Sweet & Sour Brisket (SK#27) // My Sister Visits Australia

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In April, my sister flew all the way to Australia for the first time.  Fun fact: Kyra is the first person to visit me in Melbourne since I moved here almost four years ago. Her trip down under was less than two weeks. There was so much that I wanted to show her!

On her first morning, after a big night’s rest, Brent and I took Kyra to one of our favourite breakfast spots in our neighbourhood – The Birdcage. There, Kyra got to experience her first taste of Melbourne coffee! She ordered a flat white (how Australian) whereas I ordered my standard cappuccino. My sister and I ordered the same breakfast (much to her dismay): apple crumble pancakes!

We took Kyra to our old neck of the woods (where Brent’s parents live) and she got to meet his family. It’s pretty crazy to think that in the almost-ten years that Brent and I have been dating, our families haven’t really met! On our way up, we stopped at Woodlands Historic Park where we saw some wallabies and kangaroo!

One of the highlights in Kyra’s trip here (for her and for us) was getting to spend a couple of days on the Great Ocean Road. Even though I have gotten to drive alone the coastal highway a handful of times, I always love getting to go back. We stopped at almost every view point on the way to Apollo Bay (where we stayed the night). We took Kyra to the ever-lovely Twelve Apostles. We got very lucky with weather during this trip – the sun was shining almost the entire time.

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Before we drove back home, we stopped for fish and chips in Port Campbell, where Kyra got to experience this very Aussie tradition!

The very next day, Brent had to go in to work while Kyra and I took another drive over to Phillip Island. We stopped and spent a few hours at the Phillip Island Wildlife Park where you get to feed kangaroo, wallabies, wombats, and emu. Kyra loved the massive kangaroo (who were a bit too big and aggressive for food for my liking). We drove into town for lunch and ate at one of the two restaurants that were still serving food at 4pm. Then we saw Phillip Island’s famous penguin parade! I’ve only ever been to see the penguins one other time. I have to admit – this time around was a bit disappointing. The penguins were especially shy and we waited for about 45 minutes until a few small groups popped up and out of the water. Still, of course, worth it.

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Toward the end of Kyra’s trip was our three day trip to New Zealand (which I will save for another post). We got back to Australia two nights before she had to fly back home. On Kyra’s final day in Melbourne, we all decided to get tattoos. Kyra and I got matching ankle tattoos of the Tree of Gondor (since our family has a tradition of watching all three extended LOTR movies on Christmas Eve in a row – nerds!). We went to a local tattoo parlour and they were fantastic (shout out to Westona Tattoo)!

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Saying goodbye to my little sister was as hard as ever but I’m so glad that she got to visit us! I can’t wait for her next trip down under (when she can meet her doggy niece)!


 

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Maya’s Sweet and Sour Holiday Brisket and Roasted Potatoes and Carrot Coins (and Brussels Sprout!)
Serves 10 to 12 (so.much.leftovers)

Ingredients:

  • 4 to 5 pound piece beef brisket (I used two pieces of brisket from our local supermarket which totaled in about 2 kilograms)
  • 1.5 tsp table salt, plus more for seasoning meat
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup (235 ml) beef stock
  • 3 tbsp (50 grams) tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) red wine vinegar
  • 4 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/8 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp (15 grams) onion powder

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Method:

  1. Season the meat generously on both sides with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  2. Whisk all of the remaining ingredients together in a medium bowl.
  3. Place meat in slow-cooker, pour sauce over it, and set it to cook at low setting for 10 hours.
  4. After the 10 hours, transfer the brisket and all of its sauce to a baking dish.
  5. Rest brisket! Chill the entire dish in the fridge. SK says that you can chill for a few hours and up to one day and that the longer you rest, the more it’ll enhance the flavour and texture of the meat. We ended up resting ours overnight.
  6. An hour before you are ready to serve, preheat your oven to 150C/300F and then remove dish from the fridge. For a less oily final dish, we removed all of the solidified fat with a spoon.
  7. Carefully remove meat from sauce and place on a large cutting board. Cut the brisket into thin (1/4 to 1/2 inch) slices and carefully place sliced meat back into the sauce. Spoon the sauce over the meat.
  8. You’re supposed to replace lid and reheat in the oven until bubbling at the edge… but we misread this. We heated the dish before cutting it… and then ended up spooning the sauce over our plated meat and eating. Still delish!

