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Farm stay

9 Feb

Every year, we go away with a particular group of friends for the Australia Day long weekend.  We’ve been doing it since I was pregnant with Hannah.  We go somewhere different each year.  This year, we decided to do a farm stay and chose Honeycomb Valley Farm as our destination.

We arrived to two immaculately clean cabins, OJ, milk, butter, jam, and bacon in the fridge, fresh farm eggs on the counter, and a bunch of different single serving boxes of cereal in a basket.  I was kind of expecting the cabins to be dusty and farmish, but they get professionally cleaned after each guest leaves, and there wasn’t a bit of dirt of grime to be found.  Our family got one cabin to ourselves, and our other friends stayed in the other one.  No one else wanted to be woken up at 6am by little kids who don’t yet know the joys of sleeping in, no matter how tired they are or how late they stay up.

One of the goats at Honeycomb Valley Farm thinks it's a person.  She even came up on our porch when we first arrived.

One of the goats at Honeycomb Valley Farm thinks it’s a person. She even came up on our porch when we first arrived.

UrbMatinpost

We spent most of our 3 days there outside.

Daniel playing in a big hole in one of the paddocks.

Daniel playing in a big hole in one of the paddocks.

Each morning, guests can (but don’t have to) help feed the animals.  You can do as little or as much as you want, but we helped every day and the kids, especially Hannah, enjoyed it immensely.  Farmer Andrew started with different animals each day we were there so that we got to experience something new each time.  I asked lots of questions and learned heaps.

Selfie with an alpaca.  She was very cooperative :)

Selfie with an alpaca. She was very cooperative :)

The first morning, he took Hannah and I around some of the far away paddocks in a trailer (with a mattress in it for comfort) attached to a quad bike. Daniel was constipated (I guess he gets holiday poo shy just like me), grumpy, and didn’t want to go on the trailer, plus Aaron was minding our friends’ daughter so they could do a beekeeping lesson, so the three of them went back to the cabin for a nap/quiet time while Hannah and I had all the fun.

Chickens chasing the trailer we were sitting in

Chickens chasing the trailer we were sitting in

We especially enjoyed seeing the chickens that day.  One of the flocks (is a group of chickens a flock?) anyway, there are a few of them.  Andrew converts old travel trailers that were destined for the tip/scrap yard into mobile chicken coops and moves them around the farm every couple of weeks.  During the night, the chickens are safely tucked into the converted trailer that has a wire mesh floor, and during they day they are let out to free range.

Hannah with the chickens in front of the "hens on holiday" moveable coop

Hannah with the chickens in front of the “hens on holiday” moveable coop

Hannah liked collecting eggs and watching all the interesting, unusual breeds of chickens eat the kitchen scraps we brought them.  Some of the chickens even laid green eggs!  Some eggs were big, some were small, and one from an older hen was even quite wrinkly.  All were delicious though.

Some of the different eggs we collected

Some of the different eggs we collected

We also got to see our friends in their bee suits at the bee hives.  One of the other mornings, we saw the native australian stingless bee hives and the bee motel (where solitary bees lay their eggs).  Then we walked up and down hilly paddocks with Daniel on my shoulders and Hannah on Aaron’s to get to the cows.  We didn’t have to do that, of course, but we wanted to see the cows and there were too many of us to fit in the trailer since all of us were helping feed the animals that day.  It was also good exercise, and practice for the Spartan race.  A 7kg bag of sand on my shoulders while I trek up a steep hill is nothing compared to a 12kg boy on my shoulders for at least a kilometer.

The bee hotel

The bee Motel

The morning feeding routine takes a couple of hours (at least), but Hannah didn’t get bored at all.  When it wasn’t feeding time, we still had plenty to do.  One day we went to the dam and rode the paddle boats.  Aaron wanted to have a race but was flabbergasted when I smoked him.  He claims his boat was faulty. HAHAHAHAHA if only.

Aaron and Hannah in one of the paddle boats

Aaron and Hannah in one of the paddle boats

We were allowed to go in any of the paddocks at any time, so we spent lots of time just running around pastures with the kids.  Daniel was quite fond of jumping up and down in poop piles.

There was also a solar heated pool to play in after all that running around, plus a swing set, balls to kick around, a fire pit and bbq area, and a kids pedal tractor, although the pedals didn’t work.  They didn’t seem to care though, and pushed each other around in it, or got me or Aaron to push them.

