Tag Archives: Sydney

winter

Let’s keep the words to a minimum and just focus on some beach-side pictures. This is Australia. In the winter.
Eww. Just… Ewwwww. Amiright?

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These tiny little holes in the rocks FASCINATE me. It’s like who-ville in there. A whole nother world.

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Also: Highlight of the weekend: I went to look for whales… and i saw DOLPHINS!!! (Whales woulda been cool… since I can speak whale and all… but I will see them next week… when I go WHALLLLE WATCHINNNNNNGGGG) (said in an Oprah voice)

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eeeeeeeeeeee!

xxx

 

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quarter century camp-out!

My Oh My. It has been a while, hasn’t it? So many things have happened! And all while I was disconnected from reality. aka: the internet.

It’s been a rough couple of weeks, that much I can say for sure. And though I find it slightly embarrassing, my life is fully and most definitely reliant on the internet. I live on the OTHER SIDE of this huge world of ours and my family and I can only really communicate via skype and emails. On a side note: why are phone calls still SO expensive? I mean really… when we have unlimited internet for 50 bucks a month… who is the idiot who says that 1 minute of a phonec all costs 4 dollars. Someone should kick that guy.

Anyway, I have been trying my hardest to keep up with the Jones’ from free library internet while struggling with an ever increasing phone bill… which incidentally is actually from internet use (damn you ever-available internet). I have missed TV shows, I have missed skype dates, I have been tardy with my emails and I have been generally out of the loop. All this sucks, and yet I have re-introduced myself to books, cooking and using a computer that doesn’t have a wifi connection. It’s weird. What did I used to do on a internet-less computer? Play Minesweeper? Yep.

So I have yet to share my pictures from the coast, my birthday fun (I’m 25. uh… what?) and some other delicious activities such as PIE making.

Let’s go back. To coastal walks and an angry ocean.

For the celebration of my quarter century birthday, I decided I wanted to get back to nature. Get in touch with the great mother herself and spend some time with a couple of my closest friends.

We planned our meals, we packed our bags, we got on the train and we hiked to the coast, and then some.

Some favourite shots…

burning palms…

A very angry ocean. An ocean that ripped off my bathing suit with one swift and knee buckling wave. I guess she wanted me in my birthday suit. well-played ocean. well-played.

Our sweet and secluded camp-site.

An awesome tree in the middle of a field of shrubs.

My very own Bear Grylls.

Our gluten-free dinner. (the meat was omitted from mine)

My very canadian friend in her very australian hat.

Various levels of excitement for the hike back to civilization.

My birthday was a couple days later… Too many pictures to post right now, but it was a good one. This weekend in nature was exactly what we needed to get away from Sydney, work and the general business of life.

’twas grand.

You may have noticed in these images that I am experimenting with some new post-processing effects and a water-mark that I have yet to perfect. :) New software = lots of new possibilities. Time to get amoungst it!

xxx

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on the outs…

Sydney and I had a falling out.

To say that the relationship was strained would be an understatement. It began a couple months ago. I started to resent Sydney. I couldn’t understand it, why one city had to be so far away from my family. Toronto is my home and it always will be. I was angry at Sydney. I had a couple of tantrums during which I stamped my feet and I proclaimed that I wasn’t in love anymore. Sometimes you just fall out of love. It happens. My reasons were weak, but they were adding up; the cockroaches, the cold apartments, the untimely buses. It was all too much.

Sydney and I were on the outs.

And then as fate would have it, I had the opportunity to go home for a week. Just one week. It was not specifically to escape Sydney, I had family matters to attend to; but I think it was good to have some separation. It’s what every relationship needs once and a while.

So Sydney and I took some time apart.

But then I returned… And Sydney hadn’t let up. It was still a million miles* away from home which had become blatantly obvious from my 30 hour trek. True, I saw less cockroaches and yes, the apartment was warming up, but I still wasn’t convinced.

I still had feelings for Sydney, but they were confused.

