Because honestly, who offers to do engagement photos one week before the actual wedding? We were incredibly thankful for the opportunity not only to have some pre-wedding photos taken, but also the chance to work with and get to know Kim before the big day!

Kim spent a few hours guiding us across various sites downtown. Despite being nervous prior to starting (we’ve never been the sole subject of photography before), both her and her assistant were incredibly easy going and immediately put us at ease.

Her gentle reminders of “bra strap!” “other nose!” “shoulders back!” only helped us be more aware of our surroundings and posture for better photos.

We didn’t know how many pictures to expect from the engagement shoot – but were incredibly pleased at the number and quality of photos we received. Of course, as we are our own biggest critic so not all shots are most “flattering” from our point of view. But even with pruning down to our favourite shots, there were still a ton to enjoy!

Here are some of our favourites, we hope you like them too!

Stairs to the canal under Plaza Bridge

Engagement-8473

Engagement-8489

Engagement-8511

It didn’t hurt that we both lost a little bit of weight working all those night shifts before coming home for the wedding! πŸ˜›

Engagement-8610

Ring shot!

Engagement-8617

Look, we matched! Although if we were doing this shoot again, I think it would look much nicer if we had both worn lighter colours!

Engagement-8620

Engagement-8645

By the Rideau Canal Locks with the Chateau Laurier in the background

Engagement-8662

Engagement-8701

Looking across the Rideau River at our wedding venue – Canadian Museum of History

Engagement-8725

Engagement-8759

Engagement-8771

Engagement-8809

On the Rideau Canal Locks with the Alexandra Bridge in the background

Engagement-8831

Major Hill Park – just a week shy of the tulips blooming!

Engagement-9019

Engagement-9049

Engagement-9055

Engagement-9204

Play is our favourite restaurant to visit in Ottawa! Highly recommend πŸ˜‰

Engagement-9243

Engagement-9343

Engagement-9355

My prince charming!

Engagement-9409

Engagement-9419

Engagement-9429

For more engagement shots, CLICK HERE TO VIEW!


During wedding planning, Michael and I decided that photography would likely be the biggest chunk of our budget (after food of course). We chose Kim Ing Photography for a number of reasons:

  • We both love and appreciate timeless photography. We were looking for a classic, natural lighting style that Kim captures beautifully. Check out her portfolio!
  • During our first meeting, Kim met with us at her home office, which was stylish, comfortable, and put us at ease. Not to mention she served us cupcakes!
  • We did not have conflicting personalities and felt we could work well with her.
  • Even though we came with a huge list of questions, she took the time and patiently answered them all. She was even happy to show us photos from a wedding she had photographed at our venue a few years back.
  • Her photography training (not just ‘self taught’) and wedding photography experience
  • Many photographers in Ottawa that were charging less than Kim had portfolios that often paled compared to my own amateur photography. We wanted someone who would deliver above and beyond our expectations – which is exactly what Kim did.

For those who are interested, our photography package cost $3949.35, which included the following:

  • 10 hours wedding day photography coverage with an assistant
  • Professionally edited high-resolution images on DVD
  • Private online proofing gallery
  • Complimentary engagement session (including high-resolution edited photos)
  • Rights to privately print all photos
  • Photos provided 6-8 weeks post wedding date

Kim was fantastic to work with and we were very happy to have her capture our wedding day as well. I will save the wedding photography for a separate post – stay tuned!

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!

IMG_8003

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

IMG_7993

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

IMG_7994

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

IMG_7999

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!

Poutine Festival

May 05, 2016

After running around all day meeting with our some of our wedding vendors, we ended the night with a highly anticipated event – World of Poutine – Ottawa PoutineFest!

Michael and I have never had the pleasure in participating in a poutine event, and living in Australia for the last 5 years has certainly deprived us!

Ottawa PoutineFest took place over May 5-8, 2016 and included things like:

  • An incredible selection of poutine fused with flavours from around the world – including lobster, Donair, and Thai!
  • Making the world’s largest poutine while fundraising for charity
  • Craft Beer Garden from Broadhead Brewery
  • Live entertainment
  • Food demos
  • Old fashioned lemonade, churros, blooming onions, and more!

Located by Ottawa City Hall, we were joined by my siblings and our cousins. More people meant more variety, which is perfect because we ate… so much. It was worth it!

IMG_7944

IMG_7947

IMG_7948

IMG_7949

My sister Jenni and cousin Janet – so nice all being in town together!

IMG_7955

IMG_7958

Tons of poutine trucks to choose from!

IMG_7961

IMG_7962

IMG_7964

What happens when you attend a poutine festival with a bunch of people… you get to try so many things!

IMG_7970

And when even more people join!

IMG_7972

The Upper Deck had one of our favourite poutines – the Classic Halifax Donair!

IMG_7976

Getting full!

IMG_7979

What goes perfect as dessert to poutine? Beavertails of course! Another iconic Canadian food! That meant a short walk from City Hall to the Byward Market. View of downtown Ottawa at dusk – gorgeous!

IMG_7983

Mmm, what is better than ending your meal with a soft, chewy, fluffy pastry dipped in cinnamon sugar and sprinkled with lemon juice?! Kilaloe Sunrise is my favourite beavertail option on the menu!

IMG_7984

So much cholesterol was consumed this night πŸ™‚ So happy! Thanks everyone for hanging out with us!

20160505_211254

If you have the chance, don’t miss out! This year’s Ottawa PoutineFest is May 4-7, 2017!

WEDDING DJ & PHOTOBOOTH

May 05, 2016

During the first stages of our wedding planning, Michael had ambitious plans to set up our own DJ system which would allow guests to connect using their mobile devices to play songs. Fortunately, he soon realised that it would be a logistical nightmare!

After a bit of research, we decided to go with Quality Entertainment. They are a bigger company with lots of staff and good reviews online. We weren’t too fussed with our music, as long as we could have some options – which made our decision easy!

