Sunday, 23 December 2012

New York City. Best

New York City was on my Bucket List, just like I'm sure it is for so many people. My Aunty Ann told me before I left, that it was one of her favourite cities in the word. She's been travelling the world my whole life, so to say this made it a big deal. It took about 4 hours from getting off the plane, for me to fall in love. Finally I could understand the t-shirts and handbags. I honestly do love New York.

We stayed in the Financial District at Holiday Inn Wall St for 5 nights. We got a sweet deal on Hotwire with a secret room, I would definitely recommend that. My little brother was staying with us, so it was cosy but awesome value.

We caught the subway and walked a lot. Every night around 5pm we were exhausted and found ourselves in a random drinking establishment, resting our feet until a beer or two boosted our second wind. It was early December which turned out to be a perfect time to visit. The weather was mild, the crowds were virtually non-existent and the holiday season was well and truly there. O'Hara's Mum sent us a New York Pass for 3 days, which meant we could pretty much do everything pre-paid! Thanks Mumma and Pappa O'Hara!

Highlights of our trip included (this will be long.... it was basically everything we did);
  • Black and White Picasso exhibition at the Guggenheim - I LOVE Picasso. O'Hara learns to love it after spending a while walking around. Ask him today though and he'll probably say he doesn't.
  • Little Italy - Obsessed. The food, the decorations, the feel. We came here on our first night for dinner, ate at the original Vince's Restaurant. Had the best tomato pasta sauce ever (sorry Dad). We took Jonathan there on our last night for dessert. Win.
  • Macy's flagship store at Herald Square - Christmas Magic
  • Paella, sangria and churros con chocolate - We'd been on the hunt for churros con chocolate for months. Socarrat Paella Bar delivered.
  • Jazz, wine and martinis - We went to the Village Vanguard for Monday night Jazz. We realised we were on a good thing when we met someone out the front who had been coming to the bar since he was 17. He is now 68. I love how Jazz has the ability to completely transport you to a different time. We felt like we were in the 50's drinking red wine and martinis and listening to Jazz in a club underground. It was wonderful.
  • Central Park, Christmas markets and ice skating - Is Central Park the coolest place ever? Possibly. We seemed to end up walking through there at least once a day. The Christmas markets were on while we were there. Hot chocolate, truffles, hot apple cider, bratwurst, macarons and pretty things. Perfect.
  • American Museum of Natural History - We saw the whale that Barney knocked down. This museum was huge!
  • Times Square - at night, during the day, it doesn't even matter. 
  • Catching up with Matt and Mim - Drinks with friends. Impossible to go wrong. It was fantastic to see these guys after so long. O'Hara and Jonathan hit the 10% beers, which ended about as well as you'd expect.
  • 5th Avenue - Jonathan and O'Hara were hugely hungover, guess from when? They managed a quick wander through Tiffany and Co and found the lovely granite drinking fountain. Classy.
  • Water Taxi - it was slightly chilly, but not too much that we couldn't sit up and watch the Statue of Liberty. She's beautiful. Unfortunately you couldn't go up inside her head because of Sandy, her island needed some repair. We also caught the ferry across to Brooklyn and had delicious pizza. It may have been a tourist trap, but it didn't matter because the pizza was worth it.
  • Wall Street - We wanted to go inside the NYSE but didn't work that out. O'Hara and Jonathan got up close and personal with the bull. It was packed with people wanting to rub it's balls. A bit like the big marino I think. Strange!
  • Brooklyn Bridge - crossed this bad boy a couple of times. Got in other peoples way doing jump photos. Took a thousand of our own. I think it's impossible to take a bad photo in New York. It's all just too pretty
  • Ground Zero and Freedom Tower - Ground Zero was emotional, Freedom Tower is impressive. It's so sad looking at the Manhattan skyline, never having seen the Twin Towers. The Freedom Tower is an impressive skyscraper. It'll be amazing when completed.
  • Empire State Building - We only splashed around the lobby, and instead went up the Rock. It meant we could see the Empire State Building from the sky. Awesome!
  • All the pubs - We went to some cute little drinking establishments. It made me miss living in a bigger city.
Our only major fail was catching the train back to New York after Boston, rather than just flying straight to Toronto. I think we got confused when deciding where we were going and how to get to Fredericton. However it happened, it cost us an extra day and a half and around $300.... oops. At least we got a nice scenic train ride. Can I please move to the New England coast. So beautiful!

