$40 Tapas & Wood fired pizza at Kanangra Heights

February 20, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wood fired garlic bread – yum!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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And another… scallops on a spoon with chili

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

Chocolate Mud Cake

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House Made Cheese Cake

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Sticky Date Pudding served with Warm Caramel Sauce

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

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

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

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

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 😉

From their website:

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

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Look who we ran into! Daniel and his partner finishing up their dinner 🙂

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

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

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

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

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.  The catch? Wear costumes as it’s obviously Halloween, and bring a little something to share!

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

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Naps while the turkey was cooking 😛

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Even their dog Cookie came dressed as a witch!

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Thug Rachit representing his hometown Toronto 😉

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

Obligatory Canadian group photo

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

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Including Mediterranean risotto from Lisa

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Pasta bake with beans and cheese by Angela

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Sweet potato cups by Amanda

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Spicy fried rice by Bryan

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

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2 Jins?

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2 Gs?

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Hope everyone left stuffed – we sure were.

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

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Until next year!

Triple birthday dinner at The Ranch

September 12, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2 of our birthday boys

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

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Birthday girl, pretty in red!

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

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

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

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

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

Triple Birthday Dinner

September 12, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jin’s birthday!

September 5, 2015

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

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Ice cream cake for the birthday boy!

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They have matching eye smiles! 🙂

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Moments back in Ottawa

We had a few goals this time back in Ottawa:

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

Did we obtain our goals? Yes!

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

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

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

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

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Here are some photos of my grandpa after coming out of surgery – smiling and hopeful 🙂 And aside from ugly stitches, he experienced no complications!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When my sister agreed to be my maid of honour 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Waiting in line at one of these huts…

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

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

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

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The food and service almost never disappoints!

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Lots of silly moments with my family

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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She look like a doll or what?

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

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

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

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Looking back now… what an unbelievably short trip 😦 Until next year!

Having friends over for dinner!

October 24, 2014

After so many months of talking about getting together for a catch up, we finally did it! Bing came over for dinner and we agreed on preparing a 3 course meal between the three of us. Unfortunately, I, of all people, forgot to take a group photo! 😦 Instead, I only have photos of our meal.

Bing prepared the entree – Perfectly cooked mussels in beer with Asian flavours. We prepared the main dish (Banh Tam Xiu Mai) as well as the dessert – Vietnamese Flan. My first time making flan with over-the-phone-directions from my mum, turned out way better than expected!

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Felt like we could’ve kept talking through the night. Had a great time and can’t wait to do it again!


October 27, 2014

Being able to get to know Sam over this year was definitely a treat, especially during our Obstetrics & Gynaecology rotation. Lots of laughs and assistance with keeping sanity were provided on his end. I was lucky, I even got to hear stories of his relationship, including his plan to propose! If you know me, you know I get super duper excited for other people when it comes to things like this. Both Mike and I were very happy to learn of their engagement while we were back in Canada! Unfortunately, we didn’t attend Sam & Kim’s engagement party. But… we finally got the chance to catch up and more importantly, meet Kim!

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We invited them over for dinner and without thinking, decided to make Thai green curry with rice for dinner on a super hot day. The heat and spice may have been a little overwhelming, our bad! Sam & Kim brought equipment over to make hotcakes for dessert. Unfortunately, what they didn’t know ahead of time is our microwave is broken and can only run for a total of 4.5 minutes before it dies. These hotcakes that were meant to be a simple dessert because they were prepared in advance and only needed cooking in the microwave ended up having to be steamed over the stove. Sorry guys!

Delicious though! Full of citrus flavours with a dollop of cream balancing out the sweetness.

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Thanks for coming guys!

Breakfast at Cafe Auchenflower

October 5, 2014

After months of being away, we finally caught up with James and Kim over breakfast at Cafe Auchenflower.

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With a cute and homely atmosphere, Cafe Auchenflower invites you in with friendly service and a steady stream of customers.

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A small menu that offers both sweet and savoury items, something for everyone.

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We started off with drinks, including a nice flat white, freshly brewed tea and iced coffee with ice cream

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I ordered an iced chocolate, which was a little disappointing. Simply milk with chocolate syrup, not overly cold and certainly not iced.

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James and Kim decided on poached eggs on sourdough bread ($13) with a couple of sides, each around $3 (avocado, fritters, bacon).

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Michael couldn’t pass up the opportunity to pass up Benedict Eggs on toasted sourdough with bacon ($17).

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Everyone received consistent beautifully poached eggs and quite enjoyed their breakfast.

I ordered the Breaky Wrap with bacon, egg, greens, corn salsa & chipotle mayo ($17). Grilled to perfection with a generous amount of greens and bacon, although eggs a little overcooked.

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And don’t forget to check out the cabinet on your way out, tasty treats to pick up!

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A lovely breakfast with great company! However, despite a good visit and food, Michael and I did find the menu overpriced and won’t be too hasty to return.

Cafe Auchenflower on Urbanspoon

Last moments with friends in Halifax

September 12, 2014

Our last night in Halifax, Matt and Laura were kind enough to let us have a BBQ at their house for one last chance to see everyone! Thank you Dan, Will, Ian & Sarah, Mike & Tina, and Christine & Stella for dropping by and spending time with us! We will miss you all!

Here are a few photos I took with Laura and Christine and their daughters playing outside while we waited for the boys to return from Go-Karting.

Beep beep!

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Stella was so shy initially!

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Isabelle is such a miniature version of Matt, it is uncanny. So adorable!

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Haha, this is her ‘smelling the flowers’ face, so cute!

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Hopping/skipping/running down the neighbourhood!

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Smiles with Christine and Isabelle!

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Some mommy daughter moments

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Sorry I didn’t take more photos with everyone who came by, but thank you to EVERYONE for your time and hospitality during our stay in Halifax, we miss you all tons!

Post exam dinner at Agricola Street Brasserie

September 11, 2014

Ecstatic to have completed our Medical Specialties exam, we were looking forward to a nice dinner with friends. A highly anticipated visit to Agricola Street Brasserie – finally! We were joined for dinner by Laura, Matt and their daughter Isabelle, as well as Ian & Sarah. 🙂

I have to apologize that we didn’t take many photos, too busy enjoying the food and everyone’s company!

You are immediately invited into the restaurant by the great atmosphere and friendly waitstaff. High ceilings, very rustic (yet classy) looking with mood lighting.

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We all enjoyed a cocktail to start, great choices available, although I can’t remember what we ordered now! Once our dinner orders in, some nice house bread and whipped butter were brought to the table. The butter was presented in cute mini jam jars, a cute touch!

We ordered a few appetizers to share, including a cheese plate with local and imported cheeses ($14). The cheese variety (can’t remember, sorry!) was interesting and tasty, served with bread, crisps and mango chutney. I think most of us enjoyed the blue cheese most, which was unexpected! With the amount of cheese on the plate, it could’ve definitely used more crisps or bread, although I’m sure it wouldn’t have been a problem if we had asked for more.

Mike and I picked out 2 dishes to try and share with everyone. The first was Classic Beef Tartare ($15). I quite liked the presentation of this dish, mainly because of the egg yolk in a half shell you pour over the beef yourself. Simple, but nice touch! The tartare was nicely seasoned accompanied perfectly with the dijon mustard and served with grilled bread – yum!

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The other appetizer we chose was Snails & Mushrooms, Garlic & Parsley Butter, Almond & Thyme Tartine ($13). This dish was fantastic! Heaping amounts of really tasty large snails and mushrooms atop 3 slices of bread. The bread soaked up all the juices, making sure we didn’t lose any of the delicious flavours! Unfortunately, only one other person at the table, aside from Mike and I, tried this dish with us. The others missed out!

The appetizer portions were a great value for the price. Unlike numerous other restaurants we’ve visited, these appetizers could easily be enjoyed between a group of 6 people!

For mains, Michael chose the Thai Sausage, Stir Fried Brussel Sprouts, Thai Chilies, Cilantro ($19). Really tasty dish with a lovely fragrant and texture to the sausage. However, we both felt that it could’ve used a small portion of seasoned rice or other form of carb to balance out the taste and look of this dish.

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Ian and myself chose the Basmati Rice & Chick Pea Salad, Vegetables & Herbs, Ginger, Lime, Olive Oil ($14). Flavours, delicious. I loved the crispness of the fried chick peas, they added really good texture to the dish. I’m generally not a fan of basmati rice compared to other types but this salad was done well with fresh vegetables and a nice, crisp dressing. The only thing about this dish that I didn’t enjoy? Too many hot chilies for my palate, I had to pick out quite a few!

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Other mains ordered at our table include the Roasted Halibut, Sweet Pea Puréeé, Mussel Butter, Pea & Brocoli ($27) which was thoroughly enjoyed with no complaints.

Another was the Seared Scallops, Cauliflower three ways, Bacon, Apple & Thyme ($25), which was unfortunately a disappointment. The scallops did not have a beautiful golden sear on them and the vegetables, especially cauliflower three ways, was too lacking. Compared to the serving size of other dishes, including appetizers, this one was tiny. Visually and conceptually, I think this dish needs to be rethought.

At one point during our dinner, the restaurant manager, Peter Goneau, stopped by our table to say hello and see how the evening was going. Mike and I always appreciate when staff go the extra mile to check in on their customers!

Everybody enjoyed desserts, some of which are not listed on the current menu. Matt had ordered a creme brulee while Laura enjoyed a sundae. Ian and Sarah enjoyed a chocolate pot de creme.

Mike and I shared what we thought would be a strawberry cheesecake. But it turned out to be almost a mix between cheesecake and strawberry shortcake. Mike was so disappointed but I quite liked it!

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At one point during dinner, I took a bathroom break, where I discovered 2 things:

  1. Really cool toilets! Individual private bathrooms with great personality. Love some of the unique touches like the faucets, and the door handles which were crafted from pipes.
  2. The open kitchen, that you can sit and dine at. As this area is tucked away from the main dining room, I had no idea but this would definitely be where I’d want to sit at for my next meal. Enjoying good food while seeing the magic happen in the kitchen, yes please!