The kids enjoying the swingset

The kids enjoying the swingset

Daniel on the pedal tractor

Daniel on the pedal tractor

They have honey and tea tastings on a big covered deck attached to the converted shipping container shop.

Honey tasting

Honey tasting

And Hannah got to milk a goat.

Hannah milking a goat.  She was quite good at it.  I gave it a go, but I failed.

Hannah milking a goat. She was quite good at it. I gave it a go, but I failed.

Usually when we go away, we have to find things to do with the kids when it’s not nap time.  Last year during the trip, we even went to a shopping centre just for something to do.  At the farm though, we didn’t have to go anywhere else.  We could have stayed another whole week and they still wouldn’t have been bored.  We did end up going out one afternoon, but only because we’d never been to a winery before, and we were in the Hunter Valley.  It would have been silly not to visit a couple, especially since they were only a couple k’s down the road.

Aaron and the kids running between rows of grapes in a vineyard

Aaron and the kids running between rows of grapes in a vineyard

After the kids went to bed, we played board and card games with our friends.  I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of, or played Cards Against Humanity, but oh my, it’s hilarious.  I usually end up laughing so hard that I cry when we play it.  This trip was no exception, especially when I used the below white card in answer to the black one:

So wrong, but so funny

So wrong, but so funny. I won that round.

I am one of those weirdos who laughs at the very mention of the word fart.  Or poop.  Or anything of the sort, so with this one, I was pretty much on the floor laughing hysterically, and everyone knew who played the fart card as soon as it was turned over.

I was quite impressed with the farm in general.  Though they are not certified organic, they do farm organically, and make a huge effort to educate others about conservation and farming responsibly.  There is a huge solar oven that they make cakes and dinners in, plus a smaller one that they melt all the beeswax that they collect in. There are worm farms, a solar fridge, a shop made from an old shipping container (where we bought 3kg of raw honey), a native bee sanctuary, and they are even going to build an earthship (which I am particularly fascinated with and was shocked that they knew what I was talking about when I said something about them) shed.

Hannah riding a horse.  Maybe it was a pony, I'm not sure what breed/height it was

Hannah riding a horse. Maybe it was a pony, I’m not sure what breed/height it was.  It was either a big pony or small horse.

The kids didn’t want to go home, and Hannah keeps saying “when we buy another house, can we buy the one on the farm?”  She wants to move there, and both kids are still talking about the farm.  Pretty much every day, Daniel says something about how we went to the farm and saw all the animals.

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Flashback Friday: Pot plant

29 Nov

A comment my mom made on one of my blog posts the other day made me remember something funny that happened on my very first trip to Australia almost 13 years ago.

My exchange sister Lauren and I were going to her boyfriend (at the time) Michael’s house with Aaron.  We were probably wagging (skipping) school to play video games since we were naughty like that, but it also could have been after school.  Either way, Michael didn’t have his key.

“It’s ok, we keep a spare one under the pot plant,” Michael said.

“You have a POT PLANT???!!!!” I exclaimed, surprised.  “Isn’t there a cop living right next door?”

“Um…yeah, he doesn’t care about our pot plant.”  Michael told me, as the others looked at me strangely.

“That’s illegal where I come from.  You can’t have pot plants in the U.S.” I told them.

“What?! Why?  What’s wrong with pot plants? Pretty much everyone has them here.”

My eyes must have been as wide as saucers.  Why would everyone have pot plants?  I couldn’t wrap my head around it.

As I stood there, rather dumfounded, Michael lifted up a pot that contained a pretty flower.

“Oh, you mean POTTED plant.”

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The big trip

11 Sep

Tomorrow, I have a test.  The very first one for my Food Science class.  I’ve been studying, making notes, and trying to ingrain all the stuff we’ve learned so far into my brain.  I also have a group assignment due for my Quantitative Thinking class, which is my online, “external” class.  In the internal version, the groups meet up and work out the math problems together.  They even have to take minutes during their meetings and submit them with the assignment.  But online?  We can’t do that.  We don’t live near each other, or have any sort of face to face contact.  There are 5 people, including myself, in the group.  Only one other person has bothered to check the group discussion board to get the ball rolling on the project which is due next week.