And then one day I was on the ferry. I took a look around and I breathed in the salty ocean air. I looked across the harbour to see the bridge against a sunset sky and I thought “Hey Sydney, you’re not so bad.”

I had an overwhelming feeling of love. And I suppose sometimes that is all it takes. A little sea breeze and some perspective. From a ferry in the Sydney harbour. Because how many people get to take that perspective?

I live in Sydney. It’s a fact. It probably won’t always be that way though. And when it all changes, I will miss the ferries, I will miss the bridge, I will miss the salty air.

Sure, cockroaches run a muck in this city, but I’ll tell ya one thing; I haven’t seen one centipede scurry across my floor. And my nazi-like cleaning habits have been amped up in an effort to keep the cockroaches at bay.

And true enough, there is no central heating anywhere apart from the yoga room. So yes, my apartment is cold. But I brought extra sweaters back from Canada and for Christ sake… I AM Canadian. Come on Hicks, suck it up.

And… well the buses will never change. So I’ll start riding my bike.

And yes. OK. It’s a million miles away from Toronto, but a trip is a trip. No matter how long. If family comes first, which it most certainly does, then no amount of plane trips or dollars spent on flights will keep me away. In the grand scheme of things 30 hours is not the end of the world.

So Sydney, I propose a truce. I will stop resenting you if you promise work on that continental drift thing.

Ok, sweet.

xxx

*Sydney is actually 15, 562 miles from Toronto. Fact.

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it’s all downhill from here…

If you look at a globe and you find Toronto, Canada, it is pretty much on the top side of the sphere. If you then spin that bad boy around 180 degrees, and look on the bottom end of the sphere, you’ll find Sydney, Australia. It’s totally on the upside down part of the earth. That’s a scientific fact.

And it doesn’t stop there. Everything here is backwards. I swear. Yeah, in fact over here they wear hats on their feet and hamburgers eat people.

Mmmm not really. But the water does spin in the opposite direction, everyone drives on the wrong sided of the road and winter is in June and July. What. the. WHAT!?

Yes. And if you drive a mere 5 hours south of Sydney to a place they call Thredbo, you will find snow. That’s another fact right there.

This past weekend, that is exactly what we did.

I have to say, I was thoroughly impressed. I know it can be very hit and miss with Australian snow, but we had favourable conditions. We hopped on a bus and got whisked away to Perisher Mountain for a weekend of skiing! I’m going to be honest here, I didn’t know that snow was a thing that existed in Australia until Sean told me shortly after we met. It just doesn’t make ANY sense to me. But there it was. Actually snow. And a fair bit of it… in June.

Weird.

I won’t dwell on this any longer, but I will show you pictures! It was such a lovely weekend. We had perfect conditions. 25cm of fresh powder on Saturday morning and blue skies (at the bottom of the mountain anyway.)

And I tell ya, there is nothing more weird than seeing a eculyptus tree covered in snow. Where are all the evergreens?

Sean tore up the hill on a snowboard and I got back to my roots with some good old skiing. Something I haven’t done in probably 12 or 13 years! It’s almost like riding a bike… except I didn’t have the same desire to conquer the black diamonds hills that my ten year old self did. Man, I used to be such a rock star. haha.

xxx

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Canberra, Thredbo and some unfortunate incidents…

ohhhhhhhhhhkaaaaay.
Here we go. Where to begin? At the beginning I guess… but this might get a bit rambley.

It was a Saturday like any other. But not at all really. Cause we woke up at the bumcrack of dawn and piled the car about ten stories high with camping gear and backpacks in our attempts to ‘pack light.’ We slowly drove the car over to my parents where we stopped momentarily to pile more luggage in, then gawk, get really nervous, gawk some more… and then order coffee.

After all the gawking and coffee drinking, we began to come to terms with the fact that the next two and a half weeks would, for the most part, be spent in this very car. Anyway, that is neither here nor there. In the grand scheme of things the car was fine. A mere 3000 km later and we are back in Sydney, safe and sound.

goulburn

So we started to drive. We drove for a while and then I sneezed. We drove some more. We stopped briefly in Goulburn for some site seeing. The Big Ram. Yeah for real… and also a light breakfast.

the ram! (he was anatomically correct as well...)