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Great ambiance, attentive service, reasonable prices and overall very tasty food – one of my most enjoyable restaurant experiences during my time in Halifax. I’m keen to see what seasonal dishes will be on their menu the next time I visit!

Agricola Street Brasserie on Urbanspoon

One last meal with Bill at Dharma Sushi

Sept 10, 2014

Bill drove Michael up into the city from New Germany as we had our final exam the following day.

Of course, we couldn’t say farewell without a final meal together. We ended up at Dharma Sushi, one of Bill’s favourite Japanese restaurants. Walked into a narrow restaurant with 2 rows of small tables lining the walls, a few occupied by obvious regular patrons – always a good sign!

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Started with some warm sake around the table! Couldn’t celebrate too much, had an exam to study for! 😉

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We shared a couple of appetizers, including a dish of Gyoza (6pcs for $7.95). Thin, crispy, delicate skins enveloping a nicely seasoned meat filling.

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I also chose a 10pc Dharma Diamond specialty roll with crispy avocado, Eel, Salmon, & spicy sauce with golden roe and chives on top ($12.95). Lovely blend of textures and flavours, highly recommend this roll if you’re dining at Dharma Sushi!

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For mains, we all couldn’t pass up the new menu item: Dharma Ramen with shio-kouji (salted rice malt) based broth ($10.95). The ramen was good, but not the best we’ve ever tasted. Bill loved the ramen, however, both Mike and I found the broth needed more flavour. The noodles were excellent, but some fattier slices of pork and a medium boiled egg would’ve certainly added more richness to the dish.

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It was nice to see you Bill, thanks again for everything!

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A great little restaurant offering delicious Japanese cuisine with exceptional quality service, highly recommend! Would love to visit again when I’m back in Halifax to try some of their other dishes!

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Dharma Sushi on Urbanspoon

New Germany with the Gregory Family

August 23 – 24, 2014

Mike and I spent my first weekend in Nova Scotia down in New Germany with Bill and Nina’s family! 🙂 They live on a farm with acres of land, animals and delicious fruits and vegetables.

Our visit in photos!

Nina and their beautiful daughter Lily with her donkey Captain Underpants!

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Visiting the horses

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Their beautiful horses

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Heading over to Uta’s (Nina’s mom) property next door

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Chickens on Uta’s property

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Giving Captain Underpants a brush

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See ya later!

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How adorable is she?

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Lily’s brother Archer – look at that smile!

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Picking blackberries 🙂

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Archer with grandpa (Bill’s dad)

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Kids and grandpa

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Nina designed and Bill built the kids… a three storey castle!

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Bill with Lily in the castle

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Lily helping grandma (Bill’s mom) shuck corn!

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Hauling the corn over to daddy to cook

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Family fun on the trampoline

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Pensive Bill

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Kisses

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Bill’s chickens – almost ready to eat 😉

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And their turkeys

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Daddy and the kids

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Archer loves his apples, and look at those blue eyes!

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Such a smart girl!

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Evening bonfire

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Locating some more blackberries on a walk around their farm

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Gross!

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This furry catepillar was kind of cute

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On Sunday, Mike and I made dinner! Banh Mi (Vietnamese subs) with homemade BBQ pork, garlic mayo and pickled carrots.

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Matt, Laura and their daughter Isabelle came down to join from Halifax! And Uta came over as well 🙂

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Thank you for welcoming me into your home Bill and Nina! It was great to spend time with you and the kids! ❤

Good times in Halifax

Mike gave me a lovely surprise when he picked me up at the airport in Halifax on the evening of August 16th. I was expecting to go back to Matt & Laura’s – where he had been staying and where I would be staying for the month. Instead, he took me to Holiday Inn Habourview for an evening together with just the 2 of us. After weeks of being apart, it was so nice to spend time with just him.  We even went fancy and had McDonald’s for late dinner 😛 Here’s the view from our balcony, from Dartmouth looking over at Halifax.

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The following morning, Matt was kind enough to come and bring us back to his place. Shortly after, while they were out visiting family, Mike and I went for a drink at Lion & Bright on Agricola St.

Loved the atmosphere! High ceilings with communal and private tables, even work stations. On one side, it is a cafe but come evening, it blends perfectly to a wine bar/restaurant.

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We snacked on maple chili popcorn, which was an interesting combination, and enjoyed a glass of red. Unfortunately, they don’t have a drinks menu online and we can’t remember what we had off the top of our head – it was good wine though!

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Unfortunately, the weekend was short lived and Michael soon had to head off for his elective in Bridgewater, leaving me in Halifax. Luckily, I was never truly alone as I stayed with Matt & Laura! 🙂 I definitely worked hard and long hours in hospital during the weekdays, but weekends were always full of fun!

Here are some weekend highlights. Many of them will have their own separate post, so stay tuned!

August 22 – 24

  • Dinner at the Brooklyn Warehouse with my love
  • Spending time with Bill and Nina’s family on their farm in New Germany and even sneaking in some photography! Matt & Laura come down as well, enjoyed a yummy dinner of Banh Mi.

August 29 – Sept 1 (Labour Day long weekend)

  • Had my first donair at King of Donair! According to Mike, the quality was merely acceptable but I could definitely see the appeal! That sweet sauce is pretty addictive!
  • Party at Mike & Christine’s on Friday! Lots to celebrate, but especially Christine soon starting on a new journey in becoming a Registered Nurse! Got to meet so many of their lovely friends and shared so many laughs.
  • Camping on Saturday with Mike, Christine & Stella, as well as Mike’s cousin Nathan, his wife Lisa and their daughter Amy at Kejimkujik Park. My first time experiencing camping with canoes and portaging!
  • Yummy pizza at 2 Papa’s Pizza & Donairs in New Germany on the way back from camping
  • More time with Bill, Nina and the kids! Even got a taste of Bill’s cooking – Okonomiyaki!
  • Visited Dan & Leigh Anne at their home and had a wonderful dinner! My first time having chili (vegetarian), mmm! So happy for the chance to catch up with them, but especially Leigh Anne who was around 38 weeks pregnant and ready to be holding her son in her arms!

Sept 5 – 7

  • BBQ at Matt and Laura’s on Friday, which I almost missed because we were so busy, I didn’t get out of the hospital until 8:30pm 😛
  • Breakfast on Saturday at The Armview with Matt, Isabelle, Ian and his pregnant wife Sarah! Also had the chance to see Al (as he works at the restaurant), which was great!
  • Breakfast was followed by shopping with Mike in Dartmouth! Stocked up on some clinical clothing for good prices!
  • We spent the evening at Dan and Natalie’s, catching up and then went for a delicious Korean dinner at Seoul.
  • Sunday was pretty exciting. We went on a Food truck adventure! That’s code for we just ate, all day. It was spectacular.

Sept 10

  • Bill drove Mike into the city on Wednesday as we had our exam the following day. Couldn’t leave without one last meal together. I have never been a fan of raw oysters (and I’ve tried numerous times). I finally had the first ‘delicious’ oyster at The Five Fishermen! This was followed by Japanese dinner at Dharma Sushi.

Sept 11

  • Finished our Medical Specialties exam Thursday afternoon! It was not as bad as we anticipated, although still awaiting results. We celebrated that evening, dinner at Agricola Street Brasserie with Matt, Laura, Isabelle, Ian and Sarah!

Sept 12

  • Our last night in Halifax. We had a wonderful time with Matt & Laura, Will, Dan (Leigh Anne was resting at home), Mike & Tina, and Ian & Sarah – BBQ, catch ups and a good game of Cards Against Humanity

I had an amazing time in Halifax, thank you for everyone’s time and hospitality! ❤

Happy 60th Wedding Anniversary to my Grandparents!

On August 16, 2014, our family threw a party to celebrate my grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversary. It was held in the Winter Room at the St Laurent complex – where we also held my grandpa’s 80th birthday lunch last year.

It wasn’t a surprise event, so my grandparents were able to look forward to celebrating with family and friends. Here is a photo of them arriving at the venue, aren’t they so cute?

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Sitting down to lunch with family and friends

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The grandchildren took care of decor and setting up the venue and each family provided at least a dish for a pot luck feast – so much good food!

Wall decals created and put up by my brother. The huge spread of food!

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My mom made self serve taco salad and ‘Banh Lot’ a Vietnamese pandan flavoured dessert served with syrup and coconut cream.

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Mo Hai made green papaya salad with beef jerky, steam buns and veggie samosas

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Di Nam made fried rice and a veggie platter

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Cau Ba made shrimp spring rolls and pickled green plums

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Cau Tu made fish maw soup

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The uncles chopping up the roasted pig

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My beautiful grandparents!

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Grandma with some of her friends

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My grandpa giving a thank you speech after my Cau Hai’s emotional welcome speech

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My grandparents’ friends giving their congratulatory speeches and gifts

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Some group photos before digging in! Grandparents with their family/friends

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Aww!

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My grandparents with their 5 children

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Children and their spouses

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Family photo!

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Table decor

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Even had some party favours

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Good food and good times with good people!

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Ong Tia Ba Y (my dad’s aunt and uncle) sharing a laugh with my grandparents

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Ah, so cute!

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Cousins photo!

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More recently, the grandchildren try to incorporate something unique with each family get together. For today, we have hats that say “Born ‘X’ years after grandparents’ wedding”

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Oscar selfie in the making

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The result!

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After lunch came more family photos, presents, and cake!

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My present! Painted by a street artist I met in Brisbane

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Big homemade birthday card

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Photo with all the grandchildren minus two!

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And a normal one

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Thank you so much to my grandparents for the opportunity to celebrate this day with them! Wishing them many more years of happiness together and with their family!

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There are SO MANY more photos, especially of my aunts and uncles’ families. Please CLICK HERE to see the full photo album!

Surprise week in Ottawa

Aside from my brother and sister, no one in my family knew I had an additional week in Ottawa from August 9 to 15, 2014. Boy was I excited for an extra week with family and friends!

Thank you to my siblings for picking me up at the airport Saturday morning! My mom was working so she had no idea I was home… 🙂

Got home, showered, and then went over to surprise my grandparents. My grandfather was out, but luckily, I had pre-written up 4 pages (he is deaf, so I communicate via writing) with an update on a number of topics including: getting a job and my elective experience in Nanaimo. My grandma was home so I had the chance to catch up with her and leave my letter for my grandpa and visit later.