5 days ago, I wrote on the board that we should divide up the work, then put it on the collaborative file, check each others work, and then turn it in.  We have to turn it in as one.  We are supposed to have a group manager who takes on the turning in and filling out the cover sheet jobs.  The other girl wanted to get started but didn’t want to be manager or be responsible for dividing up the work, so I took charge, divided it all up, and am now crossing my fingers that the other three will actually do their work.  I would be manager, but I’m going to the U.S. on Friday. By myself.

Yes, BY MYSELF.  As in no kids.  No Aaron.  All by myself.  Aaron will be at home doing Daddy daycare whilst I fly to Minnesota for my cousin (who’s more like my sister) Jennifer’s wedding.  Can you feel my excitement as you read this?  Did I mention I’m going by myself?  Don’t get me wrong, I love my family more than words can convey, and I’ll miss the like crazy, but I’ll be able to go to the bathroom with the door shut and no one will bang on the door and scream because they want to be where I am.  Who am I kidding, I don’t even shut the door anymore, it’s just easier to leave it hanging open so the kids can come in while I do my business.

I can drink a cup of tea without having to put it up high in between sips so curious hands don’t burn themselves.  I can go to the shops without having to constantly tell anyone to stop running off, stop touching everything, stop jumping in the cart, stop trying to jump out of the cart, stop throwing things, stop sitting on the groceries, etc. etc., followed by tantrums on the supermarket floor with everyone looking at me.  I don’t have to worry about mountains of laundry and dishes, toys everywhere, poopy nappies, or overnight wake ups due to teething or a blocked nose for 11 whole days (including the flights).

I had grand plans of finally finishing the book series I’ve been reading for the past two years, but never get time to sit down and read, watching movies on my iPad or the screen on the back of the seat in front of me, or even catching up on sleep during the plane ride.  Instead, I’m going to write my orange juice report for food science. Maybe I can do all the leisurely things on the way back.

So if I don’t write for a while, it’s because I have a test, an assignment, an international flight, and then bridesmaid duties.

And all the while, I’ll be missing Aaron and the kids like crazy.

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The double whammy

31 Aug

I was washing the dishes when I started feeling cold.  Not the put-a-jacket-on type cold, but the I-think-I’m-coming-down-with-something kind.  A short time later, the aches came, along with the feeling that I needed to lay down and do nothing except be miserable.

When Daniel woke up from his nap, we went outside.  He and Hannah played in the sandpit while I laid on a picnic blanket soaking up some vitamin D to hopefully make me feel a bit better.  I did feel better while I was out there, but it was unfortunately short lived.

The next day was my fortnightly all day uni day.  I always have to go to uni once per week for 2 hours, but every other week I have a four hour workshop an hour after my usual class.  There was no way I’d last the whole day.

I dropped the kids off at preschool and daycare, came home, and laid on the couch, missing my lecture.  I popped some Panadol before heading out to my workshop so that I’d hopefully feel well enough to participate.  Workshops are compulsory after all.  Usually if someone is sick on the day, they can just go to a workshop on a different day, but mine is the very last one, so that’s not exactly possible.  I’m sure I could get a doctors certificate and then have to do some sort of other make up work, but we were making bread.  Every time I try to make bread, it turns out to be almost rock solid, caved in on the top, and not quite edible.  We were also doing sciencey things with the bread, but I was mostly interested in the bread making itself.

Lucky for me, the Panadol did it’s job and I was ok for the whole workshop.  My awesome lab partner (who funnily enough, worked for the same company in the same building at the same time as Aaron many years ago, but they didn’t know each other) and I followed the instructions to a tee, even taking the temperature of the water so it was exactly 35 degrees, in hopes that our bread would be awesome.

Only it wasn’t.  Out of the whole class, our bread was the very worst.  It wasn’t nearly as bad as all the loaves I’ve tried to make at home, but it wasn’t good either.  I guess I’m just not a bread maker.  Sigh.

That tiny loaf in the middle, that's the one Sophie and I made

That tiny loaf in the middle, that’s the one Sophie and I made. As you can kind of see, each one was slightly different. From left to right: Positive control (had flour, yeast, water, salt and all of the bread improvers), negative control (just flour, water, yeast, and salt) Vitamin C (F, W, Y, S, and vitamin C), Enzyme (F, W, Y, S and an enzyme that helps feed the yeast), and Fat (F, W, Y, S, and lard).  Even the negative control loaf was bigger than ours :(

The Panadol started wearing off on the drive home and as soon as I walked in the door, the couch was calling me.

