Goodbye to one of the most formative, blissful and charmed years of my life.

This year we were some of the last people in the world to reach 2014. I watched my friends in the UK, Australia, Sweden, Italy, Thailand (and even in New York) celebrate the end of 2013, and then finally it was my turn to say goodbye to one of the best years of my life so far.

2013 has brought me so much happiness and love. I finished pastry school and got a job straight out as head pastry chef in an awesome restaurant next to my house.

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I started my Masters of Food Studies, and travelled back and forth between my two favourite cities in Australia, Melbourne and Adelaide, eating and discovering and learning about food heritage and agriculture and food history and taste and everything about food possible. I’ve never been as happy working or studying as I have in that course. It is everything I did for fun, in a job and a career.

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My blogging really took off – figandwalnut.com started to get some pretty cool opportunities, and my beautiful friend Stina built me this site, four seasons of food, (which I absolutely adore) so I could chronicle the amazing adventure I departed on at the end of 2013. Which is another incredible thing about this year – I said goodbye to the city I love with all my heart to go on an adventure around the world, destination unknown. I gave away all the beautiful things I have collected on my world travels and made myself a home with. I packed a suitcase, held a massive party to say goodbye to everyone I know and love, in a city I have made into the only home I have over the past 7 years. Then I got a UK working visa and bought a one way ticket to the United States. It was one of the toughest things I will ever have to do, but a month in to the journey I can definitely say it was a decision I will never regret.

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I was published in a real, print magazine in 2013. Taste & Travel (a culinary travel magazine based out of Canada) published a full page article I wrote on the Yarra Valley, one of Australia’s premier wine regions. Looking back over my career in film and TV I’ve realised that everything I have done fed so well into this jumble-sale of a culinary media career I have forged for myself this past year. 2013 was the year my career came together – when everything just clicked into place. The immigration documentaries I worked on for SBS in Australia gave me the passion for food heritage research – producing films and working on advertisements, documentaries, TV shows – it has all given me the production experience and confidence to go out and make culinary films this year.

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In my personal life, my freelancing and studying meant that I got to stay at home with my beautiful dog Daisy most days. Daisy was my birthday present for my 10th birthday, and has recently been diagnosed with cancer. She is a little old lady now, and she wasn’t expected to last until I left for overseas. But she fought through, which made leaving even harder for me as I had to leave her behind, with the high likelihood I won’t ever see her again.

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The only reason this was ok for me is because she stayed with Eric who has been her ‘dad’ for the past 5 years in the house we shared. And my wonderful friend Stina (who Daisy loves so very much) lives over the road – Eric has given her a key and she now visits Daisy most days when Eric is at work. She is so spoilt, loved and cherished. Eric and Stina started a blog for Daisy so I can see what she is up to every day – Daisy and I are so blessed to have two such amazing people in our lives.

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Speaking of amazing people, oh my GOD! 2013 has brought SO many incredible, independent, funny, smart, interesting, exciting and all-round amazing people into my life. Many of the friends that I know will be in my life for the rest of it I have met this year, or if I knew them before, their friendship has been expanded upon and cemented this past year. It seemed the closer I got to leaving Melbourne, the more interesting people started to come out of the woodwork. I met more people that I want to (and do) call good friends this year than I have my entire 7 years in Melbourne.

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This year has been the year of this troublesome trio. Well, the past two have been the same, but Husni, Eric and I have been inseparable for this past year. Brunches, cooking nights, too much fancy red wine. Whatever it was, we were always together. I will miss that.

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And of course my friendship with Angela was at the centre of this. From the day we started hanging out earlier this year, the amount of dancing, laughing, talking, adventuring, exploring, party-going, friend-making, thinking, seeing, doing and most of all LIVING expanded exponentially. We introduced each other to our friends, and brought together a bunch of crazy, eclectic, smart and interesting people into a How I Met Your Mother type-sitcom group that were together every day.

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There are just so many things to be thankful for from 2013 I don’t even know where to stop. From somehow getting connected with the Melbourne Improv comedy crowd and going to weird Impro events and parties, to bad relationships which turned into good stories, to baking, crazy food nights, Thanksgiving with the friends you make into family.

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From Melbourne Cup with Angela in fancy dresses and fascinators, drinking champagne, and hanging off the arms of our handsome men in suits, to the fortnightly ritual of dancing until 3AM at Finishing School at the Trades Hall in Carlton to Blur, Pulp and The Wombats, and going so often that the awesome indie-disco DJ says ‘but who will request all the good music!’ when I told him that I was leaving, to finding friends who will go to 3 cafes in 3 hours with you and have as much PASSION about doing so as you do.

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To friends (my Asian fanclub) picking me up from the airport after 2 weeks away with welcome signs and plans for midnight noodles in Chinatown, greeting me like I had been away for months.

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To Melbourne hipster costume parties where you drink local craft beers amongst girls in Bjork swan dresses, artists and designers and photographers and painters, and guys in blue suits who sweep you off your feet!

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And my job at the council – every single person I worked with was so much fun, and most of them are now close friends. I worked every saturday with a group of people I have worked with for the past 3 years, cooking and eating a 2 course meal together. A few times a month we would go to the zoo, dance, the markets, the trout farm, strawberry farms, or some other awesome place together. I still can’t believe that was my job.

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My farewell weekend from the council was incredible. Two of my best friends were rostered onto the dance party with me and we spent the night burning up the dance floor with all the awesome people I have looked after the past few years to Grease, What Does the Fox Say and Blurred Lines.

Melbourne threw so many cool events at us this year too. Every weekend there was at least one event, festival, party – from the Color Run, to TASTE of Melbourne, to the Underground Cinema. So many things were lucky and fell into place for me – my favourite film ever was the theme for the last Underground Cinema – and my last month in the city I love more than any other was Good Food Month, meaning there was tonnes of amazing food events all around the city every day.

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2013 was a year of culinary revolution for Melbourne – we have become one of the top food cities in the world and as a culinary media producer and chef it has been an incredible journey to go on with my city and my also food-obsessed friends.

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For all the good times, 2013 has also been a year of great loss. Relationships ended (although they have been replaced by even better friendships), we lost Eric’s beautiful grandmother Phyllis, who has been like my surrogate grandmother in Melbourne for the past 5 years, and I had to say goodbye to my baby forever. But without the tough times, the good wouldn’t seem as sweet.

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I’ve gone on for long enough – but I have so much to say about 2013. 13 has always been my lucky number, with Friday the 13th always being ridiculously lucky – I win competitions, get my US green card approved, or meet people who become influential in my life (I am looking at you Eric).

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The 13th year of the 21st Century has been the luckiest so far – it is sure going to be a hard year to beat. In retrospect every decision I made eventuated in the best possible situation for me. I am so blessed.

So, cheers to happiness, life, laughter and love. Here’s to living 2014 with as much passion as I did the last.

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