We really had the best time there. A holiday where major highlights are eating and drinking is always going to be brilliant, New York seemed to bring everything we needed in a city. Take me back!
O'Hara and Jonathan enjoying brews at some favourite pubs
Sweet treats! The macarons are the same brand (Vendome) they use for the Clinique ads
Maybe causing our own trouble at the museum. The blue whale stayed attached
Old wooden escalator at Macy's and Times Square
Beautiful buildings and bridges everywhere
Pizza in Brooklyn and the Statue of Liberty. All in a few hours
Manhattan at night and Jonathan being a ham
Hungover boys do not like been dragged around the town

Monday, 17 December 2012

Boston, Massachusetts

This is an out of order post but writing about New York will take me way too long. O'Hara and I are currently using up our annual leave on a two week trip to the East Coast of the US and Canada. If anyone is wondering it's a fantastic time to visit. There are minimum crowds as we're just before the winter school/uni break, the weather is still quite mild (though potentially unseasonably so), and everything is decorated for Christmas.

We were so excited to catch up with some friends in Boston. Connor (who I used to work with in Sydney) lives with his wonderful fiancée Karen there. While we were on the East Coast we couldn't pass up an opportunity to visit them. They are getting married next year in Wisconsin. So. Excited.

Boston is a pretty nifty little city. I had no idea how much of the American Revolution stemmed from there. It was also lovely to be in a city built with red bricks after being on the Wood West Coast for the last 9 months. We only had one full day there, so decided to walk the Freedom Trail. We downloaded a free app, which had info on the major points along the way. You can do guided tour, with dressed up guides as well, that looked quite fun.

Some footage from the oldest park in the USA
Boston has the oldest Park in the USA, and the first public school in the US that Benjamin Franklin and 3 other signers of the Declaration of Independence went to. We followed the little red line for around 2 hours, ending up at the USS Constitution.
O'Hara and the USS Constitution, the oldest commissioned warship still afloat. Undefeated. Legend
Connor and Karen took us for a delicious seafood dinner at Legal Sea Foods near the water, oysters from the East Coast were amazing. O'Hara ordered Lobster Roll and Clam Chowder, not bad for a boy who didn't like seafood when I met him. I had fried clams which are also a New England thing. So much deliciousness.

Tragically while we were in Boston, the Sandy Hook massacre occurred. We didn't realise until the afternoon when catching a cab home and heard it on the radio. Unsurprisingly everyone is devastated. It breaks our hearts hearing about it, and we have tried to avoid watching the news. 2012 has been a year of ups and downs for us. Our wedding and moving to Canada we're great, but we've lost two wonderful people from our lives, had close friends deal with tragic loss and this was another event in 2012 that has changed how we view each day. I honestly believe the Mayans may have been onto something as this has been a tough year for me personally.

I'm looking forward to 2013!

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

B is for Bacon

What do you think of when you hear Canada? For me it's maple syrup, snow and bacon. I don't really know why I have this image. I think it's because there's something called Canadian Bacon.

I've never actually seen Canadian Bacon at the store, in fact the best bacon I've found is something at the butcher called 'Aryshire Bacon'. Who know's what that means, but it's good. Canadian Bacon is supposed to be similar to thick cut bacon, it sounds delicious and I wish I could remember to look/find it.

We tried buying bacon from the supermarket, but similar to Australia it's rubbish. I've been told that bacon from the butcher is different because it contains more meat, rather than just buying strips of pig fat (which I LOVE, but the meat at least gives the illusion you're eating protein).
Yum yum bacon cocktail

Since I've been in Canada I've had bacon in some fancy ways;
  • Pancakes, bacon and maple syrup - I didn't like it. However, I'm willing to give it another go at a better restaurant.
  • A Bacon Caesar (Clamato Bloody Mary) - This was delicious, more cocktails should have bacon
  • Caramel Bacon Popcorn - I didn't think I'd like it, but was impressed!
  • Bacon wrapped scallops - This isn't too random, and is obviously amazing
  • Bacon wrapped chestnuts - For some reason chestnuts aren't really that common in Australia. Lets just say they taste good wrapped in bacon.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

5 things I needed to know and I now own

5 Things I should have know
There are so many things that may seem like common sense to someone who grew up in Canada, but these are not obvious to me.

- You have to leave the heating on in your house so the pipes don't freeze up
  • Me: I don't really understand how my heaters work, like whats the point of 10 degrees?
  • Friends: You can leave it on the lowest 24/7 in winter
  • Me: That seems like a waste
  • Friends: Well if you don't your pipes will freeze 
  • Me: ??
- You need to carry an emergency car kit
  • Me: I'm just hoping it doesn't snow while we're driving, I'm kinda scared I'm going to die
  • Friends: As long as you have an emergency car kit, it'll be ok
  • Me: Emergency whaattt?????
  • Friends: You know, blankets, water, snacks, torch, hazard markers, shovel, first aid, tool kit, tow strap
  • Me: ??
- Skis and snowboards need to be waxed
  • Friend: I can't go snowboarding yet, my board needs to be waxed
  • Me: ??
- Elk and Moose will stomp you and your car if threatened
  • Aus Friend: The ranger said we were "waaayyy to close"
  • Me: Why?
  • Can Friends: Elk are crazy angry, they'll stomp the crap out of your car
  • Me: ??
- Narwhals are a real thing
  • Friend: There's heaps of wildlife up north, whales, seals and narwhals and stuff
  • Me: Wait, those things with the horns?
  • Friend: Yea
  • Me: I thought they were just a random thing on Futurama
Number 6 addition: You can't leave dogs in the car when it's cold too!! This I guess is obvious, but I'd never even thought about it. Apparently the car has some sort of fridge effect, poor puppies.

