Life has been dull

Not too many exciting things happening, but here are a few moments!

January 13, 2014

Photo right before leaving for our first day of school! Both of us need hair cuts real bad… good thing we finally got them last week!

IMG_6477

January 24, 2014

Tan was in town from Mackay, where he is now an intern, visiting Christine so we got to hang out! We went to Sunnybank for Korean BBQ dinner at Midam, which I’ve blogged about before. Dinner was definitely delicious and filling!

We, of course, saved room for dessert! At Christine’s suggestion, we went to Meet Fresh – a Taiwanese dessert shop. And boy it was yum!

IMG_6496

IMG_6498

IMG_6499

Both couples shared a Duo-Deluxe Pudding. Ice cream, egg pudding, tapioca pearls, milk pudding and crushed ice. Not too sweet, lovely creamy pudding consistency, and the tapioca pearls were cooked just right!

IMG_6497

IMG_6495

IMG_6494

January 25, 2014

Saturday morning tennis! It was great fun, to the point that we continued playing in the rain, got completely soaked and then went for breakfast at the adjacent Saint Lucy Caffe.

IMG_6546

IMG_6544

Although we were all sore the next day, looking forward to doing it again!

January 31, 2014

Check out this interesting Christmas present Michael received from my sister, Jenni!

IMG_6577

Bacon marmalade! Looks mighty interesting doesn’t it?

IMG_6578

And look, just because it says bacon, doesn’t mean it’s going to kill you.

IMG_6582

Unfortunately, although it smelled really nice, the marmalade (which I am normally not a fan of) overpowered any flavour or taste of bacon. It was also way too sweet 😦 I wish it was a little more savoury!

IMG_6585See? I wasn’t joking when I said life has been dull. In the 3 weeks we’ve been back, these are all the “fun things” we’ve done 😛

Actually, I lied. On Friday, January 10th, we caught up with Amanda, Xuan, Sarah and Kee Ping over a lovely dinner at Wagaya!

And the following weekend, January 18th, we also went to visit Kristen, Matt and their adorable 1 month old (at the time) baby girl Abigail! She is too precious and we are looking forward to visiting them again soon. Unfortunately, I forgot to take photos 😦 Next time!

There, now that’s all the fun things we’ve done… I think! ^_^

Chúc Mừng Năm Mới!

Today (Jan 31) is Tet or Vietnamese New Year! (Also known as Lunar New Year or Chinese New Year)

Happy new year everyone! I wish you all health, good fortune, and prosperity!

Last year, Mike and I had went out for a Chinese New Year banquet and then to check out some of the festivities with Christine and Tan. This year, we didn’t really celebrate as we are pretty stressed out with studying for the MCCEE.

But we had to at least go out for food. So a quick Japanese dinner at one of our favourite places, Wagaya in Fortitude Valley.

IMG_6562

IMG_6560

Our favourite dishes:

The chicken karaage bento box for Michael

IMG_6567

IMG_6557

And tonkotsu ramen for me… which was way too much for me, especially as upset tummy recently. But delicious as always!

IMG_6563

IMG_6558

The lion dancing had just started when we were done and heading home so we paused to watch for a few minutes. Didn’t stay for very long but it looked like many people were enjoying the show!

IMG_6570

IMG_6571

IMG_6572

IMG_6573

Look at this cute gift my grandparents gave Michael and I before leaving Canada. Can you guess what was inside? Lucky red envelopes for both of us! Thank you Ong Ba Ngoai, from the both of us!

IMG_6285

IMG_6555

And lucky pockets from my mum before we left as well! I actually forgot she gave us these until she reminded me and had to go find them! 😛

IMG_6575

Thank you also to my Aunt and Uncle 2 for a red pocket before I left, I almost forgot! 🙂

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE! Have a safe and great time!

Trip Report – Business Class: YOW-LHR-PEK-SIN-BNE

(Note: I think this is going to be a long post, but I hope you enjoy!)

Hello friends!

On January 7th, Michael and I began our journey from Ottawa back to Brisbane… in style 😉

With 90 000 Aeroplan points and the most lovely agent on the phone, we were able to book our entire flight back in Business Class, going the long way. Of course, we had to pay taxes, which came to approximately $600.