We started driving again. I sneezed again. and then again. And then my nose made noises that I’ve never heard. Then we stopped in Canberra. It was hot and Canberra is… um… a city of roundabouts. And a pinch of history. We visited the Parliament house. But first, I stuck some eucalyptus up my nose for some temporary relief.

ahhh sweet relief.

I’ve never been one for seasonal allergies, but I suppose that is what was going on. Eucalyptus is like a miracle plant or something, no? I dunno. But you can leave your judgements at the door, cause I could definitely breath 90% better after this little incident.

So we looked around, bought a spoon, and piled back in the car. Thredbo— camping on night one!

We just jumped in. Right on in. Both feet. In the water. CAMPING! Probably the first time my parents have camped since I was what… 10? So, we settled into a nice little campsite equipped with a fire pit and pet ducks!

duckie

Then the sneezing continued. Full on, rib cracking sneezes. I got up to nine in a row. I’m sorry to dwell on this, but it was a big part of my first day on holidays. Sneezes. One after another and then I stopped counting. My nose was running like a faucet. I had bought four packs of travel kleenex and I was already through TWO of them. Things were out of control. After another 6 sneezes in a row I felt my ribs poking my organs, I felt my lungs coming up my throat. I had just about enough of this nonsense.

So I did what any other normal person would do. I stuck a kleenex up each nostril. Well low and behold, the sneezing stopped.

By this time I was in a foul-ish mood, so I decided that I should go for a wee nature walk and see what the creek had to offer. I had been warned of uneven terrain, so I stepped carefully. I was taking pictures of the creek and what I thought was a platypus when it began to rain… sprinkling at first, so I took little notice, but then a couple of big drops fell and I decided that it was time to head back. I didn’t want my camera to get waterlogged on the first day.

the creek

However, I decided to take the long way round. The path that I hadn’t come down. It was a bold move, I KNOW. I’m a dare devil, what can I say…

Well, wouldn’t you know it, just as I was replacing the saturated kleenex in my nose I failed to look where I was placing my feet and I fell right into a Wombat hole. At this point I had yet to see a wombat, but I had heard that they can get pissed off quite easily. I immediately pictured a cylindrical creature waddling after me at an alarming rate with a distinct rage in it’s eyes. So I did what you do; 1. I checked to make sure no one saw me fall, and  2. I ran. I rannnnnnn fast. Away from the non-existent wombat that I was SURE was chasing me. I had real fear.

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And then, just for kicks, I lost my footing again and rolled my right ankle. Falling over briefly, I looked around once more, made sure no one saw (always so vain, I am…) And then attempted to keep running. Which at this point, lets be honest, was not really my best bet. I finally slowed. Realizing there was no angry wombat, no crazed animals chasing me. No. I was the only crazy one on that creek. But I don’t think that’s news to anyone.

I stopped for a second and took in all my bad fortune, then hobbled back to the campsite for some good eating and really really horrible pictures.

Really.

oh jeeez.

But here is a cute one of my parents:

mom and dad

I swear this trip has more to it then sneezing and imaginary wombats. Really. There might even be some REAL wombats in the next post.

just two of my favourite animals eva...

xxx

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hellllllllllllllllllllllllllooo two-thousand twelve

Hi.

I’m Caitlin Hicks. You may remember me from such blog posts as “Christmas Eve in North Sydney” and “GAZPACHO!” Those posts were sooo 2011… and I’ve got news for you. It’s 2012.

Happy NEW YEAR!

Sydney harbour Bridge 2012

What? When? WHO?! oh my god. This just got real.