For the potatoes and carrots:

  • 900g potatoes, sliced thin (recipe calls for fingerling potatoes but they don’t sell those at our local supermarket – normal potatoes seemed to do)
  • 900g large carrots (about 4 to 5), sliced thin into coins
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 200C/400F.
  2. Generously coat two baking sheets with olive oil. Spread veggies out on prepared sheets and drizzle with any remaining olive oil before seasoning them with sal and freshly ground black pepper. Roast for 20 minutes before using a large spatula to flip the vegetables.
  3. Resume roasting for another 10 to 15 minutes, until they are brown and crisp at edges. The potatoes should be soft and tender inside, the carrots soft but not mushy.
  4. Remove from the oven. Season with additional salt and pepper. SK recommends sprinkling them with fresh dill or any other herb of your choice but we didn’t have anything!

Darcy’s notes:

I would like to try this recipe again, this time actually following the instructions at the end! Regardless, the meat and the veggies turned out lovely. I love eating roast vegetables cooked in this method. I also made brussels sprout by following this Smitten Kitchen recipe which I would definitely recommend if you like dijon mustard!

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Harvest Roast Chicken with Blueberries, Olives, and Rosemary (SK#26) & We Got A Dog!

I’m crawling out of the woodwork again and this time I’m just going to pretend like I never left… not like starting this blog post like such will draw attention to that or anything – d’oh!

So, uh, hey again! We are already over halfway through 2017… and over halfway through July. I’m starting to believe what they say about time moving quicker as you get older is totally true. Because, gosh darn it, where has the time gone?!

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An entire six months has passed since my last blog post. In those six months, my sister visited me in Australia for the first time, we traveled to New Zealand (first new country since visiting Oz in 2010 for the first time), and we adopted a dog! I hope to spend some quality time in the upcoming weeks putting together a post about Kyra’s visit and NZ (definitely going to have to wrack the brain for details… both of these events already feel like a lifetime ago).

But uh, did you catch that?

We adopted a dog!

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This gorgeous girl is a three year old Rottweiler. Her name is Kona (shoutout to Hawaii). We adopted her on May 10th, which will also serve as her birthday! We have no information about Kona’s history. She was picked up from the Lost Dog’s Home in Melbourne by Starting Over Dog Rescue. She was severely underweight and has had at least a litter of pups. Kona lived with her foster family (where they called her Tilly) for a little over a month before we adopted her. Our friend Amy set up everything for us (thanks Amy!!) and we managed to meet Kona before she was advertised online (she would’ve gone quick, too, because of her breed and gentle demeanour).

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Kona and her doggy uncle Jordy have been slowly getting used to one another (Kona learning to be calm with Jordy and accepting that he doesn’t want to play with her and Jordy learning to be tolerant and less afraid of Kona). We have been keeping them both on leads around each other for now but they have gotten so much better around each other.

It’s been over two months since we adopted Kona and we already cannot imagine a life without her. She loves to go on walks or runs with us. Tennis balls are her favourite toy. She is the cuddliest dog and absolutely loves every person she meets. We feel so incredibly lucky to have won the rescue dog adoption lottery with this one!

In the last few months, I’ve also been cooking and baking quite a lot. I’m still trying to cook through the entirety of The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.

Last night, I cooked my twenty-sixth Smitten Kitchen recipe. And I thought I’d share the recipe with you all! Who knows, maybe one day I will actually get better at ~food photography~!

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Harvest Roast Chicken with Grapes Blueberries, Olives, and Rosemary
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1ish kg of chicken drumsticks (SK calls for chicken parts – thighs, drumsticks, breasts, etc but I couldn’t be bothered)
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup (90g) blueberries (okay – SK asked for red seedless grapes which I would have used but I couldn’t find a single grape at our supermarket – I took a chance on the blueberries and it actually came out really nice still!)
  • 1 cup (130g) pitted kalamata olives
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 0.5 cup dry white wine (we used a cheap sauv blanc)
  • 0.5 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary

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Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 230C (450F) with a rack in the middle.
  2. Pat chicken dry and season generously.
  3. Heat oil in oven proof 12-inch pan (I seriously dream of the day that I own a cast-iron skillet) over medium-high heat until oil is hot.
  4. Brown the chicken, skin side down and then turning over, for about 5 minutes. We did this in two batches like SK recommends.
  5. Return pieces to the pan, skin side up, and surround the pieces with blueberries, olives, and shallots. Roast the chicken in the oven until it has cooked through and the juices run clear, about 20 minutes.
  6. Transfer chicken, blueberries, and olives to a plat and cover with foil (to keep warm) while adding wine and chicken broth to the pan juices in skillet. Bring liquid to a boil, scraping up any brown bits, until it has reduced by half. We were expecting ours to thicken but it did not (and that’s okay). SK says to strain sauce if you’d like (but we’re lazy so we didn’t) and then pour over chicken.
  7. Add rosemary. And eat up!

Darcy’s notes:

I would love to be able to make this dish with grapes to see how it differs. I took a chance (I was very panicky in the grocery store) buying blueberries and I’m happy that the dish was edible, nay, delicious!

Flat-Roasted Chicken With Potatoes

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Otherwise known as my first attempt at ~food blogging~.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Flat Roasted Chicken with Tiny Potatoes recipe

Ingredients:

  • One 1⅓-to-1½ kg (3-to-3½ pound) chicken
  • Table salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 680 grams (1½ pounds) yellow potatoes, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) olive oil (or butter), for potatoes
  • 1 lemon, to finish
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves, to finish

Method:

Preheat oven to 230C (450F) – or if you’re like me, as hot as your oven can go (which was a whopping 200C). Using a pair of kitchen scissors, remove the backbone of the chicken and discard it (SK says that you can freeze and save it to make stock but it is SO bloody and terrifying, I just wanted it out of my face – I know, I KNOW, I shouldn’t be a meat eater if I can’t deal with handling raw meat).

Season the cavity generously with salt and ground black pepper. Lay the chicken, breast up, in a roasting pan (I lined mine with aluminum foil to make clean up a bit easier). Gently pat the breast skin dry with a paper town. Generously season the top of the bird with more salt and freshly ground black pepper. Nestle the potatoes around the chicken, and drizzle them lightly with olive oil. Season potatoes with salt and pepper.

Roast the chicken for 30 to 45 minutes. Toss the potatoes after about 20 minutes to ensure that they cook evenly. When the chicken has finished cooking, transfer the potatoes to a clean plate. Remove the legs, thighs, wings, and breasts from the spatchcooked chicken (or if you’re me, get your boyfriend to do it because that bird is HOT), and arrange them with potatoes. Squeeze juice of an entire lemon over the dish (we have a lemon tree in our backyard so we used a bit more), then sprinkle with thyme. Eat at once.

Notes:

  • The only thing I really changed from the original recipe were the potatoes. I couldn’t really find ‘tiny potatoes’ at our grocery store so I just cut up some normal potatoes.
  • Never will I ever remove a raw chicken’s backbone again. If I ever recreate this recipe, that job will have to go to Brent. I didn’t take any photos of the hacked up carcass (you can thank me later) – just know that it was both extremely difficult and very gross.
  • The dish turned out quite nice though and it gave me an excuse to use my new thyme plant. I think next time I would stuff the chicken with stuffing because I’m a glutton like that.
  • I’ve included a collage of my beautiful food photos . You don’t have to tell me how talented I am at food photography, I already know. (Heavy, HEAVY sarcasm here)

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Hey, Hi, Hello!

WOW – it has been a long time since I posted on this blog. I’m so sorry for completely abandoning it for two years. I wish I had a legitimate excuse… but honestly, I don’t (‘life hasn’t been all that interesting’ ‘work’ etc etc).

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So, uh, hey – this is me. Yes, I’m holding a skateboard (that I tried to learn how to ride for about a week until I fell and hit my head and now I’m too scared to try again). And here’s a little update on my life over the last couple of years!

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  • Brent (you remember Brent, my boyfriend of almost 9 years, right?) and I moved out of his parents house and began renting a house in August this year. We live in a cute little suburb by the bay and are within a 5 minute walk of a dog beach! We are absolutely loving the location, the house (even with its hideous carpet…), and living on our own. Adulting, for the win!
  • Two days ago, I reached my one year milestone with my current job at the airport. Working in a bookstore actually IS awesome (though my wallet would totally disagree there) and I’m really thankful to have a job where I am guaranteed at least a shift a week.