Yesterday I felt even worse.  I laid on the couch all morning while the kids watched Hiro of the Rails and played trains in the living room, getting increasingly bored with each passing minute.  As soon as 9 o’clock rolled around, we went outside so they could play in the sandpit, on the swings, and on their little tricycles.

“Uh-oh, you’ve got the crazy eye too.” Aaron said when he came home from work. “My  right eye is all red and gross.”

I hadn’t noticed my wonky eye.  I mean I guess I felt that it was uncomfortable, but amongst the chills, aches, fever, and gigantic swollen and sore tonsils, the eye wasn’t on my radar.

“Oh my gosh!” I said when I looked in the mirror and saw one bright red eye with pus coming out of the corner and bottom.

I opened my mouth as wide as I could and had a look at my tonsils.  The right one was still gigantic, and the left almost normal.  Both had pus all over them.

“I think I’d better go to the doctor.” I said to Aaron.

45 minutes later, I was back home with eye drops for the conjunctivitis (pink eye), and a 50 tablet pack of antibiotics for my very bad case of tonsilitis.

At least I’m on the mend now.  My fever is gone, and I think I’m feeling a lot better.  It’s hard to tell since I’m currently laying in my bed, and laying down always made it a bit better, but I’m not freezing or achey.  Just tired, which is understandable since I tossed and turned all last night and the night before.

Ugh, I hate being sick.  How Aaron and I got pink eye and the kids didn’t, I have no idea.

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The apartment

5 Aug

The new apartment was almost done.  Ours is on the very top floor.  As we walked by the site, we could hear hammering, power tools, and filthy mouthed tradies.

“Who’s actually watching him though?”  I asked Aaron.

“The builders I guess.  He’ll just be in the apartment.”

My eyes bulged as the weight of what he just said sunk in.  The new apartment came with childcare, so we’d handed Daniel over while they built.

“But they are busy building.  Who’s going to read him stories? Who will put him down for his nap? Who is going to feed him and change his nappy?  Who will play with him?  What if he wakes up in the middle of the night? No one will be there! He’s probably screaming right now, confined to a tiny playpen with no one watching him!”  I started freaking out.

“He’s fine, don’t worry about it.”

“He’s NOT fine!”  I started crying.  “I’m going to get him right now! I’m going to go up there, listen outside the door, and then burst in and get him when I hear his cries.”

Hang on.  Why were we buying a new apartment? We just bought a house.  And we need our yard.  A penthouse apartment doesn’t have a yard.  And why would I give Daniel to strangers to look after the whole time they built it?  Something wasn’t right.

My eyes flew open.  It was a dream.  Daniel was safe in his cot asleep, I was safe in my bed, and the whole, horrible thing was just a dream.  I looked at the clock.  4:11am.  No matter how still I laid, I couldn’t get back to sleep after that.  I guess I’m going to be tired today, but at least Daniel is safe, it was only a dream.

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The boy at McDonalds

20 May

“Be good, and don’t eat anyone’s food.”  I overheard a mother tell her son, who looked about 10, as she opened the door to the play area at McDonalds.

That’s an odd thing to say, I thought to myself. He played for a while and then came up to our table, asking us random questions whilst leaning over the table and not so conspicuously reaching into our bright red chips box, taking a fistful of hot salty chips and shoving them in his mouth.

Aaron and I turned to each other with a “WTHeck do we do?!?!?!” look of desperation acrossboth of our faces.

Do we say something? Hide the food? Put it somewhere out of reach? Tell his mum?

Nope.  We went with completely ignore it and pretend that there wasn’t a random boy standing there reaching into our bags of food.

He played for a little while again before coming back to forage for chips once more (and by chips, I mean fries.  These Aussies have corrupted me).

The kids responded to random foraging boy by wiggling in their chairs, anxious to play.  I lifted Daniel out of the high chair and let him run around while Aaron threw away all of the remaining food, just in case our visitor came back.

I sat on the big soft-fall mushroom in the middle of the play area, watching Daniel and making sure he didn’t climb up the slide and get barrelled over by bigger kids, something he seemed to desperately want to try at least once.

“Do you like 80s music?” Random forager asked as he walked up to me, stopping too close for my comfort.

“Some.” I told him, not wanting to be rude, but not wanting to get into a conversation either.

“I really like 80s music,” he told me eloquently as he came even closer, walking right up to me and putting one leg on each side of my knee, hands on my shoulders, practically straddling me.