5 things I now have
I also now own a bunch of things that I would never had needed in Australia
  • Winter boots - these bad boys are good down to -30 degrees C
  • A snow shovel - unless I move to Mount Wellington
  • A balaclava - O'Hara has this so he can ride to work in the cold
  • Winter tyres - Luckily these came free with Wheels!
  • Halloween decorations - Yay

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Misuse of the Australian brand

Maybe imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but I've noticed something since I started travelling in 2007. The Australian "brand" is used with complete disregard. Products that have no affiliation with Australia, but instead use Australian themes to promote their (usually American) brand. This is a pet peeve. A huuggeee pet peeve. You know me though, I hold in all my anger and never rage at people about these things.... maybe.

These are my least favourites.

UGG Australia
If you're Australian, you should hate this brand. Not just a little bit of hate, but heart racing, blood boiling fury. If you don't, here's why you should.

Ugg Boots have been an Australian staple for years. Called Ugg Boots because they were so damn freaking ugly. They were used by surfers to keep their little footsies warm after getting out of the ocean. The story goes that Pamela Anderson thought these boots were pretty bad arse and wore them around in the US, thus making them fashionable by celebrity association. Why Pammie was making anything fashionable is completely beyond me though.

In 1999 Deckers registered their trademark for 'UGG' in the US and in 2003 they sent a nasty little letter to all the local stores in Australia telling them they'd trademarked the word UGG and they'd all be sued if they didn't stop calling their sheepskin boots 'Ugg Boots'.

Now in Australia, sheepskin stores aren't massive. They don't have huge profits or legal departments to fight against a big multinational. However one brand also wasn't stupid (like Deckers) and realised that their legal case was bogus. They did the big UGG THIS and eventually beat them in court.

If you are in Australia and don't get Uggs made in Australia, I hate you
The reason? Ugg Boots are a generic name for a shoe. It's like Havianas trying to trademark 'flip-flop' or 'thongs'. Or Adidas trying to stop Nike calling their sneakers, sneakers. Fools. There's even a nice little Wikipedia article about the trademark disputes they've had.

I was in Nordstrom the other day and the lady told me I should buy a pair of UGGs. I gave her my best "Bitch PLEASE" look, and said "as I am actually Australian that is offensive as that brand is my nemesis". Or something along those lines.

The worst part, is that all over North America UGG Australia has that brand awareness.

Me: "Cute Ugg Boots, but I'm going to judge you for wearing them to the pub."
Friend: "Oh these are Emus not UGGs"

The Outback Steakhouse
Ok, I've never actually been here and I've heard they do a lovely steak, but my issue is with their ads (adverts). The Outback Steakhouse is an Australian themed American restaurant chain. Most people would have seen it or heard of it on their travels, also there are a few restaurants in Australia. Has anyone seen the ads on TV? They are so annoying.

First they have this dodgy fake Australian accent, which makes my brain get all sorts of confused. It's close enough that you recognise that it's supposed to be Australian, but also that it's not quite right. Also they have this weird didgeridoo music that is so not PC. I don't think Australian Aboriginals ate a lot of steak. Plus, it shows all this footage of places I haven't even been to in Australia. Rude.

Aussie (hair care)
The ad has a purple kangaroo jumping around, and another fake Australian accent. Don't really need to say more, BUT they also don't even pronounce Aussie right. Way too much emphasis on the 's' rather than pronouncing it like it's a 'z'.

Guys, 'Aussie' and 'Ozzie' are pronounced the same way. No one in Australia uses 'Ozzie' or 'Oz'. Gross.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

A is for America vs Canada Rivalry

This relationship is like a little reminder of home. I think it's pretty similar to the rivalry between Australia and New Zealand, except guess what? I'M IN NEW ZEALAND!

I honestly think that in 90% of sports followings, New Zealand would be my second team. If they were playing against any country other than Australia I would go for them. The 10% of hatred comes about if they'd just beaten Australian and I was feeling particularly hard done by, or if them losing meant Australia was more likely to win. Also I think NZ is great, because people always say Tasmania is NZ's third island and everyone knows how awesome Tas is. I don't think NZ feels the same way.

Remember when the Rugby World Cup was on, and Australia was playing Ireland? There was all this talk about how much NZ hated us. Most likely it was an exaggeration by the media, but hey they don't go for us.

From what I've seen, Canada feels the same way about the US. While Americans do make fun of Canadians (HIMYM and South Park are hilarious examples) they also seem to be quite fond of them, and it's more of an "awww bless 'em" opinion. Not so much in Canada. They have the anger, the "ughhh stupid Americans", and the win or die attitude.