Here was our flight itinerary:

itinerary

And so begins my amateur trip report! It certainly was an enjoyable first experience, definitely wanted to document and share!

January 7, 2014

Flight AC888 YOW-LHR (Boeing 767-300)
Departing Ottawa at 9:45pm
Arriving in London Heathrow at 9:35am Jan 08
Flight time: Approx 5hrs 40mins

Seats 2C and 2F

We said farewell to our family around 8pm at the airport and headed in through security. One of the best things about flying executive quickly became clear. Priority lines. For everything. Makes life so much easier.

Once through security, we headed to the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge. A worn but roomy lounge with ample seating space. A conservative but good selection of drinks. There were also snacks, including some hot foods, I believe. We didn’t take a closer look, mainly due to being stuffed from dinner.

IMG_1044

IMG_1045

The lounge was quite deserted and quiet, but good environment to get some work done. Also a nice view of planes landing and departing for those who are interested. Bathrooms were spacious with large, private stalls and anything you might need (feminine hygiene products, body lotion, etc).

IMG_1046

IMG_1047

Boarded without any issues and I got to experience the Classic Pod for the first time. Not to mention they recline completely flat! Although slightly sad that configuration was 1-1-1 because it meant I couldn’t talk to Michael at all while seated.

IMG_1048

IMG_1051

We left around an hour late due to bad weather outside Ottawa causing half the crew needing to come in via taxi from Montreal.

Hot towel, champagne and nuts right after take off as opposed to before due to lack of staff – no problem!

IMG_1057

Every year, Michael and I exchange cards on our flight back to Brisbane. Continuing with that tradition and reading my card after take off.

IMG_1053

Happy in his seat under mood lighting.

IMG_1055

Dinner was quite tasty, I was impressed.

IMG_1059

Appetizer: Nova Scotia lobster, seared scallop and marinated shrimp served with quinoa salad and caper tartar sauce.

IMG_1060

Salad: Mixed greens, grape tomatoes and Parmesan served with balsamic vinaigrette. Also had warm crusty bread.

IMG_1061

There were a choice of 4 mains, I chose the Ricotta and spinach ravioli offered with rose sauce, basil chiffonade, portobello mushrooms and parmesan. The ravioli was delicious but I simply couldn’t finish it all.

IMG_1064

Mike chose the Sauteed Atlantic salmon accompanied by lemon and scallion sauce, a grain medley of wheat berries, long grain rice and acini di pepe pasta, french beans and baby carrots. Slightly dry salmon but good flavours and definitely good quality for airplane food. No photo, sorry!

For dessert, a chocolate pecan brownie with whipped cream. Certainly not close to being one of the best brownies I’ve ever had but still good, nice and warm too. I passed on the cream.

IMG_1068

A decent wine selection but no Canadian choices, which I thought was a shame!

One of my favourite aspects of these flights – amenity kits. This one was compact and included the usual items (eye mask, toothbrush, tooth paste, ear plugs, socks) as well as some beauty products by Vancouver company Escents.

IMG_6412

In terms of service, nothing was lacking. However, both Michael and I felt pleasantries were forced rather than genuine coming from one particular flight attendant. Going up to every single passenger with a list in your hand, mumbling or butchering names while saying the exact same greeting to each person comes across as robotic. When we greet people and are unsure of how to pronounce their name, the easiest and most polite thing to do is to simply ask, “Excuse me, how do I correctly pronounce your name?” Such a simple thing to do and you look a lot less ignorant.

I had ambitious plans to stay awake and get a lot of studying done for my MCCEE. Yea, that didn’t happen. I slept most of the flight, eventually waking up to have breakfast before landing.

Continental breakfast consisted of fresh orange juice, sliced seasonal fruit, yogurt and croissants (and blueberry muffins I didn’t see) with butter and preserves.

IMG_1071

And soon we touched down in London! We made a quick stop in the AC Arrival Lounge to freshen up before heading into the city. Paid a small fee to store our carry on luggage at the airport and headed into the city via the Heathrow Express Train (£34/person return).

On the train for just a short 15 minute ride into the city!

IMG_6304

IMG_6305

Arrived at Paddington station!

IMG_6306

Being on the streets of London for the first time!

