Well it’s technically autumn here now, although it’s currently 36°C and climbing?? But let’s just quickly catch up on this past summer.

Scott turned 40. We had a big party at our house. I greatly underestimated the number of kids in our lives! Thankfully the children entertained themselves outside by piling up all the gravel in our courtyard. We had lots of food and drinks, and lots of Scott’s family and friends from school and work and everything came by even though it was so deep into Christmas party season. Overall success, imo.

Every second year is a big Christmas at the Jorna household (the other years people go to their other side of the family) and this year was a big one. I think there was about 40 people all together? Bonkers. There was a pinata, wading pool, bbq lunch, and soooooo many children and presents.

The next day we did a very Melbournian thing and went to Day 1 of the Boxing Day Test at the MCG. It was… very boring. Even people that love cricket thought it was boring. Because the grass was too flat and too smooth so nothing really happened. They would hit the ball very conservatively along the ground to just get one run at a time. There were only two wickets and one of them was while we were scanning our tickets to get in to the ‘G.

Scott and I worked through the Christmas holidays and saved our days off for when it wasn’t school holidays. It wasn’t busy at work so it wasn’t so bad.

I wanted to do a “polar bear” swim on New Years Day so we went to Half Moon Bay Beach which is only about 30 minutes away, on the bayside. It was a little busy but it was a hot day and the water was delightful. Plus there is really good fish and chips there.

It has been a hot summer of training. I sweat a lot even in the winter but when it’s >30°C it’s a whole other disgusting story. My face is always purple.

Sadly my coach Rob (in the aqua shirt) decided to retire. We were all very sad. I had one last competition with him 6 weeks ago, and then transitioned to getting coached by his son Adam. It’s different, but not that different, which is good.

We got this sweet bath caddy in the Kris Kringle gift swap thingy. I’m looking forward to when it’s cooler so I can have more baths. It feels nice on my back (which is actually not that bad at the moment btw).

We went ATVing in Gippsland, but I’ll save that for another post.

We also went camping at Wilsons Prom again this summer, but I will also save that for another post.

Scott has been doing hockey lessons and swimming lessons lately. He says they are both very challenging but very helpful.

We made some new board game friends! They are friends of Scott’s coworker (who also likes games) and they know how to play Agricola!! It’s tricky to find games for 6 players though. Last night we played Sushi Go Party, Sushi No, 7 Wonders, Coup, and King of Tokyo. I found Coup really hard, it is pretty much exactly what I am really bad at (bluffing and keeping track of what cards other people have).

On my way to the Aqua concert. :D

I had heard that Aqua was coming to Melbourne a while ago, along with a whole bunch of other 90s pop bands like Vengaboys, B*Witched, Eiffel 65, Lou Bega… but it was pretty expensive and I couldn’t find anyone to go with. I debated what to do for ages until the day before the concert I decided I would regret it if I didn’t try to go. I mean I still love the album Aquarium!!

I still didn’t want to pay a lot though. So I scoured Gumtree and Ebay and Facebook for cheap tickets and the morning of the concert someone finally accepted my offer! They ended up being very friendly girls and invited me to hang out with them since I didn’t know anyone else there. It was very random and very fun!!!!

The venga bus is coming…

Aqua!!! It was so nostalgic. They’re one of the few bands that I actually know most of the words to the songs haha. The tickets were awesome and we got right up close. Very fun night, I laughed a lot. I’m glad I decided to try and go. Would Aqua again.

We spent the Thanksgiving long weekend on Salt Spring Island.

Duffins Doughnuts while we wait for the ferry. I liked the Bavarian the most.

We tried to play a board game on the ferry but it was actually kinda rough and Rose and I were getting seasick. Instead we went outside and looked for whales.

We met up with Leslie and Kyla at the market, had falafel, and then headed off to Salt Spring Wild Cider.