Elvin picked me up for… you guessed it, lunch at Shawarma Palace, our favourite. What made it even better? The company 🙂 Thanks Elvin, Jenn, Ruixi, Vinh and Tina for joining me for a delicious lunch! Always so nice to see you guys and catch up.

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At the end of our lunch, my siblings texted to say my mom was done work and they were going to pick her up. Of course, I needed to come too in order to surprise her! Elvin drove me to my mom’s work in order to meet my siblings. But eek! When Elvin turned in, my mom was already standing outside waiting for my siblings. We did a half duck and hoped my mom didn’t notice us. Phew, she didn’t! We ended up turning around and meeting my siblings in a nearby parking lot. I crouched down behind the passenger side and waited for her to notice. She didn’t. I started tickling her, she thought I was my brother even though he was sitting on the opposite side of the car. Finally, I just started laughing and gave myself away. I told her why I was home and how I had to pay an additional $400 for the flight change. Worth it.

Dinner that night? Poutine from Spud’s. A family size ‘Sugar Shack’ – fries, cheese curds, beer gravy, bacon, sausage and maple syrup – delicious!

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Here are some random moments over the week! There are a few special occasions not mentioned here because they will have a post of their own! 😀

Loved getting to spend more time with this guy!

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My sister brought a ton of Asian treats back from Vancouver, including Green Tea Aero chocolate – yum.

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With Asian items always comes Engrish

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Everyone was craving my mom’s famous ‘Banh Mi’ (Vietnamese subs). She made BBQ pork and we had BBQ pork banh mi! So delicious, I think we all had subs for days!

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Enjoyed grape tomatoes, fresh from the garden.

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Mum made coconut sticky rice which was thoroughly enjoyed with sweet ripe mango.

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Wake up guys!

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Can I have some meat with this taco bowl?

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Made blueberry white chocolate scones for the family

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My siblings like to sneak selfies on my cell phone 😛

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But all like to take selfies too right?

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Lunch at Art Is In with the family and Janet! Sorry about the terrible backdrop but you can read more about Art Is In here!

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Yummy, green tea ginger ale

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And buffet lunch another day at Eclipse! My lovely siblings 😉

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I had a very special opportunity with the family this week – shopping for a wedding dress with my mom, sister and brother! Although I can’t say I’ve found THE dress, I have now certainly found THE style of dress. Yay! I was very glad to have shared the experience with my family because I honestly don’t know if I’ll have another chance again, especially being in Australia!

After looking at wedding dresses, we went to get donuts at Suzy Q. Same donut with different toppings, not bad but to be honest, I still prefer Tim Hortons donuts. They could certainly do with a facelift!

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DHAL: July 28, 2014 – My 27th birthday!

Thanks to my lovely sister for spending the past weekend and indulging with me! Unfortunately, it was back to the real world for me and back to Vancouver for her this morning!

On the other hand, happy 27th birthday to me! Gosh, makes me feel old! I spent my birthday in the hospital, working hard and coming home late, just like any other day because no one knew it was my birthday and I felt it unnecessary to share. Despite being alone, I received so much love from family and friends in the form of text messages, phone calls and Facebook messages – many thanks everyone!

Facebook message and photo from my sister

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Received these 2 Pandora beads from my sister. The left one is the Birthday Bloom charm for my birth month. The left is an engagement present and called Forever Entwined. I love them, thanks Jenni!

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Cards from Mike’s parents and my sister (telling me to cheer up)!

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Facebook message and photo from Mike

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Received part 1 of my birthday gift at the airport from Michael. I’ve been wanting a fitbit for a while – it’s a bracelet you wear that helps you track your activity as well as sleep, thanks love! I haven’t started using it yet because I have no one around to discuss it with at the moment. I’m also excited for part 2 of my gift – soon reunited!

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Facebook message and photo from my mum!

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Before I left Ottawa at the beginning of this year, my mum had already given me my birthday gift in advance – this gold heart Pandora charm. Perhaps she forgot about it and that’s why she has another present for me? 😛

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I even came home to a chocolate bar and well wishes from my housemate Lyndsay, thank you! 🙂

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My first birthday spent truly by myself away from family and friends, but I felt the love!

DHAL: July 13-19, 2014 – Ottawa for a week!

One week home in Ottawa, been looking forward to this for weeks! 🙂

Michael and I aren’t planning on going home for over summer/Christmas holidays, since our graduation date isn’t until December 20th and we expect to be moving and preparing for a job rural at the end of the year, hopefully! This rotation is our opportunity to spend some time in Canada… so who knows when we will be back next!

Spent some quality time with the family!

Got to eat one of my favourite Vietnamese meals – Bo Bia! Fresh rolls with Chinese sausage, sauteed turnip, egg and veggies including Thai basil dipped in a hoison peanut sauce – thanks mum!

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A meal selfie!

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My mom’s famous deboned, stuffed, and breaded chicken wings! Delicious! And some homemade samosas

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And with my grandparents!

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Trying out my grandpa’s first batch of banana lime liqueur – coming along well!

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We enjoyed quite a few different taste testings, haha!

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I finally got to meet Benny! The dog my brother adopted earlier this year who is now considered the baby of the house and my mum’s favourite. He’s a cutie and (mostly) really well behaved but always gets a little too excited when new people come over that he pees on them.

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He’s a sweetheart and a whiner, always crying and looking out the window if you leave him behind.

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And he loves his balls and squeaky toys…

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Had the opportunity to go down to Perth Road Village to spend some quality time with Mike’s family on July 14th. Their property is by a lake and very cottage-like, so it was very nice and relaxing! Mike’s brother Matt and sister in law Jessica recently had their 2nd child – Rinoa, who’s super cute! Their oldest, Jasper has grown so much since I last saw him!

Some of my favourite photos, you can view all of them HERE.

Matt, Jessica and Jasper out on a canoe ride

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Matt & Jess’ dog Bubba – not feeling well today.

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Father son laughs

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Auntie and niece bonding time.

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Little Rinoa

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Tummy tickles!

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Like father like son

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Hanging out with Uncle Mike

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Indeed!

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A pair of loons and a baby! We tried to get as close as we could without being intrusive and they certainly kept an eye on us the whole time just in case!

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This dinosaur

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Got to satisfy a few of my cravings! Including McDonald’s McGriddle breakfast (mmm sweet and salty, maple syrup and sausage) and of course, Shawarma Palace with their awesome garlic sauce! Not shown: Stops at Tim Horton’s!

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Even had time to catch up with some of my best girls! Thanks for coming over on July 17th Atong, Julia and Hue!

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Julia loved Benny!

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Julia requested Cuttlefish snacks by Nong Shim, which apparently can’t be found in Ottawa anymore. They are delicious though, even Mike’s hooked on them.

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A lovely engagement gift from Julia & Atong 🙂 A family cookbook that even has room for photos!

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And perhaps most importantly, my mum held an unofficial engagement dinner with Michael’s parents so they could formally meet all of my family. This was on Friday, July 18th, the night before both Michael and I flew out to our respective electives. We decided to have dinner at Chu Shing and luckily, only a handful of family were missing. It was the usual family deal, chaotic but I think it went well! Thank you also very much to my grandparents and to Ong Tia Ba Y for their generous gifts!

Some of the photos!

Selfie at the dinner table

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With Mike’s parents, my mum, my grandparents, and my dad’s aunt and uncle.

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The elders!

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All my aunts and uncles (except for my 4th aunt who was in LA with her daughter Lilian) and a few of the cousins

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Some more cousins as well as Aunt Diane, Uncle Andrew (my great aunt and uncle’s daughter) and their 3 children.

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Group photo!

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With my dad’s side of the family

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Aren’t I lovely?

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With Michael’s family. Unfortunately, his sister Meaghan was not able to join us due to work. His brother has 2 small children on an early schedule and it’s a drive up from Kingston!

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Before heading home, we dropped by Phuket Royal, a restaurant where my cousin Kevin was working (couldn’t make it to our dinner) to say hi. He was just getting off work so we decided to go to My Sweet Tea to catch up over bubble tea. We didn’t get back until past midnight, and Mike and I still needed to pack! Needless to say, it was a late night.

Woke up at 4:30am the next morning to have breakfast together at Perkins with Di Nam before heading to the airport for my 7am flight to Vancouver. Good bye family and see you again soon!

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They’ve changed the format of the security line at the Ottawa Airport to be extremely inefficient, causing myself and a number of other passengers to almost miss our flight. At other airports, once passengers go through security, they may be pulled aside to a different station for an explosives scan, which is when they swab the outside and also open your bags to swab the inside and test for explosives. For whatever reason, Ottawa has decided to incorporate the explosives scan as part of their security line, before your bags go through the scanner. The ENTIRE security line gets held up when someone’s having their bag tested. Meaning nobody’s bags are being scanned and nobody is walking through the metal detectors. Completely inefficient, I don’t know what they were thinking, but they better change that.

My sister met me once I landed in Vancouver and we had time to grab a quick bite to eat before I had to start heading to Horseshoe Bay to catch my ferry to Nanaimo. It took a good 2 hours to get there from the airport via the SkyTrain into the city and then bus to the ferry terminal. More about Nanaimo in my next post!

Great Korean food at Maru with friends!

Sarah (who’s Korean!) had suggested I try Maru, one of her favourite Korean restaurants, so I made it the last stop of our Food Adventure Day with Yoni on June 29, 2014.

We had just finished watching Edge of Tomorrow in the city, and even though we weren’t really hungry because all we had done that day was eat, we just couldn’t skip dinner. Maru is located on Elizabeth St just beside Malaya Corner, on the 2nd floor.

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Full house on a Sunday evening, luckily, we were able to get a table without reservations and waiting!

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My adventure partner for the day! We also picked up some bubble tea at Hazel Tea Shop just down the street before heading in 🙂

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The menu is extensive, with lots of options including rice dishes, soups, noodle dishes, and BBQ – something to suit everyone! Prices were slightly higher compared to Madtongsan II down the road, but definitely worth the quantity and quality of food!

