April & May

Better late than never?

Lesley had a super fun bachelorette party. We started the day with a delicious brunch with the olds, had a quick nap break, then headed to Kirsten’s apartment to get ready again.

We ate dinner at The Keg, and then danced the night away at a place on Davie Street. Lesley crushed another bachelorette at a drink chugging contest and suffered from a 2 day hangover afterwards, so I think it was a successful day. :D

Then a few weeks later was her wedding, at her parents house on the Sunshine Coast. It was lovely and really fun. Lesley has really nice friends. I loved the bilingual speeches and that I got the DJ to play Patio Lanterns, hehehehee.

We had such a terrible ski season here that it was a serious struggle to use up the three days of Edge Card we bought at the beginning of the ski season. We used the first two days when dad was here and it was pouring rain, and then used the last day on May 3rd with Rosemarie. There wasn’t much open but the sun was shining and it was super warm and pleasant. Spring skiing is awesome if you have the right expectations.

Our skeleton coach from last season was really great, so we were all super bummed when we heard at the end of the season that he was quitting. Matt, Grant and I met up with him in Kits a couple months after to catch up and finally find out what went down at the end of the season. Apparently BC skeleton has a lot of politics!! We are v sad that he had to go, but can totally understand his decision. Luckily he taught us so much during last season that I think we will be OK even if our new coach (still to be determined) isn’t as helpful.

I got a pair of free runners and Grant showed us his home-engineered wooden practice skeleton sled, which is clearly pretty amazing.

Scott’s friend Chris (Jono) and his wife Kirsten came from Scotland to visit us in Vancouver for a week. Scott took some time off and brought them all around the area. They did the Sea to Sky Gondola, looked at bears, Capilano Bridge, Granville Island, a local brewery tour, watched hockey and lots more!! Of course they tried double doubles, poutine, and other Canadian delicacies too. It was a really fun visit. Now I want to go visit them in Scotland too.

What else did I miss? No pictures:

  • We took the bus for a thousand hours to go to the Cloverdale Rodeo. Not worth it tbh. Not sure why I underestimated the amount of country music there would be…
  • Our new niece Ava was born. She is super cute!!
  • Lauren Clow came to visit again. We had her over for Burger Friday. Always good to catch up with her. It’s funny, I actually see Lauren more often than I do some of my friends who actually live here in the same city, hahaah. It was a short visit this time though.
  • Multiple trivia nights. We usually came in the top 3 in the first rounds, and then bombed the second rounds. Lucky for us they score them separately, so we usually got some free drinks! Go team Patty O’Lanterns.
  • Lots of yoga, lots of weightlifting (I started going to Terminal City Training 2 times a week instead of 1), and I worked almost every single day. Woot.

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How It’s Made: Yogurt

I looooove How It’s Made and Making Stuff (♫ makin’ stuff makin’ stuff MAKIN’ STUFF♫) so when I was invited on a media trip to see how yogurt is made I accepted pretty much immediately.

We went to Brandsema organic dairy farm in Abbotsford first. We got a tour of the farm to look at the cows, feed baby cows, watch the cows being milked, and see the milk being loaded on to the truck. Then we went to the Olympic Dairy factory in Delta, saw the milk coming into the factory, being pasteurized, poured into tubs, packaged, incubated, refrigerated and then loaded up onto trucks. It was pretty cool to see the whole process from cow to supermarket. And then we got to do a tasting session and try like 20 different types of yogurt. NOM.

The cows get to spend a lot of time in the fields, eating grass. They do get feed as well though (mostly corn and flax, plus soy, barley, peas) because apparently 100% grass-fed cows do not produce very much milk. They do not use hormones, and when antibiotics must be used the milk from those cows is dumped for a month.

Milking machines! They get milked twice a day and produce about 34 litres of milk per day per cow. It takes about 10 minutes to milk a cow.

1 day old newborn cow in the maternity ward.

We got to feed the baby cows. These ones were only a couple days old. D’awwwww. They were very thirsty. My cow yanked the bottle right out of my hands, haha.

All suited up for our tour of the yogurt factory.

Every truck of milk is tested for hormones and contamination before being accepted into the factory. Once approved, the milk comes into the factory into this room and these pasteurizing machines and mixing tanks.