There was a segment after the CTV news a couple of weeks ago, where they interviewed a bunch of people in America about what they thought about the First Lady debate. There was obviously no First Lady debate, but there were people that had a bunch to say about it. "Hmmm yea, well I think Michelle was very confident, but Ann had some better ideas". Crap like that.

It was almost as funny as the Chaser going around with a "map of the world" and asking Americans who they should bomb next. They had messed up all the locations, I think Australia was labeled Iraq... you get the idea. Funny right?! The Chaser was a comedy show though, not the 5pm news!

So now I've got the inside scoop on what it's like to be on the hater side, I want to know if NZ makes fun of us in the same way? I kinda hope so.

An interesting side note, I was listening to Canada vs USA in cricket on the CBC the other day. Apparently cricket is one of the oldest sporting rivalries between Canada and the USA! Bring back cricket!!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Sleepless in Seattle

It wasn't necessarily sleepless for the reasons you may think. It was mostly because we were in a room with 4 people and 2 double beds. The room was huge, so it was completely unnecessary to have doubles but that's how it was.

Canada celebrates Remembrance Day with a public holiday, so we decided to head to Seattle for the long weekend. Kamloops can get a little stranded during the winter as the Coquihalla Highway is a death trap, so there won't be many more trips westward until next spring.

Poor Wheels (our bad arse car) bore the brunt of the trip even worse than our credit cards. Someone shredded a tyre before we came through and it was obviously still on the road. The person in front of us flicked it up and it smashed the front of Wheels! Luckily the car still ran fine and we didn't crash but it was scary and sad.

Seattle was so fun! We were busy little bees and packed our days with tourist activities. So what did we learn?

1. A brewery tour that only has three stops will be plenty to get you wasted.
The second stop...
2. Seattle was able to build it's downtown streets up at the second level on prostitutes taxes.
We can be happy underground
Underneath and on top!
3. College football is ridiculously extravagant. The $80 for my nosebleed ticket paid for some pretty fancy marching band shapes. Watching this performance as an outsider was entertaining, does anyone know a country that is as patriotic as the US? North Korea perhaps? It was a little much for Canadians and Australians who rate patriotism alongside boganism.
Trying to stay warm and awake
4. The Tutankhamun exhibition will not let you walk in off the street at 10am, instead you need to buy tickets for 5pm. Even then it'll be chock a block with people. Ancient Egypt was cool.

5. $2.99 for bar snacks during happy hour isn't dodgy. Instead they will be delicious!

6. Don't give drunk people weapons and let them eat crab. Neighbouring tables may get more than they bargained for. It's also totally possible to over eat crab. Hammer Time!
Hammer Time!
7. I tire out from shopping way too fast. O'Hara makes me look good, but with girls I'm the first to need the man seat.

8. Driving the Coq at night time when it's snowing is the scariest thing I've ever done in my life. You know when they travel at light speed in Star Wars? It's exactly like that. You can't see that you're moving, in fact it looks like you're going backwards. You can't feel that you're moving and the car doesn't move right. Cue sobbing "I don't like this, I don't like this!!!!!"

America, thanks for showing us an awesome weekend. See you in a month!

Monday, 5 November 2012

Trick or Treat!

Just in case you still don't know, we do NOT celebrate Halloween in Australia. Yes I know, it's your favourite, and our childhoods must have been lacking something special. Similar to the fact we don't get snow at Christmas, and the whole red and white thing invented by Coke doesn't seem quite as magical. LUCKILY I survived and moved to a country that has both snow at Christmas AND Halloween. Luckiest girl alive? I think so.

So, Australians generally have something against Halloween because it is perceived as an "American" holiday. Since apparently we're the most racist country, it could be that. I think it's more likely that America just isn't "cool" in Australia. I don't know why, I love the place, but it's true.

An interesting fact however, Halloween isn't an American holiday at all. According to Wikipedia, Halloween is widely believed to have originated as a Celtic/Pagan harvest festival. Wikipedia says (which is obviously a reliable source) there's no evidence of Halloween in America until the mass Irish and Scottish immigration in the 19th century. Guess what Australia? Ireland and Scotland are cool! Embrace Halloween, it's really fun (though possibly the least healthy and worst influence on children).

So Halloween was last week, and we dressed up for work and had a delicious scary lunch. I made the mistake of having a costume that Canadians just didn't get. I thought it would be funny (and in Australia it would have been hilarious. Honest). I was a Wallaby. As in wearing Wallaby rugby gear... and ears. When I went out at night I also had whiskers... cool right?! Yeaaa, someone when I was trick or treating (I was escorting some kids) said he thought my accent was Kiwi. RUDE. I said that was offensive given what I was wearing, like asking someone in a Canadian hockey jersey if they were American. Yeaaa, how do you like them apples?!