We appreciated being paired with a coordinator for consistent communication (mostly over email as we were overseas). We also had to fill out planning forms (30 days prior to ceremony) so that they could get an idea of who we were and what we were expecting. This was also so they could match us with an appropriate style DJ.

Some of the information they ask for include:

  • Names of bridal party and other main vendors
  • Time of set up and tear down
  • Number of guests and their age
  • Preference of music
  • Songs NOT to play (ie. Macarena, YMCA, etc)
  • List of guest song requests
  • Specific song list for ceremony, grand entrance, first dance, etc)
  • Whether we needed extra equipment (projector, photo booth, etc)
  • Whether we wanted our DJ to also act as our MC

On May 5, 2016 – we finally had the opportunity to meet up with the coordinator and finalise all details in person. Nothing was too much trouble and we were offered unexpected discounts which were very much appreciated!


ON THE DAY

We were pretty happy with our DJ services on the day! Jenn was our DJ for the night and here were some points we made note of:

  • Nice instrumental music being played for while guests were being seated for our ceremony (we didn’t specify which songs)
  • We provided all our songs for our outdoor ceremony – which were played in the right order at the correct time – and audible!
  • It was much appreciated that Jenn came up to our table once seated for dinner to introduce herself!
  • During the dinner ceremony, we provided a playlist of Vietnamese songs to play. Unfortunately, the museum sound system was not set up ideally. The dance floor was to one end of the venue and the music was quite loud towards that end and not very audible at the other, particularly because the music was played at a lower volume during dinner service
  • I remember people stayed on the dance floor and had a good time – which is always a good sign right?! πŸ˜‰ At least until the song “Shots byΒ LMFAO ft. Lil Jon” came on and everyone cleared the dance floor to do tequilla shots at the bar πŸ˜›
  • They played our requested closing song “Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond”

We also decided to hire 3 other services through them, all of which were hassle free and the guests definitely enjoyed!

  1. Projector for us to have a photo slideshow played on repeat during the reception
  2. Photo booth with props! Unlimited photos and manned by an attendant to make sure we actually got decent photos! Guests got a physical copy and we got the digital versions after the ceremony.
  3. Kissing game spinning wheel – no more clinking of glasses. Although I’m sure it’s still rigged to make the bride and groom kiss more often than not!

Reception-2392

Total Costs:

  • DJ, equipment (including special effects lights), set up and tear down (6pm – 1am) $749 (with a $100 discount)
  • Photobooth (9:30pm – 12:30am) with props, unlimited photos and attendant $699 (with $100 discount)
  • Projector $100 (with $50 discount)
  • Kissing Wheel – free of charge (normally $75)

We were overall very happy with the prices and services provided by Quality Entertainment. Would happily recommend them to anyone looking for similar services for their event – especially if you are looking for packages, they can definitely work with you!

Wedding Day of Coordinator

May 05, 2016

After our menu tasting with Distinction at the Canadian Museum of History, we ended our visit with our first (and only required) face-to-face meeting with our Day of Coordinator – Philippe Genest.

Phil was easy going from the moment we met him, which was definitely what we preferred. He joined us after our delicious lunch and immediately got down to business.

Some of the important items of discussions included:

  • Floor plan for reception venue (table/seating arrangement, where the gift tables/cocktail tables/DJ/photobooth/bar, etc would be)
  • Seating plan for outdoor ceremony
  • Discussion of bridal procession options
  • Seating plan for indoor ceremony (in case of rain)
  • Confirmation of all vendors including cake, DJ, officiant, etc
  • Ceremony + reception timeline
  • Projector screen set up for any slideshow we’d like to play

Aside from our face-to-face meeting, we were able to keep in contact via phone and email up to the big day.

It called for rain on our actual wedding day. In fact, it was pouring during my ride over to the Museum of History a few hours prior to the ceremony. We held our breath until the last minute when Phil decided the rain was over and the groomsman helped him set up the outdoor seating in less than 5 minutes.

A few glitches to note:

  • Museum posters not covered up in our reception venue. These were meant to be covered but a quick word to Phil and he made it happen before any guests arrived
  • No signs to direct guests to the venue – particularly because the Voyageurs Salon is a separate building from the main museum – eventually everyone made it!
  • The logistics of getting into the parking lot after hours as the museum is closed. We weren’t aware and eventually had to get security to escort us

We were honestly very happy with how the logistics of the ceremony and reception went. The layout was as we discussed and everything seemed to be in order. If there were any mishaps, we were not made aware, which was fine with us!

Overall, Michael and I were incredibly happy with our chosen venue at the Museum of History. The room rental is a little pricey but does include all set up and take down, cleaning, internet, outdoor ceremony set up, parking passes, day of coordinator, and more. For the piece of mind, and the fact that we (and our family/friends) did not have to do the heavy lifting, was worth it.

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 canapΓ©s 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, granitΓ©, 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 CreamΒ  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 πŸ™‚

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!

IMG_7906

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

IMG_7913

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

IMG_7911

Then came the Grilled Cortland Apple and Parmigianino Shavings, Arugula, Trebbiano Grape Acidulated Fig Dressing.Β  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!

IMG_7917

IMG_7914

We also got to taste the red wine that would be served – Domaine Houchart, CΓ΄tes de Provence, France. Unfortunately, the white (Flying Solo, Grenache Blanc – 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!

IMG_7908

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.

IMG_7919

IMG_7918

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.

IMG_7921

IMG_7923

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.

IMG_7926

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

IMG_7933

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! πŸ™‚ 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! 😦 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!

IMG_8748

Reception-2861

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.

Nguy Brown - Table Setting

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!

Reception-2138

Reception-2141


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 πŸ™‚

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)!