The milk powder and cultures are added and then the mixture is poured into the yogurt tubs. Because they (mostly) make Balkan style yogurt the yogurt sets directly in the tubs.

Plastic seals and lids.

This room was 110°F. The tubs sit in here for 5 hours while the milk turns into yogurt.

And then it’s moved to refrigerated rooms for storage until the orders are picked and loaded onto trucks for the supermarkets! That’s a lot of yogurt!!

All together it takes about 12 hours to make a tub of yogurt (3 hours for pasteurizing, then packaged, 5 hours for ripening, then several hours for cooling). A sealed tub of Olympic yogurt lasts for 49 days, so if you look at the dates on the tubs at the store you should be able to tell how fresh it is. Once opened they can only guarantee the quality for a few days, since they only use natural ingredients. I can tell you that a tub of Krema is not going to last me for more than a few days anyway because it is ULTRA DELICIOUS. Seriously you could put Honeylicious Krema yogurt in a cone and eat it like soft serve ice cream.

We got to try a whole bunch of their line, the fruit yogurt, Krema (10% MF deliciousness omg), chia yogurt (tasty and very convenient!), kefir, and more. At the very end of the session we got to try a new flavour that hasn’t even come out yet… pumpkin spice. A lot of the bloggers lost their minds about this, haha. It will come out in time for back to school.

Anyway, a very informative and interesting day. And now I’m going to go make myself a bowl of Krema with raspberries…

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Soft Peaks Ice Cream

Ever since the first time I tried honeycomb (on a cracker, with cheese) I’ve been a big fan. So when I heard that there was a new ice cream place serving it on soft serve I had to try it. Soft Peaks is in Gastown, Vancouver.

We ordered the Honeycomb Peak, and a Salty Himalayan with chocolate syrup.

The Honeycomb Peak came with a chunk of honeycomb on top, and super duper crunchy cereal at the bottom. The honeycomb was ultra sweet, and slightly waxy, as you would expect. The cereal provided a great textural crunch to contrast the soft serve ice cream. Very delicious to get a little bit of both elements on each spoonful.

The Salty Himalayan was nice too. It has fancy pink salt swirled through it along with the chocolate sauce. Can’t beat that salty-sweet combination.

The ice cream itself is plain, not too sweet, definitely milk flavoured.

All in all, we enjoyed it, but it’s very expensive so I won’t be going there very often. Worth a try if you haven’t tried honeycomb yet.

Soft Peaks Ice Cream on Urbanspoon

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Transit Visa-ing in Guangzhou, China

The first thing you see when you arrive in the international terminal of the Guangzhou airport is “Blenz” (a coffee company from Vancouver). But a hot chocolate there cost 55 RMB, or $11!!! ELEVEN DOLLARS!!!! That’s crazy even for airport prices!

The international area of the Guangzhou airport blows. Everything is really really really expensive and it’s really hot inside. And really boring. And you have to have a Chinese phone number to get access to the wifi (and even if you do find someone to help you get on the internet you can’t look at Facebook or Twitter or anything Google related. :/).

So, we were pretty happy to take advantage of China’s 72 hour transit visa on the way back so that we could leave the airport. (You just fill out an exit form and go into a special line at customs, and it’s free.)

We had about 6 hours. The subway in Guangzhou goes right to the airport so I asked the guy at the subway ticket booth where is good to visit and he circled a few stops for us. We picked the closest one, Tiyuxilu.

It was like 6 AM at the time so the subway was pretty empty. But we picked up more and more people on their commute to work at every stop.

Actually it was pretty cool seeing everyone on their way to work, and seeing the transformation from very quiet streets to extreme crowds and traffic in just a few hours. We wandered around random streets and alleyways, absorbing the chaos and buying bits of food along the way.

The main language there is Cantonese, but between my broken Mandarin and words I knew from dimsum we did just fine. Those baskets of pork and corn dumplings were 2 RMB each. TAKE THAT 55 RMB HOT CHOCOLATE AND SHOVE IT “BLENZ”. And they were delicious. We ate them beside other silent people fueling themselves for their day of work.


We also had a few steamed buns, one with some kind of garlicy green vegetable, and a giant ta siu bao one. 1 RMB each. And some of that fried turnip square thingy too. Yum.