I wana be a Wallaby!
Also, remember those awesome pumpkins we carved? Don't do that 2 weeks before Halloween. They go mouldy. It's not a good look. We made a new one.
Pumpkins and the cold misty Halloween night

Monday, 29 October 2012

Homesickness Triggers

I was talking to my boss and his wifey a few weeks ago about getting homesick. Australia Day had come up and we were planning on going to Vancouver where they have an Aussie bar. Apparently people get pretty drunk and emotional, which I can totally see me being (for a few reasons).

Anyway, his wife and I were saying we randomly get homesick but the boys both agreed that they never really did. I'm not sure why girls get homesick faster or more often, maybe the boys were just being manly.

I've noticed the following will set me off...

Australian accents
As I'm generally surrounded by them, it's only really if I get caught unprepared. For example when O'Hara called Commonwealth over Skype and suddenly a random Australian was coming from my computer. Also when I listen to a friend who often does night shifts at FBi Radio (handy morning times for me). His voice coming through my headphones makes me miss Sydney and The Rege.
Love and onesies
I don't think anyone does Christmas the same. I used to get homesick if I spent Christmas with the O'Haras. Even though it was obviously awesome, it's never the same as home. This year it will be freezing and O'Hara will be at work. De-pressing.

When I can't find what I want at the Supermarket
Maybe Australia has less choice when it comes to groceries. Well we have less choice when it comes to frozen waffles... or frosted cereal... or M&M flavours.... but I miss non-frosted mini-wheats, and curry pastes, and coconut cream. Also the grocery stores are HUGE and nothing seems to be in the aisle that I expect.

When friends in Canada have their family visit
This makes me so jealous!! When is my family going to visit?? I miss you! 

When visiting friends leave
Don't leave! You could stay here and live in our spare room for ever?! We could feed you, and let you out for a walk everyday.

When shit happens at home
I think this one is obvious.

Monday, 22 October 2012

We're preparing for Halloween!

Halloween is just over a week away! We've been a little lame with out decorations but we went all out with the pumpkin carving. The process started with a trip to the Pumpkin Patch! It was a slightly chilly and windy day, but we got picked up by friends and taken to choose some pumpkins.

Choosing pumpkins can be hard work, they have the be the perfect size, shape and colour. We worked out that getting a slightly green one is handy, as they ripen up quickly when inside and if it's very orange it may turn a little soggy...
Looking for the perfect one
Alexis and Hal connecting with their pumpkins
This is the one!
Then comes the fun part. Carve time! 

I made the best decision ever and spent $5 on pumpkin carving tools at Super Store. This included  a scraping tool for taking out all the junk inside, a little pricker thing to transfer the outline of your carving and a mini saw. The scraper and the mini saw were the best purchase ever. O'Hara was convinced we'd be able to do it with a steak knife. Ahh boys...

If anyone has tried to do pumpkin carving in Australia and struggled, it turns out they use a special type of pumpkin. You can't eat these ones and they have really soft flesh (probs why they taste bad) and are super easy to carve. I remember trying to carve pumpkins as a kid with ones we'd grown at home. It was a battle!

The worst thing. O'Hara was significantly better at carving pumpkins than me. How is this even possible? But he took way more care and made a hilarious cyclopes pumpkin. Mine unfortunately looked like a child carved it. Luckily my bat pumpkin was mildly more successful.
The tools and what it made!
I think my pumpkin looks like me with missing teeth

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Our first first snowfall!

This morning, it snowed in Kamloops! The first of the season, and the first time we've experienced the first snowfall magic. The silence, the mist and the little gingerbread houses before it all turns to mush. Lying in bed watching the snow>>getting up early for work.

I'm glad O'Hara decided to drive to work, rather than ride his bike this morning! Unfortunately it's not very cold, so it's unlikely to last long. But now I'm inspired for the ski season to start in just under a month!!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

The little sanitary things

Confession: I am addicted to expat blogs. Especially ones with people moving to Australia! They remind me that even my home that I love, can be a total pain in the arse for new people.

Warning... this is not a story for boys. Maybe men, or boys that like funny videos.

One story was from Stumble Down Under about buying tampons in Australia. This was funny for me because she has the exact opposite problem to me. I hate that basically the only options here are applicator tampons. Maybe Australia is less civilised, but at least we can be a bit discreet. There's no hiding them in your purse, bra or pocket here. I do understand her pain though, because PMS coupled with not getting what you want = purchasing rage!

The ironic thing is, in Canada at least, sanitary disposal is primitive! In Australia, everything is hands free and doesn't require any grossness for the cleaners. In Canada it's just a little box with a brown paper bag. It's creepy.

Plus you can't make funny little chomping faces in Canada...
Also, for some strange reason there is a real problem with Porta Potties. At sports fields and some events, rather than having flushing/chemical portable toilets they have a long drop style contraption. Except it's not long, and it's not really a drop. It's basically just a big tub full of shit about 30cm from your butt. I've not managed to use them without gagging and it seems unlikely that I'll ever manage it.