I’ve got a lot to cover, as I’ve been somewhat MIA as of late. Let’s start with the basics…

Christmas ’twas lovely. A leisurely morning of coffee and presents with my boyfriend,

coffee and ukuleles.

followed by the most cocktail filled, antipasto-delicious, summery Christmas brunch I have ever experienced.

anti-pasto lunch

Crazy Straws and White Sangria? Yes. Yes I think so.

ha-mazing

This crazy straw makes an appearance later on… cause let’s be serious. Is there a better way to sip fancy alcoholic drinks than through a twisty twirly straw? Don’t answer that… cause there is NO better way. Fact.

Christmas was followed by boxing day, more food, more lovely people… more lovely weather.

Boxing Day was followed by ‘My parents arrive in SYDNEY day’ Also known as December 27th, 2011. Even more lovely people, mediocre weather…

My parents arrived in SYDNEY day was followed by ‘Breakfast and impromptu pub crawl day.’

tourists!

There was coffee, there was toast, there was one pub, and then there were three more. I had one cider. A schooner. I wassssssss drunk. Not a joke. Still not sure what happened.

black and white images make us classier, no?

That day was then followed by a slew of days that ended a wonderful year. 2011… where did you go?

pimms

I rang in the new year with… MORE Antipasto, more cocktails and an enormous amount of fireworks. Hallllelujah.

delicious

There were rice paper rolls, there were dips, there were vegan cheeses (recipe to follow) and there was a punch bowl of PIMMS. Pretty much the best drink you’ll ever have. I do declare.

vegan cheese! (ish)

Happy New Year everyone. Two-thousand and Twelve greets me with no job, but some wonderful company and exciting prospects.

rooftop fireworks

Things are just getting interesting.

I’m declaring it the best year ever. Deal with it.

x

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the best way to spread Christmas cheer… is singing loud for all to hear.

so pretty...

It would seem that Christmas sort of exploded into my life over the last week. Yes, Sam the Snowman himself just waltzed in and puked Christmas cheer all over my apartment… too much? OK well then… Buddy the elf came by and in a matter of hours there were paper snowflakes hanging from my ceiling, white paper garlands on my walls, and a beautiful Christmas tree adorning my living room. (I exaggerate only moderately.)

CHRISTMAS TREE!

The only thing missing, frosty windows and a mulled cider on the stove.

Not only did I complete the apartment re-design for Christmas, but I also donned my new baking gear (the amazing Christmas themed apron courtesy of my mother) and churned out two batches of gingerbread. One of which I constructed into a house, complete with gingerbread men, trees, reindeer, and snowflakes. And after that? A batch of chocolate-orange biscotti.

biscotti and coffee

Note that one of my batches of gingerbread failed to come together in order to make a house or men… however it made the PERFECT dough for smushed up mishapen cookies. As for the biscotti… well, while they were delicious, I think I’ll leave that to my dad. But more on that later.

In the last week and a half I have watched no less than 8 Christmas movies:

1. Robbie the Reindeer

2. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

3. A Christmas Story

4. Elf

5. Home Alone

6. Home Alone 2: Taking back New York

7. How the Grinch Stole Christmas

8. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

… and more to come!

Just a few brief pictures today, as I am pooped…

:)
x

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Christmas weather (kind of) and Miso!

miso soup

Not sure what happened to Summer over here in the land down under, but it seems to have made it self very scarce as of late. Yes, it’s actually looking a lot more like Christmas around here than I initially expected. The warm summer breezes have been swapped for cool windy temperatures with lots of rain. And while it isn’t quite the right form of precipitation falling from the sky for a White Christmas, it is consistent and unforgiving. Mostly when you’re walking to and from work and especialllllly when you’re carrying one too many bags, as I normally am for some reason unbeknownst to me.

Anyway, I have a feeling I jinxed things with my complaints about the hot wind. And maybe also when I was writing Christmas cards and declaring how much I missed the winter. Ooops.

No matter, I can deal with a bit of wet weather and a cooler climate for a while. It makes drinking tea SO desirable and it gives me more excuses to bake and also make soup. SOUP!

Miso Soup that is. I only recently acquired a taste for Japanese food. Seaweed used to completely turn me off. The smell still does a bit, but I’m really getting into vegetable sushi and miso soup seemed like a great idea last week. And let me tell you, it was.

miso!

