We Wish You A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

HOLY MOTHER THIS IS SO LATE

How are we already 11 days into 2017? This is madness.

Anywho…

Throwin’ it back to Christmas!

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Some of my favourite humans came to town, and made me smile so hard when they all crammed into my tiny bakery to say hi! I tried my hardest to see them as much as possible for their first couple of days, but we made do with quick hello’s and several squishy hugs.

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Come the big day though, I forced them all to wake up early so we could hit the slopes!!

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I just loved seeing everyone bundled up, ready for some snow!

 

 

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This bunch of gals are just the best, and being able to spend the morning on the mountain with them all on Christmas Day was a dream come true.

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The boys were there too, I promise, they just spent a little longer actually using their snowboards 😉

We rode most of the morning and then hustled back to our place to thaw out over turkey rolls and pecan pie. Andrew, the poor bugger, had to work at 2pm but we made sure he got a chance to celebrate the big day. He also roasted the turkey to absolute perfection and made me a very happy Christmas gal!

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Later that night, I took myself and two big caramel apple pies over to the house the crew were staying at. Chefs Matt, Lucy and Anh cooked up a storm, we were forced into awkward family photos, exchanged secret santa presents and all sat down to an incredible meal together.

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God I love you crazy people. Although it was the most hectic week trying to juggle work, snowboarding and quality time with these guys, I wouldn’t have changed anything for a minute. It was perfect!

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By New Year’s Eve, most of the crew had moved on to New York, and with Andrew and I on early starts for New Year’s Day we had a low key celebration.

We layered up and headed down to Whistler base to watch the Fire and Ice show and fireworks. Lucky for us, Andrew’s friend Rohan was still in town, as well as Andrew’s cousin, her husband and his parents.

10 years ago, at a party Rohan threw on New Year’s Eve Andrew and I met. And 10 years later, we all celebrated again.

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I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and I wish you a very happy and healthy new year. I have a goooooood feeling about 2017.

Hanbel.
x

P.s. Thank you to my schnooky for most of these photos, I am hopeless!

 

Aloha-mora

After an absolute whirlwind three week trip away, we have returned to our humble abode. It feels damn good to be back you guys, even though it’s rained a lot and there’s not a lot happening in this little town. Anyway, I digress, the point of this post was to tell you all about our pitstop in Hawaii!

After quite an early start, our last Qantas lounge layover (GOD I will miss these, damn Andrew and his Gold status expiring!), minimal sleep, a lovely taxi driver and early check in, we settled into our hotel in Honolulu. Side note: we flew out of Perth at 7am and landed in Honolulu at 6am… on the same day.

Safe to say the first day was long and full of naps. The next few were more eventful, although not exactly the holiday we were after…

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Other than napping, day one essentially consisted of eating and walking. We grabbed a pitaya bowl and french toast, bought Andrew a new phone, visited our favourite American institution Buffalo Wild Wings, and wandered back for a bedtime my grandmother would be proud of.

First impressions of the city left us a little underwhelmed, I had been warned that Waikiki could be compared to Surfer’s Paradise and I’m afraid to say that I could see those similarities. Nonetheless, we set our alarms for the next morning to prepare us for our North Shore tour.

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The Surf Bus picked us up in town and set off in a northerly direction, and like any good tour guide gave us little tidbits of information along the way. He explained how our day would run, giving us options of activities in the morning (bike riding, a walk to the waterfall in the national park, snorkelling, surfing) and again in the afternoon (SUP or kayak, hanging out in the town of Haleiwa town).

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We opted to hire bikes, ride to the waterfall for an incredibly refreshing swim and head back along the coast, checking out famous surf spots such as Pipeline and Sunset.

The Waimea Valley National Park was gorgeous and much more like the tropical Hawaii I was expecting. The humidity settled in as we walked towards the waterfall and diving into the tiny lake provided some much needed relief.

We popped by a taco truck for lunch, before being picked up by the bus and driven to our new spot for some stand up paddle boarding. Goddam, I forget how much of a workout this sport is. It’s incredible for improving your balance, exercising your core and working your arms. Our reward came in the form of giant sea turtles gliding underneath us and we pushed back to shore.

