Rock Dunder

This weekend, we went on a drive along Hwy 15 to a little place just north of Seeley’s Bay called Rock Dunder. We’ve been going on short drives every weekend lately, and with the beautiful weather we had, it was necessary that we spend some time outside. Part of the Rideau Waterway Land Trust, Rock Dunder is a wonderful place for a hike.

90a857df-0471-49b3-a884-43f72c8d4a44

We’d already gotten a few pointers from those who had gone before us (i.e. the turn off is really easy to miss, so if you pass the Morton sign, you’ve gone too far), so we were pumped and ready to go. Upon first arriving at the site, it was pretty unassuming. We parked in the tiny lot (which was at full capacity with about 10 cars), made sure we had our sunscreen, and headed off.

We walked along the Cabin trail (green on the map) – a really easy stroll through some wood, towards the water. Arriving at Cabin 1, we encountered two nice ladies who doused themselves in Off! Unfortunately, we were not as prepared. More on that later.

This is where we begin the Summit Loop (orange on the map). Between Cabin 1 and Cabin 2, the terrain gets a little more hilly, but there are a number of lookouts where you can take a rest. This also comes with a number of beautiful views of the bay and the lucky individuals who happen to have cottages on the surrounding land.

The last leg up to the lookout was fairly strenuous, with lots of climbing and some pretty steep sections. We attempted to run up some of these parts, only to leave ourselves quite winded. As we got closer, the land levelled out, and when we happened upon the large sheets of rock, we knew we had made it.

The view was incredible, and we certainly didn’t mind sharing it with the dozen or so people that were also at the lookout.

IMG_5902

There were people having picnics, others doing wall climbs, and still others just taking pictures or resting. It felt like we were on top of the world.

IMG_5911

Though we had been instructed (prior to the day) to return the way we came, we decided to venture out and finish the rest of the loop. This is where things went south.

This stretch of the loop back to the parking lot was longer…and muddier…and full of mosquitoes. It alternated between wooded areas and open rock faces, and there were definitely many sections that we ran through to avoid the bites of some blood-sucking companions.

So, an hour and 5.2 km later, we were back where we started. Granted, we were definitely more tired, and our shoes looked much worse, but it was a good time. We even left them a donation.

rock dunder

So, that’s that for Rock Dunder. We rewarded ourselves with some ice cream, and resolved to come back again (with Off!).

 

New York again: eating

So it seems every third post of ours is about visiting New York. We do indeed love New York a lot, and though we just got back, I can’t wait until our next trip! We’re doing things a little differently this time – posting topically rather than chronologically. Seeing as how Kelvin’s favourite thing to do on vacation is eat, we are dedicating this first post to some of the places at which we dined.

Morton’s Steakhouse
1 Riverside Square Mall, Hackensack, NJ

No picture from this eatery, but we thoroughly enjoyed our time at this steakhouse. Located in the Shops at Riverside, Morton’s provided a quality dining experience with exceptional service. Because it was late by the time we were seated (we went on a Saturday with no reservations), Kelvin and I shared a prime ribeye, which was slightly more well-done than the medium rare we had requested. We shared a number of appetizers and side dishes with our whole party, and especially enjoyed their mac and cheese. The potatoes au gratin, on the other hand, were not well-received. If you have a smaller party and just want some nibbles, they have first-come, first-served space at the bar for bites starting at 9 pm.

Tasty Dumpling
42 Mulberry St, New York, NY

After looking on a number of websites, blogs, and other such things, we came to the conclusion that the best dumplings in New York would either be at Tasty Dumpling or at Prosperity Dumplings (on Eldridge). We opted to try Tasty Dumpling on Monday for lunch, ordering copious amounts of chives and pork dumplings (I preferred these over the cabbage and pork dumplings).

