More Exam Fun

For people keeping score, the date we are at in blog time is Tuesday November 10th.

Shane had an exam on the morning of the 10th so I worked on some Christmas gift bracelets …


… then bussed into Parramatta to meet him for a celebratory lunch!

We went for Mexican food at Guzman y Gomez.

After lunch Shane went home to study and I trained all the way to Leichhardt to get more beads. Leichhardt is known as Sydney’s “little Italy” but I haven’t explored too much beyond the beads store… task for future Carmel!

Double decker trains!!

There are tons of cute little shops all over Leichhardt and TONS of bridal shops.

It takes a long time to get to and from Leichhardt from Parramatta so I didn’t wander around too much. After shopping I got back to the train and settled in for the ride back.

The train I caught is a commuter train from the Blue Mountains into the city. You can see it’s much nicer than the normal trains because the commute is so long. They have bathrooms and everything 🙂

When I got home I entertained myself until Shane was ready for dinner.

The next few days went by much the same.. Shane studied and I did chores and crafts.


We live under a flight path. Look how sunny it gets!

After another exam we went to Hog’s Breath for their $9.90 lunch special haha

When we got there it was bright and sunny! But bad news was on the horizon…

We live no more than an 8 minute walk from the restaurant…

Shane and I celebrated the end of each exam by crossing subjects off of his study list.

As you can see even though it feels like exams had been happening for AGES there was still more to study so again, I had to entertain myself!

Good thing I’ve got sisters!

Brendon brought us iced frapps one day!!!! Best day ever! Shane also made lips out of bread haha.

We also continued to put the Thanksgiving table to good use! So much room for activities!


And that brings us to November 14th.


Miss you all!

Love you all!



The Day After, Swimming and Parramatta Park

So the day after all the liquor tasting Shane got up and made me breakfast! This is an example of a pretty usual weekend (read: fancy) breakfast for us.

It is: toast then guacamole then cheese then fried egg. The yolk pretty much HAS to be runny. So tasty.


That’s my only photo from that day. Certainly no selfies.

The NEXT day we tried making Auntie Rosanne’s Chickpea Chowder. Shane’s gallbladder was still a lil testy so we wanted to eat healthy haha. Thanks to Kendra for emailing me all of the old family recipes!!

Here’s a photo montage of us making soup and baked tomato chicken for dinner. These days were consumed more and more by Shane’s study schedule so there aren’t as many photos of us having fun 😦


Here’s Shane feelin’ successful:


Also, in case anyone is wondering, this is the best soup ever. Especially as leftovers. Its super filling, super creamy tasting and basically all vegetable! (and chickpea haha)

The Monday following was following the theme so far. Shane studied and I went on an adventure of my own.

Adventures are not complete without your Katy Perry Cat Glasses.


Here are a couple shots of the streets around the corner from our house. Basically this is what the walk towards the bus looks like. Maybe I can get a job at Rug World… (no one ever shops there.. it might be a front).

PRETTY JACARANDA TREES!!!! And also what the cross lights look like here. No white man walkin’ and no giant hand.

Ridin’ the bus into Parra:

I had to return some library books and they had the COOLEST system! At the external drop you scan your library card which unlocks the return door. After you’ve slid your books through it relocks! Not a bad idea to prevent vandalism!

After the Library, I decided to go for a walk in Parramatta Park. As promised, here is the road crossing legend.

The park has a large rose garden in the corner of the park near the city.

I’ll post some more pictures of the park below. In the middle of the park, there is a huge house called “Old Government House”. This was the secondary residence for the first ten Governors (Australia’s official representative of the British Monarch) of New South Wales. It was used between 1800 and 1847. It’s actually an UNESCO World Heritage site due to its association with mass convict transportation! It costs money to go through though so just photos of the outside here.

This is the Parramatta River winding through the park. You’ll see more photos of it in a future post when Shane and I take a boat ride down it (spoiler alert).

