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Sydney + Life Updates!

What a whirlwind the past few weeks have been! I know I haven’t written anything in about 2 months. It’s definitely been on my mind, I just needed to find the time to do it. Currently sitting snuggled on the couch on Friday night, clean house, candles lit, waiting on Caleb to finish at the lab.

Caleb has done really well with school and research but I will get to all that in a moment because I’m overdue to share about our time in Sydney!

A few weeks ago, our friends Brent and Sam came out for an Aussie holiday. They wanted to see Sydney and Caleb and I hadn’t been there yet either. We all decided to meet there for the weekend before heading back up to Brisbane. There are so many things I could say about lovely Sydney, but I’ll just hit a few of the good ones:

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One of Australia’s (and the world’s) most recognizable icons, the Sydney Opera House attracts over 8 million people each year! It was a bit surreal to stand in front of it, look at the details of its mosaic tiles, and stare at its architectural beauty from afar.

We decided to try something that everyone seems to recommend — and I can see why. We took a 1.5 hour tour around the harbour on the top deck of a Captain Cook Cruise ship. It was pleasant, informative, and we got to the cityscape from the water.

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One thing I enjoyed was the number of street performers all around! It felt like New Orleans and Chicago and Nashville right there on the harbour.

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St Marys Cathedral

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Speaking of Chicago, if I could compare Sydney to any city, I’d say it’s a lot like Chicago. The burbs and french-touch-breakfastneighborhoods have a charm of their own. Cozy nooks and different vibes all around, but a big city feel downtown. A short walk away from our Airbnb was the most adorable eatery called the French Touch –best cafe latte of my life, and amazing breakfast.

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On the way downtown one morning, Caleb happened to see a billboard for a live spider exhibit at the Museum of Australia; it was all he could think about from that point forward. I wasn’t about to leave without him getting his spiders (it’s called love, and marriage) so he and I saw allllll the spiders. I must say it was actually pretty cool. Caleb’s still trying to convince me that he needs a tarantula for a pet, but that is not going to happen! NOT IN MY HOUSE

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Museum of Australia, Sydneyspiders

I’m saving the best for last, here. Who’s heard of a man called Zumbo? No? Well, he is a pastry chef who makes the most amazing creations. He has his own dessert competition on TV and a few shops all around Melbourne and Sydney. When we knew we were coming to Sydney, checking out a Zumbo shop was literally the first thing I put on our Excel Spreadsheet (um, yeah).  BEHOLD

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Clearly excited about Zumbo

But guys, it doesn’t stop there!  The next weekend, we drove up to Noosa Beach, north of Sunshine Coast. Sam and I needed coffee, of course, so the guys picked a spot on the sand while we went on our way. Then, there in the open window straight ahead, I happened to look up and see the man himself, Adriano Zumbo having a chat with a mate (I presume)! I did a double take, grabbed Sam, proclaimed the sighting, and became giddy with shock.

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CLEARLY excited about Zumbo!

The award really goes to Sam for walking right up to him and introducing me as a big fan. He was super nice and so was his friend, who I could tell thoroughly enjoyed taking our picture.  It was the white chocolate shell on top of the V8 Vanilla Cake (look it up). Basically, I left even more obsessed.

It was so great having good friends come out to Brisbane and stay with us. It reminded us how much we really miss all of our friends and family back home. And it allowed us to have a little fun as well!

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Now for a Caleb update. Year One down! Caleb received “Distinguished” grades  both semesters this year. On top of that, he spent time researching with a small team when he could, which will likely turn into a publication naming him as a contributor. Today was his last day of required shadowing for year one as well. He went 4 weeks under the supervision of the Director of Maternal Fetal Medicine at Mater Hospital, one of Australia’s top facilities for treating fetal complications.  He was offered to come back whenever he has time to shadow again, and was offered some more research opportunities with the doctors there. It makes me so happy to see him enjoying his work and his experiences. He’s a hard worker, sincerely loves to learn, and makes friends wherever he goes. The medical world is lucky to get him. I’ll share, I guess 🙂

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Springtime Salmon & Pasta

Confession: my mind is slightly confused by the seasons.  It’s spring here in Australia, but all my friends back home keep flaunting their pumpkin spice lattes and cozy sweaters.  I don’t know whether to make lemon bars or pumpkin cookies (I’ll probably make both)!