IMG_6309

Due to our short layover (approx 8 hours total), we decided to go on a tour with The Original London Sightseeing Tour. The bus tour was great, we didn’t hop on and off like we would’ve it we had more time but got to see most of what it had to offer. It eventually got pretty cold being on the top of the double decker bus and not moving around at all! 😛

IMG_6333

Here’s a short video I put together of the sights we saw! London is beautiful, we’d love to come back and visit again when we have time… and money!

We eventually made our way back to Heathrow Airport. I didn’t take any photos of the Star Alliance lounge but it was packed, even for 2 levels. Apparently many flights going into North America were delayed due to bad weather which explained why the lounge was so busy. Had a nice shower to recharge for the next leg of our journey and enjoyed some snacks and drinks as well. 

Sooner than we wanted, we were zipping through lines in order to board our next flight with Air China to Beijing.

January 8, 2014

Flight CA938 LHR-PEK (Boeing 777-200)
Departing London at 5:40pm
Arriving in Beijing at 11:25am Jan 9
Flight time: 9hrs 15mins

Seats 16A and 16C

Warm greetings from all the staff, a near empty cabin and seats actually beside each other, we immediately knew we were going to enjoy this flight.

Within minutes of being seated, we were given our noise-cancelling headphones, amenity kit, slippers and menu. 

IMG_6392

IMG_6385

IMG_6388

Amenity kit with L’Occitane de Provence products, lovely!

IMG_6389

IMG_6390

And of course, champagne for take off 🙂

IMG_6383

IMG_6384

Good bye London!

IMG_6393

I didn’t take any photos of the cabin, but here are some from other (as linked) sources

Wine and more champagne

IMG_6395

Air China was serving their Winter menus. 

For dinner, Michael chose to have the Western option, which consisted of the following:

Amuse Bouche: Asparagus wrapped in parma ham, Scallop with keta caviar and radish and Hot Canape: Chicken kebab with chili sauce, Veg brochette

IMG_6404

Assorted bread roll served with butter

Appetizer: Seared scallops with noodles

IMG_6400

Salad: Fresh seasonal salad mix with Italian dressing or basil vinaigrette

IMG_6403

Main courses: Beef fillet served with Frisse risotto & vegetables OR Blue cheese gnocchi spinach & pine nut kernels

IMG_6405

Dessert: Apple crumble tart OR Bread & butter pudding OR selection of cheese with crackers

IMG_6408

IMG_6410

Seasonal fresh fruit

IMG_6406

Overall, Michael enjoyed all components of his meal and found everything quite tasty! And of course, very filling 🙂

For myself, the Chinese option which consisted of the same amuse bouche, hot canape, breads and dessert options, with the following differences:

Appetizer: Poached chicken thigh with sesame soy dressing, mushroom shitake with julienne carrot, and mixed peppers with black bean sauce

IMG_6398

Main courses: Monkfish with hot bean sauce served with peppers, asparagus and carrots OR Chicken Yu Hsiang Aubergine served with brocoli (both options include steamed rice).

IMG_6399

IMG_6397

I chose the Chinese option because I thought of all airlines, Air China would have Chinese food down pat. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. The food was alright but mostly bland. Comparing our meals, the Western option is certainly more elegant with much better and sophisticated ingredients.

Like the previous flight, these seats also laid completely flat, it was wonderful! Again, I didn’t get much studying but a lot of sleeping done. 😛

IMG_6414

IMG_6415

The flight certainly didn’t go by quickly, but was very comfortable and enjoyable. Service was impeccable and the bathrooms were spacious and well maintained. Air China has a small but decent drinks list, although we didn’t take advantage of it.

Lovely views passing by Mongolia!

IMG_1079

Breakfast!

As I had already chosen the Chinese breakfast option, I was anticipating disappointment after the first meal, haha!

My meal consisted of:

Plain rice congee with pickles, pickled spicy radish julienne, and mushroom wood fungus julienne. I’m normally a huge fan of pickles and especially fungus but again, not very flavourful.

IMG_6420

Dim sum with shrimp dumpling, sieu mai, char sieu bun, and chive & prawn dumpling. The dim sum was tasty, thank goodness!

IMG_6419

Mike had his Western breakfast of Scrambled eggs with bacon sausage & grilled tomato. Also danish, croissant, pain au choc & breakfast rolls with butter, marmalade, honey, cornflakes & milk, and fresh fruit. Of course he enjoyed his meal immensely!

