Monday, July 5, 2010

Best Anniversary Weekend Ever!

Australia (46).<span class=
I love anniversaries! Love is in the air... the couple snuggles and canoodles (love the word "canoodle" too!) and life is happy and glorious; it's kind of like your own personal Christmas. July fourth not only holds a special day in every Americans' heart, but in mine too because it's my anniversary with my looooove. Not only did Nick and I get to spend the weekend celebrating our first year together but we got to share part of it with my good friend Lori, with whom I backpacked around Europe in 2006. She and her bf were in Sydney for only one weekend before they made their way up the coast. It was so exciting to see Lori in Sydney and to meet her lovely significant other too. We had the best day!
We met up in the Rocks and after a walk through the markets we opted to go to the famous Pancakes on the Rocks restaurant for brunch. I'm assuming word has spread about this restaurant as, despite being spread over 2 floors, it was packed and there was a line out the door! Time for Plan B, as the boys (aka ravenous beasts by that stage) were on the verge of going to Hungry Jacks. We poked our head into a nearby French restaurant with harbour bridge views. The maitre d blinked at me in disbelief (in that confused look of disdain that only ze French can pull off) when I enquired about the possibility of getting a table inside without a reservation; luckily they had an outdoor patio. Since it was the middle of "winter" and "only" about 18 degrees, we had our pick of the tables. After tucking in to a glorious brekky, we set off on our quest to climb the bridge tower. This is the little known but great tourist attraction that I first discovered when my friend Jen was here. Lori, her bf and Nick (who despite being from Sydney had never been up there) were very impressed with the view.

Australia (41).<span class=

Australia (51).<span class=

After the climb we walk across the bridge (a first for all of us) and were treated to just the most spectacular rainbow over the Sydney Opera House. (I think that was a little divine anniversary present for me and Nick).

Australia (54).<span class=
Determined not to miss out, and having worked up another appetite, we set off back to Pancakes on the Rocks and although there was still, STILL a line, it was shorter and we got a table fairly quickly. After tucking in to some enormous pancakes drowned in ooy gooy chocolaty goodness we had to say our heartfelt goodbyes and our visit was over. Short and oh so sweet it was to see eachother and for Nick to get to meet a couple more of my friends. As I'm still having trouble with my camera, I'm grateful to Lori for sending these to me over email.

The weekend continued the next day when Nick and I went to Apparatif for dinner. The restaurant is an elegant and delicious Spanish tapas restaurant in The Cross and also where we went on our first dinner date. We booked a table by the fireplace and indulged ourselves in course after course of mouth-watering morsels. It was so great to re-visit the place where our beautiful relationship began and reminisce about the past year and the joys that we've experienced together.

The last memorable event of the weekend was when Nick presented me with my anniversary present- a beautiful silver Tiffany necklace. I was so happy and surprised and I absolutely adore wearing it!

The weekend was definitely one to remember.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Coolest Proposal Ever

Coolest Proposal Ever

Not that I'm in the market for a proposal (yet...) , but if I were, this would blow me away! You gotta watch this...

Sunday, June 6, 2010

July 5 2010

Go Sharks Go!

Original! Impromptu! Fun!
Three words to describe my recent date with Nick to watch a "footy" game. We are so not a movie and dinner date couple, in fact in one whole year of dating we've never been to the movies on our own! The closest we've come was back in January and Nick treated me and his wonderful mother to a date at the movies to see Avatar. I remember thinking when I met Nick and he took me ice skating for our first date, (remember we're in Australia here, ice rinks are about as common as dog sleds in this part of the world) that this guy would definitely keep me guessing!
Not surprisingly then, one evening in late April Nick suggested we travel to the nearby town of Cronulla to watch a live Rugby League game. Now let me pause here to explain that like soccer in Italy, or ice hockey in Canada, rugby is practically a religion here in Australia. Not only are there countless teams and leagues in almost every city and town, but there are 3 types of rugby from which to choose! Rugby Union, Rugby League and Australian Rules Football are all variations on the theme and, confusingly for a foreigner, are all referred to by the generic name of "footy." I suppose if you are in the know, you'll know what type is being referred to, and if you're not, then it probably doesn't matter. The differences are, I'm sure, not subtle, but for a novice "footy" spectator such as myself, it was exciting just to be present at a live game, even if I didn't really know what was going on. I thoroughly enjoyed not only the athletes' on-field performances, but also the half-time show, cheerleading performances and myriad shark mascots parading around the field. The entire spectacle was very entertaining, made even more so by the fact that the home team won the game! The whole crowd launched into a rousing rendition of there team song as the players basked in the glory of their first win of the season. Not even the rain could dampen our spirits as Nick and I got swept up in the frenzied excitement of the crowd!