IMG_8006

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 πŸ™‚

IMG_8005

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:

4aa0c7_2b87d5f51ef148acadd6b78a89cd3805

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

4aa0c7_f7e74490bdea4fc484665827f8014864

Elegant design of tiers like this one…

4aa0c7_84b2029916684a7592d5280679f9be96

With gold ribbon trimming and simplistic piping like this cake:

4aa0c7_a50b1122152f470b82122796a6e3ad85

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

Reception-1851

Reception-2150

Reception-2156

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!

Wedding Officiant

May 05, 2016

Michael and I initially had plans for a Catholic wedding ceremony performed at our venue. We eventually found out (after booking our venue) that it would be next to impossible. Instead, we decided to have a civil ceremony with the intention to have it convalidated at a later date.

After researching costs and customer satisfaction, we decided to go with All Seasons for our wedding officiant.

After reading many of the profiles and reviews, we chose Michael O’Callaghan to be our wedding officiant.

Keeping in mind that we were booking from Australia, Michael was prompt during all our email communication, always kind and polite. Before we met him, he had already given us a number of important documents to look through, including our Declaration of Marriage and logistics form to fill out.

With his years of experience, he was able to give us a number of ceremony scripts to choose from, with clear encouragement that we could customize it further to suit our personalities. He also provided a number of different reading suggestions to explore.

It was a pleasure to meet him in person over coffee on May 5, 2016. He was very caring and thoughtful. We were also pleasantly surprised to see how prepared he was – with a dossier of all necessary paperwork and copies of our customized wedding ceremony. Michael then took the time to run through every step of our ceremony, including any changes, who stands where, facing which direction, prompts, etc. There were no silly questions and we didn’t feel rushed in any way.

He was extremely understanding and didn’t even bat an eye when we told him we still had not finalized our wedding vows!

After the amount of time he spent with us at our first meeting running through the logistics and timeline of the wedding ceremony, it was absolutely not necessary to have him run an official rehearsal. We did, however, invite him to attend our ‘rehearsal dinner’ to meet the family and enjoy some food. He politely declined, saying that it was his personal rule not to attend rehearsal dinners or wedding receptions. He explained that if he accepted one invite, he would feel obligated to accept every client’s invitation – which is often not physically possible given his potential commitments.

On our wedding day, he arrived early and was able to run through a few last minute details. We especially appreciated the opportunity to honour my dad’s absence by lighting a candle in his memory during the ceremony. (Despite practicing ahead of time, it was so windy and cold that we still had trouble doing it!) The only thing we had to complain about was… it was incredibly windy, and cold! As a result, Michael decided not to use a microphone (would’ve been too noisy picking up the wind) and so our guests had quite a bit of difficulty hearing the ceremony. 😦

Overall, we were very happy with our experience in having Michael O’Callaghan officiate our wedding and would definitely recommend his services to anyone looking for an officiant!

Wedding Venue

Michael and I tossed up 2 types of venues during our wedding discussions. Below were our top picks:

  1. Beautiful, modern, all inclusive venues
    • Le Belvedere – Our initial top choice with sprawling breathtaking views of Gatineau Hills and very affordable at $139/pp. Unfortunately, with our guest list and due to its location (at least 1/2 hr from downtown Ottawa), we decided against this venue. Would definitely recommend to another bride!
    • Canadian Museum of History (previously known as the Canadian Museum of Civilization) – OUR WINNER! More information below πŸ™‚
    • Canadian Museum of Nature – multiple facility rentals to choose from with a mix of modern and old architecture and charm. Unfortunately, we never received a reply to our inquiry so eliminated by default!
    • St Elias Centre – Right by Mooney’s Bay, also all inclusive with outside caterers available
    • Canadian War Museum – We eliminated this option after visiting simply due to the ambiance (very gray and dark) – just not what we were looking for but definitely worth considering!
  2. Community halls where we can customise our own set up and food (think multi course Vietnamese food with 2 roasted pigs).

It didn’t take much research for us to decide that we would have to forego the community hall option. For a number of reasons:

  • Many halls did not have the capacity we were looking for (either too big or too small)
  • Most did not offer anything exciting in terms of architecture and potential for transformation post decoration
  • Cost of renting the hall is cheaper. But once you add the cost of hiring all the tables/chairs/linens/dinnerware, etc – it was pricey.
  • Unless you pay for additional labour, it’s a lot of manual work! And we certainly didn’t want to ask family/friends to work leading up to our wedding.
  • We would be coming home from Australia for the wedding. Time = money. The less time we spent on wedding set up, the more quality time we could spend with family and friends.
  • No community halls had cooking facilities onsite, all food would have to come pre/half-prepared and warmed up – not really what we wanted

Canadian Museum of History – Voyageurs Salon

As we would be planning a wedding in Canada from Australia – there would definitely some challenges! First up – booking a venue!

Here’s how we did it…

First step: Pick a date – May 14, 2016. We chose a spring date as it would be the earliest time to get married in beautiful Canadian weather! There was no attached significance to the date, but it also happened to be Michael’s parents’ anniversary date – so additional meaning!

Second step: Choose a venue – After hours of research online, we narrowed down our list of potential venues to the aforementioned. We were lucky to have our annual leave in March 2015 – over a year prior to our wedding date, which was lucky because we could visit the venues in person prior to committing. Be warned, book the venue as soon as you can (especially if your date is considered high season)!

Third step: Book an appointment to see the venue. Come ready with all your questions and something to take notes! Bring your phone/camera to take photos of the space because you will likely want to refer to them at a later time. This is especially true if you are visiting multiple venues! If the venue also does catering (or other services), try to set up a meeting with them at the same time. Don’t be shy – you are ultimately paying them a lot of money. If you have any negotiations or special requests you’d like to discuss, bring them up!

We dealt with a lovely lady named Roxanne at the Museum of History. She was prompt with all our email inquiries, met us in person at our meeting, took us on tour, offered advice, answered all our questions, and made sure we had the opportunity to meet with the caterer on the same day.