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For those who didn’t share our experience, the bus made a stop on the way back at a beach renowned for basking sea turtles. You have to stay 6 feet away and are absolutely not allowed to touch them, but that works for us nature fans as we got to observe this dude from afar.

The Surf Bus provided an awesome day for us, I am quite the fan of the North Shore. We could have done with a little more action, but at the same time we both slept very well after this little adventure.

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We’d previously walked past a little carpark hiring out mopeds and trikes, and after a long sleep in and third consecutive Acai bowl breakfast, we picked one up to explore the coast a bit more.

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Leaving Andrew in charge of the driving (I know what I’m good at, and driving ain’t that!) I got to point in the general direction of where we wanted to go. As our trike chugged along at a measly speed of 35km/hr we stuck our heads out and caught glimpses of the incredible coastline.

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I’m a backpack kinda gal now, thanks to Whistler. 

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We got chatting to another couple of tourists from the US (also on embarrassingly small mopeds) who told us to head back and check out the cliff jumping at the China Walls, in Hawaii Kai. By the time we made it the swell had set in and there was no chance of us taking a dip, but it was still a pretty sweet little spot. So thought teenage boy who was taking a series of modeling-esque photos of his girlfriend while we were there…

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A cocktail (I say one, because we basically sculled the drinks so we could leave the overcrowded bar) for sunset, take-away dinner, a much regretted Haagen-Daaz sundae and “The Jungle Book” on DVD concluded our third day on the island.

For our final morning we woke early to take the bus up to Diamond Head Crater. Already heaving with tourists at 7am, we joined the ranks and climbed our way to the top. The hike is set up very well, the climb is never too hard and there are plenty of break spots for those struggling. The view from the top is spectacular, and if you tune out the loud music some people play and the endless selfies being taken, it was rather serene.

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I hate to judge a place after only three days, but I’m going to anyway. While the people of Hawaii are just lovely, and the North Shore is something special, I left feeling a little disappointed. I’m sure our experience in Waikiki can’t be compared to other islands and even smaller towns, but this is not what we were expecting. We struggled to find anything resembling authentic food, we struggled to even find restaurants that could seat us. We were overwhelmed with the amount of tourists and the high end shopping metres from the beach. When I pictured Hawaii, I wasn’t thinking of Chanel on the beach and Tiffany’s after a swim.

I’m glad we went, at least to break up the long trip home and get over some jet lag before jumping back into work. I’d like to visit again (although perhaps Maui or Kauai), but there are a lot of other places I’d head to first.

I don’t want to discourage anyone from flying over though, if you’re after a holiday of lying on the beach, endless shopping opportunities and hearty American cocktails and food, then this is your jam. I think ours a geared a little more towards the adventurous and rustic way of life (thanks again Whis!).

We are happy to be home though, and if nothing else this holiday has taught us that this is the place we are meant to be. Now bring on the snow!!

Much love,
Hanbel.
x

Beaches, Babies, Beers and Brides (Part Two)

Rightio… where were we?

Ahh, that’s right. So, the day after the Beauvine evening with my lovely ladies, we were preparing for the real reason we decided to fly 38 hours back home… The nuptials of one Joseph Rossi and one Jemma Koios!

A must say a huge thank you to Vicki for inviting us all over to get ready and eat at her house beforehand, and also doing full make up for the four of us girls. Such a gem! Lynn also receives a special mention for organising the food and doing the lion’s share of the cooking. I truly believe that getting ready for any big event is just as exciting as the event itself and I had so much fun doing that with these stunners:

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The wedding day was perfect. Perth weather finally turned it on and the sun did not stop shining all day long. Everything ran smoothly as far as we could tell, the bride looked breathtaking and the groom couldn’t stop crying. It was absolute bliss to spectate.

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The reception was held at Sandalford, in their barrel room. The rows of fairy lights strung across wine barrels piled over polished concrete gave the room such an impressive glow that we couldn’t help ourselves by being astonished as we all walked in.

