Sydney Adventures

Last week I took another trip up to Sydney for work.  It was a continuation of the training I had received the month before. Essentially, it was 2 long days trying not to fall asleep and hoping to get some free alcohol during the evenings activities.

I wasn’t looking forward to the trip and had considered not going, however, as I had been picked as one of our company’s leaders I figured my bosses probably wouldn’t appreciate me turning down the opportunity and so I was Sydney bound. On the plus side, this time we were able to fly up instead of a back breaking 4hr limo drive. We also wrangled a mid afternoon flight so we could enjoy the night before having to do some really long days (8hrs of ‘learning’ and then 3hrs of networking disguised as dinner). As requested by Holly, I took a billion photos to show everyone! This is even my cut down version, there are probably only so many angles of buildings and the opera house that you can see.

I haven’t flown very much and each time I do the airport looks different (I might have gotten lost looking for the cab rank when coming home) but fortunately there is basically nothing in the Canberra airport except a few gates and an overpriced cafe so it is pretty easy to navigate.

Water feature at the airport - obviously I had to check how it worked.

Water feature at the airport – obviously I had to check how it worked.

We were on a little Dash 8 plane and the sky looked pretty grim so it appeared as though we were in for a bumpy right. Luckily, the flight is only about 30mins in the air so we didn’t have to tolerate it for long. It was very strange being above the clouds and having the sun warming my face when it had been cloudy and a bit rainy as we walked across the tarmac to board. I also got to see a rainbow from the plane! It was especially awesome.

Up in the clouds!

Up in the clouds!

A rainbow from above

A rainbow from above

Once off the plane, we headed for the hotel and checked in. As I’d travelled with a colleague we decided to meet back later to make a snack run (instead of impulse buying $6 bottles of water!) and make dinner plans. We went for a wander around but ultimately ended up back at the restaurant attached to the hotel, Vapiano. I don’t have any photos of it but it was fast, tasty and they had $4 happy hour! It has a really neat system I’ve never seen before, when you enter you’re given a card that has up to $75 worth of value, you swipe the card whenever you purchase anything. When you decide to leave you go to the front counter and pay up. Very efficient and easy (especially when you’re expense claiming it). They mostly do pizza and pasta, the pasta is made while you wait, it’s very cool!

Once happy hour was over and we’d finished eating I decided to part ways with my colleague and went back up to my room. While looking for somewhere to eat my colleague had mentioned that Haigh’s Chocolates was around, I’d been wanting to try their chocolate for ages but their website kind of sucks (you can see all their offerings but you can’t buy any of them online) so I decided to look them up, it turned out they were open for another 30 mins and they were only a 5min walk away from the hotel!

I turned up to find that, no they weren’t open until 8PM and they close at 6PM.. at least I didn’t walk too far to find that out. Instead of walking back to the hotel I decided to use the time to wander around the city and check out all the beautiful buildings Sydney has to offer. While I would never want to live in Sydney, it does have a lot more history and beauty than much of Canberra, I also like how many of the buildings have been preserved and re-fitted rather than being knocked down.

Look up!

Look up!

I started my journey by walking down Pitt Street and heading towards The Rocks (part of me was going to Pancakes on the Rocks, mostly I just wanted to walk around and check out the city). I saw some lovely intricate designs on buildings, stairways, footpaths, everything really! It seems like, at one point in time, we spent a  lot more time on the details when creating buildings rather than the speed of which we could build them.

Look up again!

Look up again! I could only look at this from the outside as the room was being renovated. It reminded me a little of Galifreyan writing

A merging of old with new

A merging of old with new

One thing I found strange was that, although I was walking around the city by myself at night, I didn’t feel afraid that something might happen to me. I walked through areas that, had they been in Canberra, I might not have. Maybe that’s just because I know the areas in Canberra you shouldn’t walk through at night and I was blissfully naive when walking the streets of Sydney.