Loved the side dishes: kimchi, seaweed salad with mayo dressing and fish cakes

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I decided on Omurice with chicken curry – delicious! Loved the crispy chicken and the subtle (not salty!) curry. Extremely generous serving size, I could only finish half and saved the rest for dinner the next day – heated up nicely!

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Yoni got a rice in a stone bowl and meat, possibly pork or bulgogi. Unfortunately, it’s been so long now that we can’t remember and they don’t have an online menu to refer to!

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With a great first impression, both Sarah and I recommended Maru on July 11th when we had dinner with Amanda, Xuan and Mabel!

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Xuan ordered Beef Rib Soup that came with rice on the side, he found it a little bland unfortunately.

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I can’t remember the name of this dish that Mabel ordered, but it was spicy and tasty!

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Both Sarah and Amanda ordered one of the ‘ziggle’ plates – the Korean word for sizzle! They got the Ziggle Spicy Pork which was delicious.

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I got the Ziggle Dadak Beef, which was marinated minced beef sizzling in a pan, also served with rice. Very tasty but I was glad I had friends to share it with because it’s a lot of meat!

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Portions again, were very generous, we were definitely stuffed afterwards!

Also enjoyed some Black Raspberry wine. I’ve only had raspberry wine once before but I really enjoy the berry sweetness! $20 for a bottle shared between 4 people.

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Fast and friendly service with generous servings of delicious food and tasty side dishes (not always the case at Korean restaurants) at extremely reasonable prices – I think I’ve found a new favourite Korean restaurant. Will definitely be back!

Maru Korean BBQ on Urbanspoon

Post exam catch up at Bonsai Botanika

July 11, 2014

3rd rotation finally over! I was quite excited to be flying back to Canada the next morning, but first, a catch up with friends! 🙂

We wanted to find a coffee shop to sit and chat before dinner and Bonsai Botanika seemed perfect. The decor and ambiance is very alluring from the street, I remember Michael and I walking by many times and telling ourselves that we needed to come back and check it out.

The theme and decor is hard to describe, very rustic yet quirky – does that make sense? I’ve never seen anything like it before, it’s really neat!

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Once inside, however, it becomes quite confusing. The cafe is 3 levels high. Non alcoholic beverages like coffees and teas, as well as their iconic flourless cakes can be ordered on the first floor. If you are looking for real food though (apparently it’s also a ramen restaurant), you need to head up to the second floor. There are no signs that direct you, which can make it a haphazard first experience.

Noticed that the service left a lot to be desired – staff were impatient and didn’t take the opportunity to provide suggestions off the menu to new customers. The cake cabinet was also in disarray, with many empty slates left dirty and uncleared. The ones that were available did look delicious though. No prices were displayed, and I was appalled to later find out a small slice was over $8.

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We ordered our drinks before heading upstairs to find a seat. Lots of room for small and larger groups. We quickly glanced at the food menu at the unmanned bar – damn, expensive!

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It took quite a while for our drinks to arrive, and they also came quite staggered. Perhaps she was new, but the staff member who brought my order was so confused when I pointed out that the drink she was calling green tea was supposed to be a piece of green tea cake. It later turned out that that drink was a juice ordered by someone else at our table. How can you work at a place and not know what your drinks are by looking at them?

Mabel and I got two different kinds of their hot chocolate. Very interesting and unique presentation, as well as delicious! We only wish it had been hotter, much hotter than the temperature it was served at.

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The green tea flourless cake was quite tasty and rich, served with some whip cream and fresh rosemary that added an interesting flavour. It is too overpriced for me though, I wouldn’t get it again.

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Xuan got a cappuccino. The double walled glass mugs are quite cute!

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Sarah and Amanda both got juices that were tasty and refreshing.

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At the time of our visit, the 3rd level was closed so I don’t know what is up there. Perhaps we can check it out during our next visit.

Once you get past the confusing set up and so-so service, Bonsai Botanika is quite a quirky and interesting place to grab a drink and catch up with friends. The drinks are nice although I do think the food is very overpriced. I don’t know if I would ever come here to try a meal unless someone I knew said the food was really good. Definitely worth another visit, even if just for the interior design!

Bonsai Botanika on Urbanspoon

Photo Shoot with the Gibson Family

As mentioned in this previous post, I had the opportunity to take some photos of one of my favourite families on July 6! This was the first time I had ever done anything like this. I was a complete noob and using kit lenses but I think we had some winners!

Here are a select few of my favourites 🙂

Don’t get to see some autumn colours often in Brisbane!

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This gorgeous pout

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Do I see bubbles?

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I’ve got daddy’s nose!

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Those big cheeks and eyes!

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Moment with mum

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Family chatting

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Tell us more little one

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And one last one 🙂

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Oh, and this curious bird!

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Had a great time with Kristen, Matt & Abigail. Didn’t really know what I was doing but I really enjoyed this little photo shoot! I am much less intimidated when it comes to shooting people now, yay! And I really like capturing natural moments now, as opposed to posed photos. Hopefully we get to do this again soon! 🙂

Vegetarian dinner at Kuan Yin Tea House

Mike and I have been wanting to try out Kuan Yin Tea House for a while now as we often seen how highly rated it is in Brisbane for its vegetarian cuisine.

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Had the opportunity to try it out with the lovely Amanda over dinner one night. We were famished and the menu looked well priced and quite appealing!

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We immediately noticed the fantastic service provided by all the staff which was friendly and accommodating. We arrived for dinner around 7pm on a Friday and were surprised to be told the restaurant was out of rice, although the staff were apologetic and happy to offer a substitution.

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The meals at Kuan Yin are very affordable. We ended up ordering 2 appetizers and 2 main dishes to share, as well as a bubble tea each. Note to self and others, that is a lot of food for only 2 people, as warned by the staff! 😛 However, we were hungry and wanted to try as many dishes as possible, taking away leftovers is always an option too! 😉

My lovely date!

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Peking Duck Rolls. Interesting concept but shouldn’t be called a peking duck roll when it’s nothing like the original dish which normally only has additional spring onions and a sweet bean sauce. Very sour and overpowering pickles and the vegetarian duck skin didn’t seem to have seasoning.

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Sweet Potato Wedges. These were delicious! Not sure what the secret to the seasoning is, but we definitely tasted salt and cinnamon. Yum!

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Because Mike couldn’t join us… we made him feel included! How convenient to have such beautiful photos 😉

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I chose the sweet and sour pork bento box. Since they didn’t have any rice left, they offered a tofu substitute instead. Also came with a few side dishes including veggies and a fruit salad. Overall, this dish was satisfactory. Filling but I wouldn’t get it again.

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Last dish, Sour Spicy Dumpling Soup. Huge serving, lots of dumplings but we didn’t find the broth spicy or sour enough!

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Overall, had a great time, however, more due to the company than the food. I’ve been quite privileged to have extremely good Asian styled vegetarian food in my life, which may have set my expectations a little too high 😛 With that being said, I would definitely come back for another visit and try different dishes, even if it’s just for those sweet potato wedges alone!

Kuan-Yin Tea House on Urbanspoon

DHAL: July 04-12, 2014

A huge gap of DHALs, how shameful! This is going to be a long one!

Friday, July 4th… meant one more week of Anaesthesia before the completion of my Critical Care rotation! It was getting harder to see the end now because although it was so close, it felt so far! Since there was no final exam (aside from an online multiple choice exam I had already completed in week 2 of 8), I did not have to spend my weekends immersed in studying, I was able to enjoy going out and seeing my friends.

So on Friday after my shift, I met up with Amanda for dinner. There is a vegetarian restaurant in Fortitude Valley called Kuan Yin Tea House that Michael and I have been meaning to visit because we have heard good things and it is highly rated on Urbanspoon (96%). I was a fun night out with Amanda but the food was subpar, I’ll be writing a separate blog post for this later on!

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Next day on July 5, I finally had the opportunity to see and catch up with Josiah and Danya! They are living in Bundaberg this year, so we have not had a chance to hang out since coming back from Canada, but it finally happened! Weekends in Brisbane for them are always hectic but they had some time to pop over for a visit! And I was finally able to pass on a small wedding gift that Mike and I brought back for them from Canada, which only had to wait 7 months 😉 They even gifted us a nice bottle of wine as a belated engagement present, unexpected but thanks so much guys! It was so good to catch up and hear that they are enjoying living in a new city and being well looked after by the small Bundaberg community. They are liking it so much that they have decided to stay for Josiah to pursue his internship training… that’s saying heaps!

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Lowlight: My cousin, Hoang, from Vietnam who now lives in Brisbane with his wife, was supposed to come over for dinner on July 5th. Unfortunately, something came up and they had to cancel!

The following day on July 6, I had a photo shoot session with the Gibson family!

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This was the first ‘photo shoot’ of any kind I’ve ever done. Pretty much had no idea what I was doing, didn’t have any special equipment, and worked with kit lenses. Had a good time with Kristen, Matt & Abigail but too bad Abigail wasn’t her usual smiling bubbly self! I imagine having a big black camera covering my face might be a little intimidating for a 6 month old! Was able to get a few photos, even some smiling ones. I’ll have to make a separate post but here’s a teaser photo!

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Because my cousins never made it on Saturday for dinner, I invited Sarah and Amanda over for some studying and dinner on Monday, July 7! Had bought a bunch of ingredients to make dinner and didn’t want them to go to waste, what better way to use them up than to have friends help you? Made some Thai green curry chicken to have with rice, yum!

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Had also made lots of peanut butter chocolate chip cookies so sent the girls home with a bunch as well. What made the night fun was meeting Sarah’s boyfriend, Jay. After years of poking fun at her for having an imaginary partner (he has always been too busy to attend any of our events or get togethers), we met him when he came to pick her up. Mind you, it was completely dark outside so I have yet to see what he looks like in person 😛

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The weekend passed too quickly and soon I was completing my last week of the critical core rotation. I feel quite lucky to have had most, if not all, preceptors be very kind and willing to teach. It made for a very good learning environment and I never felt intimidated with any procedural skills, even when I failed them. There was always room to improve and my supervisors were always willing to make things work better for me.