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The delicious food, heartwarming speeches and entertaining Italian and Macedonian dancing topped off an already spectacular day. We got a special mention in the groom’s thank you speech, but all I needed was to see the newlyweds looking as happy as I’ve ever seen them. Congratulations Jem and Jo, you two are a dream!

Now, if only Andrew and I could take a decent photo together…

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For the rest of the week, after moving to Mum’s place, we continued the varied catch-ups. We saw old faces, met some brand new ones, celebrated an 83rd birthday, and had quite a surprise…

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Andrew learnt how to hold a baby, his gorgeous cousin’s boy James. James had a plethora of toys in front of him and all he wanted to do was munch on the plastic cups on the table. Such a big boy, but so happy!

I took Mum’s ratbag Darcy to the beach where I received further proof that he is not like other dogs. I think the whole sand/water concept really confused him as he continued to look for me for guidance as to what he should be doing. When I sat down to appreciate the view he sat right behind me, hidden from the elements. Weirdo..

Andrew got out his cruiser bike and after seeing this grin the whole afternoon I’m so glad he didn’t end up selling it before we left. This was one happy chappy (though I think that was more to do with the amount of Pokemon he’s managed to catch since being back).

The last few nights were a whirlwind, but I have to thank all of our parents for the amazing dinners! Dad and Melissa, thank you for the incredible experience of dining at Wildflower – it was something else!
Mum, you’re amazing for putting on a full Indian feast and serving it all on Royal Doulton. I’m still dreaming of that butter chicken..
Glenn and Louise, BBQs are your house are always loud, delicious and entertaining. I love every minute 🙂 I wish we’d grabbed some photos, but I always get too caught up in the moment.

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On one of our final days we had the absolute pleasure of meeting Maggie Matilda, who was born a few months after we left. She is delightfully delicious, barely made a peep the whole three hours we were there and is such a welcome addition to our Perth family. Jared and Carls, you made one cute baby. Wishing you three all the best!

To finish off our time at home, we were surprised by the arrival of our darling friends Brooke and Sean. They had received some awful news while being away and travelled for two days to come home and be with family. I won’t go into details, but I will say that even under those circumstances it was so good to see them!

Brooke, my sweet girl, decided that they should use the time they have at home to work on their wedding planning, before heading back to continue their European adventure. Little did I know that that would asking four of us ladies to be her bridesmaids!

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I accepted immediately with a beaming smile on my face. The thought of standing alongside one of my best friends while she marries another of my best friends is already bringing tears to my eyes. I’m so honoured to have this opportunity and will try my very best to help as much as I can from the other side of the world. I love you schnooky and I can’t wait for all the happiness that next year will bring us all!

Oh my heart, be still. We have been showered with love and joy since landing in Perth, and from the huge meal Andrew’s mum prepared for our first night to the miniature Christmas dinner my Mum planned for my last night it’s been a wonderful visit home.

Much love to all, you really do mean the world to us. But… Whistler Winter is calling and we’re going to answer her loud and clear.
Bring on the snowboarding, the white Christmas, the mulled wine, the snow angels, the crockpot meals, the rosy cheeks and allllllllll the layers!

Hanbel.
x

P.s. Forgot to mention that we’re ducking past Hawaii on our way back, keep checking in for updates on our mini island getaway!

Beaches, Babies, Beers and Brides (Part One)

It’s Monday the 31st of October… Halloween. It’s a perfect 20 degree day with the sun shining brightly over the backyard. Alistair’s cactus has bloomed, and Darcy has consequently bitten the flower since then (Darcy is Mum’s dog, not a human – that would be weird). Baker’s Delight have started stocking their fruit mince pies and we’ve snagged a couple to eat while watching Love Actually. My backpack is packed, my final catch ups completed, my stomach content and my heart is so, so full.

Our two and a half week trip home is nearing an end, and a little part of me is relieved. To say it’s been busy would be an understatement. However, it has been so worth the long journey home.

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We hit the ground running seeing family, friends and the familiar sights of our home town. I think on day two I was already back at Jacob’s ladder, simultaneously checking out the city and struggling to breath.

We visited our beloved beach and fought against the sea breeze to ride down to Yelo for a coffee and breakfast. I never realised how much I love our seaside until we were away from it for an extended period of time.