I’m over here on the verge of making chili when I notice some fresh salmon at the market. We typically like salmon anyway, but this one came with a marinade on it ready to go! Couldn’t pass it up. Then I thought of a dish my mom makes sometimes that pairs well with chicken or fish:

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Springtime Citrus Pasta with Salmon

This whole meal is so fast and easy. The pasta is light and citrusy; a perfect match with tangy, sweet marinated salmon.

While I can’t take credit for this marinade, keep reading if you want to see a similar take. **Sidenote: Make your marinade ahead of time and let the salmon, ya know, marinate for a while before you start cooking.


Ingredients for marinade:

  • 2 salmon fillets
  • honey
  • soy sauce
  • tiny bit of brown sugar
  • a little fresh lemongrass OR lemongrass paste
  • 2 cloves of garlic

Prep:

Stir ingredients together and pour into a large zippy bag. When I’ve made this myself, I just eyeball the honey and soy sauce; you can’t really do damange. Place your salmon fillets inside and make sure every side is coated, let it chill for a couple hours/overnight/during the work day.

14536790_3187887773977_1443629061_oIngredients for Citrus Pasta:

  • 1/4 of a red onion
  • tomato
  • garlic ^^^ all finely chopped.
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • lemon juice (fresh or not, mine was not)
  • baby spinach
  • spaghetti

Prep:

Have your oven pre-heated to 375º. Place your salmon in a baking dish a pour any excess marinade over the top. Bake for 15-18 minutes.

Start cooking your pasta the same time the samlon goes into the oven. While the pasta is cooking, chop up your ingredients. After draining the spaghetti, transfer to a large serving bowl. Add 2-3 Tbsp of olive oil to start. This is the fun part. You’ll have to gradually add the oil and lemon juice until you find a good balance for the amount of pasta you have. You don’t want the pasta to be drenched in oil, and you certainly don’t want to go overboard on the lemon right away. Like I said, it’s fun!

Next, add in the baby spinach and toss it around so that it begins to wilt a little. Toss in the chopped tomato, garlic (or not if garlic isn’t your thing), and onion. Don’t forget to add some salt and pepper!

Serve together with the baked salmon and some steamed broccoli if you’re feeling extra healthy 🙂

 

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I hope you’ll find this light and tasty dinner a perfect fit into your weekday. It’s simple and fun to make and it’s very delicious.  Please leave a comment if you give it a try or have any spins on it you’d like to share!

❤ Laura

 

September to Remember

Welcome back mates! So much to share, so brace yourself. You’ve already clicked on, so you’re committed:) Quick life update:  I got a new job! Changing jobs is always a little stressful but I’m thankful the transition happened smoothly and that the right job was there for me when I needed it. Now, onto the fun times September has brought us:

Inala Work Day

Inala is an Aboriginal word meaning “Place of Peace.”  This is the little town south of central Brisbane where our church will be meeting very soon. In fact, the transition has already started. The move from the north side of the city to the south side has encouraged our pastor and his family to move as well. To help out, the NewStart RiverCity crew along with the existing Inala church members are doing some work days in order to re-vamp their house.

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It was so good to spend that weekend focused on helping out our friends in the beautiful sun!  More updates to come as the house and church projects get underway. **Side note: the Inala church (directly beside the house) holds the local African communities’ church services on Saturdays. We enjoyed their jubilant worship in and preaching all day! They started service in the morning at about the same time we started working. They were still going more than 5 hours later when we left 🙂

Brissy Evenings and Daytime Jogs

For the most part, our weeknights look very similar: more work for me and more studying for Caleb. However, when we feel it’s time to stretch our surroundings a little, I pry Caleb away from the books we hop in the car and do date-ish type things.