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  • I have somehow managed to keep up with one of my goals for 2016: post a photo on Instagram every single day for the entire year. Those 12 photos are my most recent posts. I’m up to Day 257 (even though it’s only the 255th day of the year… how did I not realise this until now) of 366. Follow me on Instagram at darceelizabeth if you wanna keep up!

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  • For Christmas last year, I received Smitten Kitchen’s cookbook as a gift. Because I am a little bit coo-coo, I’ve decided to attempt to cook/bake every single recipe in this book. Here are some of the results over the last few months: chicken milanese with an arugula and fennel salad, asparagus pizza on rushed pizza dough, pistachio masala lamb chops with cucumber mint raita, and olive oil ricotta cake with a (not pictured) concord grape coulis). I’ve still got a long way to go (here’s a spreadsheet I made to easily keep track of my progress because I am a massive nerd) but it’s been really cool to learn all sorts of new methods of cooking. I’m thinking of logging my cooking adventures on this blog which is SUPER lame because I am a terrible food photographer… but we will see.

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  • I’m still reading (though not as much as last year when I read 52 books, a book every week, during 2015). Here are some of the last books I’ve read (special shout out to The Goldfinch and All The Light We Cannot See – both SO incredible to read).

I want to get back into blogging again which is why I’m posting this update. Like I mentioned above, I want to document my cooking/baking attempts. I also discovered this Tumblr account of a couple who are traveling to every single town in Iowa and photographing as they go which is really inspiring to me. Victoria, Australia (where I’m currently living) has over 1,000 towns so I think that visiting each may be a little overwhelming… but I’m considering a new goal of trying to visit every national park in the state and using this space to document those adventures as well. Because I really value traveling back to the USA as often as I can to visit my family, I don’t have a lot of extra funds for traveling internationally so I thought that going on weekend or day trips around my state might be a little more affordable and quite fun to get out and explore! I’m not totally committed yet but it’s something I’ve been toying with. We shall see!

I’m sorry, again, for being a terrible blogger and will definitely be back soon with another update. Thanks for sticking with me!

The Do’s and Don’ts of Visiting Your Hometown

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Last month, I was fortunate enough to visit my hometown (Gig Harbor, WA) for the first time in almost two years. To say that I have missed home, my family, and my friends would be a massive understatement. I enjoyed my time back in Gig Harbor and thought I would share some of the things that I did with you guys!

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DO Eat at all of your favorite restaurants.
DON’T Worry about your waistline while doing so. You only live once, right? Well, in this case, you only get to visit your hometown once every two years so… five extra pounds won’t hurt nobody.

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DO Hangout with as many friends as you can.
DON’T Cry when you say goodbye.

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DO See all of your favorite touristy sites.
DON’T Be frustrated when it rains (c’mon, it’s Seattle).

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DO Support your local sports team.
DON’T Stop cheering for them when they lose.

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DO Snuggle your precious pets as much as you can.
DON’T Think about how much you will miss them when you leave.

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DON’T Be too sad when you say goodbye.
DO Start planning your next trip to your hometown as soon as you get back down under. 🙂

The Top 8 Things I Did In 2014

Okay, guilty. It has been far too long since I last updated this blog and I would like to apologize! I started this blog in the hopes of showing my American family and friends my assumedly different life in Australia but the truth is that, after a few months after moving across the world, life kind of just feels … the same. Just as you would expect, I got used to the day-to-day life here and now, honestly, I consider Australia just another home of mine.

Anyway, in 2015 I have made a resolution to update this blog once a month. I thought that a great way to begin the year would be to recap 2014!

Without further ado, here are the top eight things I did in 2014 (in no particular order):

2. Australian Open

1. I went to the Australian Open with Brent. We saw two matches in the evening in the Hisense Area. We watched Mens Singles (Tommy Robredo v Richard Gasquet) and Mens Doubles (the Bryan brothers v Paul Hanley and Jonathan Marray). During one of the last sets of the singles match, it began to pour rain so we even got to see the stadium’s roof close! All in all, it was a very fun evening of tennis watching.

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2. I got my first job in Australia and outside of college. Granted, the job was in the hospitality sector, not within the field that I studied in university. For six months, I was a front of house manager at a brand new restaurant. I learned a lot about the industry as well as the responsibilities that come with being in charge of 15 staff and a restaurant. I had a great time working there and look back on the job highly!