20140316-233442.jpg

The dumplings themselves were quite good, and great value at 5 for $1.25. However, having eaten a good number of dumplings in our lifetime, we weren’t sure whether these were truly worth the title of New York’s best dumplings. The wrapping was a little too thick and not quite crispy enough. The actual filling itself was very flavourful, though. We also ordered some noodles and the beef pancake. Not at all what we had expected – we will not be ordering these again. It started to get busy as we were finishing up, and I have a strong suspicion a number of the groups were also tourists.

Mille-feuille
552 LaGuardia Pl, New York, NY

We stumbled upon this little bakery while in the NYU area. Though they are known for their namesake, the mille-feuille, I actually didn’t try any (not really a fan of pastries…). Kelvin had some and he said it was okay.

20140316-234709.jpg

Now what I DO love is macarons, and that is something they had a great selection of. Thus, I got a pack of 8. These little guys are always so expensive (probably because they’re so hard to make), but they were entirely worth it. I’ll be honest – I’ve not been wowed by the macarons I’ve eaten lately, but these definitely renewed my faith. They were soft and spot on with their flavouring. The chocolate macaron was delicious, and the raspberry one was so true to taste. I ate a number of them and saved a few for later, and they were still good! In fact, my last macaron was the best of all. I don’t actually know what flavour it was (it was brown), but it was heavenly. I will definitely be coming back here next time we visit New York.

20140316-235240.jpg

Cull and Pistol
75 9th Ave, New York, NY

We stumbled upon this little place in Chelsea market once before when we were in New York and we loved it so much we decided to come back! They have happy hour on weekdays from 4-6 pm and oysters at the bar are only $1! We had quite a number… Mostly every oyster we had was delicious. We normally like clean, sweeter oysters, but we tried one that had a buttery finish and that was very enjoyable. The hostess was so accommodating and helped us secure a spot there for dinner directly following. I got the bacon wrapped Arctic char (great flavour, a fish we will try to cook more of at home) and Kelvin had the Connecticut lobster roll (he prepares warm lobster rolls, as do I).

The Meatball Shop
170 Bedford Ave, New York, NY

Though it has other locations around New York, we tried The Meatball Shop in Brooklyn during our visit on Tuesday. Such a cute idea with decent food. Every day they have specials, including a homemade meatball of sorts. The day we went, it was a chicken pot pie meatball with carrots, potatoes and more!

20140317-000728.jpg

Ippudo Westside
321 West 51st Street, New York, NY

Ippudo NY is Kelvin’s favourite ramen place. Though my heart still thinks the meal I had at Santouka in Vancouver is superior, I must agree that the ramen is tasty. We got a special appetizer to start (Samurai buns – hirata buns but with some sort of pulled beef/brisket I believe) which we actually didn’t enjoy as much as our regular ‘ol pork hirata buns. Then we ordered an Akamaru Modern for each of us. I even ordered Kae-dama (extra noodles). Those three sliders must not have been enough…

20140320-233455.jpg

I also ordered a cranberry juice (why did I do that?…) and it was very diluted. Poor life choice on my part. But all in all, a wonderfully quick meal before our show (more on that in our post about what we did!)

Babbo Ristorante
110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY

For our last meal in New York, we decided to go Italian. Owned by Iron Chef Mario Batali, this restaurant had impeccable service and some exquisite food. We ordered a number of pastas to share for our primi course – gnocchi, black spaghetti, ravioli, agnolotti, and orecchiette. I personally enjoyed the ravioli the most with the orecchiette as a close second. I ordered the scallops as my main and they were plump and cooked to perfection. To finish off, I ordered the gelato (three scoops that I needed to share!), and was pleasantly surprised by the distinct taste of the olive oil gelato. Through and through, a delicious meal and I would not hesitate to come again!

Christmas, New Year’s, etc.

Just a couple of quick pictures from our Christmas and updates. We went to Hong Kong and Manila over the Christmas break. The whole trip was surprisingly restful but it was such a joy to meet up with a good friend in Hong Kong and spend time with our families. Manila was incredible, I always get a feeling of comfort whenever I’m there and Catherine seemed to enjoy her first trip to the south pacific. Upon coming back to Canada we were greeted with sheets of ice everywhere (in our absence we missed two big ice storms). In work related news, Cat interviewed and accepted a contract (ie. permanent) position with the public school board here in Kingston. This has been an immense blessing and source of thanksgiving for us as we look to starting a family in the near future.