We wandered through fancy areas and definitely NOT fancy areas. The alleys were super neat in a crazy overwhelming way (no pictures though, that would have felt weird).

We tried to sneak into the tallest hotels and office buildings so we could get a view of the city, but didn’t really succeed. I am curious what the 6th floor of this hotel was for..

Oh and to complete the experience, two separate groups of people asked us to take a picture with them. It’s always weird.. Oh sure I’ll take a picture of you and your group of friends… Oh you want us to be IN the picture… Oh you want separate pictures with each of us… umm ok… hahaha. My coworker who is from Guangzhou says that there isn’t that much Western tourism there yet so seeing a whitey is pretty special for some people. I just wonder what they do with these pictures??

Anyway after a few hours of wandering and eating we did a little bit of shopping at Uniqlo with our extra Chinese cash and then caught the subway back to the airport. Full stomachs and nice and tired out for the next long flight home. We had a really positive experience and I’m glad I got to show Scott a little about what I experienced back when I lived in Beijing. Way better than staying in the stupid airport.

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No Hurry, Fuss, or Worry, Adelaide

For the first time in what seems like forever, Cassia and I were on the same continent at the same time. And conveniently in Adelaide, not smalltown W.A., so only a quick cheap flight away from Melbourne. (Scott went to Sydney at the same time.)

First I met up with Cris, (my maid of honour!!!) for dinner. We had 5 years to catch up on! He is one of those great friends where you’re right back where you left off, even when you don’t see each other very often. We had a great tapas meal with lots of reminiscing of the old days at the Vic Market.

Then Cassia picked me up and I spent the rest of the visit with her and Pablo, Pablo’s mum Annukka (who was visiting Adelaide for a month), and Cassia’s mum Jill (Joe was still in Africa). It was GREAT. We did so much fun stuff, ate and drank lots of good stuff, and did lots and lots and lots of chatting.

Annukka actually took most of the pictures in this post. She took so many pictures of her trip it was like having a professional photographer around all the time, so I barely took any of my own the whole time, heh. Thank you Annukka for letting me use them in my post!

The first day we all drove up to the Barossa for some touring, vineyard visiting, and good eating. It was a beautiful day out and we had a good drive. We stopped at a couple small wineries (more special than the giant ones) and at an old estate that Cassia’s great grandparents used to work at.

We had lunch at Maggie Beer’s Farm House. The property was beautiful, and the food was yummy. I guess since Maggie is one of the most famous cooks in Australia and they get tons of visitors every day they have to figure out a way to serve everyone quickly. So you order these picnic baskets where you just pick the type of paté and the side and they chuck it into the basket. I chose a mushroom paté with fresh cheese. It was nice but Pablo’s duck paté (I forget exactly which one though) was the winner of the day. Yum.

We also had amazing ice cream. Burnt fig, honeycomb and caramel, to be precise. The little crunchy fig bits were delicious.

Maggie Beer's Farm Shop on Urbanspoon

Another day Cassia, Pablo, Annukka and I went on a long walk. We walked from their house (which is just to the left of the above picture) to Semaphore, out the jetty, and then looped around a slightly different way back. That was pretty much the only exercise I did all holiday, haha.

This garden shop had weird pet chickens that were dyed (??) funky colours.

So I have shown this picture to 5 different Aussies and no one has been able to tell me what those coloured blobs are. Weeeeeird. I should have bought some and just tried it.

I bought this rosé on our Barossa trip. It was delicious and I’ll probably never get to have it again. :'( I took this picture on the 30 second walk from Cassia’s house to Jill’s house. Although C & P have moved now.

Jill prepared this amazing raclette meal for us at her house. What a great view from the living area, eh??!! There are even dolphins swimming by on the regular. Also raclette is great… melting cheese on everything?? Perfection.

The day I was leaving Pablo made a big paella in their new pan. We ate it out on Cassia’s patio with boats, dolphins, and tourists going by. And they fed me lots of wine so my hour-long flight back to Melbs felt like 2 seconds since I fell asleep instantly.

I know we did a lot more stuff than this but since I procrastinated blogging for so long I’m blanking on some of the details. Oops. Anyway THANK YOU Cassia and Pablo for having me over, I had an awesome trip and I’m so glad we got to spend time together.

I think I have one more travel post to go and then I’ll be back to more foodie things I think.

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