Third Annual Ham Party

Yeah, you read that right. Ham party. A party with ham. The very best kind of party.

Each year, the company I work for gifts us a lovely ham and a recipe glaze with a personal thank you note – I work for a rad company.

If I ate the ham, I would be eating it for a month with no other meat in my diet. Instead, I use it as an excuse to get a bunch of awesome people together for a party. This year, we even had ham balloons! You know it’s a party when there are balloons.

I’ve been travelling a bit so the first free date was on Saturday just been. I grab some fresh buns and kale slaw to go with the ham and guests bring snacks or whatever they feel like. Seeing as it was 34 degrees this year and we were outside, some bought ice blocks and ice cream – yessss.

Glaze this year was a ginger and orange marmalade – recipe is below. It was on point – some said it was even the best ham yet! I’m not sure about that, but I’ll take it.

There was lots of swimming, then we ate the ham, swum again and ended up playing Cards Against Humanity until around midnight. All in all an awesome day with great company!

Oh, and if you were wondering – there was no ham left.

Weekend Rituals – keeping the mind and body in check

I have a very full life and people are always asking me how I keep up. Weekends are a time for me to get my sh*t back together after a (usually) mammoth week.

I have a few rituals I try to keep up to keep my body and mind happy and healthy…

Rest. I usually need to catch up on sleep. I may have one night out but I will try and let my body have all the sleep it needs without an alarm and go to bed at a reasonable hour. Heck, if I can, I may even nap!

Relax. This is something I’m not great at – I’m on the go 24/7. I try to grab a book or lie by the pool and do nothing. Sometimes I will watch a movie (through two other screens) or give my friends a call.

Rejuvenate. A weekly massage is a luxury but necessity for me. I relax (see above), and come out feeling much clearer and light. My body gets the stretching and kneading it needs, the knots all come out and I feel refreshed and rejuvenated. I have a fave day spa, Thai Touch Massage in Newstead and as soon as I step in I feel cared for and ready to get my body back in order. The ladies there offer traditional thai massage and they know just where your sore points are and how to unlock the hidden muscles.

Revive. There’s nothing like a decent walk to get the blood pumping! I love the Kangaroo Point city loop which goes along South Bank and has stunning views of the city and the river. Sometimes I listen to music, sometimes I talk on the phone and sometimes I just listen to what’s around me and feel happy and blessed to live in such a beautiful part of the world.

Replenish. Sometimes during the week I don’t eat right as I’ll be in a rush or forget to make my lunches etc – we’re all human. I love a fresh juice from the Main Street Bar & Eatery (they choose the flavours for me so I don’t have to think) and my other favourite thing is to get dumplings. I LOVE dumplings. I usually head to New Shanghai in the city for xiao long bao and my latest favourite, steamed pork and coriander. Pho is high on the list of comfort food and if I’m feeling particularly run down, The Vietnamese in the valley will be my first stop on a Friday night.

Revel. I love to have fun and sometimes that includes dinner out at a new restaurant, a nice cocktail lounge or a glass (or five) of champagne enjoyed with friends on the balcony.

Restore. Yoga!! Hot, sweaty power yoga! Occasionally a yin class. Love it and never get there as often as I would like. I go to Fusion Hot Yoga in Kangaroo Point and it’s sometimes 60 minutes of hell and sometimes it’s 60 minutes of pleasure but either way I feel a million bucks when I emerge a sweaty but happy and exhausted mess.

It’s funny, when I tell my Mum I’m having a quiet weekend and then explain what’s happening in my day.. she will nine times out of ten laugh at me and say ‘you call that quiet?!’ To me it really is though. Keeping up with the rituals above keeps me in check and at full performance for during the week.

What are your weekend rituals?

weekend-rituals

Why Travelling Alone In New York Rocks 

Travelling with company is a lot of fun but I enjoy travelling alone occasionally too. I recently went to New York alone, here’s six reasons I found why travelling solo in New York rocks.

new-york-travelling-alone

No lining up at restaurants
Table for one is a powerful sentence in New York. You almost always skip the queue to the front as there will be a back table or spot at the bar for you ready and waiting. When the lines are 30 minutes plus, this is a massive bonus!

Great Broadway & sports tickets for cheap
Head to a discount ticket seller (Times Square or online at Stub Hub etc) and request a ticket to your chosen show. When they find out you’re alone, they can find great seats at low prices as they’re harder to fill – happy days!

That free subway seat, it’s yours
When the subway carriage is crammed (all the damn time) you only have to watch out for one seat! No scanning for seats next to each other or trying to race for the seat.

It’s easier to meet strangers
When you’re alone people will often strike up a conversation with you. I have met some incredible people who have just started having a chat as we were both alone. Meeting people is one of my fave things to do in New York, I’m curious about everyone.

Freedom to do what you want
Yeah, you can do this when you’re with others but it’s really nice to have no pressures sometimes. I spent a long time getting my hair and makeup done at Sephora and would have felt bad if someone was waiting for me. Sometimes there’s activities that you know nobody else would like to do with you or that you are happier doing alone.