DSCF0175DSCF0547DSCF0347DSCF0466

Blog06

Warmer times

Since the start of school, neither of us has really had a chance to post much, but with the onset of winter and brisk temperatures, I thought it would be nice to relive some sunnier memories. Here is a quick photo recap of the time we spent in Florida and the Caribbean this summer.

A morning beach stroll in Fort Lauderdale
Views from our morning beach stroll in Fort Lauderdale
Onboard the Allure of the Seas - some different neighbourhoods to explore
Onboard the Allure of the Seas – some different neighbourhoods to explore
We rented a cabana while on Labadee, Royal Caribbean's private island. Possibly one of the best decisions ever. It was so very relaxing.
We rented a cabana while on Labadee, Royal Caribbean’s private island. Possibly one of the best decisions ever. Floating mats, snacks (provided by my mother), and a most delicious BBQ lunch.
IMG_4366
Reefs in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Taken while we were resting at Margaritaville.
While in Cozumel, we participated in the Amazing Race (Cozumel Edition). Such a great way to explore a port we've been to a few times. And as an added bonus, we were the first ones across the finish line, so here we are celebrating and showing off our medals.
While in Cozumel, we participated in the Amazing Race (Cozumel Edition). Such a great way to explore a port we’ve been to a few times. And as an added bonus, we were the first ones across the finish line, so here we are celebrating and showing off our medals.
What a way to end off our cruise. Crazy glow party. (Can't believe this is happening on a boat...)
What a way to end off our cruise. Crazy glow party. (Can’t believe this is happening on a boat…)
Finishing up the way we started - with strolls along the beach in Florida - a little further south this time, in Miami
Finishing up the way we started – with strolls along the beach in Florida – a little further south this time, in Miami

IMG_0056Hope you enjoyed that whirlwind tour of our trip this past August. For an infinitely better recap of our trip, check out this video that my sister made…

image

Our New Entrance

This past week before school started, Kelvin and I decided to redo our front entrance way. This is what it looked like before we got started (but picture it with rows of shoes underneath the jackets).

photoThe first things we did were spackle, sand, and wash. Then we started with our coats of ultra pure white paint. We loved the effect we got when we painted our dining room white last  year so we used the same factory white. It always looks terrible after the first coat.

imageOnce that was all dry, we taped off the area for stripes and painted those “Jamaican Sea” blue. I’ve seen this on pinterest and on home design blogs very often, but we weren’t sure if it was going to work. Luckily, Kelvin found this technique online to help with getting crisp lines with no bleeding. We used this Scotch blue painter’s tape and sealed the edges in by painting over the tape with the white paint before applying our accent colour.

image_2The last thing we needed to do was move the new furniture in and install the shelf and hooks. Now we have tons of shoe storage and a lovely little nook to greet us when we come home.

photo (1)

bess

Refuge from the heat

I’ve been living here for almost 2 years now. I made it through last summer with just ceiling fans. But this summer, with two of us in the house, the need for central air in our little home became glaringly obvious. Our furnace was due for removal anyways, so we decided to do it all at once. And now, I am writing to you from our little climate-controlled piece of heaven.

Reader, meet Bess. She’s our new learning thermostat. It’s only her first day, so she is still adjusting to her surroundings. But over time, she will learn our habits and keep our home happy while we’re away. She looks pretty sleek, and everything makes so much more sense coming from her! Kelvin and I can both control her via our iPhones or our computers. Here’s to many happy years together!

Photo 2013-07-14 1 54 27 PM

Another Visit to the Big Apple

If you’ve been reading our blog for a while, you will notice that we love New York. We tend to go once or twice a year, and a few weekends ago, we drove down with Kelvin’s parents for some shopping, exploration, and good food.