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Southbank is always bustling. I’ve mentioned it before, but truly day or night, Southbank has fun options. I usually see a street performer or two and there are always people at the riverside pool and splash pad.  This time, all we did was walk around and enjoy the lights, sounds, and people. It was a sweet evening out in the city together.

Caleb walks a fair distance to campus each day, taking this bridge to get across the river:

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The university is very pretty and I was feeling up for some fresh air, so I laced up my joggers and followed the path to UQ.  The lakes on campus are popular sites for several bird species and other little critters. I couldn’t help but snap some pics:)

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Anniversary Adventures

Happy Two Year Anniversary to Caleb and me! I never imagined that just two years of marriage would bring what it has, but if this is our first two, I can’t wait to see what the next 60+ hold. Since Caleb’s midterms were over, I was in the clear to plan a weekend get-away for us. Nothing too fancy but just wanted to explore a new area. Tamborine Mountain was our destination this time. Located just over an hour south in Gold Coast Hinterland, Tamborine Mountain is misty, lush, sub-tropical rainforest.

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Our plan was to hike all day, drive to Gold Coast and stay the night, then have a beach day the next day. Sadly, the beach plan got rained out, but we still had an entire day of fun nonetheless!

We started with the Skywalk which came highly recommended by TripAdvisor. Was it cool? Yeah, seeing the forest from tree-top level on a suspended bridge is interesting. Would we pay to do it again? Maybe not. The circuit was a little short and if you’re going hiking later in the day, much of the views are similar.

Next, we continued through the mountain to pick a hiking point. There are so many great options on Tamborine Mountain, most promising waterfall views. We chose the Curtis Falls track. It was very similar to other trails we’ve done in the past– not flat or too easy, but enough edge to feel rugged. With the added circuit at the base level, the entire hike was enough to give us a full experience.

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Ironically, Caleb ran into one of his group mates from class on the hike! It was nice to say Hi and share a moment together on the trail. If you’re up for a little extra entertainment, watch the video below. Sorry about the phone camera quality, but it was too funny not to share!

After our main hike, we travelled down to the Gallery Walk, a street lined with dozens of little shops and cafes. We tasted *and bought* some passion fruit butter, saw hand-made German cuckoo clocks, ate some fudge, and I guess held some pythons.

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OH! Can’t forget about exploring Tamborine Mountain’s purpose built glow worm caves! A unique experience indeed. (No photos as glow worms will shut off in the presence of any light).

After a long day on the mountain, we headed to our hotel on the coast. It was beautiful! Surfer’s Paradise is a world-renown tourist spot for surfing (obviously). It’s very touristy with hotels and restaurants everywhere. Did I mention it’s touristy? We enjoyed a nice dinner at Hurricane’s Grill which had a view of the ocean from our top deck table. We finished off our evening with shakes from a favorite: Max Brenner’s Chocolate Bar.

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We love our adventures together. Even when “adventures” aren’t happening, life with Caleb is a fun journey. He’s doing very well in medical school and I am blessed with a good job and new friends. I’m sure year 3 together will be just as interesting! More to come.

❤ Laura

Moreton Island Daycation!

What do you do when semester finals are over and you haven’t properly celebrated your husband’s birthday yet? YOU GO ON DAYCATION!

Wanting to wait until Caleb was able to relax from studies, I booked us a little getaway for his early June birthday. It’s winter here in Australia, so while it’s a bit cooler (getting up to around 65ºF), the weather is still beautiful enough to get to a beach and spend some time out on the water.

Caleb’s a fan of animals so I wanted to plan something that would be fun for him and memorable for us both >>> whale watching!