We fell in love with the Voyageurs Salon at the Museum of History as soon as we saw it. We also visited the Canadian Museum of War but then decided not to even bother visiting the other potential venues. Mind you, it is a cafeteria during business hours so you will have to use a bit of imagination – but Roxanne carried an iPad with photos of the venue transformed for different weddings to make it easier! (Click here to see photos) It was the perfect size for our wedding, beautiful architecture, amazing views of Ottawa and the Parliament buildings by the river, private outdoor terrace to use, very convenient location close to downtown Ottawa and nearby accommodations, cheap onsite parking, area for outdoor wedding ceremony (with rainy day back up in the upstairs Panorama Lounge available), etc. We would have to use their onsite caterer, Sodexo, but the menu was tantalizing and fit our budget.

Fourth step: Book the venue! We were sent a draft contract shortly after our meeting and after a few days of discussion, negotiations and revisions, we went ahead and booked! The venue was the first major wedding vendor we were happy to lock in well in advance!

Our favourite part about choosing this venue ($3200 at the time of booking) – was everything that was included:

  • Banquet seating for up to 160 people, including room for cocktail reception and dance
  • Set up and tear down (banquet/head/gift tables, podium, dance floor, etc)
  • Cleaning before and after
  • Food service including cocktail hour, dinner, cake, late night snack
  • Internet access
  • Projector screen
  • Security guard
  • Ambiance lighting
  • Set up for outdoor wedding ceremony
  • Private outdoor terrace
  • Museum production coordinator (who is also day of coordinator)

We also paid an additional (discounted) fee to book out the Panorama Lounge (facility upstairs) in case it was raining and we had to have our wedding ceremony indoors. By booking the room, it also meant that there would be no other wedding taking place on the same night, in the same building, and gave us access to more space for storage/getting ready/etc as needed.

After the booking, it was mostly out of sight out of mind until we were back in Canada, over 1 year later! We revisited the location on May 5, 2016 – less than 2 weeks prior to the wedding. I would suggest not leaving it this late, but unfortunately, we had no choice!

It’s great to get another perspective on what we envision and what our guests will be seeing. Here are a few photos the surrounding views:

Views of the Laurier Bridge and Parliament buildings from outside the Voyageurs Salon

IMG_7886

IMG_7887

The blossom trees lining the processional walkway, which also gave us an opportunity to practice the walk for timing!

IMG_7889

IMG_7894

IMG_7903

The open space that would set up for the outdoor wedding ceremony, facing the river.

IMG_7890

Another view of the facilities – outdoor ceremony site right in front of the Voyageurs Salon and the Panorama Lounge upstairs

IMG_7893

Upstairs from the terrace above the Panorama Lounge looking down

IMG_7881

IMG_7882

To the right of the Voyageurs Salon is the Grand Hall and main building of the Museum of History – impressive and stunning!

IMG_7896

IMG_7905

In between the 2 buildings is a large staircase that would likely be the focus of group photos

IMG_7899

IMG_7900

It was also the day we met with the caterers for our menu tasting and the museum production coordinator to confirm layout and set up for our wedding – killed many birds with one stone!

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!

20160504_130539

20160504_130658

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!

IMG_7870

Always a fav – seaweed salad

IMG_7869

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

IMG_7874

Tempura and rolls

IMG_7876

Edamame

IMG_7877

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?

IMG_7879

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

Wedding: Beginning the planning!

My official first wedding-related post!

You may have noticed, I have added a new tab to the menu called “WEDDING”
On this page I will be sharing everything related to our wedding held at the

Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, QC on May 14, 2016❀

I hope you enjoy reading about our journey preparing leading up to the big day!

In addition, I hope some of my posts may help another bride-to-be in her research and planning for her wedding! Please feel free to message if you have any questions!


Michael and I were engaged after 3 years together on March 12, 2014.

Did we start planning our wedding right away? Definitely not!

But here were a few things we knew for sure:

  1. We wanted to graduate first and start working before getting married.
  2. That very likely our wedding would be back in Ottawa, Canada (most convenient location for the majority of our family and friends) – even though an elopement or destination wedding would’ve less stressful! πŸ˜‰
  3. As international medical students studying in Australia – we were each in debt by $250+K. That meant we couldn’t actually have a real ‘budget.’ All the money we spent would be money that a) We could’ve used to pay back our debt or b) Put us in further debt.

Needless to say, the stress of school and the thought of spending quite a bit of money on a wedding was enough to keep us from any serious planning for a while!

I remember it being quite stressful, for the both of us, to discuss or even think about what we wanted for a wedding. Being international graduates, we weren’t guaranteed a job after graduating, and it was an even slimmer chance of getting a job at the same hospital, in the same city.

But our stars were aligned and when we both got offered positions together at Rockhampton Hospital beginning January 2015 – we breathed a sigh of relief knowing that we would actually be making an income and be able to even pay for a wedding!

The key: Don’t rush into planning a wedding if you are not mentally/physically/financially ready to do so!

We finally started discussing and researching our wedding options. Here are some of our topics that I’ll eventually be sharing in more detail…

  • Venue
  • Ceremony (I’m Catholic and Michael is Protestant)
  • Food (our main priority)
  • Music (self/band/DJ, etc)
  • Photographer (Sandra’s must have)
  • Videographer
  • Bridal party
  • Incorporating cultural aspects
  • Number of guests
  • Officiant
  • Wedding dress
  • Tuxedo/suit
  • Accessories
  • Decor/theme
  • Flowers
  • Cake
  • Hair/makeup
  • Stationary (RSVPs/invites/programs/menus, etc)
  • Gifts for parents/bridal party, etc
  • Wedding favours

Before looking into anything specific, I started my ‘planning’ by spending quite a bit of time browsing wedding boards on Pinterest, saving everything from colour palettes, hair/makeup looks, wedding dresses, etc. It was so easy and such a great platform for me to quickly get ideas and see related looks.