The cidery was amazing! The best cidery I have ever been to. Firstly because you could get a TEN CIDER TASTING FLIGHT (for two people). And secondly because EVERY CIDER WAS DELICIOUS. They were all dry and crisp and just based on different types of apples (I hate those gross flavoured ciders that are just made with added flavourings.) I would have bought 8 out of 10 of them easily. (Didn’t like the hops one or the pear one.) We did buy a few bottles. Of course my favourite one was the most expensive one, haha– barrel aged muscat. We had a lovely time on the lawn sipping cider and watching a beekeeper work on some hives.

Our Airbnb was v cute. It had a loft! The weather started to turn pretty crappy so we spent a lot of the weekend nice and cozy in our little cabin in the forest playing endless board games and eating snacks. It was wonderful.

We all piled in the van and headed to Kyla’s parents house for Thanksgiving (with a quick stop at the Salt Spring Island Cheese Company). Her house is pretty awesome. They have goats and chickens (and 500 roosters), and… a wood fired hot tub!! We filled it up and got the fire going… and 5 hours later we had a hot tub. :D

We passed the time with MORE GAMES of course! Mega 7 Wonders, and Dixit.

Look how much food Lauren ate!!!!!!! Hahaha. This was plate 1 of 2 (or was it 3???). :D It was a lovely Thanksgiving meal. Scott and I especially loved having turkey since it’s so hard to get here in Aus (well you can get it, but it’s pricey).

PS Lauren did accidentally run a half marathon in the morning so I guess that accounts for some of the food haha.

The last day we decided that even though it was still raining we needed to do at least one hike. We picked the one with fairy doors! It was a bit of a climb but the doors were cute. We didn’t go all the way to the top top because we wouldn’t have been able to see anything and we were all tired/lazy/damp. Still nice though, and the pictures look cool with all the mist, haha.

After the hike we had lunch in a treehouse and then headed back to the ferry. The boat ride back was a bit smoother so we were able to play games, and we saw dozens of porpoises!

I’ll leave you with another one of Scott’s sweet panoramas.

After dropping Scott off at the airport we headed to Alberta Maple Ridge to visit Julie and Steve. It had been a long time that dad and Julie had cousin-time. I think he enjoyed the catch up. Rose coordinated the rice dish and Steve made us really nice steaks.

I took dad to the Capilano Fish Hatchery while Rose and Lauren were working. I wanted to see fish flopping all over the place. Another glorious weather day (srsly we got sooooo lucky this whole trip). We took the bus there and started at the top end of the park near the reservoir. I liked the reflections on the calm water. Then we walked down to the dam. It is a big dam. Dad said “If I come back to Vancouver in the spring, I AM COMING BACK HERE”.

We continued walking downhill till we got to the hatchery. It is free. We saw lots of salmon. There is a fish ladder with windows on one side so you can theoretically see the fish jumping upstream but they didn’t jump very often. I saw one jump and it was unsuccessful in getting to the next level. But there was another little river area with dozens of salmon just randomly flopping around. Then we continued walking downhill (I am so happy the bus dropped us off at the top of the park and not the bottom omg) and had pizza in a cute little neighbourhood before catching the bus back to Van.

Dad suggested making sushi for dinner one night so we obliged. We had shirmf, roasted yam (Scott is the deep fry guy and he wasn’t there, sad face), and the other usual suspects: avocado, cucumber, cream cheese, and sesame seeds. It was fun and yum. Lauren made the best rolls…. possibly because they were 50% cream cheese. :D

I can’t really remember what I did the next day. I think I just rested because my cough was getting bad. Oh yeah we went bowling in the evening. Rose and I are bad at bowling.

Then dad was leaving too. I’m glad he came out to Vancouver. It was much easier for Scott and I, cheaper for Rose and Lauren, and I think dad had a nice time. We all had a nice time. We probably tired him out, but he has lots of time to recharge.

This was the weather for TWO WEEKS STRAIGHT. 18-20 degrees and sunny. So nice.

After dad left I did one last errands morning where I got new skates, some clothes, and another yam roll #nomealleftbehind. This one was a mango avocado yam roll.

