I’ve always loved Taco Bell. But I only need it once or twice a year, which is good because it’s always been hard to get (except for that brief great time where there was one on the way to trampoline lessons!). Until now… because they just opened two restaurants in Melbourne.
I made Scott wait with me for one hour for the grand opening of the one on Chapel Street. :D
I ordered a lot hahahha. A beef crunchwrap supreme, pork cheesy gordita crunch, and chicken stacked chips supreme. (They threw in a pair of free taco socks!)
Everything was good (in a low expectations T Bell kind of way). It’s not quite the same as the American version… it was more nicely put together and had better toppings. The tomatoes were actually red instead of white, the lettuce was crisp, and it even had guacamole. However, they don’t have free sauce packets so they lose some points there.
The service was excellent.
I’ll definitely go back if I’m in the area. The other one is right near where a lot of my weightlifting competitions are held so that might be my new post-comp treat.
Rosemarie requested that I write about PBs, books I read, new board game reviews, and favourite recipes of 2019, so here I go…
PBs: snatch 41 kg -> 46 kg (in training), clean & jerk 49 kg -> 54 kg. The bigger accomplishment has been fixing my back enough that I can do all movements again! I think my PB potential is very good for 2020.
Books (TBH I’m not sure if I read these in 2019 or earlier but here are the last few books I read):
How To Stop Worrying And Start Living by Dale Carnegie – some of the chapters at the beginning were useful but then it got a bit too religious to me
The Secret History by Donna Tartt – a long one!! About the lives of a few students. I love really long detailed books if the story/characters/world is interesting
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – again, a pretty long one about a boy who loses his mom and ends up with a priceless painting. They made a movie of it but the book is better
This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel – about a boy who wants to be a girl, and a family that loves her. A nice book
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman – pretty much the male version of Don Tillman from the Rosie Project, entertaining
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult – in my opinion it’s a corny book about racism written by a white lady for white ladies. :/ I guess that’s better than no book about racism?
New Board Games:
Drop It – a very simple but fun game where you try to drop pieces into the right spots to score lots of points
Azul – very easy game to teach people, can get brutal when you get stuck with tons of extra pieces
7 Wonders Expansions – fun on the ipad but a bit too much to keep track of irl
7 Wonders Duel – my very favourite two player game, I’m still not tired of it 10/10
Agricola All Creatures Big and Small – ok two player Agricola spin-off
Camel Up – fun light game, everyone loves the gimicky dice rolling pyramid and the KRAZY KAMELS
Jaipur – two player camel betting card game that we got for Christmas… first impressions are good, Scott likes it a lot
Puerto Rico – not as hard as Agricola, kinda fun that you get to do stuff even when it’s not your turn
Sagrada – quite simple game with NINETY dice, tricky fun
Terraforming Mars – very complicated game with lots of pieces, a bit hard to play well but still fun to play even when you don’t really know what’s going on
Great recipes of 2019:
Praline Almonds – I used the recipe in my ice cream book but it’s basically the same as this (except I used almonds). This was one of the craziest things I’ve ever cooked! It magically goes from a pot of watery almonds to a pot of sandy almonds to a pot of candy almonds. Sprinkled with a bit of salt… so delicious.
No Knead Bread in the cast iron pot – so easy!!! I use this recipe. I did try whole wheat once but it didn’t turn out as delicious as pure white.
Dutch Baby! – so visually spectacular, so easy! I’ve made sweet ones with fruit and ice cream toppings, and also savoury ones with smoked salmon, rocket and parmesan. This is my go-to sweet recipe.
Fish Tacos – Coles just started selling corn tortillas so we can make delicious tacos at home, like this easy Pinch of Yum recipe. I’ve made it with basa or shrimp. I love the garlicky sauce.
We didn’t leave the country in 2019. Actually we barely took any days off at all. The good news is we have enough holiday to go to North America in May 2020 AND possibly Fiji for our 10 (!!) year anniversary later in the year too! 2020 is gonna be gooooooood.
We did check out some new places in Victoria/Australia, here are a few highlights:
A very windy 90 Mile Beach in Gippsland.
A relaxing and fun few days of camping/day hiking at Wilson’s Prom.
On platypus watch in the Otways.
Day off at the Peninsula Hot Springs.
Whale watching on North Stradbroke Island.
Final thoughts: 2019 was not the most exciting year of my life, but we put in a lot of good work to our future. We did the hard stuff of finding a house, working hard, saving, rehab… and very very soon we get to enjoy the benefits of that. I feel very good about 2020.
November #SMAJ was going out for dinner at Ped’s Kafe. I was supposed to do active recovery that day so we were going to walk there but then it started to rain. Boo. Dinner was good though.
Son in law eggs. Deep fried eggs with tamarind sauce and crispy fried shallots. They were a bit strange… I thought the egg would have some kind of coating, and then deep fried like a scotch egg, but it was literally a deep fried hard boiled egg. Quite difficult to eat.
