Ten New Things 2015 – 2

Ten New Things cont’d.

6. Discovered the Sunshine Coast – Our church small group goes on a retreat each year and this time we rented a massive house on the Sunshine Coast that slept 16 people.  I had been to the Sunshine Coast once years ago, but only to the town you arrive in at the ferry drop off, so it didn’t really feel like I had experienced the Coast.  We had fun watching jellyfish off the dock, Dave went out on a late night canoe run to stare at the stars and the phosphorescents in the water.  We did a hike up a small mountain and had a spectacular view of the area we were staying in and relaxed in an outdoor hot tub.  It was a fun weekend with friends and we’ll be back in the future.

7. Surprising my family at Thanksgiving – Given the opportunity to take a work trip home at Thanksgiving, I knew that I had to go the extra few hours to see my family for the long weekend. The look on moms face was worth it, she was so surprised and so were all the kids.  Amazingly, it still ended up being really busy as I quickly made the rounds to see my big family, but it was really fun to just ‘pop in’ for a little bit.

8. Going to Brooklyn – I was super excited about getting to go to Brooklyn. I had been to Manhattan before and did all the major tourist things, but never strayed across the river. We learned a lot about this borough through a food tour and saw all kinds of awesome street art. It really reminded me of Vancouver, just more of an East Coast feel. I know we’ll get back again soon for some good coffee, food and hopefully next time a brewery or two.

So much great street art in Brooklyn.
So much great street art in Brooklyn.
Mmm enjoying a coffee at Devocion in Brooklyn.
Mmm enjoying a coffee at Devocion in Brooklyn.

9. Eating at a Michelin starred restaurant – This was such an awesome experience.  Dave and I don’t like to buy things; we would far rather spend our money on an experience that we can share and remember with happiness later.  Eating at Dan Barber’s Blue Hill restaurant in Manhattan was one of them. A sister site also exists just outside of New York City and is one of the 50 best in the world, so we knew this was going to be amazing.  It was1If you have a chance to watch Chef’s Table on Netflix, there is an episode all about Barber and how he sources his food and focuses on flavour. Best restaurant meal we have ever had. We followed that up a couple days later by eating at The Spotted Pig, which has also received a Michelin star for its amazing pub food.  It was a food lovers paradise for us in NYC.

10. Running the New York City Marathon – My hardest marathon bar-none.  For years I have seen a picture hanging in my aunt’s house of her and her sister crossing the finish line of the marathon in 1993. So it has been on my bucket list for a long time:  Run NYC, one of the Big 5 marathons.  I finally got the opportunity to run it with one of my closest friends from Australia, Megan.  I thought it would be my best run ever and my training had been my best.  I was faster, my body felt good, I was ready to roll.  Reality was, we both found it super challenging; the hills, the bridges, the long, long sections of street and the endless crowds.  I finished in 4:11:41 and I wish I could go back and do it all over again, because I know I could do better. But I’m proud of what I did despite how it turned out because I pushed until the end and never even considered giving up. For now though, I don’t want to think about another marathon for a long time.

Heavy into the merchandise at the Expo.  
Heavy into the merchandise at the Expo.  
Brooklyn at km 16.  Brooklyn is the first half of the race and THEN you hit four bridges! Talk about a brain buster!
Brooklyn at km 16.  Brooklyn is the first half of the race and THEN you hit four bridges! Talk about a brain buster!

What will 2016 bring?  Hopefully a new province to visit and maybe some new BC experiences. We’re calling it our Year of Canada!

I hope you did some new things in 2015 as well.  It keeps you young and bring lots of fun to life. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

No Sleep Till Brooklyn/New York

Thought I would share some photos from our trip with a few details.  Probably more for my memories than anything.  We arrived Thursday morning and amazingly our hotel room at the Hilton Manhattan East was ready at 11am and they let us put our bags in when we arrived.  We didn’t stay long though because David Chang’s Momofuku Noodle Bar opened at noon and we knew it would get busy.  We had to get our New York on!

Waiting for yum at Momofuku Noodle Bar.
Waiting for yum at Momofuku Noodle Bar.

Dave’s loves himself a bowl of noodles and this one had a nice smokey flavour with a delicious egg yolk sitting in the middle.  I had a delicious soy sauce egg to start followed by an al pastor steam bun sandwich.  For dessert we had chocolate chip passionfruit cake soft serve.  What a great first meal in NYC.

After trying to go to the Statue of Liberty, but realizing tickets to get on the island were sold out, we wandered around the Freedom Tower and World Trade Center site, visited Trinity Church and Wall Street then headed back to clean up at the hotel for our ‘fancy’ dinner out at Dan Barber’s Blue Hill our first dinner at a Michelin starred restaurant.  His Upstate New York Blue Hill restaurant is in the top 50 restaurants in the world, so we knew the New York version had to be good.