IMG_6418

Again, comparing our meals, the Western option is much more substantial with more flavours.

Soon landing in Beijing!

IMG_6422

IMG_1084

Check out the crazy smog pollution… the closer we got to the city…

IMG_1086

I was last in Beijing in 2007, around a year before the Beijing Olympics. I remember the airport service being horrendous with poor service and extreme lacking in English speaking staff for international flights.

IMG_1088

The airport is still not completely efficient as they had only 1 kiosk open to proceed to international transfers. As a result, a haphazard, huge snaking line coiled around a tiny space that blocked way for further incoming passengers. Should’ve taken photos!

Once through security, we proceeded to International Air China Business Lounge (serving all Star Alliance members) located on the 2nd floor.

IMG_6440

IMG_6437

IMG_6438

The lounge itself is quite spacious with plenty of seating area, and multiple stations to get snacks (packaged pastries and sandwiches) and non-alcoholic drinks.

IMG_6425

IMG_1089

IMG_6431

There is also a separate hot food station. However, like the airline food, I don’t quite understand how the quality of Asian styled food is so low. It might taste alright if you are extremely hungry, however, we certainly didn’t go for seconds.

IMG_6434

IMG_6435

IMG_6426

IMG_1090

IMG_6427

IMG_6436

And unless we were mistaken and couldn’t locate other bathrooms, there are only 3-4 bathroom stalls in the entirety of the lounge, not enough!

The bar

IMG_6433

Otherwise a relaxing layover!

IMG_6430

View from the lounge

IMG_6439

 

IMG_6432

Heading to our boarding gate!

IMG_6443

January 9, 2014

Flight CA969 PEK-SIN (Airbus A330-300)
Departing Beijing at 3:25pm
Arriving in Singapore at 9:45pm Jan 9
Flight time: Approx 6 hrs

Seats 13D and 13H

Again, service was lovely as we boarded and settled into our seats. Although the seats were not as nice or private, we did find the cabin more spacious and open. We also liked the insect-antennae lamps.

The seats beside us.

IMG_6454

IMG_0885

Unfortunately, the cabin was quite full, with many Chinese passengers who find hoarking (Is this a real word? To bring up sputum and snot by snorting and hoarking) and spitting completely socially acceptable, as well as talking at full volume. Oh well, such is life!

No amenity kit either… 😦 But champagne for take off!

IMG_0886

Meals! We switched things up this flight. Mike decided to opt for the Chinese dinner option, consisting of:

Appetizer: Five spice smoked pomfret and Chinese salad: Marinated bran with vegetables and peanut

IMG_6447

Main courses: Gong Bao prawn OR braised chicken and chestnut with yellow wine sauce, both served with steamed pearl rice and seasonal vegetables, OR stir-fried assorted mushrooms with spring onion accompanied with jasmine rice and seasonal vegetables.

IMG_6446

Michael found the meal, “meh.” The main course was alright but he didn’t touch the pomfret and most of the salad.

Learning from my previous mistake, I chose the Western option this time, which should have included:

  • Amuse bouche: Tea smoked duck breast
  • Hot canape: prawn skewer with Thai chili sauce
  • Appetizer: Baltic style smoked salmon with black pepper
  • Salad: Fresh seasonal salad leaf with French dressing or Chinese vinaigrette.
  • Assorted bread roll served with butter
  • Main courses: Baked Tandoori fish served with raisin turmeric rice and curried vegetable OR stir-fried assorted mushrooms with spring onion accompanied with jasmine rice and seasonal vegetables.

IMG_6450

Unfortunately, bad luck struck again! Although I received my main course, apparently, they had made a mistake and were completely out of the other Western dishes. I said not a problem and accepted the Chinese side dishes… which weren’t very good and like Michael’s, remained mostly untouched. The Tandoori fish was very spicy and salty, I couldn’t finish it although the rice was extremely flavourful! Curried vegetables were mushy snow peas though 😦

Dessert: Hazelnut cake OR orange flavour chocolate cake OR selection of cheese with crackers AND seasonal fresh fruits.

IMG_6451

IMG_6452

Cakes were alright but not tasty enough to finish all of it!

This flight went by quickly and we soon found ourselves landing in Singapore!