PLEASE, import some from Australia or something. Vomit.

Update: Yesterday I saw a hands-free sanitary disposal bin! They do exist! So why aren't they more popular?

Monday, 15 October 2012

Hooray Lockout?

I am possibly the worst import EVER.

The NHL players and owners (Ice Hockey) are currently involved in a labour dispute that has lead to a lockout. I'm not 100% sure what it means (I've tried Wikipedia), but it's effectively the players being locked out by the owners because they can't agree on contracts. The NHL claim they want to make it fairer for the less financially successful teams (which I think is good), but the players wouldn't agree to changing salary conditions in their contracts.

Now in Canada, hockey is like crack. While I didn't get quite enough love out of the Olympics, hockey is another matter. I personally think that a salary cap would be the best thing to happen, but I'm not Canadian and therefore don't really get it.

Here in Kamloops we don't have a NHL team. A lot of people go for the Vancouver Canucks, and that's the team we support in the NHL. However we do have the Blazers, and I think they are awesome. With the lockout, people have to support the Blazers to get their hockey kick. Which means the home games have been even more awesome.

It doesn't hurt that they're also doing really well this season and are totally going to win!

We can smell the players when we're this close. It's gross
I used to be Digger's biggest fan... until I flipped him off for not giving me a t-shirt!

Monday, 8 October 2012

Today I am thankful

It's Canadian Thanksgiving today! Due to the shorter harvest period in Canada, they celebrate Thanksgiving a month earlier than the US. Last night we were lucky enough to be invited to our friends house for a Thanksgiving feast. Of epic proportions! I wish I took photos of the decorations and all the food, because Tiff did a ridiculously good job. Think classy magazine, candles, flowers, different oranges. It was lovely. You're all missing out by not having seen it!

Some background for the next part of the story. Australians do not really mix sweet and savoury. I think the furthest we go is apple sauce on pork and cranberry sauce on turkey. Sometimes we might do a honey glaze on meats. Canada and the US do sweet and savoury a lot. Quite well really. Chocolate and peanut butter. Maple flavoured everything. I want to think of more but it's early.

So, I had two sweet surprises with our dinner. The first was Candied Sweet Potato, where I had an awkward moment looking up the recipe: "I've found a recipe, but it has marshmallows on top. That can't be right." "Um yes, that's it." This was actually quite delicious. Google and try it, you won't be disappointed.

The second, Wheat Salad. I had to Google this when I got home, as I kinda thought it might have been one of those secret family recipes (similar to HIMYM with the gummy bear salad. Anyone??). Nope. It's a real thing! I found this recipe at Canada

  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat berries (these are delicious... I don't know if you can get them in Aus)
  • 1 pack of cream cheese
  • 1 can crushed pineapple (we had glace cherries. I think)
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 packet of instant vanilla pudding mix (this is where it gets interesting)
  • 1 tub of frozen whipped topping (I think it's like whipped cream but not from a cow)
I'm sorry Canadians, but this will go into my vault of hilarious travelling food stories. Similar to when we were in Taiwan eating pigs blood cake, and the locals were laughing at us because we couldn't swallow it.
Pumpkin Puppy and Wheat "Salad"
Today I am thankful that I have lovely friends who provide good food and good company. And will hopefully invite me back, even if I laugh at dessert for dinner!

I've obviously forgotten all the manners my parents taught me. Always eat what you are given, even if you don't like it! Permission for anyone to tell us our Australian food that we force you to try is gross! Unless it's egg on hamburgers. Then you'd just be wrong.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

I'm electric

For some reason in Kamloops, I am electric. I can't seem to get out of the car these days without getting a massive electric shock. A shock so big it sounds like a gunshot, I scream "gosh darn it" (believe me?) and kick the car.

Aren't cars supposed to have some flappy thing hanging out the back to earth them? My car is obviously missing something. HELP! I'm not appreciating the temper tantrum every time I get out of the car.

Note: I've been given a fair amount of advice to help with this. Apparently it's because it's so dry here which obviously makes sense. 

Standing up and getting out of the car I can now keep myself grounded. Turning off the lights, cooking and kissing the husband good bye/hello will continue to be shocking. Ahhhh bad....

Speaking of electric... that was Vegas. Where I was last weekend. That's right!

O'Hara must have gotten lucky when he married me (huzzah) because he seemed to have channeled all my good gambling luck while I failed. Badly!

Next time Bill's. The craps table is mine!!

Monday, 24 September 2012

6 month Canadian anniversary

I'm like, basically Canadian now.

6 months ago we arrived in Kamloops. They'd just had a late snowfall, so there was still snow on the ground and it was really cold. We got phone numbers, a bank account and had some lovely friends help us through the jet lag by taking us to a hockey game.