It is also nice when your effort and hard work doesn’t go unnoticed. I was rostered for 2 days (July 09-10) on the APMS (Acute Pain Management Services) team, who are responsible for hospital wide consults for patients who require more specialised care for the managment of their pain. These patients can include those who have epidurals, regional blocks, or patient controlled analgesia (PCA). With only 2 days on the service, I made the most of it including being proactive in taking notes, chatting with patients, and handing over plans to nurses in charge. I’m not sure what the other medical students did during their time on APMS, but when I received the note (not required and squeezed beside the signature box) “Above and beyond the call of duty” on my last day and a number of verbal thank yous and compliments, I knew I had done well 🙂

Lowlight: I was told this last week of the rotation by the course administrator that she wanted me to make up time for 2 sick days I took earlier in the rotation. My last week, where I’m fully rostered, and she wanted me to make up 2 extra shifts last minute. I was not happy as we were never made aware of having to make up for sick time, isn’t that why you have sick days to begin with? After having a chat with her and explaining to her that the request was unreasonable in the amount of time I had left, she told me to have a chat with the respective professors of the Emergency and Anaesthesia departments. Bring them my work books and evaluation forms so they can assess if I have done work to their satisfaction and maybe they will let me pass the rotation without making up the time. Lucky for me, both professors were more than happy to let me off after having a chat and leafing through my documents. It was annoying and stressful before I was given approval because of the potential to fail the rotation, but I’m glad things worked out!

Soon, Friday (July 11) rolled around and I was super eager to finish my last day of work! I had been packing up and cleaning the house bit by bit throughout the last 2 weeks so I didn’t have much left to do before flying out Saturday morning. And to end the rotation on a good note, the anaesthetist of my last shift was awesome. He spent the first few hours of my shift grilling me and asking me questions non stop, explaining things along the way as required. When that was exhausted, we just chatted about life in general where he also shared some good advice for my internship year. By 2:30pm, he was showing me his wedding videos and because the same surgery had been going on since 8:30am, he asked me if I just wanted to head home. Early day on my last day? Heck yes! I could definitely use some extra time.

I went home, where I met up with Yoni. He’ll be renting out one of our bedrooms (Christine’s in the other one) so I just wanted to give him the keys and a verbal handover, including what food he should help us finish, which he’s always happy about.

I then headed back into the city to meet up with Mabel, Amanda, Sarah, and Xuan for a post-rotation hang out! We had a coffee catch up at Bonsai Botanika before heading to Maru for a yummy Korean dinner and finished the night with some delicious bubble tea at Gong Cha. I will be writing blogs for the respective restaurants soon! Lovely evening with good company to end my time in Brisbane!

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It was around 9pm by the time I got home, plenty of time to finish up my packing and cleaning. I tried to stay up as late as I could in order to sleep easier on the plane but by 3am, I had to lay down for a 3 hour nap.

Thanks to Christine for giving me a ride to the airport at 7 in the morning! and soon I was boarding Qantas flight 15 to Los Angeles. Boy oh boy was it not the best journey home, will tell you more in the next DHAL!

DHAL: July 02-03, 2014

Lowlights:

  • Yesterday I experienced the worst lowlight since starting DHAL. I was feeling quite down and sad regarding the anniversary of my dad’s passing and being alone at home made it even worse, I’ve never been alone on this day before. I cried many tears. But writing yesterday’s blog definitely helped me deal with my emotions, even if it brought back many many memories. Thank you to all my friends who sent me their love, it was very much appreciated!

Highlights:

  • Ran into Mabel after finishing my shift the past 2 days in a row! Nice to stop for a chat and a few laughs!
  • The flowers Michael sent me bloomed and are gorgeous! Thanks love!

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  • Even though I’m on afternoon and evening shifts this week, it’s nice being in emergency theatre when the rest of the operating rooms are empty and there are only a handful of staff on duty. Just nice and quiet… 🙂 Also, the tea room is always stocked with fresh bread (white and whole wheat!), butter, vegemite, and jams to make toast. A good pick me up when you’re feeling low on energy! Of course there is always coffee, tea, milk, juice and also a basket of cookies for some extra calories whenever you need it.

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  • Since coming to Australia, we have been buying the large tubs of yoghurt thinking that it was the cheapest option, especially when they’re on sale. Recently I learned that was a lie. And that regular priced yoghurt in individual servings is cheaper than large tubs on sale! Never again will I be buying tubs when I can be buying something cheaper, with more variety, and easy to pack for lunch!

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I know, my life is SO EXCITING! 😛

DHAL: June 07, 2014

Highlights:

  • My highlight of the day was easily having dinner at Kristen and Matt’s and seeing their little Abigail again! She is almost 6 months old and man, has she grown! Sitting up on her own and eating solids, time flies! It was also lovely to catch up with Matt and Kristen over some yummy tacos, cupcakes, ice cream, and wine! Will try to see them again soon 🙂
  • Was researching wedding stuff – exciting!

Lowlights:

  • Was researching wedding stuff – oh my god, we so poor! 😦 Haha!

DHAL: June 06, 2014

(Yes, I skipped DHAL for June 4th and 5th, sorry! I just didn’t find anything exciting or unusual to talk about)

Highlights:

  • Sleeping in… until 9am today!
  • Lunch date with Sam and catching up. I miss having him around to joke with like last rotation. He went to Wagaya for the first time today, and approved! Even treated me to lunch, although I was the one that took him, so thank you friend! 🙂 Glad he liked it because his girlfriend loves Japanese food, so now they have a new place to dine at.
  • Dinner date with Amanda, Sarah, Kee Ping, his girlfriend Janice, Xuan Ping, Aditya, and Daniel at Malaya Corner. So nice to see them all and catch up! Food was tasty and plentiful and conversation was not lacking – what I enjoy! Also ran into Clarence and his friend Andrew, so that was a nice surprise as well.
  • I baked today! The first time in a long time. I only bake when I can share with friends, like tonight. Trying to create a new chocolate cake recipe as well as a new choco-peanut butter icing and I think it was a success! Saved some for some special people I’m visiting tomorrow 😉

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  • Completed and submitted internship applications to Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia, 3 states in total. Now it’s completely out of my hands, I’m just praying that both Michael and I will be offered a job in the same city – that is our only wish.

Lowlights:

  • We haven’t sprayed cockroach repellant outside our house in a long long time. Now that it’s getting colder, the first one has finally made it’s way inside the house! Argh, so gross. It was about 1.5cm long and was too fast for me to kill… now it’s around the house somewhere and going to get revenge on me when I’m asleep. I guess it’s time to set traps. :(d

DHAL: May 28, 2014

Highlights:

  • Having Christine over for dinner of fish cakes, roasted sweet potato and green apple & fennel salad. Peanut butter cheesecake for dessert! It was lovely to catch up with her and have her company for a few hours!

Lowlights:

  • Feeling generally unwell and a little down. And could be related or unrelated but a severe lack of motivation today. Didn’t get much done overall. 😦

DHAL: May 25, 2014

Highlights:

  • Finally back on track with my blogging! I was finally able to upload my Bali video (using school’s internet because our upload speeds are so crappy) and I believe I am now mostly, if not fully, up to date with my blogging! I just need to stay on top of it and not fall months behind again 😉
  • I did clinical tutoring for first years today, and as always, really enjoyed it. This weekend was to help them learn their GI examination as well as to practice taking histories. Always makes me think of how far I’ve come as a student. I can still remember being nervous and trying so hard to remember the steps of each examination or all the questions I need to ask on a history taking (past medical history, medications, allergies, family history, etc). Now it is so second nature that I forgot how scared and new everything was back in first year. Growth and learning is good!
  • Lunch date with Mario! It’s been so long since we caught up over some good food – delicious ramen at Wagaya! Sent this photo to Michael to say hi and make him envy as Wagaya is on of his favourite restaurants as well.

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  • Skype date with my mom and brother, and then a phone call with my sister – both late last night. Good to catch up and we also discussed a number of future plans that I hope will work out… if it does, I’ll let you know!

Lowlights:

  • Discovering that hornets are making a nest on a large plant in our backyard. Ugh. And that I’m going to have to get rid of it before it gets rid of me. I’m scared!
  • You might have noticed how hideously burnt/dark I looked in photos at James & Kim’s wedding. My arms today… even good exfoliation can’t seem to help it resolve faster.

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Congratulations James & Kim!

On Saturday, May 17, 2014, we had the honour of witnessing our two wonderful friends get married.

James, so handsome in his navy blue suit, joined by Kim so breathtaking in her elegant dress, and together surrounded by their wonderful wedding party.

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Words really can’t describe what a beautiful ceremony it was, especially with such love and emotion so visible and felt by everyone present. The exchange of vows touched everyone’s heart and certainly brought tears of happiness to my eyes.

In a brief moment during the ceremony, a few raindrops were felt but quickly swept away by sunshine as if they had no business being there. I don’t know if everyone noticed, but a beautiful rainbow flew across the sky shortly after the ceremony ended. Additional beauty on this special day!

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While the bride, groom, and wedding photo went off to take photos, we nibbled and drank, catching up with one another. And of course, took some photos…

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A sweet moment on returning from their photo shoot, dancing under the skies.

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Gift table, I loved the cage for cards!

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Simple and elegant.

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Every single person’s speech during dinner… made me teary. It was really a privilege to be present and listen to their two families and friends speak about their love for James & Kim. It’s an indescribable feeling but I hope to be blessed with such company and love on my wedding day.

Cutting of the cake before heading to the dance floor!

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About to begin their first dance…

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Lovely!

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They even had a photo booth, how great is that?

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Unfortunately, Michael and I had to excuse ourselves early as Mike had an early flight to Canada the following morning. The night was just getting started and I’m sure everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves before sending James and Kim off with sparklers in the night.

Thank you again for letting us be a part of your special day… we love you and we wish you both all the happiness in the world! May this be your most exciting life journey yet… ❤

Fun at galleries and goodbye to new friends

Saturday, March 08, 2014 

After a yummy and severely filling lunch at Malaya Corner, we decided to check out the Gallery of Modern Art.

