18 September 2014

Northern California Seaside Adventures

Did you know that I'm back in California?

If you didn't... well, I am! The day after I finished up at Bonnie Gordon College I hopped on a plane and flew straight back to Northern California.  I've been soaking up the blue skies and warm weather, and just unwinding after a very full on and stressful four months of study. 

The good thing about being back here is the time to relax. The bad thing? Minimal internet access again! It's really not good for maintaining regular blog posts - gosh darn it!

I've been here for 2 weeks now, and while I admit I've spent a lot of it reading books and obsessively playing Roller Coaster Tycoon, I have been on a few small adventures.

A week and a half ago we spent a weekend doing 'beachy' things. I'm definitely not your typical 'Aussie Beach Bum', but I must admit I have been missing the beach during my time away from home. Once upon a time back in my Tumblr blogging days, I'd seen a post about a place called "Glass Beach" where instead of sand, the beach was covered in smooth glass pebbles. I wanted to see it desperately! 

I have someone who follows me around and takes photos when I'm not looking - true story!

We packed some snacks and headed North in an old pick up truck, with me bouncing excitedly in my seat. Four hours later the excitement had lessened slightly... I didn't realise it was such a long drive!

The drive itself was beautiful though, with so many trees giving us a much needed break from the heat of the sun. 

Eventually we made it and... well, I guess I was a little disappointed. It was nice, and there was some glass... but I think my imagination had built it up to be something it really wasn't. Oh well - we still had loads of fun climbing rocks!

The glass pebbles at Glass Beach - much smaller than expected!

On Sunday to continue with our 'beach vibes', we took a much shorter drive to Half Moon Bay. What a cute little tourist town!

On the way back we stopped to take in the sights, and get some fish & chips for lunch! As always, the wind around these parts makes it a bit chilly but thankfully the California sun was shining down on us kindly! 

Fish & Chips at Half Moon Bay
My beach cravings haven't quite been solved, but this will get me by until I get home in October and can go walking on the beach every day if I want to! Although, I'll probably not want to the second that I have the ability to. You know how it is... you always want what you can't have! 



12 September 2014

Toronto Tourist Travels - A recap!

I've been out of Toronto for over a fortnight now. Do I miss it? Absolutely.  

It's definitely difficult to leave a place when you've just grown accustomed to it. The strange unpredictable weather. The amazing public transport. The college. The friends. 

I think it is definitely a city that will hold a place in my heart. I don't think I'd be able to live there permanently (I never even experienced winter!), but what I did experience was incredible.


During the last few weeks of my Diploma Programme at Bonnie Gordon College, I realised that I'd been so busy studying that I'd hardly seen the usual "tourist spots" of the city. I quickly purchased a "CityPASS" and off I went, adventuring around the city on buses, subways and street cars to reach each destination. 

The first stop on my list was the zoo. I ventured to the Toronto Zoo on a Monday public holiday and spent most of the day there. It was definitely my favourite of all the sights, and I couldn't wait to see a Polar Bear! Unfortunately, neither could anyone else so I wasn't able to get any photos. 

Unsurprisingly, the flamingos were one of my favourites. There were just so many of them! 

Flamingos at the Toronto Zoo
I had a lot of fun that day, even though it took me two buses, the subway & almost 2 hours to travel each way!

The following weekend I came down rather ill, but I pushed through to visit the CN Tower and Casa Loma!

The base of the CN Tower, Toronto, Canada

The CN Tower was very busy, despite my getting there rather early in the morning! I think this must have been a 'slow' time however, since the trip to the top was a rather quick process. The amount of security before going to the top was slightly alarming, although I suppose when I thought about it, I probably felt safer having it there. I guess this 'small town gal' isn't used to such heavy security as what they have in North America. 

CN Tower, Toronto, Canada
The trip back down to the bottom of the tower was surprisingly the part that took the longest! It was an attraction that I rather enjoyed, but not one you can spend a lot of time at.

Casa Loma on the other hand - you could spend hours there! I wish I hadn't been so ill so that I could have spent more time exploring through this old castle, and then through the beautiful gardens.

At Casa Loma, Toronto, Canada

My favourite part was definitely the stunning grounds, which I wish I'd had more time to explore. Coming in a close second however, was the underground tunnel. Dark, creepy, and so full of history!

Underground Tunnel at Casa Loma, Toronto, Canada

With only 2 locations left on my "CityPASS", my next point of interest was the Royal Ontario Museum, or 'ROM' as it's called by the locals. I rushed down there after college and spent a couple of hours in the museum before it closed for the evening.

This is another tourist attraction that I wish I'd had more time to spend at. I admit I was surprised by the high entry fee, having been used to the museum back home in Adelaide being free, but when I discovered the size of the museum it made a bit more sense.

At the Royal Ontario Museum

There was actually so many exhibits, with so much to learn, that I could really only skim the surface of it all. If I'd had the time, I would have loved to return and spend a whole day there.

My favourite part though? Definitely the dinosaurs!

Rawr! T-Rex at the Royal Ontario Museum

The last tourist attraction on my "CityPASS" was the Ontario Science Centre. I'm sure it is probably a great place to see but I felt like science centres are the sort of thing you need to do with friends. Interacting with displays alone? Probably not so much fun...

I gave it a miss and called it a day for my Toronto tourist adventures!


3 September 2014

Week 16: Final Exams & Soda Shop Dessert Table at Bonnie Gordon College

FINALS!!!! AAAAAAAAAAARRRRGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

First term exams were scary.
Mid term exams were terrifying.
Finals are a whole different thing altogether! *flails outrageously*

The final week at Bonnie Gordon College came and went so very quickly. Surprisingly, for most part I stayed quite calm. I think it was the fact that I knew in a few days I'd be relaxing in the California sun - there's just something about the lure of blue skies and In-N-Out burger that calms me like nothing else!

Our final exam was once again split into a practical, a theory exam, and theory assignment. Our practical was to present a dessert (or sweets... to-mah-to, to-may-to) table of any theme we chose - yippee!

Our only stipulations were in what we had to present. The centrepiece was to be a two tier celebration cake. We also had to present 12 eclairs, 12 marshmallows, 12 frangipane tarts, and 12 sugar cookies. Strangely, we'd never made sugar cookies during our course (or decorated them for that matter), so that was something brand new!

I really struggled for inspiration on this one - I think my brain was already switching to 'heading home' mode. My homesickness levels were reaching new highs and all I could think about was holidays, and then going home. Eventually I settled on a theme that I knew would be a little tricky to source props for, but one that was very "me".

Without further ado... here is my "Soda Shop" themed dessert table!

Full view of the Soda Shop Dessert Table


Ice Cream Cone Sugar Cookies and "Milkshake" Eclairs

"Milkshake" Eclairs - Vanilla Pastry Cream filling dipped in Chocolate Ganache

Mini Frangipane Tarts with Swiss Meringue Buttercream Swirl

Ice Cream Cone Sugar Cookies

 


I actually ended up having so much fun with this exam! Some of my classmates joked that it looked like my "personality threw up on the table". Of course, these same classmates called me a unicorn on a regular basis, so I'm unsure of the legitimacy of these comments.

My only "freak out" happened when it came time to decorate the sugar cookies. Having never made this recipe before, I had no idea that the type of dough we were using would not expand, but shrink in the oven. Shrink?! I've never had sugar cookies do that before! My plan of simply using the same cookie cutter to cut out some fondant to decorate the top was ruined and I had to frantically cut out the fondant by hand - needless to say, they're far from perfect and nothing how I intended them to look.

Still, I'm pretty proud of how the table turned out as a whole!



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