IMG_6461

After transferring terminals and doing some duty free shopping (have to restock our bar ;)). For spending over $100 on duty free liquor, we got a free Spongebob SquarePants plush toy! I chose to take Patrick, complete with a deep innie belly button home.

IMG_6476

After shopping, we headed to the SilverKris Business Lounge.

Very spacious with ample seating room, this lounge reminded us of a gentlemen’s club with dark colours and leather seats. Lots of drink options and an extensive hot foods area although we didn’t check out the food. I was able to squeeze in a shower in their lovely bathrooms (that you don’t have to go to reception to get a key) which was refreshing and great.

IMG_6456

IMG_6459

Michael enjoyed a frosty mug of Tiger beer, of course

IMG_0887

We had a very brief 3 hour layover and soon found ourselves heading to our boarding gate for our last leg home.

IMG_6457

January 10, 2014

Flight SQ255 SIN-BNE (Airbus A330-300)
Departing Singapore at 12:45am
Arriving in Brisbane at 10:45am Jan 10
Flight time: Approx 7hrs 20mins

Seats 12H and 12K

Perhaps our most anticipated leg of the journey due to it being Singapore Airlines, the aircraft was probably one of their oldest and most outdated. The seats looked and felt tired, disappointment!

IMG_6463

IMG_6465

The service, however, was great as always on an SQ flight. Again, no amenity kit (why? :() but we did get funky slippers!

IMG_6462

As always, champagne for take off!

We opted for 2 meals during this flight. Both dinner and breakfast. With many naps lying nearly flat in between… 😛

For dinner, we had warm focaccia with smoked chicken, cheddar cheese and sweet onion relish. Delicious!

IMG_0890

Highland Park 12 Year-Old Single Malt Whisky for Mike and a Skyhigh (“An invigorating recipe featuring vodka, Cointreau, lemon, topped with 7-Up). I quite enjoyed all the unique Singapore Airlines’ cocktails on this flight.

IMG_0891

And egg noodles with braised beef brisket, mushrooms, and leafy greens. Also delicious!

IMG_0894

Before landing, we both enjoyed an American Breakfast with fruit yoghurt, poached eggs with Hollandaise sauce, bacon, ham, mushroom and roast potatoes. As well as breads with preserves. For airplane food, it was impressive and mighty tasty!

IMG_6469

Once landed in Brisbane, we proceeded through immigration and customs without any issues or delays. Once outside, there was no taxi queue, allowing us to immediately get into a taxi and be home within 1/2 hour.

Although we enjoyed most aspects of our flights immensely, it was a relief to finally be home!

Summary:

Best service: Tie between Air China and Singapore Airlines
Best food: Air China (LHR-PEK) for Michael, Air Canada (YOW-LHR) for me
Best drinks selection: Singapore Airlines (SIN-BNE)
Most comfortable: Air China (LHR-PEK)
Best entertainment: Air Canada (YOW-LHR)
Best lounge: Changi Airport’s SilverKris

Would we do it again? Yes! But only on points… 😉

And thank you to James and Kim for being so lovely! Not only did they keep an eye on our place for us, they made sure we had some fresh bread and milk in the fridge for when we got back! You guys are the best!

Year 4 Medical School: What’s going on!?

Hello friends!

It seems I’ve gotten into the habit of not regularly blogging – arg! I’ll try really hard to fix that, I promise. 🙂

As some of you may know, I’m now in my 2nd week of 4th (and final) year of medical school! My first rotation is Paediatric Medicine, which I’m absolutely loving. I feel quite lucky that all the doctors and staff we have come across have been kind and more than willing to share their time and teach us. More importantly, parents and their children have been very receptive of students, which makes all the difference in the world, because that’s the only way we learn – on real patients!

Also, babies are so freaking adorable, I can’t get over it. 

With that being said, I’ve also been quite busy and stressed out. 

During the day, I’m in the hospital on my rotation. When I get home, I have to put all my focus into studying for the Medical Council of Canada Evaluating Examination (MCCEE), which Mike and I will be writing on February 28th in Melbourne. That’s less than 6 weeks away! 😦 

The MCCEE is the first big step that we Canadians Studying Abroad (CSA) or International Medical Graduates (IMG) need to take in order to be eligible to apply for a training/residency program in Canada once we graduate. It is a daunting 180 multiple choice question exam that covers 5 broad topics: Child Health, Maternal Health, Adult Health, Mental Health, and Population Health and Ethics. 