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Yoni had been before so it was Michael’s and my first visit!

Although I quite enjoyed my time and found many pieces to be very artistic and talented, I found myself wondering if I was being trolled throughout the visit.

Like music, food, dance, and other forms of art, I understand that everyone has their own taste, some of which are cultured, developed and acquired while others are innate. I certainly don’t like all types of music or food but can understand if others enjoy them.

However, when it comes to modern art, I can’t help but wonder if there are hidden cameras around. Recording people’s ridicule or attempts to be appreciative and/or sophisticated with certain art pieces. A 3-hour video of two brothers chewing the same piece gum and passing it back and forth to each other. A grown man, on video for 45 minutes, dancing the twist with gold tassels hanging from his nipples.

Sometimes I just don’t get it. And the museum pays for these art pieces! We all joked that we just needed some time, money and a ridiculous idea in order to be displayed in a museum as well. That’s seriously how some of the pieces made us feel.

This was another art piece – Gold tinsel being blown from behind by a pivoting fan. Needless to say, we didn’t understand it but still had fun.

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A few more silly moments

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Posed so well he hid the original

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Shadow boys

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Yoni’s food baby!

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Taking a rest and enjoying the view out the window

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Entrace to Cai Guo-Qiang – Falling Back to Earth exhibit that you need to pay for entrance Yoni wasn’t really interested but Mike and I will come back another time to check it out.

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We also walked through the Queensland Art Gallery although I didn’t take many photos

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Richard Long’s Ring of Stones (1982)

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We then headed to the Sciencentre, which is always my favourite. Here are a few random photos.

Jelly fish made of plastic

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Coincidentally, we ran into Dan and Prasan at the Sciencentre. They are both 3rd year med students on exchange from Queen’s University (Canada) and completed their Paediatrics Rotation with us these past 2 months. We had discussed grabbing a drink before they flew out later that night, so off we went!

Enjoyed the extensive beer menu at The Burrow. Mike’s new find – Kwak (8% Seductive malt character. Rich, satisfying Belgian experience)

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Prasan was my silly group member, he will be missed!

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Group photo! Lovely getting to know you guys, safe trip home and all the best with your studies!

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ValenSports Day 2014

February 14, 2014

Ah yes, the highly anticipated yearly event for many UQ medical students – Sports Day!

What is it? A whole day of sanctioned drinking and fun, dressed in scrubs. Here’s what the breakdown of the day looks like:

08:00 – 4th years have breakfast at the Mayne Medical School
09:45 – 4th years move on to Birdees to join the 3rd years
10:45 – 3rd & 4th years move on to Transcontinental Hotel to join 2nd years
11:30 – 2nd, 3rd & 4th years move on to Fox Hotel to join first years
12:00 – All move on to Dutton Park for General Fun with games, slip’n slides, jelly pools, bouncy castles, BBQ, etc.
17:00 – Leave from Dutton Park to after party venue

As you can see, it is literally a whole day filled with lots of drinking for all parties involved.

The #1 rule of Sports Day is: Only fourth years are allowed to wear pink scrubs, or pink anything. Anybody in the years below caught trying to wear pink will be severely punished 😉 Other than that, it’s all about having fun and enjoying the day!

Despite it being a yearly tradition, I’m sure there are many people in Brisbane who get quite confused seeing loads of people dressed in scrubs flood the streets, venues and public transportation… while intoxicated… during the day. I think this year may have been even more confusing for the general public as it was Valentine’s Day and many were dressed in pink. We even had a mention on Reddit 😛

My favourite aspect of Sports Day is champagne breakfast with PBL 25 and friends before beginning the day, pretty much a tradition now! In case you don’t know, PBL 25 was our allocated tutorial group back in first year.

This year, we met up around 6:30am at Fi’s mum’s – thank you again for having us 😀

Unfortunately, Michael didn’t join the festivities. The morning is when he studies best so he took advantage of that to study for the MCCEE. And I left after the fourth year breakfast in order to study too! Home by 10:30am, not too bad!

Some photos, enjoy!

Note: If you are interested in more photos and seeing what the entire day is like, a colleague did a great job capturing those moments. Hopefully you can view his album HERE

Breakfast

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So much food!

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PBL 25 girls + Little One!

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Group photo!

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PBL 25!

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The girls again

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Mr Fielding, the creative one 😛

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Driving over to Mayne Medical School for breakfast and to meet up with all the other 4th years

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See of pink

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Welcome speech from Professor John Pearn, our beloved UQMS Patron and Honorary Life-Member of the Society

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Photos with friends!

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So much pink! Had a good morning, lovely to see faces I haven’t seen in a while but definitely couldn’t be as carefree as everyone else with the MCCEE looming over me. Also needed to get studying done so that we could have the evening off for Valentine’s Day! But that’s for another post…

 

 

Date with Abigail

February 8, 2014

Mike and I went to visit Matt, Kristen and their baby girl this past Sunday… and I remembered to take photos!

Only been a few weeks since we last saw them but Abbey has grown so much already, how cute is she? Nearly 8 weeks old!

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My first baby shoot. Haha, not really, just some opportunistic fun shots!

Proud parents

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Family photo

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Uncle Mike smells mommy!

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Even cute when she’s crying

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She loves this position, we learned something new today!

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Family moment

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Mother and daughter

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Pensive

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Resting on mommy

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Keeping a close eye on mum

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Pretty smiles

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And of course, we had to get a picture ourselves!

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Life has been dull

Not too many exciting things happening, but here are a few moments!

January 13, 2014

Photo right before leaving for our first day of school! Both of us need hair cuts real bad… good thing we finally got them last week!

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January 24, 2014

Tan was in town from Mackay, where he is now an intern, visiting Christine so we got to hang out! We went to Sunnybank for Korean BBQ dinner at Midam, which I’ve blogged about before. Dinner was definitely delicious and filling!

We, of course, saved room for dessert! At Christine’s suggestion, we went to Meet Fresh – a Taiwanese dessert shop. And boy it was yum!

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Both couples shared a Duo-Deluxe Pudding. Ice cream, egg pudding, tapioca pearls, milk pudding and crushed ice. Not too sweet, lovely creamy pudding consistency, and the tapioca pearls were cooked just right!

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January 25, 2014

Saturday morning tennis! It was great fun, to the point that we continued playing in the rain, got completely soaked and then went for breakfast at the adjacent Saint Lucy Caffe.

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Although we were all sore the next day, looking forward to doing it again!

January 31, 2014

Check out this interesting Christmas present Michael received from my sister, Jenni!

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Bacon marmalade! Looks mighty interesting doesn’t it?

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And look, just because it says bacon, doesn’t mean it’s going to kill you.

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Unfortunately, although it smelled really nice, the marmalade (which I am normally not a fan of) overpowered any flavour or taste of bacon. It was also way too sweet 😦 I wish it was a little more savoury!

IMG_6585See? I wasn’t joking when I said life has been dull. In the 3 weeks we’ve been back, these are all the “fun things” we’ve done 😛

Actually, I lied. On Friday, January 10th, we caught up with Amanda, Xuan, Sarah and Kee Ping over a lovely dinner at Wagaya!

And the following weekend, January 18th, we also went to visit Kristen, Matt and their adorable 1 month old (at the time) baby girl Abigail! She is too precious and we are looking forward to visiting them again soon. Unfortunately, I forgot to take photos 😦 Next time!

There, now that’s all the fun things we’ve done… I think! ^_^

A last few get togethers in Canada

January 3, 2014

With my sister returning to BC the following day, we invited all the cousins over for an evening of food, board games, laughs and fun! Would also be the last time I get to see them before I head off on the 7th as well.

So happy all you cousins could make it! 😀

Enjoying the movie Ip Man first while having pizza and snacks!

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Board games!

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January 4, 2014

Lunch with Colette and her husband, Pete, long-term friends of my mum! A lovely Korean meal at Mu Goong Hwa, great food and wonderful service! So nice to finally have the opportunity to spend time together and catch up!

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And in the evening, my grandparents joined us in seeing my sister off back to BC!

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January 7, 2014

Our families finally enjoyed a meal together! Michael chose Perkins as he hadn’t had the chance to go this vacation, last breakfast in Canada!

Then back to our house for tea and some quick dessert before heading off to the airport.

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Time went by so quickly, soon we had to go to the airport 😦

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Last shot with my mum!

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My family watching us head off after passing through security

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Group photo!

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Thank you for seeing us off family! We miss you all so much already!

Last batch of random moments in Canada!

I made macarons that tasted like the ones you get at the store! Their feet weren’t as pretty but white chocolate green tea… how delicious does that sound? Unfortunately, I was only able to make them successfully 1 out of the 3 times I attempted this break.

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Some of the chocolate truffles I made this year as Christmas presents for family and friends. Flavours were: Cocoa covered dark chocolate wasabi, sprinkle coated hazelnut milk chocolate, and Toasted almond orange white chocolate.

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Shawarma Palace with Mike on Boxing Day! Could not believe that I ran into Jason and Max there as well, exactly one year ago I was in the same place having shawarma with them (and Amin)!

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“This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and/or birth defects or other reproductive harm.”

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Walked out of my driveway one day to hear something hissing at me from above. I was concerned it might jump down and eat my face like a zombie.

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My mom made deeelicious deep fried choux rolled in butter and dipped in a mixture of salt and sugar. Haven’t had these since 2007!

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And later she also made choux crème. Baked with a custard filling, yummy!

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Mike and I got matching Sunskis! We are quite happy with the quality and service and can’t wait to rock them at the beach! Check out their Facebook page HERE

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My sister got me some amazing wild mushrooms from West Coast Wild Foods for Christmas. I used them and altered the recipe it came with (didn’t have all the ingredients it called for) to make some delicious cream of mushroom soup. So tasty!

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Blackberries with freshly whipped cream! And they were so sweet!

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I got my nails done for the first time, with my sister! Shellac, I quite like this… too bad I can’t afford doing this all the time!

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Promised I would make a quiche and I actually did! With mushrooms, bacon and onion… not bad, got the stamp of approval from my brother!