Photo 2013-07-14 1 54 27 PM

Day 1 is almost always the same. We leave bright and early (like 7 am early), stop in Binghampton, NY to fill up gas, then head to Woodbury Commons. I am usually the conservative one when it comes to shopping – the one who counts her American pennies. However, this time I hit the jackpot at J.Crew and found too many things that would significantly improve my wardrobe, including this jacketthis skirt, and these shorts. We continued our shopping at Garden State Plaza and the local Ikea (apparently they have things that we don’t have) before checking in late at night at our usual spot – the Marriott Glenpointe in Teaneck, NJ.

Photo 2013-07-13 8 28 55 AM

Day 2 was a whirlwind. My mother-in-law and I woke up super early to take the bus into the city (167T gets us there in 20 minutes). We rushed over to line up at Dominique Ansel for these infamous cronuts, and proceeded to wait for two hours in line with other hungry patrons. Okay, some people were lining up there so they could flip their cronuts for some crazy profit…but I didn’t think the extra $30 would be worth that amount of time. Anyways, Kelvin and his dad joined us in line around 9:15, and after a few scares of sold-out cronuts, we got our hands on a box.

Photo 2013-07-13 9 59 20 AM

The cronuts – a mix between croissants and donuts – were $5 a pop and you were allowed to buy 2. Kelvin and I shared a box of two and that was plenty for us. It was in fact delicious, and the texture was really interesting yet familiar, but I still can’t say whether it was worth the wait. I suppose it’s one of those things you must try once in your life and once you’ve had it, you’re good. The macarons were slightly disappointing. But perhaps this is because I have yet to find macarons that I really really like. Maybe I don’t know what they’re supposed to taste like? We also ordered the DKA (very good, and you can get it any time of day) and the little egg sandwich (also priced at $5 and quite yummy )

Dominique Ansel Bakery on Urbanspoon

With our stomachs full and the city beckoning, our shopping for the day commenced. We went all over town, from Muji to Uniqlo to Longchamp and Kinokuniya. But the place that really jumped out for me was Suit Supply. This is where Kelvin went to get fitted for a suit for our wedding, and he liked it so much that he decided to go back. Now, I’ve never really understood the intricacies of a suit and the differences between cuts and what not, but I imagine this is shopping heaven for the well-dressed man. We entered through this nondescript doorway and were greeted by these men whose suits were so well-tailored it blew my mind. Needless to say, Kelvin did not come away empty-handed. That suit will likely be making an appearance at the next wedding we are to attend this summer.

Photo 2013-07-24 6 47 57 PM

Later that afternoon, we went for a stroll along High Line (so excited for their continued expansion!) and in Chelsea Market. We tried a new place for dinner – Cull and Pistol – and quite enjoyed ourselves. Kelvin and I recently discovered our love for oysters so were keen to try them again. We ordered the raw sampler, a lobster roll, and the fish tacos. The littleneck clams were not my favourite, and I found the oyster selection a bit too briny for my liking, but the shrimp was sweet and enormous. We didn’t get any crab claws because they were out :( We got extra oysters instead. The fish tacos were average, but the lobster roll was out of this world. There were huge chunks of lobster and the flavouring was just right. Overall we enjoyed our experience there. Plus, they gave us orange gelato at the end of the evening so we would leave with a sweet taste in our mouths. Two thumbs up!

cull and pistol

Cull & Pistol on Urbanspoon

We rounded off the evening with a trip to The Filling Station in Chelsea Market, where we bought some Cranberry Pear balsamic vinegar. It is the most delicious things ever and I use it all the time now. It is essentially vinaigrette and comes in a cute little bottle that’s the same size as the California Garlic Olive Oil we bought at Kingston Olive Oil Co.

Day 3 started off with service at Redeemer Presbyterian Church. My goodness what a refreshing service it was! Solo cello with piano = God’s reminder of the beauty of classical music. I was moved deeply by the worship as well as the sermon, and it was exactly what I needed. Though Psalm 23 is not an unfamiliar passage, I was reminded of our constant search for identity and how we so often are looking for it in the wrong places.