Awkward doesn’t even begin to describe this particular moment.  This was not just your average 10 year old either.  This kids was bigger than me.  The play area at McDonalds is surrounded by glass on two sides and everyone in the restaurant can see the play area if they happen to be looking in that direction.  And if they did happen to be looking in that direction, they would probably think I somehow enticed an innocent child into my lap.

I wanted random forager off of me and out of my personal space as fast as humanly possible, but at the same time, I didn’t want to just push him with all of my might (mite?) and make him think he was some sort of a freak, scarring him for life.

I casually attempted to free myself from his grasp, at which point he decided it would be better to just sit in my lap, still going on and on about 80s music.  Somehow, I managed to inch my way towards freedom, a process that took about 30 seconds and ended with me sitting next to him on the mushroom.  I promptly stood up, avoiding any more awkward personal space incidents.

And where was his mum the entire time? Inside, reading a paper.  Oblivious to all of the food stealing and inappropriate invasions of personal space. Sigh.

*FYI, we don’t go to McDonalds often, but they have a great playground, and the kids love nuggets and chips, so sometimes, it’s a good treat.

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Birthday Surprise

13 Mar

Last week was my 30th birthday.  Thirtieth. It still sounds weird.  And old.  But to celebrate my membership to the over 20s club, Aaron has been conspiring with some of our friends for the better part of a year. Like 21, 30 is a birthday worth celebrating.

I had no idea where I was going on Saturday.  All I had was a list of things to pack, a time of pick up, and the knowledge that the whole thing was rather expensive.

Choose a Charlie Bear

As my friend drove, I still had no idea where I was going.  With the list of items, which included a sun hat, pants in case I got cold, a raincoat, sunscreen, and a warm jumper, amongst other things, I thought maybe we’d be on a boat.  Parasailing maybe?  I have always wanted to parasail.

We continued driving and kept going further and further away from civilisation.  We were on the same road I take to uni.  A mostly agricultural uni, that is surrounded by fields and forests.

“Ok, now I really have no idea where we’re going.”

A little while later, we pulled into a resort.

I left most of my belongings in the car as they were ploy items and completely unnecessary.  We were taken to locker room and told to change into the disposable underwear, bathrobe, and slippers.  Let me just say, I’m glad I decided to wax the night before, just in case I’d have to don my bikini.  My two friends and I spent the entire day relaxing and being pampered with various spa treatments, delicious lunch in our bathrobes, and of course, good conversation that wasn’t interrupted by kids even once.  I even fell asleep a couple of times.  I was slightly embarrassed by my disgusting runny nose that I couldn’t do anything about when I was all wrapped up like a burrito when receiving a full body algae treatment.

When we were finished, we rushed home to get ready for dinner.  Aaron told me a couple weeks ago that he was supposed to find a restaurant and book us all in.  He hadn’t done it yet.  My friends told me that the option of formal McDonalds was actually thought about.  What is formal McDonalds you ask?  Wearing formal attire and dining at McDonalds, complete with fancy crockery and candles that you bring from home.

“That would actually be pretty funny.” I told my friends.

As it was, I had no idea where we were going.  Aaron told me at the last minute that it would be in the city because he knew the restaurants there from various corporate lunches, and knew which were good and which weren’t.

We parked under the Opera House (as you do), and started walking.  Finally, we came to the beautiful building near the base of the Harbour bridge that overlooks the Opera House.  The very building that houses Quay restaurant.

The opera house as seen through the car's windshield

The opera house as seen through the car’s windshield

“Wait, this is where Quay is.  No, there’s no way you’d be able to get a booking with only two weeks notice.”  There were other restaurants there too.

But then we got out of the lift and started walking towards the only restaurant in that direction.

“Wait, are you serious? Is this where we’re going? Are we seriously eating here?  No way, are you punking me?”

No one said a word.  We just kept walking until we got to the door.  Aaron opened the it with a big smile on his face.

“How did you get a booking only two weeks in advance?!” I asked him in wonder.

“I didn’t book it two weeks ago, I booked it like eight months ago.” He told me.  I was blown away.  I felt like the most special person on the face of the earth.  A couple of years ago, I mentioned that for my 30th, I’d like to go to a really swish restaurant, with friends paying for themselves in lieu of presents. And Aaron remembered.

Quay is only the top restaurant in Sydney.  Do you watch Masterchef Australia? You know that infamous Snow Egg?  It’s from Quay. That 8 layer chocolate cake in which the 8th layer is warm chocolate that is poured on top and then falls through the middle? Quay.