Needless to say, we are freaking out. There’s so much to know, in so little time. The most challenging part is studying for Maternal Health when we won’t have actually started, let alone complete, our Obstetrics and Gynaecology rotation yet. 

The good news is, our leave from Feb 26-28 has been approved! That means we will be flying down to Melbourne on the 26th and have 2 dedicated days to study before our exam on the 28th. And then we will have a weekend to explore and see Melbourne, yay! 

Until then, study! 🙂 

A last few get togethers in Canada

January 3, 2014

With my sister returning to BC the following day, we invited all the cousins over for an evening of food, board games, laughs and fun! Would also be the last time I get to see them before I head off on the 7th as well.

So happy all you cousins could make it! 😀

Enjoying the movie Ip Man first while having pizza and snacks!

IMG_6264

IMG_6266

IMG_6267

IMG_6268

Board games!

IMG_6270

IMG_6271

January 4, 2014

Lunch with Colette and her husband, Pete, long-term friends of my mum! A lovely Korean meal at Mu Goong Hwa, great food and wonderful service! So nice to finally have the opportunity to spend time together and catch up!

IMG_6273

And in the evening, my grandparents joined us in seeing my sister off back to BC!

IMG_6275

IMG_6278

January 7, 2014

Our families finally enjoyed a meal together! Michael chose Perkins as he hadn’t had the chance to go this vacation, last breakfast in Canada!

Then back to our house for tea and some quick dessert before heading off to the airport.

IMG_6288

Time went by so quickly, soon we had to go to the airport 😦

IMG_6292

IMG_6295

IMG_6296

IMG_6298

Last shot with my mum!

IMG_6299

My family watching us head off after passing through security

IMG_6300

Group photo!

IMG_6301

Thank you for seeing us off family! We miss you all so much already!

Last batch of random moments in Canada!

I made macarons that tasted like the ones you get at the store! Their feet weren’t as pretty but white chocolate green tea… how delicious does that sound? Unfortunately, I was only able to make them successfully 1 out of the 3 times I attempted this break.

IMG_6104

Some of the chocolate truffles I made this year as Christmas presents for family and friends. Flavours were: Cocoa covered dark chocolate wasabi, sprinkle coated hazelnut milk chocolate, and Toasted almond orange white chocolate.

IMG_6107

Shawarma Palace with Mike on Boxing Day! Could not believe that I ran into Jason and Max there as well, exactly one year ago I was in the same place having shawarma with them (and Amin)!

IMG_0942

“This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and/or birth defects or other reproductive harm.”

IMG_0944

Walked out of my driveway one day to hear something hissing at me from above. I was concerned it might jump down and eat my face like a zombie.

IMG_6210

My mom made deeelicious deep fried choux rolled in butter and dipped in a mixture of salt and sugar. Haven’t had these since 2007!

IMG_0950

IMG_0952

And later she also made choux crème. Baked with a custard filling, yummy!

IMG_0953

Mike and I got matching Sunskis! We are quite happy with the quality and service and can’t wait to rock them at the beach! Check out their Facebook page HERE

IMG_6211

IMG_6213

IMG_6212

My sister got me some amazing wild mushrooms from West Coast Wild Foods for Christmas. I used them and altered the recipe it came with (didn’t have all the ingredients it called for) to make some delicious cream of mushroom soup. So tasty!

IMG_1014

IMG_6279

Blackberries with freshly whipped cream! And they were so sweet!

IMG_1023

I got my nails done for the first time, with my sister! Shellac, I quite like this… too bad I can’t afford doing this all the time!

IMG_1008

Promised I would make a quiche and I actually did! With mushrooms, bacon and onion… not bad, got the stamp of approval from my brother!

IMG_1025

Mmm, McDonald’s McGriddles for breakfast, I will miss you! Delicious combination of maple syrup pancake sweetness sandwiching egg and the saltiness of cheese and sausage!

IMG_1036

Saying farewell to Franklin who’s going to be living with Anthony for a few months! My mom will miss her ‘grandson’ quite a bit!

IMG_6243

The day after New Year’s, our furnace died, on one of the coldest days! The temperature in our house quickly dropped to a frigid 13.5C before we finally got running again. Apparently our flame sensor needed replacing – ugh!