Photo 2013-07-14 3 18 45 PM

After church, we headed to Korea Town for lunch, then to City Hall to embark on our Brooklyn Bridge adventure. I’ve never walked across the Brooklyn Bridge before, so this was very exciting! Too bad construction was happening so a lot of the areas were boarded up. Regardless, we made it across, and found ourselves in the calmer, slower-paced borough of Brooklyn. We wandered over to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, had pizza at Grimaldi’s, and even stumbled upon a food fair. Next time we come to NYC, we definitely need to spend more time here.

Photo 2013-07-15 6 54 55 PM

After a few hours, we headed back to Manhattan to pick up some Shake Shack before bussing back to New Jersey…because you always need to eat Shake Shack when you’re in New York.

Day 4 was a big box store day. Costco. Walmart. Because apparently things are cheaper in the States…who knew? We also stopped in Syracuse at Destiny USA (we see billboards for it all the time here in Kingston) and it did not disappoint! Kelvin finally found the Vans that he had been searching all over New York for. Plus they have an indoor ropes course. And it only costs $7.99. I am going back there…just for the ropes course. Routine stop at Watertown following that for some Chipotle, and we were home before 9.

And there you have it…another successful adventure in the big city.

A Night on the Town

So some exciting news…I got an LTO! That stands for long-term occasional position, aka I am supply teaching in the same class for an extended period of time. I am so excited (and feeling so blessed) to have been given this opportunity, and I am looking forward to planning, getting to know the staff more, and then meeting all my students. That’s already more about my work than I think I’ve ever shared on this blog, but I wanted to share so much because it melds everything that I love in life into one lovely opportunity to nurture creativity.

To celebrate, Kelvin came to pick me up from school and we headed downtown for some yummy food. We made a pit stop first at the relatively new Kingston Olive Oil Co.

Photo 2013-06-28 4 42 19 PM

In addition to over a dozen types of balsamic vinegar, the store was full of many different types of olive oil. We tried a number of them with the bread samples they provided and ended up getting an infused olive oil – California Garlic – to take home with us. We only had a little taste, but already the aroma was overwhelming. We couldn’t resist!

We wandered around the area a bit longer, then headed to one of our favourite restaurants – Le Chien Noir – for dinner. It can be a bit on the pricier side to eat here, but thanks to a gift certificate from my wonderful co-workers, this meal was on the house!

IMG_2056

To start, we ordered one of their daily specials – a swordfish tartare on a bok choy leaf with heirloom carrots and lotus root chips. They were heavenly. We even recommended it to the table beside us! The swordfish had a good weight to it, and it was so fresh and flavourful. The chip added this much needed crunch that just tied everything together.

Photo 2013-06-28 5 55 49 PM

Because we were feeling particularly adventurous, we each also ordered one single oyster. We were both very hesitant, but after our first oysters, we were sold. We each ended up ordering another one! I discovered I like clean, sweeter oysters. Green Gables for the win!

IMG_2058

Our main courses were definitely up to par with the rest of our meal. I had the burger (cooked to medium, as you can only with local meat). Everything came together deliciously and I was happy I made the right choice. Earlier that night, I had a really hard time choosing between the burger and the chicken (fried mac and cheese!!).

IMG_2057

Kelvin opted for the boar chop (a smaller portion but great value and the perfect size considering all the other things we had ordered). He loved the flavour and the spatzle and was also thoroughly happy with his meal. The only thing to note was that the apple salsa (?) was a bit spicy.

We’ve been to Le Chien Noir a number of times in the past few months, but this was by far our best experience this year. We still have some money left on our gift card…and we will be back to enjoy more oysters…but this time for 30% off during happy hour.

Le Chien Noir Bistro on Urbanspoon

The Black Hole that is Costco

It is virtually impossible to go to Costco and come out empty-handed.

