We had quite a busy start to the year! A lot of our spare time was taken up by preparing to move and moving but we still squeezed in plenty of fun stuff as well.

As is becoming tradition, we started 2020 by going to the beach on January 1 for a swim in the ocean. It wasn’t as hot as last year but plenty warm enough to jump off the pier and paddle around for a bit. It was nice to lie under our sunshade and read too.

We went to the local T20 derby. It was freezing. And kind of boring. I do not want to see good bowlers! I want to see bad bowling!!

I can’t walk to work any more so I bought an electric bike from Aldi. :D It is so fun, I really love it. It takes away all the parts I hated about biking and leaves all the fun parts. I can get to work in 20 minutes without getting sweaty! It can go 50km on one charge, and helps me go 25 km/hr (after that you’re on your own).

Noah’s parents went on holiday for their anniversary so he stayed with us for a night. Him and Scott played a lot of Fortnight, and I took him to my gym. One of the coaches showed him how to squat and deadlift and stuff. Jono was in town as well so we met up with him and some friends in the city for more T20 cricket. Which was also quite boring. That’s three times I’ve been recently and none of them have been particularly interesting. I’m really starting to think even big bash is not really that exciting.

We had the craziest hail storm I’ve ever seen. The pictures don’t do it justice because those chunks on the pavement are ones that have already smashed/melted. The hail was the size of pool balls!! I was so worried that the windows of the car would break since it was just parked on the street. Scott ran out to throw some blankets/towels over the car which helped a lot but we still ended up with three monster dents on the hood and one above the door. UGH. There was SO much damage to all the cars in our suburb.

Plus I think it cracked some of the roof tiles (we told the landlords/have moved out now so… not my problem..). We found out about that because Melbourne had BROWN RAIN for a couple days after for some reason (YAY CLIMATE CHANGE). This brown rain really highlighted the leak by staining the walls and carpet as it flowed into the house.

The hail was super localised so our new house appears to be completely fine btw.

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I started to feel very sick that weekend but still went to work on Monday because Scott’s January #SMAJ activity was corporate tickets to the Australian Open on Monday night and I felt like I couldn’t call in sick and then go to the tennis. So I suffered through a day of work, then went to the tennis, which was probably a terrible idea. To make it worse it was POURING RAIN and I got 100% soaked from waist down (I did have my good coat on) on the way there.

The tennis was very cool though. Thanks Telstra! We got to have a great meal and then watched Ash Barty’s match and Novak Djokovic’s match. We had to leave before Novak was finished winning though because I was a disgusting snotty mess and I was running out of tissues and felt terrible for everyone around me. I ended up staying home from work and sleeping for two days straight after that.

Settlement day was uneventful. Almost too uneventful. We really had no idea if anything was happening. But eventually in the afternoon we got an email that said everything had gone through and I could go to the real estate office to pick up the keys to the new house. Hooray! Our mortgage showed up in our online banking as well which is very confronting every time I open the app.

We didn’t move in straight away though because we were going camping that weekend with some friends. I really don’t recommend doing that unless you love checklists a lot. It all turned out pretty well though with minimal mistakes. I’ll leave our camping trip to another post.

When we got back from camping I did a quick pop-in at my weightlifting club’s annual bbq while Scott unpacked the car at the new house. Then we packed all the last minute stuff at the old house and disassembled the beds and moved everything to the garage.

Moving day went well! My obsessive preparations were worth it. I used the same el cheapo Gumtree movers we used the last couple times and they managed to fit in 98% of our stuff in one truck load while Scott and I chilled in the garage. It only took 2.5 hours and came out way cheaper than I budgeted. Unpacking took much much much longer.

THREE OTHER RANDO JANUARY THINGS:

1. They renovated the gym a bit and now the ladies have a much bigger change room with a sweet giant mirror!

2. We played a few more games of Castles of Burgundy. It’s pretty fun although we still don’t really know what we’re doing. I would like to try playing with 3 or 4 players. *COUGH ROSEMARIE GET YOUR BUTT OVER HERE COUGH*

3. These bean and cheese enchiladas were quite tasty.

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.

Adventures:

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. 

MORE: art, friends, gains, nice food, pictures

LESS: worrying, Picross

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.

These monthly updates seem to be the easiest way for me to semi keep up to date with blogging so I think I’ll just keep making them.

We have officially started looking for a house to buy. We went to a mortgage broker and have been watching auctions for practice. We went and looked at one place but it wasn’t quite right. I’m a bit picky, I want a bath tub, ducted heating, a garage, and hopefully still walking/biking distance to work. We are trying to stay calm and be patient. There’s another one posted right now that gets an 11/10 on location scale, but we haven’t seen it in person yet.