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Mmm, McDonald’s McGriddles for breakfast, I will miss you! Delicious combination of maple syrup pancake sweetness sandwiching egg and the saltiness of cheese and sausage!

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Saying farewell to Franklin who’s going to be living with Anthony for a few months! My mom will miss her ‘grandson’ quite a bit!

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The day after New Year’s, our furnace died, on one of the coldest days! The temperature in our house quickly dropped to a frigid 13.5C before we finally got running again. Apparently our flame sensor needed replacing – ugh!

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This bird has been sitting by our kitchen window for as long as I can remember. My dad brought it home one day and I thought a real bird had flown in and perched on our window the first time I saw it. Dang, it’s an ugly bird! But, memories 🙂

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And that’s the last of my random moments in Canada… I believe! 🙂

 

 

Happy Holidays

Hello friends!

I hope each and everyone of you had wonderful holiday celebrations with your loved ones! And may this new year bless you with much laughter, surround you with love, and leave you with unforgettable moments of happiness!

I felt very lucky not only to be able to spend Christmas and New Years home in Ottawa but also because it was filled with so much love and generosity from family and friends.

Unfortunately, my laptop has died on me, and even though my brother and I have been trying very hard… I don’t think we’ll be able to salvage it.

And so, I was already behind on blogging and posting photos but now it is even worse because well… I don’t have a computer at the moment!

What’s going on in the next few days?

– My sister is flying back to Vancouver this evening. She is starting a placement in Victoria on Monday so will have very little time to pack up and fly out to her next destination.

– Mike and I are flying out Tuesday night, Jan 7th. The holidays have flown by and although we are excited to begin our final year of med school, we have not been able to study for our Canadian exam (MCCEE) as much as we have wanted. And that exam is at the end of February. Starting to freak out a little.

– Need to finish packing.

– Hopefully see some friends but time is running out and still so busy.

– Back in Brisbane on the 10th. Have the weekend to settle in and get ready for a busy year ahead starting Monday.

Will try to keep you updated more, thanks for reading! 🙂

Long overdue catch up with Sareda at Art Is In!

December 14, 2013

By long overdue, I mean three years. Really.

Needless to say, it was great to see her and finally catch up. So much can happen in such little time, you easily don’t realize it until actually sitting down and having a chat.

For lunch, Sareda chose Art Is In Boulangerie. What a delight! And thanks again for the treat my dear!

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Unit #112 of the industrial loading bay at City Centre Ave, Art Is In has a very unique atmosphere. You walk through a black door to be greeted by high ceilings, minimal decor, shared seating in a large open space. And surprisingly, it’s very warm, inviting and cosy.

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Being first time visitors, we appreciated that there wasn’t too much of a line when we arrived shortly after 12pm on a Saturday. We had the opportunity to ask questions regarding what was available and take a moment longer to make up our minds. I really liked how there was an employee taking our ‘hot food’ orders while we waited in line. By the time we got to the front of the line, ordered any additional pastries, breads, or other items from the bakery, paid and sat down at a table, the food took only a few more moments to arrive.

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We both decided on a sandwich and a pastry.

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Sareda chose the Thai chicken with apple, curry mayo, and havarti sandwich ($10.95)

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I got the Buttermilk brined chicken caesar sandwich ($10.95, tender chicken pieces with bacon, havarti, tomatoes, arugula and our homemade Caesar dressing. Served on our Dynamite Cheddar, jalapeno & chive bread).

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Both sandwiches were delicious, served such amazing crusty bread and filled with fresh vegetables and flavourful meat – yum! Although they were great, they are not the biggest sandwiches and I wish for the price, they came with a small side. Even if it was just a few greens.

For dessert, a danish with lemon curd and berries (I believe) for Sareda

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And a Chocolate Almond Croissant ($2.95) for me!

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Again, both extremely tasty! We each saved half to share with Sareda’s partner, Calvin, later.

We were definitely impressed with our first visit and left making plans to each come back in the future, yay!

December 17, 2013

And so, when Mike came up to Ottawa, I took him there for lunch!

He couldn’t pass up the same sandwich I got last time and ordered the chicken caesar, along with a coffee.

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We also bought 2 pastries to try:

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Sticky Bun with Pecans, Raisin & Caramel ($3.25). Delicious but extremely rich, especially as it is not technically a bun but more of a croissant. It is quite sweet, although the caramel is hardened, would’ve been nicer if it was slightly warmed!

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And the Maple Dipped Old Fashioned Potato Donut ($3.25). The donut had very lovely texture but otherwise quite bland, which is not technically a bad thing depending on what you are looking for! Or it could be because our taste buds were overwhelmed by the sticky bun 😛

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❤ him!

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During the second visit, there were a few minor things I noticed that could be improved.

Although I don’t drink, directions for where to get self-serve coffee would be useful. There was confusion as nothing was labelled and wasn’t sure if the big dispensers contained other beverages like tea or hot chocolate.

Additionally, you are given pastries you order at the cash to take back to your table. Hot foods arrive when they are ready. However, there is no self-serve cutlery for those who would like to enjoy their pastries first or while they wait. A stash cutlery where the self-serve drinks are would be great and save the trouble of bothering an employee! 🙂

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Otherwise, the food is delicious on many levels. The atmosphere is great with a variety of clientele including families, elderly couples, and those on break from work. Turnover is quick and although it was quite busy both times I’ve visited, we never had trouble finding space to share and dine with others. Service is quick and friendly. My only regret is not buying some fresh loaves of bread to go! I guess that means I will just have to return soon… 😀

Art Is in Bakery on Urbanspoon

Seeing the girls again!

December 08, 2013

Reunion with the girls, finally! We were just missing Sophie 😦 who’s still studying in San Fran… but we’ll catch up with her sooner or later!

We congregated at Julia’s house (thanks Hue for picking Atong and I up!) to make delicious food and of course, to feast!

Julia taught us how to make gnocchi, who knew it was such an easy dish to make from scratch too!

Baking and letting the potatoes dry out.

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Pressing the potatoes… takes effort! 😛

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Hue made a play on the well known appetizer Insalata Caprese – yummy with tomato, basil, and boccocini, dipped in a basalmic and olive oil vinagrette.

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Atong… just watching and waiting to eat, haha.

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I made some coconut basil tempura shrimp… never a let down!

Infusing the coconut cream

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Ready to feast!

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It had been a while since I had poutine, Julia made some with sweet potato too, yummy!

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The tempura shrimp!

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Can’t believe I forgot to take a picture of the gnocchi! It was so delicious with a rose sauce and bacon!

I also made some deep fried banana fritters, tasty!

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Group photo 🙂

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Silly faces

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Such a lovely home

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Watching Masterchef as we eat 😛

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And with her lovely Christmas tree!

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And lastly, I just wanted to point out her table runner. How beautiful is that??

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Post-Medicine rotation gathering!

November 15, 2013

(I know, I’m now writing out of order too, sorry! :P)

In celebration of our time together throughout our Medicine rotation AND the fact that we finished our last exams of third year – we had to celebrate… with food, of course!

Very happy that most of us were able to meet for dinner Friday evening, hurray!

After some discussion, we decided on New Shanghai as they have many yummy and generous sized dishes to share. In particular, dumplings. Need I say more?

Credit to Sarah for the photos!

The ones who couldn’t make it: Clarence, Yung Howe, Tomas, Joseph, Mustak, Manisha, and Sunny

Adi, Kee Ping, Sarah & Daniel

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Me, Mike, Xuan & Christine

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Sarah & Daniel

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Mike & Xuan

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Daniel & I

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Love this picture 🙂

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For dessert, it didn’t take much convincing for everyone to join for some frozen yoghurt, yum!

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Thanks for the good times guys, have a great holiday!

Last night in Brisbane: Eat Street Markets!

November 16, 2013

Continuing on with my previous post!

I know, I’m so behind.

After Kristen’s baby shower earlier in the day, we decided to meet up at Eat Street Markets later for dinner – also a last chance for me to hang out with everyone before going home to Canada!

Unfortunately, Michael wasn’t a part of this gathering because he had to stay home to sell his iPad, and the girl never showed up! How annoying! At least Yoni was over so he didn’t have to spend his night in Brisbane alone, haha.

Christine picked me up at 6pm and we got there in time to meet Kristen, Matt, Fiona and her friend Amy for dinner – yum!

What is Eat Street Markets? I didn’t know either!

It’s a newly opened (and hopefully permanent) night market at the old decommissioned Hamilton Wharf. Around 80 shipping containers, although I suspect more will be added as time goes by, have been transformed to bright and alluring stalls selling food from all over the world, textiles, art, fresh produce, jewellery, and more!

You can read more about it at The Weekend Edition and at Must Do Brisbane.

One of the entrances to the market

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Two huge ‘starry night’ tents lined entirely with amazing food stalls. Very reasonable prices too!

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Yum, food and friends 🙂

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And plenty other stalls!

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Chitty Banh Banh stall by Jake and Elle from My Kitchen Rules

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Sending our love to a friend who wasn’t able to make it.

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Lovely atmosphere and as with any market, plenty of unique things to see!

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There were even fireworks at the end of the night, although I’m pretty sure they were unrelated to Eat Street Markets.

Had a great night, especially hanging out with everyone! Hopefully Mike will have a chance to go when we are back in Brisbane!

Kristen’s Baby Shower!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

It was a beautiful day to celebrate such a special event with Kristen! 🙂

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We were invited to join her for a delicious high tea that was held at Spicers Balfour Hotel, a lovely boutique hotel hidden away from the business of the city.

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Not only were the venue and food beautiful, but more importantly, the mum-to-be looked gorgeous and glowing! Her white dress, swept back hair and of course, those beautiful blue eyes and smile really exuded happiness and excitement. Or was it because school was finally over? Haha, I’m sure that played a small role too! 😉

I apologize for all the stuff in people’s faces in the next few photos…

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For her gift, Fiona, Christine and I agreed that our present would revolve around pampering for Kristen, especially after just completing the most difficult rotation (Medicine) of year 3! Baby presents can come later! 😉 We decided on a pregnancy massage at Rainesforest Massage & Day Spa, as well as a candle and a bottle of bubble bath. You’ll have to let us know how you enjoyed it Kristen!