4. Seahawks Winning Superbowl

3. I watched the Seahawks win their first Superbowl! Brent and I got up super early (because of the time change) and went to the grocery store in search for some American food. We watched the game while eating hot dogs and Skittles and sipping on some Budweiser. So excellent.

5. Getting A Bike

4. I purchased my very first road bike. Brent and I began cycling weekly on a trail near where we live and I have fallen in love with the sport.

9.3 Lakes Entrance

5. I went to Lakes Entrance twice! Lakes Entrance is a beach town on the coast of Victoria, it’s about a five hour drive away from Melbourne. Brent, his best friend Matt, and I first went to Lakes on the second day of the New Year and again in early December.

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We played two games of mini golf, spent every day at the beach, drank a lot of beer, and cooked a lot of meat on the barbie.
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One of the coolest things we did while in the area was check out the Buchan Caves. About an hour away from Lakes Entrance, the Buchan Caves are a popular tourist attraction (and rightfully so)! We toured the Fairy Cave with a dozen other people, a lovely park ranger telling us all about the cave and its’ history. It was definitely an experience to remember!

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8. Great Ocean Road6. In September, Brent and I went on a short road trip to the Great Ocean Road. This is the second time that we have driven along the beautiful and winding road. On our first night, we stayed in Port Campbell. We ate dinner at a small Italian restaurant and finished the evening by eating a pint of (very expensive) Ben & Jerry’s!

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On our second day, we drove down the Great Ocean Road to Apollo Bay. Along the way, we stopped at a dozen of the lookout locations and took a lot of photos.

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When we made it to Apollo Bay, we hiked up to an awesome lookout of the small beach town.

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It rained almost the entire time we were in Apollo Bay but with views like this, we forgave the weather gods.

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We ate dinner at a posh restaurant that had a Sangria happy hour. When we got back to our hotel room after dinner, we shared a six pack of local beer and had an early night.

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The next day, we drove back home. On our way, we decided to make a quick stop to see one of my favorite things: a waterfall. After descending down a couple hundred stairs, we were at the bottom of Erskine Falls. You could explore the area around the waterfall which was probably my favorite part of the experience. It was such an awesome way to end our little getaway together.

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7. For seven years now, I have participated in NaNoWriMo. For those of you who do not know, NaNoWriMo stands for ‘National Novel Writing Month.’ The challenge: for the entire month of November, you must attempt to write an entire novel (they mark that as 50,000 words). Though I have participated for so many years, this is the first year I have ever won NaNoWriMo!

In other nerdy news, I also participated in my own challenge of reading every day for 100 days in a row. Doing this rekindled my love for reading and created a valuable habit for the future.

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8. In late July, I was able to travel to Hawaii in order to see my family. Seeing my family for those two weeks was just what I needed to combat the homesickness that I had. Unfortunately, Brent was not able to come with me.

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We ate lots of delicious foods, visited a handful of beaches, and went hiking. The above photo is from Salt Pond beach where we went during sunset.

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This photo is from one of our hikes along the Waimea Canyon. Picture: me, my dad, and my sister.

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All in all, 2014 was a pleasant year for me. And I’m especially looking forward to what 2015 has in store for me.

Until next time!

Work, Work, and Let’s See…. More Work

I sincerely apologize for my lack of an update on this blog! How long has it been, a year? Ten?

Unfortunately, my absence has not been because I’ve been really busy doing super awesome cool things. I haven’t posted simply because all I do is work. I work full-time and when I’m not at work, I’m being super lazy at home [by watching TV or a movie, surfing the web, reading a book, or sleeping]. So very glamorous, I know.

However, this is all about to change. I’ve been at my workplace for nearly six months which means, because of a visa restriction, I legally have to quit. August 24th is my last day at my first full-time job [and my first job in Australia]! This job has taught me so much about patience, Aussie culture, responsibility, and cooking. I got to know a lot of people who work there very well and will miss getting to hangout with them every day.

I plan on taking some time off to work on some personal things before I attempt to reenter the job market. This means that I will have time to *actually* blog again. Wahoo!

Stay tuned for some real updates!

In the meantime, here’s a photo of Brent’s dog bathing in the sun. Oh how I miss summer! Enjoy!

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