I also read a lot on wedding boards/websites like Wedding Bee and The Knot. I had no experience with wedding planning and I had yet to attend any weddings – there were many things I needed to learn! Questions to ask vendors before hiring them, etiquette for invite wording, ideas for bridesmaid gifts, order of procession, etc! Of course, there is no definite right or wrong way to do anything, as a wedding is your own, but it’s always good to get the general idea of how things are usually done!

I definitely recommend doing the above to get started on your wedding planning! And don’t forget to ask your family and friends for ideas/advice – they are a wealth of information sometimes. But always be careful of the strong personalities!

I also highly suggest discussing with your partner in advance what your priorities are when it comes to the wedding. Gives you a rough breakdown of where the biggest chunks of your money will be going towards. For example:

  • Michael and I both agreed that our venue, food, and photographer were most important to us.
  • I couldn’t care less about spending tons of money on a designer wedding gown I’ll only wear once.
  • We were both easy going with music options.
  • Videography would be nice to have but not essential if we wanted to save money.
  • We both felt it was wasteful to spend a lot of money on fresh flowers for bouquets/decor and were keen to look for cheaper options and fake flowers

Then came the real planning… when we started communicating with actual people about what we wanted for the big day. πŸ™‚

Will share more with individual posts – stay tuned! And thanks for reading! πŸ™‚

Back in Ottawa!

May 03, 2016

You know you’re back in Canada when…

IMG_7849

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!

IMG_7864

20160504_002807

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

IMG_7856

IMG_7859

IMG_7862

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

IMG_7866

IMG_7867

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!

Off to Brisbane!

May 02-03, 2016

Finally, 5 weeks of night ward call are over for the both of us! On to 5 weeks of holiday! Including getting married! Can you imagine how excited we were to embark on this adventure?!

BRISBANE MAY 2016

Thank you Yoni for picking us up when we landed in Brisbane, obviously so good to see you again! πŸ˜€

BRISBANE MAY 2016

We were so excited to enjoy a delicious Japanese lunch at our collective favourite – Wagaya – in Chinatown. Unfortunately, it was closed! Not sure why, but perhaps it was a holiday (May Day)?

BRISBANE MAY 2016

Instead, we had lunch at Thai Wi-Rat, with very cheap options off their lunch menu!

BRISBANE MAY 2016

Both Yoni and I got rice with roasted pork (approx $10). Rather than succulent pork with crispy skin, Thai Wi-Rat appears to further fry/bake their pork after chopping – which made it quite tough and dry 😦 I have also never liked the bland cooked vegetables that often accompany such meals – I would much prefer a dressed salad or a bit of stirfry, but I suppose it’s standard! My Thai iced tea was good though!

BRISBANE MAY 2016

Mike quite enjoyed his rice with roasted duck πŸ™‚

BRISBANE MAY 2016

We then checked into our serviced apartment at the Meriton on Herschel Street. Beautiful view and a good value for the space – which is also perfect for entertaining some friends!

BRISBANE MAY 2016

BRISBANE MAY 2016

Our amazing view – we missed Brisbane!

BRISBANE MAY 2016

BRISBANE MAY 2016

BRISBANE MAY 2016

BRISBANE MAY 2016

BRISBANE MAY 2016

I asked the Meriton to leave a note from me to Michael in our hotel prior to checking in. It wasn’t a problem and a welcomed surprise for him!

BRISBANE MAY 2016

Cheers to our holiday!!

BRISBANE MAY 2016

Night view was just as nice!

BRISBANE MAY 2016

In the evening, we caught up with one of our favourite gals – Fiona! Had some delicious Korean food including crispy chicken wings and bulgogi at another favourite – Maru!

BRISBANE MAY 2016

So good to see this one!

BRISBANE MAY 2016

Yoni dropped by after his evening shift to hang out with us some more – and he drove us to their airport the following morning, you’re the best!

BRISBANE MAY 2016

Gloomy morning before checking out!

BRISBANE MAY 2016

No problems with checking in for our flight and soon we were on our way to North America! First, Brisbane to Los Angeles with Qantas. Then, Los Angeles to Toronto to Ottawa with Air Canada!

I’ve always liked the better quality of food with Qantas airline!

BRISBANE MAY 2016

BRISBANE MAY 2016

BRISBANE MAY 2016

SOON… HOME SWEET HOME!

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!

IMG_7715

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

Saucy crab with noodles

IMG_7717

And chili crab!

IMG_7720

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

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.

IMG_7693

Mr good looking!

IMG_7692

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

IMG_7694

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

IMG_7696

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

IMG_7698

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!

Untitled

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!

IMG_7659

IMG_7656

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

IMG_7655

Can get a little stifling protected from the breeze!

IMG_7649

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!

IMG_7652

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

IMG_7650

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

IMG_7648

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!

IMG_7570

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!

IMG_7569

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 πŸ˜‰ Chips were nice as well!

IMG_7566

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

IMG_7565

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

IMG_7568

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 & CrΓͺpe 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!

1static1-squarespace-comΒ static1-squarespace-com IMG_7539

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

IMG_7535

My tired date πŸ™‚

IMG_7543

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

IMG_7544

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!

IMG_7545

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 πŸ™‚

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!

IMG_7500 Would love to eat these fresh on the streets of Korea one day, but for now, we will enjoy some piping hot Hotteok at home! These are sweet chewy pancakes with a molten brown sugar, cinnamon and walnut filling – as delicious as it sounds! IMG_7486

Night Ward Call

March 28 – May 1, 2016

5 weeks… 5 gruesome weeks of night shifts, being the only junior doctor covering nearly the entire hospital including: general medicine, general surgery, orthopaedics, cardiology, sub-acute geriatric evaluation, pallative care + oncology.

Let’s just say it was a lonesome time working mostly by yourself! Never another soul in the staff lounge whenΒ  you do have a few minutes to relax.