It was a great evening and I hope to go again soon. Go Sharks Go!

June 20 2010: MILO!

I'm determined to get back into blogging more regularly: there are, after all, so many exciting things going on in my life. I'm just at the point in exams where there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Instead of studying, I thought I'd drop in for a quick hello, and to share one of said exciting things:

I have an [informal] list of answers for when I am posed the "what's-different-in-Australia?" question and I have another item for the list...

This one is a beverage.

It may look like unstirred cocoa powder floating atop a glass of milk, but no! It's called "Milo" and it's a malted chocolate drink that people (in my experience, mostly boys) drink instead of chocolate milk. The weird part is that it's consumed without stirring the powder into the milk... After the powder is poured on top of the milk, they let it sit there so that it absorbs the moisture and goes all lumpy and then they eat it with a spoon. Bizarre! My boyfriend, who has texture issues with fruit (ie. he will only eat apples if they're crunchy and not powdery, soft or too crunchy) loves this stuff. I can handle the taste (it's kind of like liquid Malteasers) but I can't get past the lumpy, powdery texture... oh well, it must be an Aussie thing.

Netty! [June 17 2010]

It was a stunning sky. As though stuffed with iridescent cotton wool, the fluffy blue-grey clouds occupied my attention when my mind should have been focused on what was happening on the ground below.

The afternoon of my very first game of netball ("netty" in Australian) was a cool, cloudy Saturday in April. I'd brought my favourite two-person fan club (Nick and Jen) and was so excited to try out this brand-new (to me) sport. At the very least, I thought to myself, I'll get to wear this spiffy new netball dress! Had I not become so comfortable in a bathing suit from playing all those years of water polo I might have been just a wee bit self-conscious. The "dress" is more like a bathing suit with a gratuitous little frill. The frill is meant to pass as a skirt but it certainly does not hide much in a fast moving, outdoor game (hello breeze!)
Nevertheless, I forged ahead into the game. It's a bit like basketball however the net does not have a backboard, and instead of dribbling the ball, it gets passed from player to player up and down the court. I managed to stay on my feet (most of the time) and even got an interception! With the support and encouragement from my loyal fan club and Nick's sister (whose team I play on, along with Nick's mum but she was away on business) I made it through the game not only in one piece, but loving a new sport! Ever since injuring my shoulder I've really missed playing water polo so hopefully I'll be able to turn netball into my new team sport!

The hardest part was remembering all the rules. What is considered normal defense in basketball is called, "interference" in netball; needless to say I got a few penalties. Luckily I also managed to get the hang of it and have been looking forward to my weekly game ever since!

Out and About in Sydney

I just love having visitors, the only downside is eventually they have to leave :( As I'm knee deep in the study trenches (exams next week, yikes!) I needed something to cheer me up. I took a quick break to peruse through some photos from Jen's last stop in Sydney.

It was a great day! The weather was perfect, and we strolled around the historic Rocks area of Sydney where all the old convict-era buildings give you the feeling of having stepped back in time. It's also home of the famous Harbour Bridge climb. The climb is definitely on my bucket list but for now, we contented ourselves with calling into the bridge climb gift shop and checking out the wall of celebrity photos. I couldn't help but smile at Steve Irwin's classic pic:
We then ventured across part of the Harbour Bridge via the side-walk-in-a-cage to get to a little known secret tourist spot: Take a look!
The bridge tower climb ($10) is a great alternative to the bridge climb. Otherwise at the very least it just might hold you over until you can save the dough ($200+) for the real thing!
Jen, the two Norwegian girls Jen met on her travels, and I did the climb and I'd venture to say the view probably wasn't that different!
We didn't get to wear the funky jumpsuits the bridge-climbers get to sport, but nonetheless we all had a great time admiring the 360 panoramic Sydney harbour views and getting some pretty good happy-snaps too!
I've never been one to miss a Kodak moment (as you know) so it was great that Jen and I passed so many iconic Sydney landmarks during our last days together...