I’ve made it twice now. The second time adding every vegetable in my fridge that was about to go off. It’s a win win. Though I’m not sure if I can call in Miso soup after that. Maybe more like ‘Vegetable soup with some miso in it.’

everything that was in my fridge soup

Either way, I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Miso Soup the Caitlin Way

3 c. of vegetable broth

3 c. of water

6 tbsp. Miso

4 strips of dried wakame

1/2 c. chopped mushrooms

3 stalks of spring onion, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

half block of firm tofu, chopped in cubes

1 head of baby bok choy

Whatever else you have on hand that seems appropriate or not appropriate. Or any vegetable ever.

Bring the broth and water to a boil in a large saucepan and add the wakame. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes or until it is soft. Remove the wakame and chop into much smaller pieces. Add the onion and carrots to the broth and boil until tender. Add the mushrooms, tofu and wakame to the broth and simmer for another 10 minutes. Right before serving, add the bok choy for a couple minutes until just wilted.

Take a spoonful of broth and add 1 tbsp of miso. Whisk it up until combined and then fill the rest of the bowl with soup.

I add the miso to each bowl, as it should not be boiled. You can add it to the pot if you intend to eat all the soup at once, otherwise just add it per bowl. Adjust to your taste.

Delightful.

I used a very light miso in this recipe, so it wasn’t a strong flavour, but I enjoyed it. You can use  whatever type of miso you prefer.

x

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Ode to Chocolate

For as long as I can remember I have loved one food in particular more than any other in the world. My love for this food started very young, but I believe it grew stronger when I became a vegetarian. I often used the excuse that since I didn’t eat fatty meats or fish, that I could make up for calories and saturated fats with this one incredible food. And I did. I do.

It is also the food that stopped me from becoming a vegan for many years because I didn’t know it existed without milk. But it does. ohhh how it does, and it’s tastier and more delicious than I could have ever imagined. It is delightful when frozen and sinful when melted. It is of course; Chocolate.

hello... lover

Funny story: In my formative years, I distinctly recall returning to school one day (or many days) after lunch only to have a friend of mine point out that I, once again, had brown smudges on the seat of my pants. Awkward. Devastatingly embarrassing when you’re in 6th grade. And let me tell you, 11 year olds do not take ‘I was eating chocolate and it fell onto my chair and melted’ as an excuse. No… The only logical answer to them was that, yes, you guessed it; I pooped my pants.

OH CHOCOLATE, you would think that at some point between having you stain all of my favourite pants and having you constantly, yet unknowingly, smeared upon my chin and cheeks I would curse you and attempt to cut ties. But no. I cannot resist you. Even in your messiest state, I will lick you from spoons, or forks, or even knives(!) putting my tongue (and dignity) at risk. But I digress…

A couple of months ago I discovered this ‘healthy’ chocolate fudge recipe. With only five ingredients and no refined sugar, this is one of the most delicious chocolate delights I have ever tasted. I’ve served it to many and not a one has said anything other than good things. It is divine. Please make it.

yes... there was cocoa powder EVERYWHERE

Chocolate Fudge

Adapted from this deliciousness

1 1/4 c. coconut oil (softened)

1/2 c. peanut butter (crunchy or soft)

3/4 c. maple syrup

1/2 c. cocoa powder (sifted)

pinch of salt

In a cooled bowl, combine the coconut oil and peanut butter. You can use an electric mixer, but I never do. Just mix ‘er up. When its thoroughly combined, add in the maple syrup and combine. Finally, add the cocoa powder and salt. Mix until combined and scoop the mixture into small cupcake moulds. If it’s a bit too thick, you can melt the mixture over a pot of boiling water until it is a pourable consistency. Once in the cupcake moulds, sprinkle a couple of grains of sea salt on top. Trust me… its a good thing.