Eat where you want
No trying to find a place that suits both of your tastes or compromising to eat somewhere you don’t want to. For me, I like to eat a lot of dumplings. I know others tire of having them all the time whereas I can keep going back and back and back!

Sometimes it’s nice, just for a change, to have some alone time. I’m by no means an introvert and love being around others however being on your own to travel certainly has its advantages. Give it a go, I bet you’ll enjoy it!

Dew Drop Inn, Dumpling Haven in Honolulu

I searched high and low for a place with good dumplings in Waikiki or Honolulu with not much luck. The next day however our Uber driver suggested Dew Drop Inn for dumplings and Chinese. After a quick look at the menu online we decided it would be a great place to have our final group dinner in Waikiki.

As most great Chinese restaurants are, the interior was small with older but authentic décor. We sat down and were immediately tended to by our servers.

The nine of us all ordered multiple dishes because the food looked so great on the menu and the dishes were good prices. Plus we could see and smell other patrons dishes coming out – food FOMO insured.

I ended up sharing (so I could try everything) and started with the chicken and chive boiled dumplings which were mouth-watering, soft filled parcels of goodness. Then the xiao long bao (could do with a bit more soup), steamed Asian greens with oyster sauce, these are always a good plate to share and the shanghai noodles with chicken. The noodles were handmade and we couldn’t get enough of them, except for that we were so full! The plates were all huge portions and we could have easily dropped one off between the two of us and still had extra.

I also tried the pan fried pork buns and the pork pot stickers – both exceeded expectations. I could have eaten so much more if my stomach would have let me!

After our meals the owner joined us while we paid our bill, he is a lovely man. The Dew Drop Inn has been going in Honolulu for 17 years! The owner is a third generation restaurateur and his family also owns restaurants in Los Angeles and Shanghai – no wonder the food is good!!

Definitely recommend if you are looking for exceptional dumplings, pot stickers and Chinese food in Honolulu or Waikiki, Hawaii.

Address: 1088 S Beretania St
Phone: 808.526.9522

 Dew Drop Inn Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bryant Market Deli, New York

My fave little unassuming deli, on the corner of 38th and 6th, just up from Bryant Park. 

I used to stay just across the road and have long been a fan. They have an extensive fresh and hot food section where you can self serve in containers. They also have a bakery type area with sandwiches and rolls and buns etc. 

I love their bacon and egg rolls. They wrap them up and heat them, BBQ sauce and cheese. Absolute best after a big night out! 

My other fave is their bagels. I usually get a sesame bagel toasted with scallion cream cheese. They’re very generous with the cream cheese – you can’t beat it.



Bryant Market Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Air Park Karaoke – Rockin’ Out

I am visiting Hawaii with a group of nine and a couple of us wanted to give karaoke a go while the other half were dubious.

We booked a private room at Air Park Karaoke across from Ala Moana to give it a whirl and man did we rock out!

It was a slow start, but after a few rainbow shots (amazing try them if you’re there!) we were singing our little hearts out. We had a VERY wide range of music choices in the room and sang everything from Linkin Park to Queen, Righteous Brothers to Eminem and Bruno Mars. Personally, I think my rendition of Chop Suey by System of a Down was the best but the others may debate that.

We had a bunch of fun together and everyone relaxed. Dan (my brother) had me in hysterics with his renditions of songs in different voices using both the microphones. Steph (my cousin) and I smashed out Unchained Melody, a song from our childhood and I think Laura (family friend) lost her voice rapping to Eminem!

The bar is on call, you just push the service button and Ta Daaa! A bar tender appears to shake you up a delicious cocktail. I was partial to Moscow Mules but I hear the Pink Delicious was yummy and sweet too. Oh and you can order in Japanese platters too.

Highly recommend for a fun night out together in Waikiki!

 

 *Room and shots were gifted, review is authentic and true!

Coconut Hotel Waikiki Bliss

Ever had one of those travel experiences where you just couldn’t wait to be at your destination? You know the ones… flight delay, long flight, crying babies, crappy airport food. Well I had a fairly decent one. It started with a big night out in New York, a seven hour flight delay and then a ten hour flight. Then when I landed in Honolulu my ’15’ minute shuttle took over an hour. Instead of getting in at 4pm, I got in at 1am. Anyway now for the good stuff!

I got to Coconut Waikiki Hotel, greeted by the friendly and compassionate reception staff and got up to my room and nearly cried it was so great! The TV was on with welcoming Hawaii tunes and scenes, the bed was huge and plush with soooo many pillows! The room was expansive, with a full bathroom, another separate toilet and a kitchenette. Perfect.

I dive bombed that bed!! I have never been so happy to roll around and smother myself in pillows. I was exhausted and oh-so-happy! Anddd I fell straight to sleep.

I woke up the next day after a great sleep in my comfy bed and was able to walk straight out into the heart of Waikiki. The hotel is located far enough off the main strip that it is not loud but lit up and only a couple of blocks walk to the main restaurant and shopping areas. For me that’s ideal.