Miss you Jen! Come back soon!!!

Friday, May 14, 2010

10 Things I've Learned About Living In Sydney

10. There is no need to tip at bars, restaurants, spas, taxis, anywhere! It's really not an expectation, and in light of the (much higher) prices, I'm hoping that the workers' wages reflect that the tip has already been "built-in" to the price of the item or service.

9. Take water everywhere you go. It might be due to the hotter climate, but I seem to become dehydrated much more quickly here in Sydney than I remember when I lived in Canada. It was a rare occasion that one saw me humping a plastic Nalgene bottle around, but here a bottle of water has been permanently added to the leaving-the-house checklist that now goes: "keys, wallet, phone, water!" Luckily I just acquired one of those nifty BPA-free metal numbers that keeps me safely watered all day long!

8. Never, and I mean never leave the kitchen with crumbs strewn around the counter top. Leave even one little rogue crumb and one might as well put out a welcome mat for cockroaches; no matter how elegant or upscale your home, these nasty little beasts find a way into your kitchen if there's even one speck of food left out overnight.

7. When summer is over one must still dress for summer so as to not roast/ melt (take your pick) if outside between the hours of 11am and 3pm; however, one must also take a sweater, jacket, and scarf for the rest of the day so as to avoid freezing off one's hiney both outside, and inside where without any central heating or sunlight, it's always freezing between the months of April and September. It really is a different type of wardrobe thought process, and one that I'm still getting used to! (Yes, I'm embarrassed to admit I have been caught purchasing a sweater at the campus bookstore after leaving the house at noon in 26 degree weather in a tee shirt, only to come out of class at 5 pm to 12 degree weather. Brrrrr!!!)

6. When people are what I would consider rude, they are not actually trying to be rude, it's just the way some people here are. Lemme explain: Whilst the vast majority of Aussies I've met in non-social situations (ie waiters at restaurants, colleagues at work) have been unfailingly polite and obliging, there are a few who have been so, shall we say, direct, that it's really caught me off-guard. Over the past year and a half, I've come to realize that what I, as probably a typically overly polite Canadian, (ie. saying "I'm sorry" to people bumping into me,) would consider inappropriately abrupt, this manner is just a culturally different way of communicating: I've learned not to take it personally.

5. Look closely and you'll see some interesting animals, even in the city! Australian culture is generally very similar to that in North America: McDonald's, Hollywood movies, Subway, Nike shoes, the list goes on. In fact, the culture is so similar to what I'm already used to, that, other than adjusting to the climate, and the seasons belonging in the opposite months, I haven't had too much culture shock at all. So, it always surprises me when something really is different. Lately I've been learning about all the little woodland creatures/ city pests that Australia doesn't have, and the ones they have instead. Whereas North America has squirrels, chipmunks, skunks and raccoons that roam around our parks and yards, Aussies have possums, billbys, bats, and massive cockatoo and parrot birds that make so much noise at dawn and dusk they seriously drown out normal conversation. Neat eh?

4. Learn the different names for things, and if you're not sure, ask. I learned this the hard way when, for the longest time last year I couldn't figure out what my housemate was talking about when she referred to the "bench" in our house. "The keys are on the bench; your mail is on the bench." To my knowledge we possessed nothing in our house that resembled a bench. Stolen park bench in the living room? Nope. Salvaged pew from the church that burned down as a hallway decoration? Nope! Nope, no benches around the house anywhere! One day I realized she was actually talking about the kitchen counter-top!!! Oh dear. What a confused little bee I was! (In saying that, my housemate last year was also from New Zealand and I didn't realize for about a week that when she said "J(i)ssss" she was actually talking to/ about me.)