From June through September each year, hundreds and hundreds of humpback whales migrate from the southern Antarctic waters up north to the warmer Pacific (I would too).  Amazingly, we were able to take a boat out to the open Pacific just past Moreton Bay and go scouting for these breathtaking mammals.

 

I booked through Tangalooma Island Resort, which I found based on TripAdvisor reviews. It didn’t disappoint. We were able to take a ride to Moreton Island in the morning and spend a few hours exploring the resort before our 12 o’clock whale watching tour.  It was so nice to spend some time together doing something new and fun after several weeks of GRIND.

**Side note– I’ve only ever been on boats that are for lakes.  I know that the ocean has waves, obviously, but I definitely wasn’t expecting the scale of waves we experienced on our way out onto the bay.  MY GOODNESS, I wish I would have gotten some video footage of this, but I didn’t. I’ll put it this way, they were handing out barf bags and people were fainting. We were fine, but I was certainly shocked.

Going out into the ocean, you can never be exactly sure what you’ll encounter,  but they guaranteed whale sightings or your money back, so I felt pretty confident. Plus, our boat was full of anxious and excited tourists which made it extra fun! When you look out into the open waters and realize how vast they are, think of how small your boat is in comparison, and then look at the spot on a map, I don’t know how your mind can’t be blown. This earth is enormous, spectacular, mysterious, and beautiful. I loved being able to share this experience with Caleb.

To see a shortened version of our day, watch the video I put together, and leave a comment for me, I just love your comments!

❤ Laura

Birthday Weekend Getaway

My recent birthday happened to fall on an Australian public holiday (ANZAC Day).  So, Caleb and I took full advantage of the three-day weekend and did some Queensland cruisin’.

I’ll let you know, in case you didn’t already, that the state of Queensland is larger in land mass than Alaska. So, yeah, huge.  We stayed 3 nights at the beautiful Mango Hill Farm in Peachester, a quiet little village in a region called Sunshine Coast Hinterland.

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We drove to the Glass House Mountains on Saturday. I really just wanted to go hiking and be outdoors for my birthday, so this was the PERFECT place to do that.

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Taking a breather. Caleb free climbed up Mt. Tibrogargan. I climbed halfway 🙂

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Then we found a little beach to relax at for a while. It was super windy so there were tons of wind surfers. Watch out if you ever go near them because those sails are larger and more unruly than they appear…

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On Sunday, we spent some time with the farm animals! So many cuties.

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Later, we drove further north about an hour to Noosa Heads. This beach is all the rage on any Sunshine Coast Google or Tripadvisor search.  One end of the beach runs into a nature preserve, the Noosa National Park.  We actually spotted a wild koala sitting high up in a Eucalyptus tree, but I didn’t take a picture because all we could see was his little grey bum 😉 We took a trail through the forest a little ways before finding a less-busy spot on the beach.

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Even though we were exhausted from being out all day, Caleb had made a dinner reservation at a fancy restaurant back near our cottage. The Terrace of Maleny is a seafood grill with amazing food and even more amazing dessert. We shared an appetizer, had some main dishes, and of course, got lemon cheesecake flan to share for dessert. 13063893_3018672623704_1395281496_o

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“Main course? More like, main obstacle to dessert.” -Caleb

Monday, which was my actual birthday, we took it easy all morning with no agenda, just enjoying the farm.  I had cooked all our meals for the weekend, except for the one fancy one, so we had leftovers for lunch (we always have leftovers when I cook). After we said goodbye to our wonderful host for the weekend, we decided we needed more treats. We took a detour up the hills to a cafe called The Edge. In the village of Montville, there are several shops lining the streets, very cute and quaint, and picturesque.

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We definitely made memories this weekend that I’ll hold onto til I’m old and grey.  It was so nice to be in a new setting (though we still brought work and school books with us) for the weekend. Thankful for these experiences, and I know there are even more to come!

❤ Laura