Super delicious roti with peanut sauce. Crispy chewy buttery perfect roti. Pretty much everything you dream roti to be.
Coconut rice and beef massaman curry. The slow cooked beef was soooooo tender and so delicious. It also had roasted cashews, potatos and crispy shallots on top. The broth was super delicious. We mopped it up with roti and rice. YUM.
Everything was very extravagantly presented. I would really like to go back and try more because that curry was amazing and I feel like all the others would be quite good as well. And you can bring your own wine. Skip the eggs though.
Like last year, and the year before, Scott put together a DIY cider advent calendar for me. I think it was pretty hard to find new ones but he did very well, nearly all of them were ones I hadn’t tried before.
Little Woody Sparkling Oaked Cider – weird taste that’s hard to describe, not bad, dry, but not something I would probably buy 7/10
Mr. Little Genuine Apple Cider – refreshing, not too sweet, tasty 8/10
Now that we don’t have to go to inspections and auctions every single Saturday I can do fun stuff like go to the Big Design Market and admire cool printed clothing and pottery and things. I really liked this market. Excellent place to do some unique Christmas shopping and also blow a lot of money. Everything was cool!!
I splurged on these cups as a housewarming present to myself. I also got a frog shirt for Myles, some cards and a print.
Uncle Scotty playing Uno Flip with da boys and April.
New high score!! *sweats profusely*
Jess, Scott and I went to a taping of Hard Quiz. It was my first time being in a studio audience. It was fun! Tom Gleeson was good, the contestants were weird, and the comedian guy warming up the crowd was funny too. We OOOO’d and clapped and laughed on cue. They had to re-film a few things but thankfully not too much so it didn’t get too tedious. Not bad for a free activity! And it helped us beat the crazy 45°C heat outside as well. The episode won’t be on until late next year.
Before and After bibimbap. Seriously one of my favourite meals ever.
So many kiddos!!! Cousin Christmas at Shaun’s place.
Typical Aussie Christmas plate: several types of salad, scalloped potatoes, ham, rotisserie pork and beef, plus cold bevvies.
Christmas Eve spicy cocktail before going to see Star Wars.
We had a relaxed start to Christmas Day. We slept in and ate breakfast chocolates and opened presents. I got a sewing machine and Ben Folds’ memoir. Scott got merino sweatpants, a video game, and a bunch of new board games (really they are for both of us). Then we headed to House Jorna for more rotisserie pork and salads and family time.
In the evening my friend Sophie came over with her brother to play some games. We played Ghost Stories (co-op game), Azul and Camel Up. I made burgers. It was almost like the Burger Friday’s we used to have in Vancouver with Lesley on our Eldorado apartment patio. I miss that!!
Boxing Day. We video chatted the fam in Ontario and then headed out to Lysterfield Park for a walk. I wanted to start identifying some birds with my new bird app. We walked 7 km and spotted eight types of birds, all of them are pretty common, but four of them I didn’t know the names before so that’s fun. (Eurasian Coot, Little Black Cormorant, Superb Fairywren, and Purple Swamphen). I’m excited to go camping in a few weeks and identify some more birds.
I took today off which gave me a sweet five day break from work. We really haven’t taken much time off this year so this felt nice. Still have a physio appointment, a birthday party, brunch, and the usual family dinner/work/training to finish off the year/decade.
Other unpictured stuffs:
Annual EH Christmas party with the old work gang. As usual great to see everyone and eat all the delicious food everyone brings! I brought 7 layer dip, which Australian people don’t know about! It was a hit. Scott got a pair of wireless headphones in the stealing santa game.
Scott turned 41. We got takeaway charcoal chicken and I got him a ricotta raisin cheesecake.
We waited an hour in line for Taco Bell. I think it was worth it. :P They had games and stuff and we won a couple pairs of taco socks.
We opened our new bank accounts and did a lot of mortgage paperwork. Riveting stuff, I know.
Had a games night at Pete and Melinda’s house. We played Articulate, Carcassonne, Machi Koro, and Camel Up. We’d played Machi Koro once before with Rosemarie in Vancouver and thought it was kind of boring, but this time was a lot more fun. Maybe because everyone had very different strategies?
Phoenix Christmas Hit Out and BBQ: I didn’t compete but went to watch and then we had a nice bbq afterwards in the tiny little courtyard out the back of the gym. The club got together to get Milos a new pair of lifting shoes. Milos is our oldest (age 76) and most helpful club member (he fixes leaks in the roof, maintains the drinking fountain and water cooler, vacuums, and fixes everything else that breaks). Milos is the man. His speech when presented with the gift: “I wanted to retire, and now I can’t.” :’)
Speaking of weightlifting, I am now training four days a week. It definitely took a couple weeks to get used to the extra work, but now it feels normal. Hopefully it helps.
Well that’s nearly it for 2019. Rosemarie requested a few different reviews so I’ll work on that this weekend, and I’ve just drunk the last cider of the final edition of Scott’s Cider Advent Calendar so I’ll post that soon too.