3. It's a losing battle trying to get people to take their shoes off when inside your dwelling. It's just not something aussies are used to, and they seem to take offence when you request that they remove their dog-crap, puke covered, festering, dirt-encrusted shoes before they walk all over your carpet that you would like to be able to pad around on bare-foot in the morning, or before climbing into your bed with the freshly laundered sheets. Nevertheless, if I ever have my own house here, there will be a big sign on the door, or perhaps a custom made doormat, informing guests that while they are more than welcome in my home, their scum covered, train station grime infested shoes are not!

2. It's so warm that it's still technically possible to swim in the ocean or in outdoor pools here in months other than summer. Wahoo!!!

1. Always always bring an umbrella where ever you go, and never ever leave home without an umbrella. I don't know how to say this with enough oomph and emphasis but it is not unusual to leave the house when there is not one single little cloud in the sky, and no rain in the forecast, and to be caught brolly-less in a torrential downpour two or three hours later. To avoid rocking the 'drowned rat' look, I would highly highly recommend to any visitor to Sydney to have at least a cheap brolly in their purse, because even though most sidewalks in any shopping area are covered (due to the need for either sun or rain protection most days of the year) it rains so hard that even running for two seconds between awnings to cross a road can leave you as sopping wet and bedraggled as if you'd decided to go puddle jumping in the local bog. Seriously, bring an umbrella.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Wakeboarding... ezz greeat successssss!

The upside of being foreign and having no friends is people feel sorry for you and invite you to do cool stuff, like go wakeboarding on their friends' awesome boat, and join them for breakfast at their awesome waterfront house.... ok I'm exaggerating a wee bit; I know I have lots of friends here, but I'm continually surprised at the generosity and friendliness of folks here in Australia. A few weekends ago, Nick and I were invited by a new friend of mine to join her, and her husband and another couple for a day out on the water. We were super lucky to catch a clear, calm and warm day, which is an increasingly rare occasion as "winter" is fast approaching.

It was an awesome day, made even better by the fact that Nick, who had never ever tried wakeboarding before, totally killed it on his first try, and was even throwing down jumps!

If I hadn't witnessed how nervous he was before actually getting in the water, I would never have believed that it was his first time! What a successful day!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


If only the internet at my new residence would let me upload pictures! I don't know what the deal is so I apologize for my lack of posting lately. It's really frustrating because we all know how much I luuuurve sharing my photos with y'all.

So in lieu of the interesting photographic posts I've been sitting on until this uploading snag gets resolved, I'll share with you some new vocabulary I've come across whilst living down under...

When I moved to Sydney a little over a year ago there were some turns of phrase and/or words that were so odd to me that I never thought I would start using them myself. Well one year later it turns out that I was wrong! Recently I've caught myself using some of these very same words/ phrases:

Bloody: as in "where is the bloody remote control? I need to change the bloody channel on the bloody tv!" (Yes, this is one that is at a definite risk of overuse.)

Bugga: as in "bugga! I've just accidently deleted my entire essay!"

Mate: as in "hey mate, how ya goin'?"

How ya going: see above, instead of "how are you doing."

Toilets: Instead of 'bathroom' or 'washroom', as in "Where are your toilets?" This one is especially surprising since I've always cringed when hearing the ungenteel word "toilet." What is wrong with saying restroom or washroom??? Most of the time I still say 'bathroom' but I have slipped up a couple of times and said 'toilets'. Nooooo!

The One Word I Will Shoot Myself If I Ever Accidentally say it:

Youse: As in the plural of 'you' aka the title of an email I received from a classmate this morning:

does this mean anything to youse?

Noooooo! What is the world coming to when supposedly educated, learned law students are using this grammatical abomination???

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Welcome to Sydney Ladies!

Of course, the moment I've been waiting over a year for- one of my bestest friends from high school arrived in Sydney with her sister. They've been travelling around the world since last year, and were in Asia when I went back to Toronto over Christmas. In any case, the reunion this year was amazing and we were very fortunate to be able to spend some great quality time together.
We packed so much in to the girls' short time in Sydney...
No trip to Sydney is complete without a visit to Bondi Beach...
We added to the Bondi Beach excursion by parking at Bronte Beach and walking the magnificent coastal walk to Bondi...