IMG_7460

IMG_7459

There were many significant moments for me, including unexpected deterioration and deaths of patients, attending my first full-on resus (CPR, advanced life support – patient didn’t make it), managing many acutely unwell patients, etc!

One of the more fun moments – being approached by a nurse, “I don’t know what’s happening with this patient, but there’s all this blood on the floor after she’s gone to the toilet!”

My immediate reaction, “What?! What do you mean you don’t know?!” This was also right in the middle of reassessing a lady for a potential MET call. So the shift coordinatory (nurse in change) and I ran down to the other side of the ward to check on this other lady and was greeted by this wonderful sight:

IMG_7467

Don’t worry guys, she was fine! She just had a huge infected intra-abdominal abscess that was awaiting surgery when it finally exploded! She was actually feeling well with some of the pressure relieved!

So many memories from my 5 weeks on night ward call – it was definitely busy and sometimes incredibly stressful. But my medicine has definitely improved and I was happy for the experience.

Not to mention, I lost weight working nights and looked my best (ever) for our wedding! πŸ˜‰

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

IMG_7449

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

IMG_7447

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.

IMG_7445

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!

IMG_7450

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

 

 

Walk around Kershaw Gardens

March 29, 2016

After our breakfast at The 2 Professors, Michael and I went for a lovely stroll in Kershaw Gardens. Unfortunately, a large majority of the park remains closed since Cyclone Marcia came through last year.

Here are a few beauties from our short visit!

IMG_7403

IMG_7404

Understandable if this is why the park is still not open!

IMG_7406

IMG_7410

IMG_7411

Ants feasting on a dead moth!

IMG_7415

Pond covered with water lilies

IMG_7421

Great little stroll in the park before going to home to sleep! πŸ™‚ Hopefully the full park reopens soon!

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.

IMG_7395

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

IMG_7396

IMG_7389

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

IMG_7394

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

IMG_7400

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

IMG_7397

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!

IMG_7461

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! πŸ˜‰

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

IMG_7581

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.

IMG_7368

Our company for the night πŸ˜‰

IMG_7378

IMG_7375

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

IMG_7369

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!

IMG_7373

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

IMG_7584

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!

IMG_7371

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! πŸ˜‰

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 πŸ™‚

IMG_7344

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

IMG_7347

Neat mismatched decor

IMG_7349

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

IMG_7348

My husband in desperate need of a haircut

IMG_7353

Everyone agreed the coffee was great!

IMG_7355

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.

IMG_7357

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 😦

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

IMG_7358

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!

Untitled

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 πŸ˜›

IMG_7210

IMG_7212

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.

IMG_7217

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!

IMG_7219

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!

IMG_7229

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).

IMG_7251

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.

IMG_7248

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 πŸ˜‰

IMG_7253

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 πŸ™‚

IMG_7280

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

IMG_7283

IMG_7286

IMG_7288

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!

IMG_7173

February 27, 2016

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

IMG_7186

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

IMG_7189

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!

IMG_7221 (1)

March 5, 2016

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

IMG_7239

Classic banana fritters

IMG_7241

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!

IMG_7244

IMG_7247

March 19, 2016

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

IMG_7311

March 22, 2016

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

IMG_7331

IMG_7425

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.

IMG_7428

IMG_7432

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?

IMG_7436

$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!

IMG_7133

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…

IMG_7138

IMG_7168

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.

IMG_7159

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

IMG_7140

IMG_7146

IMG_7143

IMG_7148

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

IMG_2051

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!

IMG_7141

IMG_7150

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!

IMG_7149

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

IMG_7154

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

IMG_7155

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

IMG_7156

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

IMG_7158

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

IMG_7151

And another… scallops on a spoon with chili

IMG_7153

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

Chocolate Mud Cake

IMG_7164

House Made Cheese Cake

IMG_7162

Sticky Date Pudding served with Warm Caramel Sauce

IMG_7166

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

IMG_7167

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!

IMG_7023

February 11, 2016

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

IMG_7050

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!

IMG_7056

Hello to my first gray hair! And definite baldness!

IMG_7054

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

IMG_7077

Even with a storm, how gorgeous are these views?

IMG_7069

IMG_7072

IMG_7074

IMG_7063

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

IMG_7066

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

IMG_7078

IMG_7080

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!

P2130013

IMG_7082

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

P2130017

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

IMG_7088

IMG_7091

IMG_7099

February 20, 2016

It was a rainy day today…

IMG_7132

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

IMG_7122

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 πŸ˜‰

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).

IMG_4482

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.

IMG_7007

We enjoyed a number of tapas dishes including the following:

Leek & manchego croquette with spicy mayonnaise ($9)

IMG_7019

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

IMG_7015

Lemon pepper calamari with tartare and lemon ($12)

IMG_7014

Sweet potato wedges with sweet chili mayonnaise ($8)

IMG_7016

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)

IMG_7012

IMG_7017

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 πŸ˜‰

From their website:

Real foodies with real passion put happiness on a plate every Friday and Saturday night til 10pm.Β Many foodies are in fact chefs! Β 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.

IMG_6976

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

IMG_6980

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

IMG_6977

IMG_6973

IMG_7046

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!

IMG_6989

IMG_6988

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.

IMG_6986

IMG_6984

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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

IMG_6856

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!

IMG_6854

January 26, 2016

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

Cookie wanting a share of pancakes as well…

IMG_6863

Chilled

IMG_6869

IMG_6870

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.

IMG_6872

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 πŸ™‚

IMG_6878

IMG_6880

IMG_6882

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.

IMG_6896

IMG_6898

IMG_6884

IMG_6886

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

IMG_6888

IMG_6894

And again, Cookie always wanting a part πŸ˜‰

IMG_6904

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!

IMG_6712

IMG_6714

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

IMG_6719

IMG_6724

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

IMG_6726

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!

IMG_6727

IMG_6728

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!