Thursday I met up with Kevin, my old clinical placement supervisor, and Lesley for lunch at Red Wagon. I took no pictures unfortunately. We had a great long lunch with good chatting. And then I went with Lesley back to her house for a sleepover/one last hang. We played many games of Azul. I also got to go to a Dollarama and stock up on Smartfood and Cheetos to bring home. That was the very last things on my shopping list. Success.

The last day. I headed back to Rose’s nice and early the next morning so we could play several more games of Azul and have one last dose of sister-time (she took the day off). We went to Sushi Nanaimo for lunch #nomealleftbehind and I got one last training session in. I had seen all of the old gym gang except one guy, and Al arranged for him to come in as a surprise! Came back and played more Azul. Leslie and Kyla popped in for bonus-time before heading out to see Ellen!

When Lauren got home from work we went out for dinner at La Mezcaleria, one of my favourite restaurants anywhere. I had a margarita of course and we shared spicy tuna in a black ash and ink sauce, queso fundido with chorizo, and a bunch of tacos. It was delicious, as usual. We had a little time before I needed to be at the airport so we stopped at Duffins Doughnuts too. #yolo. (Maybe this is why I gained 2 kg on the trip…) (WORTH IT.)

Then they dropped me off at the airport and I headed home. Full in stomach and spirit. It was really a great trip. My family and friends are so great.  Thank you to Liz for lending us your car and apartment. And Lesley and Kirsten and Max for housing Scott and I and Rose and Lauren. And Kyla and her family for sharing Thanksgiving with us all. Lauren for putting up with all the crazy. And Rosemarie for preparing so well and organizing so much. And all our friends for being so thoughtful and great and fun!!!

Our trip to Vancouver was hectic AF. We had checklists, Google documents, Facebook events, a detailed calendar, and group chats just to fit everything we wanted to do (and eat! #nomealleftbehind) on the trip. It worked though, the trip was very successful.

Second meal of the trip: poutine. (First meal was perogies at Rosemarie’s house.) #nomealleftbehind

We tried to see as many as people as we could right away (and beat jetlag) by booking a big table at Steamworks for the first night. Scott’s whole old work team showed up, plus the whole Ryan Ryan and Brian group, and good old Liz and Rob, and Rose and Lauren of course. It was fun.

The next day we headed to Salt Spring Island, and Seattle as well, which I’ll save for separate blog posts.

Scott’s friend Hannah from London just happened to be visiting Vancouver for one overlapping day. We met them for porchetta at Meat & Bread (#nomealleftbehind) and Scott walked all around the seawall with them while I took off to visit my old work and pick up some Darn Tough socks for all my poor Australian friends who I’ve convinced they are the best socks ever and can’t get them here. Sorry, sort of.

The next day dad arrived. We picked him up and made him tag along to the hockey store where Scott got a whole kit. So much cheaper than Australia.

It was a beautiful day so we drove up to the top of Mount Seymour to do a short hike (Dog Mountain). It was harder than I expected because it was so rooty, but we made it. The view from the end was very nice. It was a little hazy but you could still see the whole city.

The next day dad went for a big bike ride, Scott went to visit his old work, and I had training. I managed to keep up with all my weightlifting training while I was gone which was so good because I have a competition coming up next week. Rose actually lives within walking distance of the old gym I used to go to when we lived there and Al was very nice to make space for me. It was so confusing training in pounds again.

That evening we went to the SFU observatory where lots of space nerds showed us stuff with their telescopes. We could see Saturn’s rings!! It was pretty cool. Rose gave us a tour of her old uni and then we had some late night ice cream, yum yum.

Saturday was an insanely busy day. We squeezed in three different events with three different groups.

1. Dimsum with Rosemarie’s friends. Scott is so creative with his panoramas. Can you guess how he took this one?

2. We got the old game gang back together and had a games day like the old days! We played Mysterium, a space dice game, Sushi Go/Sushi No (where you try to get as few points as possible), ate nachos and Smartfood popcorn (#nomealleftbehind), and caught up on all the gossip. Was great.

3. Dinner and games with Lesley and Jean Pierre (not pictured). She made really delicious tacos, and we played Settlers (of course!!). We also played Monopoly Go. I miss having a friend like Lesley around.

Finally the last day of Scott’s trip we trekked out to UBC for one of our favourite Vancouver events, the apple festival. Rose, Lauren and dad had never been! (It was Scott and my fifth time, haha). We tasted all the apples, ate apple pie, drank apple cider, and learned all about plant medicines. I forget what my favourite apple was, but of course it was something kinda mushy. The sales area was completely wiped out so we couldn’t buy anything.

Then we dropped Scott off at the airport. We all wish he could have stayed longer.

OK no more footy talk for six months. What else have we been up to?

I did another weightlifting competition at the end of August. My back wasn’t great at the time so my coach and I were being pretty conservative. I wasn’t expecting any PBs because I was powering everything, but I went 6/6 and still got a 2 kg PB in snatch and 1 kg PB in clean and jerk! I have another comp coming up in November and it will be interesting to see what I can do if I do full movements.

We got these pretty carrots from Costco. I roasted them whole for about 30 minutes. Then mixed up a 3:2 ratio of balsamic vinegar and honey with a bit of thyme, drizzled the mixture over and broiled them for another 10 minutes, then sprinkled with salt. They turned out like salty-sweet-tangy candy vegetables. So yummy. I especially liked the crispy tips.

Also the Pinch of Yum freezer wild rice soup recipe is magical. I still can’t understand how a recipe can be so easy at prep time and at cook time and still turn out so good! All of her freezer meals are so intriguing. Basically they’re a whole bunch of recipes where you cut up and freeze a bunch of uncooked stuff, and then later pop them straight into your pressure cooker frozen and voila 30 minutes later you have dinner. PS I doubled the recipe and split it into three dinner packs. Also I used brown rice instead of wild rice because wild rice doesn’t exist here. Scott said it tasted like the inside of a chicken pot pie. I will 100% be trying more of these recipes.

This is our new house btw. It’s pretty great other than the lack of insulation. I want to buy one.

The other morning we went to the Tesselaar Tulip Festival with Scott’s mum and aunt. It was alright. They must be making bank because it was very busy and it’s not cheap. I think it would be better if they planted the flowers into cool designs like in Ottawa, but perhaps my standards are a bit high, haha.

I am very pleased to report that my allergies are not a problem any more. I just have to use antihistamine eye drops, antihistamine nasal spray, and a daily antihistamine tablet. Is that too much? I hope not because this is the first spring in like 8 years that I have felt like a normal human.

I trekked out to ALTONA NORTH to go to my old coworkers 30th birthday party. It was nice to catch up with them, I do miss my old EH work pals. Also wow Melbourne is so big it’s like the West and the North could be entirely different cities… I never go there!!

I went on a work wine tour in the Mornington Peninsula with a bunch of techs and nurses and receptionists from medical imaging at my current job. It was very fun and silly. Now I see familiar faces if I have to go to MRI or CT and stuff which is nice.

Myles turned 1 and had a birthday party with 9 trillion kids. He is v cute.

A little while ago Scott’s dad won a gigantic charcoal bbq and several boxes of wine and a bbq lunch party from a liquor store contest that he didn’t even know he entered. They had the lunch on Saturday. A lady came and cooked up like ten different kinds of meat for us, and served it and cleaned up afterwards. What a treat for Scott’s parents. The most hilarious part though? The lady used the regular bbq to cook it, not the prize one hahahahhaa.

This Friday we’re going to Canada!! Just to Vancouver to visit Rosemarie and all our old friends. I can’t wait! I have a very long list of foods I want to eat: Macintosh apples, Jamaican patties, perogies, poutine, yam rolls, Blenz hot chocolate, Smartfood popcorn etc etc. I have to be so strategic about my meals. NO EATING FOODS I CAN GET IN AUSTRALIA.

All for now.