Once I got to the end of Pitt St, I decided to cross the road and walk into First Fleet Park (I didn’t consider it had a name, google saved me) and noticed an increase in souvenir stores and wondered why that might be. That is, until I turned the corner and saw the Harbour Bridge, and a few steps later the Opera House. It’s funny that I have such a poor sense of direction in Sydney that I didn’t see them coming.. even though I was heading towards The Rocks, I never considered I’d be near the water..

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

Eventually I hit a bit of a dead end so I decided to walk back to the hotel, this time following George St instead. Basically, if you can find George St you can find anything in the city, or so I’m told. Worked for me anyway. As I walked up the street I noticed a beacon up ahead and it was a Guylian cafe! I didn’t know such a thing existed and now, having Googled it, it turns out they’re only in Sydney (at 3 separate locations). They were also open which I was super excited about. I took a quick look around, bought some chocolate I’d never seen before and went up to the cakes and slices window. Oh my, they all looked delish! 

Guylian Cafe display

Guylian Cafe display

They’re a bit pricey and I wasn’t overly hungry, so I settled for buying the chocolate blocks and a Chocolate Praline Hot Chocolate, it was pretty amazing.. even if it did burn my tongue on the first sip – I was too eager to see how it tasted! I wish they had a store here, I’d definitely go back!

After that minor distraction I decided to continue my trek back to the hotel, with Hot Chocolate in hand, and try to take photos at the same time. I kept having to find places to put my drink down. I took a detour down a little laneway (something I’d never have done at that time of night in Canberra) because I was drawn by a beacon of light. This mysterious laneway held a beautiful second floor courtyard and a store dedicated to buttons! I wish I’d been able to get access to the courtyard but alas, all I have is the photos.

Secret courtyard

Secret courtyard

A world of Buttons!

A world of Buttons! Apparently its real name is Buttons Buttons Buttons!

Down the rabbits hole

Down the rabbits hole

Lastly, as I walked back I noticed a sign for Sydney’s oldest pub! Claiming to have been around since 1828. I wanted to take a look but had my Hot Chocolate and I as took a look in, everyone looked back at me and I got a bit nervous. After looking up The Fortune of War it turns out that while it’d been in business since 1828, the building itself was re-built in 1921.. which probably makes it more to my style but oh well.. maybe another time.

Here ended my adventure for the night, I got back to my room and relaxed for the rest of the night as preparation for the days ahead. They were incredibly long and dull and I feel like I accomplished very little. We also had to go out the second night together to do some trivia (yawn) which took 3 hours! It ran from about 6:30 – 9:30 and I really wished I were elsewhere. That being said, we were at the Stacks Taverna and the food was very good.

Dessert at Stacks

Dessert at Stacks

There was a lot of it as well, which was good when the Churros came out because I probably couldn’t have just eaten one.. fortunately for me, my colleagues were pretty full and I ate most of them (you should always have room for Churros!).

Also fortunate for me was that a few of the guys decided to head back to the hotel at the same time as I’m fairly certain I would have gotten lost.. it looked pretty straight forward on the way down.. who knows where I would have ended up though if I’d walked by myself.

Finally, after getting through the next dull day (we weren’t given any breaks either) I was on my way home! I was pretty pleased as, other than the first night, it had been a pretty uninspiring time. At lease the first night was worth it.

Recipe: Choc-Caramel Fudge Slice

This week at work we were preparing for our first ever Bake Off. Although, technically, we didn’t need to bake just had to make something ourselves rather than buying something from the local bakery. We had about 5 teams and each team needed to bring in at least one savoury and one sweet dish to be judged.

I decided to make something I’ve never tried making before (which is an excellent idea when 50 people have a chance of eating it and it’s a competition.. or maybe not) which was a Choc-Caramel Fudge slice. I’ve never made fudge before and I’m generally quite scared of cooking high sugar content foods because it usually ends up a burnt mess. Fortunately, they turned out well! Fudgey and slice like and delicious.

Choc-Caramel Fudge Slice

Choc-Caramel Fudge Slice

On the day I wasn’t sure how many people had brought in food and was concerned about how much there would be to go around. I didn’t need to worry as there was soo much food that it nearly didn’t all fit on the tables provided, I really cannot remember the last time I’ve seen this amount of assorted foods, it was kind of crazy.