Not to be outdone by Bondi Beach, Nick took the girls and me to his hometown beach in Stanwell Park! Towels and surfboards in tow, we left Nick's house and a mere 5 minute walk later we were on one of the South Coast's best "secret spots" (that's surfing code for places only locals know about.) Nick was nice enough to show me and the girls a great time surfing and bodyboarding and generally having a blast getting jiggy with Mother Nature's wild side!!!
The expert comes back to shore after showing us some of his killer moves!
Nick and I walk towards the waves with Rach and Josh close behind...
Time for Jen to show us what she's got!

There's no better way to work up an appetite than surfing; luckily just around the corner is "The Kiosk" a local well, kiosk that sells everything from hot chips to homemade wattle seed ice cream.
My all time favourite item from the menu, which also happens to be the BEST post-surfing meal ever is the "Lot Burger." Now folks imagine a BIG bacon and egg breakfast and the toppings from your favourite Hawaiian style pizza combined with the best burger you've ever rested your greedy little lips on, and that my friends is the Lot Burger. The whole thing is topped off with the obligatory slice of Aussie beetroot and it takes a mean appetite and a sold set of chops to make even a dent in this behemoth. I must admit, the ease and speed with which I put these babies away earned me my nickname "Guts" from my delightful boyfriend.
Miss Jen certainly certainly did give me a run for my money!

Speaking of making absolute piglets of ourselves, the girls and I happened upon a dangling donut eating competition while we were at Sydney Uni's Frosh Week. Not to pass up the chance at a free donut, the three of us elbowed our way to the front of the line and took our positions in front of the dangling donuts. The rules didn't sound too hard. Just eat the donut without using your hands: Well! Easier said than done. Turns out that swallowing a massive piece of donut while your cheeks are full of yet more donut is painful, and almost impossible. The most disappointing part was that I couldn't even taste the darn donut. I sure could feel it sitting like a led ball in my stomach for the rest of the afternoon though. I guess some lessons are learned the hard way, and that certainly was one of them!
The one redeeming factor from the ordeal was the next booth Jen inhaled some helium and sang a rousing chipmunk rendition of "twinkle twinkle little star" to win a free red t-shirt. She was quite chuffed at the prospect of an upgrade from the red t-shirt she's been wearing for the past 8 months.
Jen is set to come back to Sydney for a couple of days next week and I can't wait to see her! Rachel is off in the outback working on a ranch so she won't be joining us but hopefully I'll get to see them both before they head home in a couple of months.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

February 2010 Highlights

G'day! We meet again!

Since landing back in Sydney I've hit the ground running. There was so much to do when I first arrived! I could write a novel to catch up on everything since my last post, but there a few highlights that are definetly worth a mention.

Meeting Nick's brand new baby niece, Ciara, who was born just a week before I landed was incredible.

She was so so tiny and gorgeous, and her mother even let me have a cuddle!

She is a bouncing 8 week old baby now and still oh so good to snuggle with :)

Another definite highlight was the trip Nick and I took to the Hawksberry river for a five day camp-out music festival. The vibe was amazing and Nick and I danced each night away to an awesome line up of bands. The festival is big on organizing dress up events and Nick and I took full advantage of the opportunity to do a little facepainting...

... ok a lot of face painting!

I wasn't about to spend the free time I had before uni started hiding from the sun inside like I did last year, and made sure I hit the beach for some 'Triple S' fun (Sun, Sand, Surf. Yes I made that up myself. Yes, I'm a nerd.)

I pulled my best version of "Blue Crush" and almost* surfed pipe! (*By 'almost', I mean I stood up in white water. Yay!)

More importantly, Nick and I and a few friends had a great time at the beach!

Moving right along into some cultural highlights... celebrating Chinese New Year with my friend Jane was waaay cool, and the costumes, singing, dancing and chinese lion dragons were worth braving the torrential downpour to go and see:

Then of course there was Valentine's Day. Not a day that's been very pleasant for me over the past year or five, but this year was pure bliss!