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The first week we stayed with Andrew’s parents, his sister Chelsea and their cat named Tess. I must admit it was lovely to wake up and have the house full of people running off for bike rides, or making coffee, chit-chatting the whole time.

One quiet day in the middle of the week we thought we’d play tourists in our own city and headed out to hike a little at Lesmurdie Falls.

This hike was quite the opposite of those we’ve done in Canada, but it was just as serene. Nothing makes me feel more at home or more relaxed than hearing the birds chirping, insects buzzing and kookaburras laughing in the middle of the bush. This day was such a nice reminder of why we will eventually return to this beautiful part of the world.

I was also lucky enough to spend a decent chunk of time catching up with my favourite gals. My beautiful Brianna was back in town for a weekend (she’s moved to Melbourne since I’ve been gone) and we all celebrated over wine and pizza at the Beaufort Street event Beauvine.

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The wine tasting was warmly welcomed, the food was tasty but the company was what made my night worth it. There’s something to be said about a friendship that can pick up right where it left off no matter how much time has passed. I’m fortunate enough to have eight of these, and seeing all of these faces makes me one happy gal indeed.

More to come on our time in Perth, if you can believe it our second week was busier than the first!
For now, Mum and I are celebrating Christmas instead of Halloween and making up for lost time.

Hanbel.
x

Canada Eh

You have reached your final destination.

Cannot begin to tell you how incredible that sentence is. Not that we were travelling for that long, but it does make a big difference when you finally arrive in the country you plan on living in.

We hit Van City on Thursday, and headed to Kitslano to crash at our friend Carla’s spot. Kits is a suuuuuper cute area to stay in, right on the “beach” (I use this term loosely), nice little strip of shops and cafes, and only a 5km walk into Downtown.

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The main purpose for hitting up Vancouver was to get the admin side of life sorted, which we smashed out in half a day! We got our Social Insurance Number plus great deals on a sim card and bank account (Virgin Mobile and CIBC if you’re wondering). The banking system is so backwards here, they still use cheques, have only just begun using internet banking and most of the bank will charge you for internet transactions.

Once we finished the boring things, we took advantage of the sunshine and hit up Stanley Park. After the longest wait for an average burger (there are always downsides to travel), we grabbed some bikes and road the seawall.

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The ride was so flat and the bikes were amazing to ride, 14km went by so quickly.
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This cool kid.

The sunshine continued through Saturday, and with Carla not working we had a buddy! With a car!
After an amazing brunch (following from Perth traditions) at The Oakwood, Carla drove us all out to Lynn Canyon to walk around the falls and NATURE.

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Doing this little walk has gotten me so excited for living in Whistler, hiking and riding every day!

IMG_0575Rewarding ourselves with ice cream, naturally…

Our little group headed into Gastown in the evening, for drinks and dinner. I managed the dinner portion before taking myself home with a mother flippin’ cold. NOT HAPPY.
Gastown is very cute though, old school-style gaslamps on the streets, cool little restaurants and bars down alley-ways. I hope the others enjoyed it to it’s fullest!

We took Sunday a little easier (easy like a Sunday morning, some would say) due to my stupid sickness. Not wanting to waste the whole day though, we did a quick visit to Granville Island for chicken noodle soup and pot pies.

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The markets are gorgeous, full of fresh fruit and vegetables. We, however, were drawn to a different kind of dessert;

We had to try a maple donut in Canada 😉

After this I basically retreated to the couch for the rest of the day, but we did manage to watch Eurovision and laugh uncontrollably at the outrageousness. This made me feel a little better 🙂

Hi Canada! I like you, I think we’ll stay.

Hanbel.
x

Observations of the USA

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After 16 days through the states, I’m pretty much an expert now. Ha! No, I don’t think I could ever be, but the experience of driving the coast has opened my eyes to some ridiculous, funny, stupid and different observations of this country.