Plus, this is what we were looking at the whole time.  I apologise for the low quality photos, but they are just from Aaron’s iPhone.  I could photoshop them to make the levels and so forth better, but that would eat into my study time. And I don’t really want to fail my classes.

Me and Aaron at Quay.  Yes, I know my stick on bra is showing. That's what happens when the straps on your dress are too long.

Me and Aaron at Quay. Yes, I know my stick on bra is showing. That’s what happens when the straps on your dress are too long.

You can choose from a 4 course menu, or a tasting menu which consists of something like 6 or 8 courses.  The first option is $175 per head, the second $225.  Yes, you read that right, I didn’t forget a decimal place or anything.

The last page of the 4 course menu

The last page of the 4 course menu

But that was the idea.  I wanted to go somewhere my cheap self would never ever set foot into on any other day.  Somewhere really special that would deliver a night I’d never forget.  That’s what I envisioned those years ago when I told Aaron that I wanted to eat at a swish restaurant for my 30th.

For my first course, I ordered fragrant poached chicken with white radish, sea scallops, smoked eggplant cream, and pea blossoms.

My chicken dish, the same one that was on Masterchef Australia the other night.

My chicken dish, the same one that was on Masterchef Australia the other night.

Oh. My. Gosh. It was seriously the best chicken I’ve ever eaten.  It was so magnificently tender that I had to check to make sure it wasn’t raw.  It wasn’t.  I ate every last scrumptious morsel.

My second course was  Coturnix quail with farro, hazelnuts, quinoa, steamed truffle brioche, egg yolk confit, Vin Jaune cream.

My quail dish

My quail dish

I’ve never had quail before, so I thought I’d give it a go.  It’s not everyday you have the opportunity to eat quail.  And truffle.

The quail was even better than the chicken.  Oh my goodness was that dish delicious.  All of the elements of the dish worked together in perfect harmony.

Aaron had the line caught iki jime Tasmanian squid with squid ink custard, society garlic, pink turnips.  Also delicious.  We figured we’d each get a different dish and try both.

For my third course, I ate the Berkshire pig jowl with maltose crackling, prunes, cauliflower cream, perfumed with prune kernel oil.  I don’t know how they did it, but that ridiculously good pork melted in my mouth. Best. Pork. Ever.

The pig jowl

The pig jowl

I even tried Aaron’s lamb dish. I figured if I was going to like lamb ever, it would be here.

I didn’t like it. Oh well, I’m just not a lamb person.

And then came the best part.  Desert.  When we walked in the door, I knew I wanted the snow egg.  Until I saw the eight texture chocolate cake that Aaron informed me was the same one that they pour the warm chocolate over on Masterchef.  I made the impulsive decision to go with the chocolate cake.  I am a chocolate lover after all.  Aaron got the snow egg.  If I’d ordered the snow egg, Aaron would have ordered the chocolate cake.  We wanted to try both.

Don’t get me wrong, the chocolate cake was amazing.  One of the best I’ve ever had.

But the snow egg? Oh. My. Gosh. There wasn’t an ounce of chocolate on that snow egg, but it tasted divine.  It was so much better than the chocolate cake.  It was like no desert I’ve ever had before.  Somehow, all of the elements worked together so incredibly well.  Which is weird, since the bottom of the glass was filled with snowcone-esque shaved flavoured ice, and I think the egg part was meringue.

The snow egg.

The snow egg.

It was seriously the best food I’ve ever eaten in my entire life.  Too bad it’s so expensive because I’d love to go there again and taste all the things I didn’t get to try.

I didn’t mean for this to be mostly about food, but I had such a great experience at Quay.  It made my birthday. I will never ever forget my extravagant, delicious 3oth birthday dinner.

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The new house

1 Mar

Yesterday was the 28th of February.  The day our cooling off period ended, which basically means that since we didn’t reneg on our offer to buy the duplex, we are now under legal obligation to buy it, with full payment to be made by the 28th of March.

I am so excited.  The house is ours.  Er…will be, on the 28th of March, as long as the vendor (fancy real-estate speak for the current owner) doesn’t delay proceedings by two weeks as he can legally do.  We can too, but unless our loan takes that long to come through or something crazy like that, we certainly won’t be delaying things.