Put the fudge in the freezer to firm up and then enjoy! It will never fully harden because of the coconut oil. Always melty and amazing.

xxx

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City2Surf…

This past Sunday was the long awaited City 2 Surf 14 km run in Sydney.

city2surf

I have been waiting for this run for ages. Literally, over a year. I was so excited to register this year and I was determined to train and run a really good time. I was aiming for a time that seemed almost out of reach; 75 Minutes.

bibs... lucky number (665)11!

The last race I ran was in… 2006? I think. It was the Toronto Half-marathon. I finished a couple minutes over 2 hours and I was shattered. I reallllly wanted to break 2 hours, but such is life. I was super stressed that year, starting university, working 30 hours a week and training for a half marathon. I took on way too much…

Well anyway, when the City 2 Surf came along, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to train up and set a rather ambitious goal. This race has got to be one of the biggest in the world. (But don’t quote me on that.) (No wait… you can quote me on that. I looked it up.) They had to cut off the entries a couple of weeks ago because 85,000 people had registered. And I was one of them. The race starts in the Sydney CBD and winds its way down to Bondi Beach. It’s kind of a big deal.

I didn’t actually end up training as much as I wanted to. True, I’ve been running about 6 days a week, however I haven’t ran more than 10km at a time. Usually, I would just do 5kms and call it a day. Needless to say, I’ve been a  little bit anxious the last couple days because I knew my goal time was slightly out of reach. I quietly changed it to ‘I’m aiming to break 80 minutes.’

Suddenly, the day was upon us. On Sunday morning I woke at 6am, had a cup of tea, a date stuffed with peanut butter, braided my hair, laced up my shoes and we caught a bus into the City.

pre-race jitters

My stomach was a little bit in knots. I needed a bathroom about 3 times before the race even started. Just to be safe. And even then, I had to pee from kilometer 1. Oh jeeez.

Sean and I crossed the starting line together, started our watches and then we went our own ways. As in – he sprinted ahead and I sneakily followed him for about 1/2 km.

The biggest challenge of this race is what the Sydneysiders affectionately call ‘Heart Break Hill.’ Basically, it’s a 1km long hill that promises to break you before you’re even half-way through the race. Well Heartbreak my ass. I came and I conquered that mofo. I give credit to all those stairs I climb at work. And to Sydney for being a very hilly city in general. Every single run I go on has a heartbreak hill. Pft, child’s play.

Besides, the biggest challenge for me was the 85,000 people. I mean… that crowd didn’t thin out ONCE. I was constantly weaving through sweaty men and women. It was kind of annoying at first but it sort of turned into a game. I only shoulder checked a handful of people – BY ACCIDENT. And in true Canadian fashion I turned around and apologized profusely.

I didn’t look at my stopwatch at all during the race, but I felt strong and before I knew it I was at 10 km… then 11… and then I saw Bondi.

Bondi...

So the final result?! An unofficial time of 70 minutes and 4 seconds. DAMN YOU FOUR SECONDS! damn you.

the final time (ignore the fact that my ipod is still on toronto time)

Needless to say, I was pretty happy with these results. We’ll see what the Sydney Morning Herald says on Tuesday with my official race times according to the chip in my race bib.

weee...

After the race, Sean and I met up at a pre-determined spot, slightly out of the way, and drank some complimentary Gatorade and water.

why does my left eye squint more than my right eye?... MOM?! I guess it's not just my eye... this picture is unflattering in a lot of ways...

After a brief walk around Campbell Parade and a couple more bathroom breaks, we somehow managed to grab a table at one of the best cafe’s in Bondi. Trio. It was deliciousssss. Seriously good eating. Or maybe that was the 14 kilometers of hunger talking, I can’t know for sure.

trio coffee

However, I burned it off before we even made it home and I was hungry again.

carrot-sourdough toast, avocado, roast toe-ma-toe and jam...

All in all, it was an excellent day. I’ve had that running high for over 24 hours now, and I’m itching to do another race.

City2Sea anyone?

November 13th in Melbourne? Sign me up… This time I’m aiming for a sub 60 minutes.

bahahaha I kid I kid…

xxx

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