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Presents from other guests all had one thing in common: ADORABLE!

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Very lovely to meet her friends, and especially her mom

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Girlies!

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I am so excited for the arrival of their bub, I know her and Matt will be wonderful parents! The gender of the baby will be a surprise, which only adds more to the excitement! The only sad thing: she is due next month, and I’m in Canada! But that’s okay, because Mike and I are visiting her family first when we’re back in Brisbane! 😀

Random recent moments

As I mentioned in the last post, I haven’t done much in the last 3 weeks but there are a few things to share!

My dear friend Amanda gifted me with lovely chocolate covered sultanas by Melba’s and a bottle of Chenin Blanc (Coriole Vineyards), both presents from South Australia. The chocolates are rich, smooth and delicious and of the course, the wine was very tasty. She even wrote a really touching note… just because she’s an awesome friend and is always thinking of other people. 🙂

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Having some of the chocolates and salted cashews = winning snack.

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Craving for Korean food led us back to our usual spot – Madtongsan II for dinner on Oct 16!

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Oct 19 – Could not resist the great lunch specials at Wagaya. Went for my new favourite dish, tonkotsu ramen, so delicious! Even comes with dumplings and an amazing bowl of fried rice!

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For dessert, we chose to share the green tea cheese cake with green tea ice cream. Have been wanting to try this for a while but probably not worth getting again.

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Mike’s squishing me! Long but fun and extremely worthwhile days in hospital this rotation. But sooo tired when we finally get home, not much studying gets done.

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Yoni was in town from Nambour and staying with us Oct 19-20. We went to see Gravity which was good, although I was glad we didn’t see the 3D version because I think I would’ve gotten motion sickness. And we never go without food! My favourite wedges from Beastie Burgers and burritos from Guzman y Gomez, yummy picnic!

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I ordered a few BB Cream replacements recently, and look at all the amazing samples I received! All well known Korean brands too… can’t wait to try some of these out, especially the Ice Mask!

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Boiled quail eggs with some salt and pepper – delicious snack!

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How do you cut a pineapple? This is how I learned from my mom, least amount of pineapple wastage!

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Yummy! Honeydew melon with pineapple and lychee – can’t go wrong!

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Tried frozen yoghurt for the first time not too long ago – how delicious! Biscotti and coconut pandan flavour with fruits – yum!

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A new favourite in our house, basil & blueberry gin and tonic – try it! Very tasty 🙂

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Home made food update? Here are a few things!

Crispy oven baked sweet potato fries

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Creamy mushroom soup – delightful!

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More mango sticky rice with coconut cream, mmm

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Vegetarian pasta salad with Greek yoghurt based dressing

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Pear cupcakes with passionfruit icing for the students in my group

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Chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter icing and carrot cupcakes with cream cheese icing as thank you gifts for my med team.

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Evening catch up with friends @ The Burrow

Finally had a catch up this past Friday with Kee Ping, Amanda and Xuan at The Burrow.

With a great drinks menu and nice atmosphere, The Burrow was an easy choice and luckily we could make reservations so didn’t have to wait in line for a table.

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Beers for everyone! And of course, food. We got a few dishes to share:

Unfortunately, some of these dishes are part of their Oktoberfest menu which isn’t online so I can’t give you the full dish name and all its components.

Pretzels with Pepe Saya butter. I love Pepe Saya butter but the pretzels were unfortunately quite tough and definitely not worth $7/each.

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Main component of this dish was the crispy pork belly, which was lovely! Also had roasted peaches and something-I-can’t remember wrapped in filo pastry. Tasty dish!

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Dip-ah-dee-do-dah – A selection of fresh house dips, crisp bread, ciabatta, zattar and flavoured oils. The selection was different than what Mike and I have had before but still very tasty! Very generous portions of dips, and so would do with a bit more breads!

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This dish’s main component was slow cooked venison with spätzle, apple and berries. When we asked what spätzle was, our server said her best description would be “similar to gnocchi”. Unfortunately, although the venison was tender and nice, the spätzle (that we were all trying for the first time) tasted more like stale deep fried batter. We’re still unsure if it was meant to taste that way, or if we just got a bad batch… And why make the pieces so tiny? So difficult to eat when they just roll around on your fork and then onto the table.

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We also got some Gnarly fries (curly fries) and Chips Ahoy! (beer battered fries) with aioli sauce. On a good note, the fries never disappoint.

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We’ve been to The Burrow many times and love the service, drinks selection and quality of food. Unfortunately, we found our food hit and miss tonight but will still be back again in the future 🙂

The Burrow on Urbanspoon

Happy birthday Fi!

September 28, 2013

A small BBQ gathering to catch up with friends and more importantly, celebrate Fiona’s birthday! She’s only turned “24” this year guys 😉

Blowing out the candles! It took many laughs and a lot of effort 😛

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And a few random pictures! Sorry Christine and Mike, somehow I missed you guys!

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Happy birthday again!

Santos GLNG City of Lights with Christine!

Christine had never seen the light show since coming to Brisbane so of course we had to take her!

[Check out 2011’s post HERE and 2012’s post HERE]

We had a tasty selection of kiosk food (including deep fried ice cream!) before settling down and enjoying the show. It was even more impressive than last year as there were people mounted on flexible poles, dancing under the waterfall, as part of the show!

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Had a great night!

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Hiking @ Noosa National Park (Part 1)

Finally went hiking at Noosa National Park yesterday!

After a long drive, we were greeted with such gorgeous weather that it was definitely going to an awesome day for hiking.

Noosa map

We started with the Noosa Hill track (#3 in yellow), a 2.4 km that climbed steadily up through open eucalypt woodlands and shrublands to the top of Noosa Hill.

Pictures of course! 🙂

Heading in!

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Once in a while you can glimpse the blue waters just through the thick vegetation

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Pretty remnants of once green leaves

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Colourful lichen

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Last bit of elevation before reaching the top of Noosa Hill

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Do you see a horse too?

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I think we added a good foot to the “official” height of Noosa Hill

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Then made our way back down…

Lots of interesting textures to see

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Xuan found his special place in a tree

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Markings made by the larvae of the Scribbly Gum moth! You see these tracks all over the Scribby Gums (Eucalyptus haemastoma) and according to Wiki: Eggs are laid between layers of old and new bark. The larvae burrow into the new bark and, as the old bark falls away, the trails are revealed. The diameters of the tunnels increase as the larvae grow, and the ends of the tracks are where the larvae stopped to pupate.

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Gorgeous red crystalized sap on the Scribbly Gums

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We eventually reached the end of the Noosa Hill track and continued on another 2.8km via the Tanglewood track (#2 in orange), a meandering trail through cool rainforest.

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Found a turkey! We unfortunately didn’t see much wildlife except for turkeys and birds!

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Found the Eye of Sauron

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The trail eventually gave way to woodlands…

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… as we reached our much anticipated destination: Alexandria Bay.

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One word: Stunning.

Stay tuned to see more of this gorgeous place!

Life randoms :)

A few pictures here and there over the past month or so!

First time meeting Mike’s friend from Halifax – Chelsea and her boyfriend, Dave! Also an opportunity to catch up with Nicole and to meet her friend visiting from Canada – Winston. Meeting new friends and enjoying good food in the rain – fish and chips at Swampdog! Lovely time guys!

Left to right: Dave, Chelsea, Nicole, Mike, me, Winston

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Can you see why I stock up on cue cards from Dollarama when I’m back in Canada during the holidays? Look at the cost, the cost!!

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Passed by this and loved the cracks in the pillars!

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After a fun morning of badminton with Xuan, Yung and Chloe, we enjoyed yummy dim sum at Yum Cha Cuisine – newly opened in Indooroopilly Shopping Centre. Definitely worth a return visit 😉

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Are those fuzzy things… alive?

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Walked by a bush with lovely small pink flowers.

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Free Despicable Me 2 memory games from McDonald’s! Mike and I used to compete with each other on the iPad with a similar game. Now we can play together like little kids! 😀

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Guys, remember when mint M&Ms were just regular looking M&Ms that had mint chocolate? Not anymore! Now with a minty candy coat with a green crisp interior!

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I have FINALLY invested in a real pair of sunglasses. No longer will I be purchasing $5-10 cheap sunnies and be developing cataracts!

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I saw a tunnel spider web today at the train station 🙂

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And lastly, an old one from our last trip to Vietnam with my mum. Iced milk coffee… love the swirls!

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Post-surgery dinner

(Long overdue post!)

Thursday, July 11th was day of our surgery exam – what a stressful morning!

But the day ended on a high note because Mike and I had invited all of our surgery-rotation-group over for a potluck dinner, yum yum yum!

Most people were able to come (some even with their partners) and everyone brought so much delicious food! Completely stuffed by the end of the night.

Thank you to Sarah K for taking pictures! All photo credits belong to her!

Sorry, we don’t have photos of everyone’s food!

Bacon wrapped chicken by Amanda

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Seafood paella topped with feta cheese by Tom

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Stuffed roasted chicken bought by Xuan

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Daniel bought this, I think it was sweet and sour chicken but I could be wrong!

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Thanks to Sarah for spending so much time making this fried rice and kimchi pancake, very tasty!

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Argh, I forgot the name of this dish, but it is a Malaysian beef curry-like dish made by Yung and his gf Chloe.

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Fresh salad from Kristine and Jeff!

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We provided Vietnamese BBQ ground pork balls with garlic mayo and fresh bread

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Let’s take a group picture guys

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Guys…?

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Woo, finally! 🙂

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Thank you to everyone for coming over that night and bringing such wonderful food! Hope you enjoyed yourselves just as much as we did 🙂

The next day, we were off to the Gold Coast!

Ruixi & Chris’ wonderful Save the Date

They did such a great job on this, I had to share!

Fingerprint heart design on the cover, each half unique from one member of the couple.

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And the lovely surprise when you open it up… Knot tightens as the card fully opens.

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How cute is that? I love the fact that they are homemade, simple but with a really cute theme. Not to mention they were probably able to save a bunch of money!

Can’t wait to see what other surprises they have in store!