All of the food!

All of the food!

One of the women in my team made a Pesto Plait, I’ve never heard of one before but she presented it wonderfully and it was so good! I voted for it as my favourite savoury food of the day. Thinking back though, as she was in my team, I probably shouldn’t have been allowed to do that.. oh well!

 

Pesto Plait - I want it all!

Pesto Plait – I want it all!

Initially I wasn’t too keen on the whole Bake Off thing, I’m not much for baking but as one of the team leaders I thought that I should at least show that I was participating and get my team into the spirit. It was actually quite fun though and it was interesting to see what everyone brought in and basically fill myself full of delicious foods. The fun didn’t end there though as we were allowed to take home some of it! I got pretty excited at this point and people were handing me all sorts of goodies so I wasn’t going to say no! It just means we get to have a second sweet food filled delicious day!

Bake Off Souvenirs!

Bake Off Souvenirs!

I ended up with four(!) cupcakes, these were amazing! I’m not even sure who made them but they tasted SO GOOD! 2 slices of cheesecake slice, which also, amazing! – My favourite sweet option of the day, a Greek custard tart.. thing (It has a name but I forget it) and lastly, the Heaviest Mudcake, I didn’t try any of this yesterday because apparently it was impossible to slice but when my team mate started slicing it up I was first in line.. she then gave me a massive slab so we will devour that later.

It was a fun afternoon (at work, so that’s a plus) and something that people really got interested in.

Now, onto my slice! I found this on YouTube and thought a video would be an easy way to make something. It turned about a bit more difficult than just reading instructions on a website or in a cookbook because the video goes so fast. As I mentioned, I was a bit scared of killing my fudge and the speed of the video didn’t help. As it’s a decent recipe I thought I’d get it written down for everyone to try and not be rushed ahead at each step.

Choc-Caramel Fudge Slice
Yields 25
Choc-Caramel fudge on top of a delicious biscuit slice base, delicious!
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Ingredients
  1. 200gm Butter
  2. 100gm Chocolate Biscuits (I used Chocolate Ripples)
  3. 100gm Shortbread Biscuits (I used Scotch Finger)
  4. 1 cup Brown Sugar
  5. 395gm tin of Sweetened Condensed Milk
  6. 3/4 cup milk chocolate buttons/melts
  7. 3/4 cup milk chocolate for drizzling
For the base
  1. 1. Bash 200gm of biscuits into fine crumbs, you can use a food processor if you like or just put them into a sealed plastic bag and smash with a rolling pin
  2. 2. Melt 80gm of butter in the microwave (add more if the mixture is a bit dry)
  3. 3. Add biscuit crumbs into a bowl and cover with the melted butter
  4. 4. Mix together until combined
  5. 5. Pour out into a greased and lined square cake tin
  6. 6. Put into the fridge to set
For the fudge
  1. 1. Chop 120gm butter into cubes
  2. 2. Pour Sweetened Condensed Milk into a saucepan
  3. 3. Add brown sugar and butter
  4. 4. Put saucepan on stovetop at medium heat
  5. 5. Mix together until combined and butter is melted
  6. 6. Keep stirring until the mixture comes to the boil
  7. 7. Once boiling, stir continuously for 4 - 5 minutes until mixture thickens
  8. 8. Take off the heat and add chocolate buttons/melts
  9. 9. Stir until melted and combined into caramel mixture
  10. 10. Pour onto prepared base and let set in the fridge
For the top
  1. 1. Melt chocolate in the microwave in 30 second bursts, making sure not to burn it
  2. 2. Drizzle over the fudge mixture
  3. 3. Place back into the fridge to set
To slice
  1. It's easiest to use a long knife for this, I used a bread knife and that worked well, depending on how long you let it set for you may need to dip it into hot water first.
  2. Any biscuit base should be fine, the combination of light and dark biscuits though is delicious.
Adapted from Cooking with Karma
Oh So Lazily http://lazily.org/

5 things I found on the internet – #1

This week, while I’ve been idling looking at things on the internet, I found some cool and unusual things and I thought I’d share them, because everyone else should see these as well.