Just to mix things up, I've got 6 things I miss about Cobar. Australia would have been way too easy...

  1. The fact that everyone knows everyone. This surprisingly makes it so much easier to completely relax and be as much of a dag as you like
  2. The Camels. Who would have thought!? The Kamloops rugby team are boring and mean. Well at least some are mean
  3. The amazing temperatures in Spring and Autumn
  4. XXXX. The beer here (while delicious) makes me drunk and fat. I need to switch to light
  5. The free gym and pool (thanks Peak). Mostly the pool. Ahhhh the pool
  6. Wednesday Chip Day

So if the Cobar kids could just move here? That would be swell, thanks! I miss you!

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Hello to Autumn

Today is the the first day of Autumn (or Fall, if you don't know the correct names for seasons). I can't work out if I'm excited or completely terrified.

I'm excited because:
  • I like Autumn clothes
  • Scarves
  • Pumpkin spice flavoured EVERYTHING
  • Pumpkins in general
  • Halloween (bursting!)
  • We're closer to being able to use our snowboards
  • The sun doesn't wake me up at 5am
  • Ice Hockey has started
  • Gumboots
  • You can buy this seasons apples (Australia take note!!)

And terrified because:
  • Will I freeze to death?
  • I don't have enough socks
  • Boot camp will have to go inside
  • Driving. Uggghhhhh
  • I need warm boots
  • Power bills
  • My skin is peeling off. My elbow actually bled the other day. HOW!?
  • People keep BOASTING about warm weather in Australia. Go. Away

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Credit Cards in Canada *shudder*

In Australia I've had 4 difference credit cards, all except one I was kinda obsessed with. So overall, my credit card experience in Australia has been positive. I honestly have no idea how people in Canada keep track of their finances. So far I have failed pretty badly. Online banking here predates the dinosaurs which I think is my biggest issue. Without immediate information I'm hopeless. So Gen Y.

It took us around 3 months to get a Canadian credit card, and when we did it had to be 100% prepaid (but don't worry, we still pay interest if we don't meet our payments!!). My feelings towards my current credit card gives me rage. Elevated blood pressure, sweats, goosebumps, banging my head on the wall (literally) type of rage.

My anger reached it's maximum (I hope), after the Labour Day weekend. I went to fill up the car only to have the credit card declined. This happens often with our shitty $1500 prepaid limit so I wasn't too concerned. However, when I logged into our account it said I had $0 available limit, and I actually owed $2000? WTF, $500 over my limit. Fantastic. I obviously panicked a bit and paid the $2k cursing about how that had happened. Important note: when you pay off more than your credit card limit, with TD it still tells you your "available limit" is $1500*. The * doesn't help. So I have no idea how much is on my card until 3 business days later when it's itemised. Yay! The next day I log on again to make sure everything is ok.... low and behold my credit card went down to -$4000 over the weekend. Yep, $2500 more than our limit. I'm crazy by this stage, only to be greeted the next day with our card showing I had over paid by $1300. Joy.

Seriously it's 2012, TD you need to catch the F up! Who would have thought Australian banking would be superior. At anything.

In Canada EVERYTHING is based around your credit history... in Canada. They can't use the internet so history from anywhere else is redundant. Providers will also use this as blackmail when you have a dispute over a bill. Fantastic!

Canada, pretty sure you didn't go into full recession in 2008 because you have a resource based economy. Just like Australia. Not because you have these stupid rules. Also from what I've heard, the States is similar for credit. Everyone knows how good their economy is....

If anyone plans to move to Canada (and as much as I hate the credit scenario with a passion - I would recommend it):
  • DON'T apply for a credit card right away. Get some money in your account and wait a few months. Then do it online, not at the bank!
  • DON'T apply for more than one card if you get declined. That just damages your credit rating further (true story).
  • DO ask a bunch of different places when trying to get a car loan. We went to 4 different Toyota dealers and only one said we wouldn't have to pay in full. You'd think they'd want your money, but some people are just lazy.
  • DON'T rely on online banking to track finances (with TD anyway)
  • Pay bills on time (this seems like it's obvious, but in Australia because we have a half decent interest rate earning interest>paying bills early - I think)
Update: Our credit card has now started blocking our credit card everytime it gets to zero - like having to call customer service and be on hold for 30 minutes to get it unblocked. Then we get charged for overdrawing it. Fantastic, I think I preferred it when they just let it run up to -$4000.

Update round 2: At least we aren't in the US. My old BOSS who lives in NYC only just got a credit card after 18months.... It totally explains why their economy is going so well......

Update round 3: OHH EMMMM GEEEE O'Hara finally got an unsecured credit card! Miracle! It's through Presidents Choice (which is like a home brand of one of the supermarkets). So excited! Byyyeeeee TD!
Do you like our sweet coin table? It's awesome!

Saturday, 8 September 2012

LA Weekend and Wedding!