Hot Tip – if you book direct there’s no resort fees and 15% off! Oh and breakfast is inclusive. Pretty sweet deal!

I’ll definitely be back – I’ll let the pictures do the talking….

*This hotel room was complimentary, review is completely authentic and true.

9 Classic New York Must Do’s

Heading to New York? Here’s my checklist for the top classic and touristy must do activities while you’re in the big smoke.

1. Walk the Highline 

Jump on the highline and walk through the skyscrapers. The highline used to be the old railway and runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street, between 10th and 12th Avenues. There’s expansive views, incredible art installations and you can look into the apartments as you stroll around. Perfect to do after a long brunch to walk it off! Stop at Chelsea Markets too while you’re at it. 


2. Walk the Brooklyn Bridge 

For sweeping views of Manhattan, try walk across the bridge during the day and then back in the evening so you can see the cityscape in both daylight and all lit up at night. Head over for dinner in Brooklyn and then make your way back. If you have time spend a day over there exploring. 


3. Ferry to Staten Island 

Ahhh the lady with the torch representing freedom. There’s a ferry you can catch over to the island if you want to get a closer look at the Statue of Liberty. It’s nice to have the wind in your hair and be on the water. Be warned though, there’s nothing to do on the other side once you get there. I recommend going straight back. 

4. Grand Central Station 

Every time I go to Grand Central Station I see something new. It’s an incredibly well kept building and very impressive in size and grandeur. Walk around exploring and head to the oyster bar there, it’s one of my fave places! 


5. Times Square

What’s a trip to New York without a visit to the famous Times Square! You really feel like you’re in New York when you’re there. To get the full effect, visit at night, the advertising and lights are spectacular. There’s lots of shops, quirky characters, photo opportunities and places to eat. 


6. Chelsea markets 

A foodie favourite. The lobster rolls are the absolute best! There’s a mouth wateringly good pasta joint too and cupcakes.. the list goes on. Some funky shops to check out as well. 


7. Shopping 

You can’t go to NYC without doing some shopping, even if it’s just to see the shops themselves and not buy anything! 5th ave and Madison ave are sights to see. Check out the big luxury department stores and the high street flagship stores. Macy’s and Victoria’s Secret and Sephora are popular to visit too. 

8. Empire State Building 

For that Empire State of mind head to the top of the ESB. Wait for a clear day and you can see right around. Be prepared to line up and make sure your phone is charged for that selfie! 


9. Catch a Broadway show 

Broadway musicals are a fun and memorable experience, even if you’re not a fan of musicals or the theatre. You can get discount tickets in Times Square or online for the day of the show usually. Mary Poppins was my first show and then The Lion King was next. The theatres are breathtaking, right down to the red velvet curtains. 

I can always keep listing activities and sights but they’re a decent start! 

Don’t forget Wall Street, East Village and Rockerfellar too…. 

Real Kung Fu Little Steamed Buns Ramen, Hells Kitchen, NYC 

After the ChinaTown dumpling catastrophe, I thought I would do a little more research. I was in Times Square and had tickets to The Christmas Spectacular off Broadway so didn’t want to go too far. Thanks to google I found a great little place hidden away on 8th and 49th. 

There was a line out the door – always a good sign. Luckily I was dining alone and it straight in past the queue! I ordered the xiao long bao and a house ramen. 

The xiao long bao were some of the best I have had. Thin wrappers, soooo much tasty soup and beautiful pork filling. I could have eaten double. 

The ramen was nice. Good broth and great noodles. The egg was too well cooked though and I wasn’t a fan of the beef they had included. Reminded me more of pho than ramen. 

Go here for the dumplings!


Kung Fu Ramen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

New Yeah Shanghai Deluxe, ChinaTown, NYC

I really thought eating in ChinaTown would be a great and easy experience. I took the subway as near as I could then walked down. Surprisingly, the streets were quiet, it was dark and most of the shops were shut. I probably wouldn’t recommend doing it on your own. 

I thought it would be easy to find a good dumpling place, I was hunting xiao long bao and hadn’t done much research about where I was going. When I got to the ‘main’ street, there wasn’t much choice and a few places were shut. 

I used google to find a high rated restaurant and went in to where I thought it was… it had a similar name but it wasn’t the one. I didn’t realise until I was already seated though. 

The staff could not care less but the food was quick to come out. I ordered xiao long bao and a noodle dish. They were both pretty average, not bad but just not great. The xiao long bao had thick wrappers and the noodles didn’t seem handmade. 

Awkwardly, there was a couple at the table next to me having an argument. They kept their voices low to start but his soon crept up. It was hard not to take notice from right next door. She had been having an affair and everyone knew and the guy turned up at thanksgiving dinner! The husband was devastated and kept reiterating that he loved her and missed her but how could she do that… it went on a long time!  

Not worth going back to, remember to do your research, kids! 


New Yeah Shanghai Deluxe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato