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

Fancy hot chocolate goes down great on a drizzly morning in Forrest. I had regular hot chocolate and Scott had a mocha. You had to assemble it yourself. Put the chocolate ganache sphere and the extras into the cup, pour the hot milk in, and stir a lot. It was tasty, although maybe it could be a little more chocolatey?

And we finally got to try ruby chocolate! Ruby chocolate is a new type of chocolate that was introduced in 2017. It tastes fruity, like berries, but doesn’t contain any fruit. I really liked it!

Platypi Chocolate  Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

It had been 10 years since I last went on the Great Ocean Road so we took our time getting to Forrest/Warrnambool. It was nice. We saw 8 koalas!

Decent conditions at Winkipop Bells Beach. There were a lot of surfers in the water.

Snot block in Lorne. Was a pretty good one! The pastry was crisp and the icing layer on top was nice and thick. I think I offended Scott by suggesting that the custard layer could be half as thick.

We backtracked a bit after Lake Elizabeth to go back to Kennett River because I wanted to see koalas. It ended up being totally worth it because we saw a whole bunch, including this cutie who put on a bit of a show for us. It was so great. We were by ourselves, he was not too high up, and he was awake!! We saw him climb, switch trees, almost fall down, munch on some leaves, and then find a nice place to settle in for a nap. So cool.

PS I always said I wonder what would happen if you gave a koala a nutritious diet instead of poisonous leaves but apparently koalas are so dumb that they can’t even recognize eucalyptus leaves if they aren’t attached to a tree, and would literally starve to death with a plate of eucalyptus leaves right in front of them. So probably you couldn’t even get a koala to eat something like avocado unless you force fed it hahahaha.

Scott’s hand, a king parrot, hordes, and an unpictured koala. Anywhere the tour buses stop was hella crowded. I wonder if the koala was placed.

Where’s Waldo/Wally/Scott?

More hordes at The Grotto. Pretty cool place though. Who doesn’t love a good natural bridge.

I have never been so disappointed with something cheese related as with Cheese World. Actually this place inspired this whole trip. But it sucked. All they had was a few self serve cheese cube samples, a weird museum of mostly farm equipment, and the most expensive gift shop ever. Who would pay $6 for a crappy sticker?? I wanted to get a hat or t-shirt or something but there wasn’t a single decent item in there.

Tower Hill, just outside Warrnambool, was pretty cool! It’s an old volcano turned wildlife reserve. You get to drive right into the crater which was neat. We walked around trying to find echidnas but didn’t see any. We did see a few koalas and lizards.

We had a nice time in Warrnambool itself, but apparently I didn’t take many pictures there. We went to the hot springs spa at our hotel and had a soak and a massage, ate some nice food, and went to the art gallery. We went to a trivia night and should have won but the host added up the scores all wrong and put us in second last place. Scott was real mad. He never gets mad! I probably shouldn’t have brought this back up.

Then we drove back to Melbs via two cheese shops and a cidery. Not bad.

Beautiful Lake Elizabeth in Otway National Park.

I booked two nights camping at Lake Elizabeth because I heard there are platypi there. I really liked the campground! It was very basic, just drop toilets, but most sites had tables, and fire pits (which are pretty rare in Australia!) It was totally surrounded by eucalyptus trees and super quiet.

At dusk both nights we headed down to the lake, about a 20 minute hike each way. The first night we walked part way around the lake, trying to get a good vantage point for platypus. We didn’t see any but it was still a nice adventure. But there was a group on a canoe tour that said they saw a bunch? They didn’t really elaborate and were kind of weird in general lol. I actually thought they were lying. Plus none of them told us about the glow worms? Rude.

We tried to book the canoe tour the next night but he wasn’t going out again for a few days so we just set out again on our own. We were the only people at the lake. It was soooooo quiet. We just stayed on the dock.

I maybe saw one??? I saw something dark at the surface of the water for a second or two, and then it ducked down under the water leaving a decent size ripple. It wasn’t a bird or a fish, so it was probably a platypus? It’s an unconfirmed platypus. It would have been nice to see a bill or a flipper or something haha. I’ll still count it. :P

Also thanks to the nice guy at the campground the second night we knew how to see the glow worms on the walk back this time. If you turn off your headlamps you can see them all along the sides of the path. At some parts there were dozens and dozens of them twinkling away. It was really cool.

Katrina Jorna, of the House Perkin, first of her name, the traveller, Minister of Finance, maker of cross stitch patterns, mother of dragons.

During the day we drove around chasing waterfalls and looking for pink robins. We only found yellow ones though, no millennial pink.

It’s a nice national park! There are tons more waterfalls to check out so I’d definitely like to go back again.

Our trip to Wilsons Prom last year was fun, but too short, so this year we booked a longer stay. Unfortunately I injured myself right before the trip. I irritated my left SI joint and couldn’t walk uphill. My physio taped my butt in a hug, and thankfully it got a bit better every day, so we were able to do more and more stuff every day, but yeah… not ideal.

We stopped at Gurneys Cider on the way down. Same place we went last year but they’ve added a bunch of new ciders, plus the foraged ones taste different every year. I enjoyed my flight a lot. Still have a few bottles in the fridge.

We did a lot of evening walks. Started off with this flat one at sunset, and worked our way up to climbing half way up Mt Bishop completely in the dark. I wanted to see owls and stuff. We didn’t have that much luck except kangaroos (including this one who wanted to follow Scott home).

Of course we saw wombats in the campground as usual though. They make me giggle every time.

Watching the sunset from a look out. So pretty.

The campground was sooooooo noisy at night. I was very happy when everyone left on Sunday morning. If we go back again I don’t want to go on the weekend at all, even if school holidays are over.

But we were happy that the outdoor cinema was open on Saturday night! We watched Bohemian Rhapsody. I enjoyed it.

My new favourite camping food: bibimbap! Just bring a cast iron pan, some cooked rice, mince beef, stir fry veg, gochujang, and eggs and you’ve got a really delicious dinner. Love that crispy rice.

We played A LOT of games while I was still crippled. I beat Scott at everything. :D Carcassonne, 7 Wonders Duel, Agricola All Creatures Big and Small, Azul, etc. etc.

Scott on the beach near our campsite.

We did a bit of swimming. It wasn’t super warm out so it took me ages to get in the water, but once I did it was alright. We had a lot of fun body surfing. Scott wishes he got a video of me doing a front flip while trying to surf on the inflatable pizza. Maybe he can draw a cartoon of it. That surprisingly didn’t hurt my back at all.

PS what kind of skull is that?? It was pretty big!

Finally my back/hips were back to normal so we hiked up Mt Bishop, and around the Lilly Pilly circuit (which was where I was trying to go that night we accidentally walked up the mountain). I liked the Mt Bishop hike a lot more than Mt Oberon because it was more like a trail instead of a road, through very nice forest. We saw a bush kangaroo and plenty of birds and a “brown lizardy thing” as I was mocked for saying on Instagram.

Now that we’ve really done Wilsons Prom, where should we go next summer??