I've been meaning to write about this weekend for a while, but have been too lazy to transfer photos across computers. Terrible excuse! In early August, we were lucky enough to be able to travel back to LA for Andy and Rachel's wedding.

Rachel and Andy had an absolutely beautiful wedding! We busted some serious moves on the d-floor, Sweaty Girl obviously made an appearance. I may have avoided getting my face so pink it matched my dress... but I can't confirm it.
We were staying right near the beach which was perfect as we've been lacking sand and salt water in our lives! One morning we borrowed some bikes from our hotel and rode along the Strand to what I thought was Venice Beach. Turns out we didn't really get close... but my butt was sore and we were getting sunburnt so turned around too early. Next time!
On the Friday night we managed to see a baseball game in Anaheim!! Something we can finally cross off our bucket list. Melissa (ours and Rachel's wedding photographer) and her hubby Ryan took us to an Angels game against the Seattle Mariners which is conveniently the closest team from Kamloops.

It was awesome and I caught a baseball!! During warm ups (still cool!) a foul ball bounced over a bunch of peoples heads right to me. So excited. It ended up being a really good game with 3 (I think) home runs and it finished with a walk off. I'm still not 100% sure what a walk off is, but it' was obviously an exciting thing in baseball!

I'm impressed by how big Anaheim is. I always assume it's only got Disney Land, but there's actually loads of people who live there. They manage to support a baseball and an ice hockey team, and there was a decent crowd at the Angels game! Blows. My. Mind.
Lady and the Tramp ;)
I always love visiting LA and the Fragners. It makes me happy that we're living so "close" while in Canada! Mel and Ryan we still owe you guys a visit. One day we will make it further east than Nevada!

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Vancouver Island (it's not just part of Vancouver)

I'd like to think that Vancouver Island is similar to Tasmania, except that it isn't it's own state, and Victoria is the capital of BC. Apparently Tassie is more like Newfoundland. I'm not sure if people are being kind or not.
We were on the Island for the Labour Day weekend, which I thought would mean it would be WILD with people. Luckily for us this wasn't the case, but unfortunately we still failed at the ferry. On the way over we had a reservation for 5pm on Friday, but O'Hara got stuck in Vancouver traffic so didn't arrive until 5. We'd heard that it can be impossible to catch the ferry on a busy weekend so in panic we reserved the 9pm ferry as well. When we arrived we slotted straight onto the 6pm.... On the way home we arrived an hour and a half before the ferry left. Fail squared.
We spent Saturday in Victoria, cycling to a castle (yep Canada has Castles?!), visiting some markets, eating oysters and checking out the waterfront. In the last week I think I've eaten more oysters than ever before. This is a great thing!

On Sunday we made the drive up to Nanaimo which is small town on the east coast. The drive up was impressive as we took most of the scenic sea routes along the water. We stopped for coffee and to pick up lunch in Cowichan Bay which is a cute coastal town half way between Nanaimo and Victoria.
We finally saw some giant trees in MacMillan Provincial Park. 5 months in Canada before we did this. Slack! They were pretty big, I want to say the ones at Tahune Airwalk are bigger but I have nothing to back that up. Anyone? The kayak managed to get a bit of a spin, but I've decided kayaking is a lot more fun when it involves drinking. I'm not great at just paddling for the sake of paddling.

We got barked (yes human barked) at from a moving car, and some Canadian bogans on a boat yelled at us. Brilliant! We were also lucky enough to see the WORLDS LARGEST HOCKEY STICK! If that's not a bucket list item right there. We couldn't get far enough back to get in in the photo. That. Big!
It was a successful long weekend, avoiding most of the crowds until the drive home (uuggghhhhhh I HATE driving on long weekends here. Awful). Next time we'll be testing out the west coast, and seeing some whales!!

Sunday, 2 September 2012

3 Australians, a Canadian and an American walk into a bar...

What happens when you put 3 Australians into a car with a Canadian and American? Obviously trouble!

We set out from Kamloops to Vancouver around 3pm. This drive is usually around 3.5-4 hours if you take the Coquihalla. As we were going through Whistler, the drive would have always taken longer than normal. TWENTY FIVE hours later we arrive in Vancouver. Pretty sure that's some kind of record.

So what were the learnings from this adventure?

  • Belieber hysteria has nothing on three girls seeing a bear. Or when driving on the sleep bumps too close to a toilet break
  • Call Me Maybe cannot be played too many times on one road trip
  • Someone from Texas and Cobar can have EXACTLY the same taste in music
  • A shotski is not just a word for shots (like brewskis) but instead shots all lined up on an actual ski
  • If you start singing Shots, you will have to do one of these
  • Whistler is busy as hell during summer
  • Ordering half the menu will result in me lying in foetal position wanting to die from being so full
  • Epic traffic on the Sea to Sky on a nice day is completely bearable (and a good opportunity to tan and paint your nails)