We saw Tom Gleeson at the Melbourne Comedy Festival. We’d only just seen his TV show Hard Quiz for the first time a week or two before but found it quite amusing, so when I opened the comedy festival brochure and saw his show ad it seemed like a good one to go to. It was good. I wish I could think of the right things to say as quick as he can.

Twinsies! Volunteering at the Victorian Championships. I did the computer job, which is typing in the weights that the coaches/athletes want for their attempts and then marking them good or no lift. They can increase the number several times per attempt so you have to stay alert. It’s a good job though because you can see everything. My big goal is to qualify for this comp next year. I hope they don’t change the qualifying totals.

Was cleaning up my platform one night and realized I used every single change plate possible in one training session, hahahahaha.

I went to the footy three times and watched Melbourne lose three times. Depressing. At least the Melbourne v St Kilda game was kinda fun because we met up with my friend and sat right behind the interchange where we could see all the players up close.

And the Anzac Day Eve game was cool too when they did the lights out ceremony thing. Then we found out we were sitting in the wrong spot and had to move up to the real general admission which at that point was very full so we had to sit in the second last row. Much nosebleed.

After that game I decided I was going to stop paying to watch Melbourne lose. (I would still go if it was free of course, haha). Then they won the following two games! I don’t think they look very good as a team this year though.

We played a few new games. First pictured: Puerto Rico. I got a good deal on this on Facebook Marketplace. One of the other couples in our game group loves the game so we got them to teach it to us. It seems fun, not as complicated as Agricola, some depth. I like that you’re constantly doing something, even when it’s not your actual turn. But it needs 3+ players so we haven’t played it again yet.

Second was Terraforming Mars. We played this once before with Other Scott, but over Easter we played it a couple times on our own. It’s complicated and hard to be strategic/offensive, but really fun to just play because there’s lots of stuff to do. I would like to play this more.

And lastly, Camel Up. My coworker raved about this game, and it delivered. It’s quick and silly and probably 50+% luck, but very exciting and fun. It’s been a hit with every group we’ve played with. Da Boys caught on quickly and liked it too. The dice rolling pyramid thingy is 100% gimmick but it does legitimately make it more fun, haha.

We had a very relaxed Easter. Watched a lot of TV and movies and caught up on chores. We didn’t go anywhere this year. But two of Scott’s uncles came to visit which was exciting. I hadn’t met either of them before. Pat was so excited for bro time.

Approx $1K worth of Lune croissants. :’) They made a special ANZAC day kouign amann, which was (unsurprisingly) delicious. Everything they make is amazing.

My old trivia group finally coordinated a reunion trivia night and then as usual everyone bailed one by one except three of us. UGH. At least once Game of Thrones is finished the more reliable trusty trivia sub-group will restart.

Scott’s Monthly Activity Jaunt (#SMAJ – hashtag still in development) for April was going up Eureka Tower, but I think I’ll make that its own post because this is getting long enough already.

We’ve really expanded our board game collection and board game friends recently. This is very exciting to me.

Not a humongous fan of playing 7 Wonders expansions in real life so far but maybe we’ll get used to it.

Teraforming Mars with other Scott. His wife organized for us to play together. She didn’t even come, haha. Fun game, a little overwhelming at first but didn’t take long to get the hang of it. I want to play again.

Agricola All Creatures Big and Small. The two player version of Agricola. Sorta fun, still nearly as stressful as the regular game.

Azul has been a hit with everyone we’ve played with. Seth almost beat us! Now every week at family dinner he asks me if I brought “the fun Spanish game”. PS don’t worry, at least he chooses low carb beer.

Sagrada has also been a hit. I bought it without knowing anything about it other than people like it. It’s similar to Azul. I’m slightly concerned that it will be a bit slow to play with more than 2 players though as some people (aka me) get AP (analysis paralysis) and take 5ever to make a decision some times. We played approx 85 games last week while camping.

King of Tokyo with our new game frands. Unfortunately someone (aka me) had one of the dice in her cross stitch stuff so we accidentally played with 5 dice instead of 6 and the game majorly dragged.

All the 2 player games! For camping. The ones in the plastic cases are Carcassonne and Agricola All Creatures Big and Small. I would now add Sagrada too.

A very profitable castle/token/cloister combo.

We’ve always played that The edge of the table is the edge of the world, unless you want to hold the piece up with your hand for the rest of the game, which if it’s close to the end of the game might be worth it. While camping I built this extension with my Kindle. I think it was ingenious but Rosemarie thinks it’s cheating. Thoughts?