Pretty much right after we got married, Kelvin and I went to Costco to sign up for our memberships. Since then, we have been going to Costco on a weekly basis. Sometimes we spend a little, sometimes we spend a lot, but always, we leave with something wonderful for our home.

20130626-190528.jpg

These bowls we actually bought before we got our membership (we went in with some friends…), but we have been using them so much that we wanted to share the goodness with the rest of the world. Kelvin was hesitant to buy them because they were so fruity-looking, but I convinced him otherwise. He has since changed his mind. He uses them all the time.

We love them because the box came with four different bowls that nest into each other for easy storage. The big plus is that they each have lids, which are so handy for transporting the bowls to potlucks and what not. They’re still at Costco for some ridiculously low price (I want to say $19.99). Trust us, they’re a steal.

Photo 2013-04-21 12 38 08 PM

Fuji Sushi – Another option for AYCE

For the longest time, if we wanted to have all you can eat Japanese food, we had one option and one option only. Sakura at Frontenac Mall. This is no longer the case, thanks to the (relatively) new Fuji Sushi, which has opened up in Cora’s old location in Clocktower Plaza. For under $14, you can fill yourself up with fish and other good things for lunch.

I’ll be honest – my first impression of Fuji was not good. We arrive on a Sunday before 12:00 and waited around for their 12 noon opening. By 12:03, the lights were still off and we were wondering whether to pack up and leave. At 12:05, a car pulls in, and the entire wait staff spills out to “welcome” us in. And by welcome, I meant they silently unlocked the door, went inside, and ignored the fact that we were sitting right by the entrance. Minus 10 points.

We were still in shock from the strange series of events that just occured, but we entered nonetheless and were seated at a booth. Most of the food was not ready yet, our waiter informed us, because they just opened. Okay…Needless to say, we were not impressed.

All that aside, the food is decent and the selection on the menu is not bad for the price. We ordered items from all over the menu – hand rolls, teriyaki, maki, special rolls, tempura – and they came to us fairly quickly once the kitchen was fired up. Definitely better quality than Sakura (we probably will never go there again…) Below are a few shots we took on our first visit. One item that we really did enjoy (that we didn’t snap a picture of) was the mixed vegetables dish. Really good, clean, teppanyaki-ed vegetables. Plus I love zucchini :)

Photo 2013-04-21 1 04 37 PM
Green tea ice cream with deep fried banana (I am a sucker for deep fried banana)
Photo 2013-04-21 12 33 25 PM
We forgot to take a picture before devouring these…Spicy salmon (average) and salmon hand roll (good fish:rice ratio)
Photo 2013-04-21 12 33 47 PM
Tempura with slightly strange batter
Photo 2013-04-21 12 38 08 PM
Special rolls. The one with mango in it was not bad, but otherwise this cannot compare to Jina.
Photo 2013-04-21 12 50 12 PM
Again some decent sushi.

So, for those of you craving AYCE in Kingston, please drive the extra few kilometres to Fuji instead of settling with Sakura. It’s at 841 Norwest Road, right by the mall. I promise you will get better food.

And for the record, Jina will forever be our first pick for sushi in Kingston.

Fuji Sushi on Urbanspoon

Mr. & Mrs. Tang

For the past year, Kelvin and I have been planning our wedding. Finally, this Sunday, June 2, we tied the knot! It was a wonderful time had with our friends and family and we were so happy that the day was bathed in love, laughter, and God’s presence. We drove back to Kingston from Toronto on Monday morning and the transition began. On Tuesday morning, we sat down together and “synced” our moleskine agendas – a ritual that we will be doing every Sunday night from here on in – and last night, we finished off the last of our unpacking and house cleaning. Now, we are looking forward to the process of adjusting to life together as a married couple. Over the next few weeks (or months), we will be doing a series of posts about our planning process, vendors, and all those little details, but for now, here are two photos taken by Kelvin’s cousin.

_GDN7976 (1)

_GDN7991

A place to record our explorations

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.