It’s also scary.  We’re going to have mortgage payments, and we’ll be responsible for fixing things even if they cost an arm and a leg, instead of just calling the real estate agent who sorts it out and doesn’t require any money from us to do so.  But scariest of all, do we really know what we’re getting in to?

We haven’t seen the house for 3 weeks. We saw numerous houses on the same days we saw the one we are buying, so they all kind of get mixed together in our minds.  I can’t even remember if there is a linen closet.  Or an ensuite. Or storage in the laundry room.  I don’t know what sort of storage is in the bedroom closets either. Maybe just a bar to hang the clothes on? Hopefully some drawers or something too?  That’s the problem with buying a house – if there are tenants living there, you are not allowed to violate their privacy and open up the closets or cupboards.

What if the neighbours are loud, obnoxious, all night partiers whose thumping music and loud profanities keep us up all night? Or what if they are just plain old crazy people who mow their lawn and throw the clippings over the fence into our yard, or steal our clothes off the line?  We’ve had a building inspection and a pest inspection, but we can’t really order a neighbour inspection (unfortunately).

I guess we’ll soon find out.  And in the meantime, we’ll be doing lots of packing.

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House hunting

12 Feb

It must have been so hard finding a house back in the day.  Grandma told me how she used to go out with a real estate agent every day for 3 months before she found her house.  What would people with little kids do? Or people who worked?

Lucky for me, there is now a little thing called the internet, aka teh interwebs.  I perused the real estate websites and waded my way through thousands of potential houses/townhouses/apartments/duplexes without having to actually go and see most of them to eliminate them from our shortlist.

We did go to a number of open houses over the last couple of weeks, only seeing the ones we’d thoroughly checked out and liked online, including google maps to see if we liked the area.  Some we didn’t actually get to go see because real estate agents all seem to like having open houses at 11am on Saturdays.

On Saturday, we saw a townhouse that we really liked.  It was spacious, had 3 toilets, a courtyard, and was close to Grandma’s house.  As soon as we got home, we made an offer.

The real estate agent called the owner and within an hour got back to us, saying “she really needs ____.” It was 5 grand more than we’d offered, but I said ok, we’ll offer ____.”  He said he’d call her back and get back to me.

The next day, he messaged me with “Hi Cheri (yes, he spelled my name wrong) Just heard from the owner they owe the bank $_____(15,000 more than our last offer) and need _____ for the bank to release the deeds.  Sorry guys, they are bound by the bank.”

Let me just point out that our original offer was $6,000 more than the “offers over _____” price.  If you actually must get $26,000 over the offers over price, then you should probably adjust your advertising.  To me, that is actually false advertising.  They didn’t need offers over $_____, they needed overs over _____+$26,000.  So how about advertising it for that price instead?

Needless to say, we told them that we were not prepared to offer that much.

We then got a message back saying “Hi Cheri, just spoke with the owner she is trying to negotiate with debtors to sell the property for $___ (our second offer) will possibly know tomorrow or Tuesday.”

In addition to knowing the price you actually need for your house, you should also speak to your bank and figure out your finances before advertising your house for sale.  Just a thought.

In the mean time, I kept eyeing the flyer of a duplex that we’d seen the same day.  The more I thought about it, the more I thought it would be a better choice for us.

“What do you think about the duplex?” I asked Aaron “I think we should make an offer.”

We made our offer yesterday, someone else made a higher offer, we counter offered, they backed down, and the owner accepted our offer which was 5 grand more than what we offered for the townhouse. Or maybe there was no other bidder.  Maybe that was just a ploy to raise the price, but what if it wasn’t? Then we would have lost out.  It’s a tricky game this real estate business.

Last night we signed the papers and put down our holding deposit, and subject to our 10 day cooling off period and our getting our finance approved (which shouldn’t be a problem since we have pre-approval, but you never know), the place will be ours.  We’ve only been looking for 2 weeks.  Ok, that’s a lie, I’ve been perusing the real estate websites making lists of places I like for a while.  But we only started actually seeing the places 2 weeks ago.

Hopefully, we will be moving into our new house (new to us, but it is pre-loved) in six weeks.

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I also registered for all of my classes today, so not only will I be moving, writing my book, and turning 30 in the next few weeks, but now we’ll be moving too.  Good times.

If you enjoyed reading this, please vote for my blog. All you have to do is click the link below. That’s it… Clicking the link brings you to the Top Mommy Blogs home page. You don’t have to do anything else. Any clicks from my site to theirs is a vote.  THANKS!
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