Nick planned an awesome day for us to spend together. We packed a picnic and drove into the Royal National Park, (where we'd gone on one of our first dates.) There, despite the overcast skies and slight drizzle we rented a canoe and went for the most surreal and dreamlike paddle up a tree-lined canal. The weather was actually a blessing in disguise as the water, and park in general was pretty deserted and felt like our own slice of paradise, just for us to enjoy.

Along the way Nick in all his orthinological glory, pointed out the myriad speciese of birdlife, presenting themselves along the bank. (A bird is on the branch just to the right of my head.)

Spotting the usually shy liar bird through the trees was an especially delightful treat, and we giggled at its machainery-sounding robot noises interrupting the silence of the earily still and quiet wilderness. I also admired some wonderful wildflowers and plantlife as we stretched our muscles paddling along, enjoying our weightlessness in the canoe as it glided across the water.

We pulled into the dock just as the drizzle turned into rain, and upon disembarking from the canoe, dashed over to an undercover picnic area to devour our well-earned feast. We had decided on a medditerrainian theme of baquette, olives, feta, sliced meat, and grapes and boy did it it the spot! Of course we had to give a nod to the Brits, and opted for a carten of custard for dessert. Turnes out a hollowed out grape filled with cold custard is super tasty!

Thanks babe for such an amazing Valentine's Day 2010!!!!

Oh My Gosh! Look who's here!!!

[I'll give you a hint...]

But first some updates!

Where have I been you ask?

Ok folks, I know it's been a while since I've blogged but I have lots of reasons for having been so busy. Firstly, the last couple of weeks of my trip to home to Canada was a whirlwind to say the least! In completing my goal of catching up with every friend I have (and their parents too,) it was a bonefide race to the finish. An "Amazing Race" one might say, since it was so amazing to get to see all of my beloved friends whom I miss so so much!

I have to show you this photo of my girlfriends from Oakville and me at Tenleigh's "Ugly Christmas Sweater" party. I swear the second hand stores put in a special order just for us cause we managed to pull off some doozies!

Speaking of dressing up, I had a great time getting together with my Brock girlfriends for a Christmas Pajama party! It was so great to be there, and to see that the girls haven't changed a bit (well okay maybe some have a tiny bit; see below.) I love going home and being able to slide back in to old friendships. Of course I wish there was a cosmic black-hole through which I could go home to see my friends every other weekend; however, on the upside, I have wonderful memories of this year's visit, and am very satisfied in the fact that I at least got to congratulate one friend on her engagement and another on becoming a mum-to-be!

Of course I can't forget to mention the absolutely fantastic parties put on by my friends Kristen and Sean. Their apartment has the most amazing view- perfect for midnight noise-making to bring in the New Year!

Now not to worry, I know what y'all are thinking... but I did do stuff other than raid Goodwill and party. Yes, to balance out the parties, Kristen and I enjoyed some very refined and civilized socializing with our friend Mara and her cute little toddler. Seeing adorable Skylar again was great as the last time I saw her she was a wee new-born at my going away party. My- they grow so quickly!

Of course no trip would have been complete if I hadn't of tried to outdo myself in a feat of culinary genius. Ahem, since Masterchef's roster was complete, I decided to recruit my Aussie mate, Jessie as guinea pig for a homemade feast of bruscetta, pancetta caesar salad, creole chicken chili, and New York cheesecake with raspberry sauce and blueberries (yes, the cake was homemade too of course!)

I served up the meal on our finest china, and, as Jessie was preparing to make the move back to Perth, we toasted both of our returns to Australia. Jessie, I hope we get to see each other again soon (PS please don't make me eat any Vegemite)!

Lastly, I absolutely HAD to go to my favourite Vietnamese restaurant in Toronto, I've mentioned it before here, and it was even better than I'd remembered. Kristen, Sean and I were joined by our out-of-town friends Jess and Di for an oh-so-scrumptious and drool-worthy dinner of rare-beef pho and rice-paper spring rolls. Topped off with copious amounts of tea and laughter, I left the restaurant with that satisfyingly stuffed feeling that I can only get with Asian food.

Well that's it for the post-trip round-up. More very soon (I promise!) on how I've been keeping busy since arriving back in Australia. Ta-ta for now!