IMG_6736

IMG_6738

January 02, 2016

How lucky, still off work!

IMG_6750

We went to Yeppoon – Rosslyn Bay

IMG_6753

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

IMG_6748

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

IMG_6755

IMG_6757

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!

IMG_6762

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,Β  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!

IMG_6668

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!

IMG_6674

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

IMG_6671

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!

IMG_6676

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!

IMG_6677

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)

IMG_6679

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

IMG_6682

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!

IMG_6534

IMG_6548

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

IMG_6564

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!

IMG_9938

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 πŸ˜‰

IMG_6569

A card from Michael’s parents

IMG_6570

IMG_6574

Some of Michael’s stocking stuffers

IMG_6571

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

IMG_6575

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

IMG_6577

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!

IMG_6580

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

IMG_6648

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 πŸ™‚

IMG_6583

Old man Jin helping with lunch

IMG_6591

IMG_6593

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

IMG_6584

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!

IMG_6588

IMG_6595

IMG_6596

IMG_6597

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!

IMG_6608

IMG_6613

IMG_6609

How cute are these two?

IMG_6599

IMG_6605

Garrett mugs for everyone!

IMG_6614

IMG_6635

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

IMG_6651

Love you guys!

IMG_6616

Dessert

IMG_6617

IMG_6621

IMG_6625

IMG_6630

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

IMG_6619

IMG_6632

IMG_6634

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 πŸ˜‰

IMG_6639

Even from afar they think of us too ❀

IMG_6642

These two!

IMG_6644

IMG_6646

A beautiful Christmas gift from Amanda – diffuser with mood lighting

IMG_6652

IMG_6658

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

IMG_6688

IMG_6690

So many delicious goodies!

IMG_6693

And some beautiful Christmas cards from our friends ❀

IMG_6788

IMG_6789

Great Keppel Island… again!

December 18-20, 2015

After our first visit, we knew we would be back. What better way to celebrate upcoming Christmas than an island getaway with friends?

Jess, Jin, Mike and I went over to GKI first on the 18th. Due to some recent bad weather, the ride over on the smaller ferry with Keppel Konnections was a non stop crazy roller coaster ride. Thank goodness I took some Gravol before we left because my sea sickness would’ve left me very, very unwell πŸ˜›

IMG_6442

Unlike camping last time, we booked a cabin this visit. More specifically, we booked the A Frame with The Hideaway for approximately $300/night. They say maximum 6 people occupancy, but there are 3 queen beds and 3 single beds with enough towels for 9 people!

IMG_6445

IMG_6454

IMG_6463

The cabin did not have AC but very spacious and cool. Comfortable dining and living area. The only downside is 1 washroom, but you can always duck outside to use the public toilets and showers! They also have a small kitchenette but no oven/microwave.

IMG_6446

IMG_6477

We were blessed with beautiful weather both days! The first night, we took it easy, chilling out and enjoying a nice charcuterie dinner in the cabin after sunset.

IMG_0091

Sunset yoga on the beach!

IMG_0093

IMG_0097

Sillies!

IMG_0110

Beautiful sunset!

IMG_0116

IMG_0123

IMG_0134

IMG_0136

Amanda and Kon joined us the following morning – yay! We did the hike over first to Monkey Beach to enjoy some private beaches and snorkeling in great weather

How gorgeous is this?

PC180041

Great conditions for snorkeling as well!

PC180028

Amanda ❀ Kon

PC180059

PC180063

Relaxation 101

PC180065

How beautiful does the water look?

PC180069

White soft sand

PC190109

During snorkeling, we saw an enormous sting ray… looked like a dinosaur! Imagine the sound of its wings as it flaps across the ocean floor…

PC180084

Really good quality time with some best friends πŸ™‚

PC190088

PC190093

PC190089

PC190125

Mermaid on the beach

PC190112

They boys decided to build a spa – really like this photo!

PC190119

Here is a video from our first visit to GKI – to give you an idea of what snorkeling has to offer!

One of the highlights of our trip? Skyping with my greatest friends back in Canada! Had the chance to catch up and show them the beautiful beaches they were missing out while suffering Canadian winter πŸ˜‰

IMG_6489

And hearing the greatest news… Ruixi and Chris expecting their first child due in June!

IMG_6485

I even got to participate in a gift exchange… I have the best friends ever!

IMG_6486

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!

PC040001

PC040007

PC040010

PC040016

Group photo courtesy of Sail Capricornia – check them out!

IMG_6383

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.

IMG_6372

IMG_6374

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?’

IMG_6403

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!

IMG_6400

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.

IMG_6402

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!

IMG_6407

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

IMG_6408


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.

IMG_6415

IMG_6412

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.

IMG_6413

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 😦

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!

IMG_6421

Putting up the Christmas Tree!

November 26, 2015

We put up the Christmas tree! Of course we didn’t care that it was not yet December, we would’ve put it up earlier if we could!

IMG_6305

Apparently, it was enough of a celebration for Michael to finally break into his Christmas present from me last year – a 21 year old Glenfiddich single malt scotch whisky. It was pretty tasty, even I (and I don’t like scotch) enjoyed a sip! Michael was a happy man!

IMG_6297

IMG_6301

IMG_6302

And he got to spend the whole evening with this crazy one…

IMG_6308

Ta da!

IMG_6309

Some our favourite decorations, mini-me graduation presents from Uncle Rick and Aunt Wendy! Not that the inscription is in any way true!

IMG_6311

IMG_6313

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.

IMG_6263

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

IMG_6268

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!

IMG_6265

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.

IMG_6269

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.

IMG_6271

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

IMG_6270

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.

IMG_5776

IMG_5778

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

IMG_5781

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

IMG_5777

A very uncomplicated menu, but something for everyone.

IMG_5779

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)

IMG_5785

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!