Do you remember that dinner table scene from What About Bob?  Well this dinner went a lot like that.  Dish after dish after dish, followed by the most embarrassing moans of delight.  Best meal we have ever had.  They don’t allow phone use in the restaurant so, sorry, no pictures of the epicness.  Seeded butter, fermented rye bread, turnips, baby butternut squash with bacon marmalade and oh, green beans like you couldn’t imagine.  And I think green beans are boring!  Mmm, Faye this is delicious!

The next day was the big reveal at Rockefeller Centre, where we ‘ran into’ our Australian friends, Ben and Megan Auld and their daughter Charlotte.  We surprised them outside of Magnolia Bakery and it was like Megan saw a ghost, she just couldn’t comprehend what was in front of her. Tears and hugs flowed, then we headed over to Thomas Keller’s Bouchon for some mmm mmm pastries…and then back to Magnolia for a cupcake and Banana Pudding (mom, this is the recipe I made at the cottage this summer).  

You might think I'm eating like I have a marathon in two days or something.
You might think I’m eating like I have a marathon in two days or something.
Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

We split up so Dave and I could do a food tour in Brooklyn and Ben and Megan could get their bearings and run some errands.  They had only arrived the night before.

We saw some great street art, had more awesome food and learned a lot about the Hasidic Jewish community in Williamsburg.  Did you know families have from 6-8 children, and the woman wear wigs.  It was like they all had the same hair colour and haircut.  I think the most interesting thing we learned was that the leaders in the community put up posters saying that watching the marathon is not tolerated.  It has too many people running in promiscuous clothing. There should be no watching of it on the street and you must keep your children away from the windows.  The area was pretty quiet when you ran through it, but there were a couple little girls enjoying it from a stoop.

We met up with the Auld’s and did some shopping in Brooklyn, then had dinner at Diner.  After Dave and I took a detour and walked the Brooklyn Bridge at night.  What a great view and a nice walk.

The High Line
The High Line

The next day after picking out our race kit, we walked The High Line.  It is an old rail line that runs through the West Side of the city.  It was a nice, but crowded, walk that finished close to April Bloomfield’s The Spotted Pig, a Michelin starred pub.  What could be better for lunch!?!

April Bloomfield's The Spotted Pig - Can you see the pig?
April Bloomfield’s The Spotted Pig – Can you see the pig?

After a late lunch and more banana pudding from Magnolia Bakery, we split ways from the Auld’s and went back to Brooklyn in the evening for dinner at applewood, a restaurant I had read a book about last year.  It was Halloween and there was craziness everywhere.  The street by the restaurant was even shut down as kids and parents ran from store to store trick-or-treating. When we came back to Manhattan after dinner we took a short walk through Times Square to see some more costumes then headed back to the Hilton to watch the Mets and try to get an early night before the race. (This never really happens before a race.  You can’t sleep very well no matter what you do.)

Sunday was race day and you can read about that on my last post.  It was a hard run and I still think about it.  I talked to Megan yesterday, who just got back to Brisbane, and we both are still running it through our heads.  How would we do it again knowing what we know now?  We both feel like it isn’t a run to repeat.  No more uphill!

Monday morning we met for a late coffee and pastry at Frisson Espresso (we had been finding some great coffee shops, shout out to Blue Bottle Coffee and Devotion).  We had some final fun with Charlotte who had been a very good girl the whole trip and put up a lot from us old boring people.  Apparently, after Dave and I left she pointed out some runners who looked like me and has convinced her mom that when she is 20, Megan and I have to do a race with her.  So be it.  She has a tough momma and Auntie.

We’ll miss our Aussie friends a lot, but we are already talking about the next adventure in 2017. Dave and Megan have their eye on the Tokyo Marathon and I think they are kind of mad.

These two don’t look like they have work the next day.  Back to reality!

The Summer So Far

Hard to believe it has already been over a month since my last post.  Dave and I have been going steady this summer with visitors, a trip to Ontario and more visitors, so I thought I would post some of the highlights in photos.

We were in Ontario over the Canada Day holiday and my family rented a cabin in Bayfield. We had a great time spending time together with my parents, siblings and all the kids.  There was a men’s morning and a women’s morning where we had kid free time to go into town for lunch and shopping.  I love the kids, but it was a lot having nine kids ten and under running around all the time.  You could often hear me around 7pm saying “Is it bedtime yet?”  Here is a picture of my sisters and I on the couch about to get some sista’ knittin’ time in. Breanne on the left is expecting in December when we go back at Christmas.  I hope the timing works out to meet niece or nephew number ten!