So, here they are, isn’t the internet a weird and wonderful thing?

1.Squirt
Squirt is a cool little bookmarklet that takes all the hard work of reading websites and makes it easy and lazy. It “reads the web, one word at a time” and you can set the speed and font type that it uses.
I wasn’t sure how well this would work but I did a few demos and it’s actually really neat and makes me wish I could read all things that way from now on.

Speed read the web, one word at a time

Speed read the web, one word at a time

2. Kama Sutra Chocolate Box
So, I was looking for a moneybox to go onto my new shelf and I found Firebox which claims to be ‘not for everyone’ which by the looks of it, is probably true. One of the results of my search for ‘Money box’ was ‘Kama Sutra Chocolate Box’ – that’s sort of the same thing.. so if you’ve ever wanted to get some inspiration while eating chocolate this might be for you. I’m not sure how I feel about sucking on chocolate genitals though.

Kama Sutra Chocolate poses

Kama Sutra Chocolate poses

3. Images You Should Not Masturbate To – 
So, because I happened to look at chocolate people doing it, I was then recommended the book ‘Images You Should Not Masturbate To’ and now realise that this post might be forming a trend. Squirt, chocolate sex, masturbation…

The blurb for this book is as follows:

“Choke the chicken, spank the monkey, charm the snake-however you refer to it, none of the images in this book will encourage you to pleasure yourself. This deceptively simple and strangely addictive book presents a laugh-out-loud collection of random pictures virtually guaranteed to dampen the urge of even the strongest libido.”

I assume some might take that as a dare.

On a related note, Amazon suggests buying ‘How to live with a Huge Penis‘  which looks like it gives some useful advice and, if nothing else, the reviews are pretty good!

4. The UNT mug
Part of me wants to buy this however, another part of me doesn’t want to get fired. Maybe if I came up with a clever acronym and act clueless when I’m questioned about it “Oh you’ve heard about the United National Trust? I thought I was the only one!” It could work, right?

The UNT mug - with a lovely black handle

The UNT mug – with a lovely black handle

5. Bacon Today 
Uhm, did you know there is a website that keeps you up to date in the world of bacon? Seriously! Is there nothing bacon can’t do? Apparently the answer is nothing, because there is an alarm clock that cooks your bacon, all you need to do is set your alarm and place a piece of frozen bacon into the slot, 10mins before your alarm is set to go off, it starts cooking and you wake up to the smell of delicious bacon. Apparently,  it’s been around for years! Why have I never heard of this before?

Cute and cooks you bacon!

Cute and cooks you bacon!

If that isn’t enough, they also sell Maple Bacon Lollipops  which are, unfortunately, named Man Bait. This has put a bit of a dampener on the bacon love.

I hope you are more enlightened now for seeing this and perhaps own a new book or some chocolate.

Back on the horse or bike…

Or whatever that saying is.

I’ve started my weight loss journey… again. I tend to get back up to approximately the same weight and decide it is time to start losing again. If only I wasn’t so predictably lazy. I am really trying this time, up until 3 days ago I hadn’t eaten a piece of chocolate in a month. A MONTH! And then I did… and it was kind of disappointing. I ruined my record and in the end wished I hadn’t. On the plus side, I think my cravings are gone.

That being said, I’m pretty sure I overloaded on calories last night. Damn work and their bar tabs! And possibly something to do with the irresistable taste of Vodka and Raspberry. Why does it have to taste so non-alcoholic, why?!?

Up until yesterday, I had lost 2.1KG (4.6lbs) in 2 weeks. Lets hope I didn’t break it yesterday.

I have increased my exercise to 3 workout days. One of which is Saturday, which then includes 3 workouts of its own. I’ve also cut out a lot of my diet which makes me a bit sad. Anyone gone through this? I’d love your input on what I should eat. I’ve been getting a bit depressed about the lack of awesomeness in my diet these days. I feel trapped by lettuce most days. Help!