IMG_5786

The panko crumbed option is the best in my opinion. Perfect crunch πŸ˜‰ 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 πŸ™‚

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

Our New Getaway – Great Keppel Island

November 20-21, 2015

We couldn’t believe we didn’t do this sooner – what an amazing place!

Less than an hour drive from Rockhampton to Keppel Bay Marina followed by a 30 minute ferry ride over – Great Keppel Island offers beautiful views and gorgeous beaches with soft white sand and calm, crystal clear waters.

IMG_6144

There are 2 main ferry operators: Larger ferry with Freedom Fast Cats ($55 return) and a smaller ride through Keppel Konnections ($45 return). Both ferries will drop you off on Fisherman’s Beach – the main beach and hub where accommodation and restaurants are located.

IMG_6184

There are two main accommodations: Great Keppel Island Hideaway and Great Keppel Island Holiday Village. Prices are extremely reasonable, especially during off season. Both offer a number of options for a variety of group sizes, including: camping sites, cabins, decked tents, bunk houses, and houses. Depends on your mood obviously, but check all the options available!

For our first visit, Michael and I decided to camp – so we packed up all our gear booked a plot at Holiday Village. Toilet and kitchen facilities provided, along with use of snorkel gear and paddle boards, which is great!

IMG_0075

Here is something we always do and highly recommend πŸ˜‰ Bring a no fuss meal to have your first evening on the island. Bring it to the beach and watch the beautiful sunset. Our favourite? A charcuterie dinner – lightweight, everything packs nicely in a small cooler bag, delicious variety, and goes perfect with a bottle of wine. A blanket, some crackers, bread, dips, olives, meats, cheese, fruit, a bottle of wine, some disposable cutlery and cups are all you need for a romantic, delicious sunset dinner.

IMG_6204

IMG_0020

IMG_0027

IMG_6211

Look at how gorgeous it is!

IMG_6217

IMG_6218

IMG_6227

Our other food recommendation? Enjoy a filling hot buffet breakfast in the morning (available some days) at the GKI Hideaway Island Bar & Bistro before heading out. Bring lots of snacks and water and hike over to swim and enjoy the many other beautiful beaches! End your night back on the main beach enjoying cold drinks and a meal at one of the restaurants πŸ˜‰

IMG_0051

Yoga seagull

IMG_9977

Lots of opportunity for people watching (as you might have noticed already in this post)

IMG_9983

We have only explored some of the beaches on the South Eastern side of the island – but hope to explore others in the future!

GKI map

We definitely enjoyed hiking over to Long Beach, then back towards Monkey Beach and Shelving Beach. Don’t forget to bring your snorkel gear! There is some pretty decent coral reefs just a short swim from shore from Monkey and Shelving beaches! You will have to climb uphill so need to be in a little bit of shape!

IMG_6182

View of Fisherman’s Beach on our hike over to nearby beaches!

IMG_6175

And view of the nearby Keppel Islands

IMG_6177

Long Beach

IMG_6146

IMG_6148

IMG_6154

IMG_6151

You know it, with views and peaceful scenery like that, we definitely have gone back. And plan to do so again many times as we can while we live in Rockhampton!

IMG_6230

IMG_9962

IMG_9971

IMG_9997

Friends, come visit us! We will take you here! πŸ™‚

Moments of November 2015

November 07, 2015

Surprisingly a good handful of colleagues who also enjoy board games!

10580746_10101352544483026_8847581663142856376_o

12357067_10101352544443106_5397146351429114302_o

November 12, 2015

A Christmas parade in the summer! We have never seen such a thing so took advantage of the evening off. Michael and I had dinner at Nando’s (always have to remind myself never to go there again… just don’t see the appeal!) right by the road the parade was passing through.

IMG_6094

IMG_6096

Those poor possibly confused kids – we saw over 5 Santas in that parade! πŸ˜›

IMG_6099

Certainly nowhere near the extravagance of Christmas parades we are used to but still heartwarming to see all the participants in their vehicles and the families lining the streets to cheer and support!

IMG_6100

November 13, 2015

A farewell tea for one of our favourites – Dr Jama! A long term locum who was moving on to work in Brisbane – everyone was sad to see him go! He was the first supervisor I worked under as an intern and certainly one of the best first experiences as a junior doctor!

IMG_6107

IMG_6111

Michael also had the chance to work with him, I think we are both on the same page! Sad to see him go!

IMG_6108

IMG_6109

Lucky for us, since November, Dr Jama has since come back to work again as a medical specialist locum – hooray for us!

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.Β  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.

IMG_5909

Naps while the turkey was cooking πŸ˜›

IMG_5912

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

IMG_5914

IMG_5918

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!

IMG_9921

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!

IMG_9923

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

IMG_5900

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!

IMG_9910

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

IMG_9906

IMG_9907

IMG_9911

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

IMG_9904

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

IMG_9908

IMG_9903

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

IMG_9914

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

IMG_9915

IMG_9916

Even their dog Cookie came dressed as a witch!

IMG_5923

Thug Rachit representing his hometown Toronto πŸ˜‰

IMG_9926

IMG_5928

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 πŸ˜‰ And there was one without a costume, I’m looking at you Bryan!

Obligatory Canadian group photo

IMG_9930

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

IMG_5931

IMG_9917

IMG_5922

IMG_5913

Including Mediterranean risotto from Lisa

IMG_9922

Pasta bake with beans and cheese by Angela

IMG_9919

Sweet potato cups by Amanda

IMG_9918

Spicy fried rice by Bryan

IMG_9920

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

IMG_5933

IMG_5936

IMG_5938

2 Jins?

IMG_5929

2 Gs?

IMG_5930

IMG_9928

IMG_9929

Hope everyone left stuffed – we sure were.

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

IMG_5940

IMG_5972

IMG_5946

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!

IMG_5877

Our dinner dates!

IMG_5875

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)

IMG_5878

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!

IMG_5881

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.

IMG_5879

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