For Canada Day dad and my brother, Shane, got some fireworks going, which the kids loved.

Dave and I enjoying the campfire and the nice temperatures.  We roasted marshmallows and made apple pies over the fire.

My oldest niece, Abby, helped me in the kitchen with dinner on the Prescott’s night for meal making.  It was really fun having her help and teaching her some new skills.  I have never cooked with the kids before and I feel it is really important to have them involved and learning how to prepare food from a young age.  It certainly is more rewarding to eat when you have helped. I could tell my sister-in-law lets Abby help at home because she jumped right in to help and was eager to learn new things.

Dave also got some help peeling the corn.  Maybe more help than he anticipated.

I got to spend time with my nephew, Trent, who is about 2.5 years old as we ‘read’ his favourite book…the John Deere catalogue.

There were also this group of goofy people that would always stare out the window…

But I suppose they were looking at this every night…

We got to also see Dave’s mom and stepdad on the weekends and went out to a big pre-flight breakfast at Malibu Restaurant before heading home on Sunday.

Looking a little tired after a very full but great week of visits with friends and family.

Just this past week my cousin, Erin and a friend, Ola, came from London to visit.  We had a great time sightseeing and having lots of wonderful food.  The photo below is from dinner at Grub on Main Street.  It just reopened after a fire and was better than I remembered.  95% of the food is from local farmers and the meat is all the best quality of grassfed.  Along with some BC wine it was delicious and showed Erin and Ola the great food that we have out here.

We also spent a night walking and sitting on the seawall across from downtown.  It was a beautiful night and One Direction was playing a show in the stadium across the water, so Erin got to hear some songs she liked “live”. 

The rest of the summer keeps kickin’ it up with a wedding this weekend, a wine festival and more visitors from Calgary and Australia.  Looking forward to it!

Advent Magic

Last Tango from Lear Faye
Last Tango from Lear Faye

Dave and I decided to skip church today and have a lazy Sunday, our Saturday was quite hectic, and frankly so has the whole month.  We headed over to a new brunch spot on Commercial Drive called Lear Faye.  They have really fresh brunch ideas, as you can see from the picture above.  I had the Last Tango french toast, a combination of mascarpone, ricotta, rum-soaked strawberries, with a vanilla cardamon syrup.  It was delicious!  They also had a three piece group playing Christmas songs.  It was a nice breakfast out.

This month we also received our bacon.  It had to be smoked and brined, so it took longer than the rest of the pork, but it is utterly incredible.  The best bacon I can remember experiencing. Beautiful thick cuts that taste a little naughty when you eat them, like you shouldn’t be having something this good for breakfast (or lunch, or dinner).  When we picked it up, it was in two large slabs that they cut up for us, leaving a pile of fatty end bits, which we bagged up and took home.  I chopped up the ends and added them to a stir fry we made this week, which elevated the dish to another level of deliciousness.  

It really is a whole new level of fun with this pork.  Similar to the CSA vegetable program we did this summer, I am learning to use many different parts of the pig.  I made an awesome pulled pork two weeks ago, and tonight we are having pork meatballs and spaghetti.  Believe it or not, I’ve never made meatballs!

We had another fun night with some friends playing The Farming Game.  It’s one of the few board games that I enjoy.  It’s similar to Monopoly, but you don’t start with free money. No hand outs allowed.  Any money you start with comes with a bank loan.  And every time you harvest you pick up some kind of expense.  My sister, who is a farmer, says it’s just like real life. I’ll stick to the game!  

You can also see the new picture on the wall that we got framed this month.  It is a really great image of the street layout in some of Vancouver.  Keeps our BC theme going.

Amongst all the busyness of seeing myself to the end of the month and surviving the intense month of work, I also got promoted to a manager position within my department.  I’ve been patiently (mostly) waiting 4 years for this to happen, so it really feels like an accomplishment, and an opportunity to learn new things and challenge myself in a whole new way.  But it certainly added to the busyness as I still had to finish rolling out our new systems, which launch Dec 1st. December will be a month of getting my feet under me and learning the ropes of managing.

There is something I have been looking very eagerly towards: the Holiday Countdown Beer Advent calendar!  Dave and I picked up this puppy in early November.  It is 24 days of different beer from Parallel 49 and Central City Brewing.  Two great local breweries.  Tomorrow the excitement begins!  This box has been holding us in suspense for too long.  True, Dave will be enjoying the bulk of it, but I’m going to enjoy many sips and new adventurous tastes through it too.

Bring on December, the month of friends, family (!!!), Christmas trees band good food!