Super old bridge! The sign says: This Bridge was officially opened by his excellency Admiral Dudley DeChair K.C.D. M.V.O Governor of New South Wales, Tuesday 29th September 1925. (It also lists some trustees but that’s kinda boring so zoom in yourself if you wanna).

This bridge takes you North towards our house, the local stadium and the local swimming pool. Which was my next stop! Slides!!!! They cost money though… no dice!

Early afternoon was the PERFECT time to go swimming. I got a couple hours of swim time in before school was out and all the kiddies showed up for lessons. It’s a full olympic size swimming pool so those laps were a bit tougher. Huge dive pool and lots of kids pools here as well.

After swimming I walked home. Right next door is the stadium for the Parramatta Eels. They are our local NRL (National Rugby League) team! You can see the big lights over the tree and the stadium behind the parking lot.

Also I found this lovely sandstone building!

Turned out to be a prison…

After I got home, Shane and I heated leftovers for dinner. Date nights during exam time are less fun. (:P)


Miss you all!!

Love you all!


The Sydney Craft Spirits Fair – Part Two

Back again!

Who knew that a day of tasting liquor would turn into a two part post? Also that this would take so long to post! Feel free to skip this one haha…

So the next table up had a few different small distilleries represented.

London No.3 Dry Gin (England – $70). King’s Ginger from the Netherlands ($43) and two choices from the Medine Distillery in Mauritius.

  • Pink Pigeon Vanilla Spiced Rum ($80)
  • Penny Blue XO Mauritian Rum ($89)


Two bottles from this table were outstanding. First was the King’s Ginger which was just phenomenal. A number of people bought it while we were there but being tight on cash I had set myself a one bottle limit.

As it happens, the bottle for me was at this table. The Mauritian Pink Pigeon Vanilla Spiced Rum was unbelievable. When I went to buy a bottle (Chris got one too) we found out that they were 2 of 8 bottles in all of Australia (at that time). The Vanilla is hand picked and hand pollenated in Madagascar and then sun-dried in wooden cases for a year before infusing into the rum for 6 months. It was so yum and tasted almost like root beer in a way. I am so excited to try this rum again!! Eee!!

We zipped out to buy our bottles and when we got back we tried Artenom Tequila. These bottles were incredible. I wish I had a picture because they were seriously Pirates of the Caribbean themed. After trying mezcal from the other booth though, I’m not sure that I’m sold on tequila anymore. I can’t remember what the numbers mean anymore but they weren’t years. I think the numbers had to do with the feet above sea level that each farm was at for the agave harvest. It affects the sweetness so they all taste very different.

  • Tequila Blanco 1580 ($103)
  • Tequila Reposado 1414 ($113)
  • Tequila Anejo 1146 ($128)

This next booth, called Mt. Uncle Distillery, was from Queensland (the state Brisbane is in). The distillers were a couple and super cute. The husband had designed a super sweet liqueur for his wife called Sexycat Marshmellow Liqueur. Chris declined to taste it! Shocking haha! It was tasty but I can’t imagine sipping on liquid cotton candy.

They had:

  • Botanic Australis Gin ($68)
  • Platinum Rum ($68)
  • Iridium Rum ($72) – this was the best spirit from this distillery in my opinion
  • Anjea Vodka ($72)
  • Sexycat Marshmellow Liqueur ($39)

Here’s a picture back at the booth – you can see the wife in blue.


I also managed to get a shot of the Fair Spirits Table (remember the quinoa vodka?)


This one was G’vine from France. They had two gins: Florasion Gin ($76) and Nouasion Gin ($80).


Next up was another New South Wales Distillery. Poor Toms Gin ($68). They had infused a few of their bottles with strawberry which was delightful!

After that, Chris and I decided to skip over the remaining booths and try the Brandy. If we had tried to get the rest it would have been bad news. You’ll see why…We missed out on: Kangaroo Island Spirits from South Australia (mistake they had a Limoncello), Broken Heart Gin from New Zealand, Blind Tiger Organic Gin from South Australia, The Melbourne Gin Company Dry Gin, Don Amado Blanco Tequila and Reposado, Germana from Brazil, Calvados from France, Armagnac from France, Mr Black Coffee Liqueur from NSW and Portobello Road London Dry Gin. Yikes. Obviously we had way less than a shot from each but it all adds up!!

