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!

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Ten New Things 2015 – 1

Looking back on 2015 I can think of so many things that are new to me.  We had some wonderful trips, I grew in my role at work and my cooking has continued to improve as I start moving into Asian cooking more and more. Here are the highlights!

1. Travelled to China – This was my first time in Asia and it was such a rich, exciting adventure for Dave and I.  We did so many new things while there.  We ate all kinds of new foods (frozen yogurt with beans, YUM!), explored the Forbidden City, survived the driving, bought steam buns from holes in the wall and sped through the countryside on a bullet train.  The country is vast and the people so kind.  I’ll remember Dave constantly getting his photo taken, line dancing with the locals, bean smoothies, the painful Chinese massage and the corn that came topped with sugar and sprinkles.  I suspect we’ll end up back there soon.

Before the pain of the Chinese massage.
Before the pain of the Chinese massage.
Enjoying street food with Megan and Shannon.
Enjoying street food with Megan and Shannon.

2. Worked with disabled and abandoned kids – This was such a highlight of the year.  In Sanmenxia, China, I was placed in the baby room and every day I would spend time with these wonderful kids who struggled with various disability, showing them love and attention, which they desperately desired.  Since coming back, Dave and I have continued to support the baby room at the orphanage we were at.  I hope to one day get back to see how these children have developed, and even better, not see them because they have been adopted into a loving home.

The centre where the kids lived in Sanmenxia.
The centre where the kids lived in Sanmenxia.

3. Touring the Terra Cotta Warriors and The Great Wall of China – Seeing these sites always seemed like a far off reality.  I didn’t anticipate that I would even see them in my lifetime since China wasn’t really on my list of places to visit. But we did, and we loved it, and we saw these great wonders. I really enjoyed The Great Wall and would have loved to spend more time there. It really was beautiful seeing the ruinous area that stretched as far as you could see from the clean, safe, tourist section. It was like there was an adventure waiting right over the next hill. 

Into the forbidden zone!
Into the forbidden zone!

4. Joined our strata council – When we bought our condo a couple years ago I knew I wanted to join the strata council to be apart of decision making and the care for our buildings (there are 3 large condo buildings and 4 townhouse complexes – 165 units total).  So this April when we had our annual general meeting, I signed up for the standard two year term.  My goodness, I had no idea how much work and communication would be involved.  Within just the first 2-3 days I had about 50 emails back and forth about issues.  You’ll never know what is going on in the background until you get on council!  It has been trying at times, but a good learning experience so far.  

5. Grew into a manager at work – The first year as a manager is pretty challenging.  Every difficult conversation you have with am employee seems painstaking for the first while, but then you get used to it (thank goodness) and you are able to sleep at night knowing what conversations will take place the next day.  I pray a lot for wisdom in my job and the ability to be fair and consistent with my employees, to coach them through failures and praise them in success.  At the start of the year, I didn’t enjoy being a manager, and while I still have lots to learn, it has become easier and I gain more confidence in my abilities each day.

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!