  • McDonald’s is legitimately everywhere. We’d be driving through a small town (comparable to Yallingup for example) and there will be a McDonalds, Taco Bell and Starbucks on offer. If not more!
  • Car pool lanes. These are bloody genius! If you have two or more passengers, you can drive in the furtherest left hand lane, which is always quieter.
  • All the food and beverages are sweeter or are cinnamon flavoured. Soy milk is sweeter, tonic water is sweeter, chewing gum tastes like cinnamon. It’s ridiculous.
  • Most people we met were super friendly, but always think they’re right. They want you to have the best trip, so you need to cancel that hotel you have in Pismo beach immediately and book in at Morro Bay.
  • The catch phrase is “SO good”.
    – That donut was SO good
    – Her hair looks SO good
    – That bar is SO good
  • Speaking of bars, every single one has at least one TV showing any game of sport. Even the classy bars will have it on, and then you hit Buffalo Wild Wings where they show at least 10 different types of games on 50 screens around the restaurant.
  • Pick up trucks are no joke. To me they resemble monster trucks, and scare the life out of me on the road.
  • Customer service is insane! As the staff work off tips they always go above and beyond to make sure you have the best experience. So, even though at times you know they’re faking it, it’s a nice change to the grumpy hipsters back home.
  • Having said that, tipping SUCKS. American companies need to sort their shiz out, pay their staff the correct wage so that the customer doesn’t have to.
  • On top of that, please just include the taxes in the price tag of any item. I don’t want to have my $5 note ready, to have someone tell me “Oh, that’ll be $6.20 thank you”.

Rant over. This country, like all others has positives and negatives. I loved the trip, and wouldn’t have done it any differently at all. I just find these little differences fascinating, and thought you might too!

Big American love,
Hanbel.
x

 

Big City Life

Yo yo yo! We’ve made some good progress in the last few days, and have officially hit Oregon! We’re right down the bottom at a little town called “Klamath Falls”, and I will tell you all about it in due time.

For now, we shall be re-visiting San Francisco.

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The city of cable cars, a beautiful red bridge, clam chowder and a lot of junkies, as it happens. When Andrew and Harley came to San Fran a few years back, they stayed in an area called South of Market or SOMA, and they loved it! It’s downtown, right in the middle of everything and a quick walk to the cable car which shoots down to Fisherman’s Wharf.

Naturally, we booked a hotel there for this trip too. Little did we know, that this area has a changed a little and is now the home of many a drug dealer, junkie and homeless person. Please don’t stay here if you visit.

As much as I tried not to let this bother me, arriving at 6pm and struggling through the traffic, only to be welcomed by the charming neighbourhood wasn’t a great start. Not to mention the four hour sleep I managed due to noise and friendly mice playing under our bed.

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Regardless, we pushed on and headed out for some tourist attractions. This particular cable car runs up from Fisherman’s Wharf to market street, where the workers jump off and literally push the car around to travel back the other way.

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Fisherman’s Wharf is pretty much what you’d expect. Plenty of tourist traps, a seafood cafe every two metres and the sea lions at Pier 39. We grabbed the obligatory meal (I stole some and it was deeelish!) and started our search for bikes to hire.

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The wind was howling like a mofo that day, and it was bloody cold down by the water. So we made the choice not to ride over the bridge and possibly get blown off said bridge. We did take the bikes the 5km round to the start of it and get a gooooood look.

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She is a thing of beauty, even on a cloudy day. Despite the weather and my weariness, I’m glad Andrew pushed me to ride out there and have a good look.

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We finished the afternoon with a walk up to Lombard Street; seriously those hills are a killer. I better have buns of steel after this walking, not to mention the fact that every hotel we stay in has stairs. Every bit of exercise counts right?

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The following morning, we swung by the painted ladies for a quick peek, before hitting the road again and getting out of this big city.

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The overcast day doesn’t do the colours justice, but these houses are so freaking pretty. The yellow was my winner!

I’m still unsure how I feel about this city. I like the elements it has, I’m just not sure that they mould well or work exactly right. It’s hard to describe, and I’m sure the area we were staying didn’t help, but I just didn’t get the city. I still had a great time though, and I didn’t want to leave it with a sour taste in my mouth. Which is why San Francisco will always be known as the place I bought my first American Peanut Butter 🙂

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Much pb love,
Hanbel.
x