So.. the brandy table!


This was pretty neat because I haven’t tried many brandies but this was very nice. They had three bottles on display but weren’t tasting the 40 year old haha. So we had:

  • St. Agnes 15 Year Old Brandy
  • St. Agnes 20 Year Old Brandy

Now what I didn’t know (but is probably obvious to everyone else) is that the age is the minimum age in the bottle. Apparently the 20 year old Brandy has a good amount of 40 year old mixed in!

The distillers had just won a big award so they printed off the webpage and proudly showed us. It was a little lost on me unfortunately. We had beers with lunch and then after all the tasting it was a little hard to learn about international brandy contests…


Here’s the fancy 40 year old Brandy that I did not get to try.


After the Brandy Chris went back to try more mezcal and waited around because the guy from Le Baron was holding a draw for a free bottle!!

I was like 80% sure that my number would be drawn so I did not want to miss this.

They didn’t draw F 06. Very disappointing. After the draw, the event was pretty much winding up. Most people went home and the different distillers were going around to each others booths to check out what they all brought to try.

Look at how empty it got!!

After the event, Chris and I were both STARVING so we caught the train down to circular quay to grab food.

Check out the view from the platform at circular quay!!

We went to a restaurant in downtown Sydney called The Morrison. They had great food and oysters were on special. Om nom nom.


After dinner Chris and I went our separate ways and I headed down to the opera house to record a birthday message for Gillian (whose boyfriend was putting together a happy birthday video). It was like a ten minute walk. (tops)

On the way, I passed this cool statue! Also this obelisk!

The statue is of Thomas Sutcliffe Mort. Mort (according to wikipedia) was an Australian industrialist who was known for improving the refrigeration of meat. He built a refrigeration and ice company in Darling Harbour… which is significant because he lived from 1816 – 1878.

The obelisk is actually really neat! It has two names: The Obelisk of Distances or the Macquarie Obelisk. It was erected in 1818 using convict labour and is the oldest surviving monument in the colony. It was used as the official starting point for all road distances in New South Whales. All of my information on this is coming from City Art Sydney (which is a pretty cool site with info on tons of art installations across the city). The site also pointed out that this obelisk was the symbolic peg which indicated the furthest reach of the British Empire in the early 1800s!!

Continuing the journey, I walked down to circular quay (where the opera house is). Behind the train station is Customs House where Shane and I like to go out for fancy fancy dinners. There’s a restaurant called “Cafe Sydney” which you can see up on the top floor. It has amazing views across the harbour. (and the BEST food)


This is the walk towards the opera house along the harbour.

Look at the ferries and the HUGE cruise ship!

The city skyline and the ferries. Behind the ferries is the train station (on level two) and a huge highway above that on level 3. It’s pretty cool infrastructure.


Here are some Opera House shots and an awkward selfie!


After recording a birthday message, it was time to head home and see Shane.

I caught a train and then Shane (who had LITERALLY studied ALL day) met me at the station to walk home.


I got off the train at Westmead and we walked through the Children’s Hospital. It’s home to one of the only Starbucks that I’ve seen here! I asked them when they’d be getting egg nog in for egg nog lattes and they literally looked at me like my face had grown scales… It seems that egg nog lattes aren’t a big thing at Starbucks here… (probably explains why they aren’t ultra successful).

This is the Ronald McDonald House at Westmead. You can see that they have gorgeous jacaranda trees out front.

Walking home we passed the hardware store that I always talk about.. and since people have been asking – here’s a pic! And a bonus Shane/Carmel selfie!

Annnnddd that’s all folks! I promise to start catching up on the blog faster!! (Unless someone hires me … in which case all bets are off :D)

Miss you all!!

Love you all!!