IMG_1003

This bird has been sitting by our kitchen window for as long as I can remember. My dad brought it home one day and I thought a real bird had flown in and perched on our window the first time I saw it. Dang, it’s an ugly bird! But, memories 🙂

IMG_1040

IMG_1041

And that’s the last of my random moments in Canada… I believe! 🙂

 

 

Happy New Year!

December 31 – January 01

A very quiet New Year’s Eve at home! Mike came up to spend the night and we rang in the New Year with some bubbly and boardgames, haha, we so lame!

My brother and his girlfriend Naaomi

IMG_6216

IMG_6218

IMG_6220

IMG_6221

New Year’s day was spent with my entire family at our grandparents. For the first time, we had our party catered by Sharwarma Palace which please every single cousin and maybe most adults 😉

IMG_6222

IMG_6224

IMG_6230

 

Note to all: This meal was technically catered for 14 people (we have 24 people in our family) – we ate to the max and had leftovers… which is awesome 😉

IMG_6226

IMG_6231

IMG_6232

 

So happy to be eating shawarma… mmm garlic sauce!

IMG_6234

IMG_6236

And of course, lots of boardgames!

IMG_6239

IMG_6241

And, for the first time – a real girl talk with all the girl cousins! Happy times guys!

Happy new year to everybody! I hope it’s full of health and happiness 🙂

Belated Christmas with Michael’s family

I had a lovely stay with Mike’s family from December 27-29. Since both of his parents were working on Christmas, Mike spent Christmas with my family and I got to spend a belated Christmas with his. And luckily, my cat allergies didn’t kill me this year, yay! 😉 The weather was nice and we were even able to go for a walk around their neighbourhood.

Some photos during our walk, right by Elephant Rock. As you might be able to tell from the photos, his parents don’t live in the city! 😉

IMG_6201

IMG_6203

IMG_6206

IMG_6207

Thank you again for having me!

Opening presents!

We have always opened our presents on Christmas night, as opposed to Christmas Eve night or Christmas morning like many of our other friends. Our rationale is that it allows us to collect all our presents in accordance with our get-togethers and we can open all our presents together at the end of the day.

IMG_0929

Family photo in onesies!

IMG_9324

IMG_9328

It was really lovely to have Michael be able to join our entire family for the day, and then with us at home while we exchanged and opened gifts. ❤

IMG_9315

Friends and family were more than generous this year, thank you so much! Adults have always given the children ‘lucky red pockets’ so I received one from each of my mom’s 4 siblings.

And now opening presents!

IMG_9333

IMG_9338

My mom is the oldest so she gets to open presents first 🙂

IMG_9339

Ou, Pandora beads!

IMG_9341

Hugs!

IMG_9342

Me too, me too!!

IMG_9343

My siblings pitched together to get me a great camera tripod, something I’ve been needing and wanting to buy for years. Additionally, they got me a whole bunch of other gifts! Thanks guys!

Yay,  a charm to add to my Pandora bracelet from my sister. Her note reads: In Celtic culture, ivy is symbolic of growth, renewal, connection, friendship, and opportunity.

IMG_6247

Have you ever tried chocolate flavoured cola? Because let me tell you, it’s pretty horrific. Don’t be fooled by the empty bottle, it’s because the syrupy liquid ended up down the drain!

IMG_6245

Mike and I always watch videos from the YouTube channel called RRCherrypie. We love watching them put together these Japanese mini edible meals and find the sound of mixing powder so soothing against the plastic tray. You will only understand this if you are familiar with the product and the videos, don’t laugh at us! Can’t wait to try this out! And in the realm of Japanese food, I also received some mini green tea and passion fruit KitKats! I would love to one day try all the KitKat flavours available in Japan, but for now, I can cross 2 off my list! They were nice, but I still prefer the chocolate one more.

IMG_6255

Received soooo many sweets like you wouldn’t believe. Including these Purdy ‘s Truffles and Goji Berry bar, also from my sister! Apparently, Purdy’s is a brand well known for its quality of chocolate but is not available outside the West coast, I will enjoy these!

IMG_6254

Caffeinated chocolate bars from my bro. Chocolate and caffeine, what more does a med student need?

IMG_6258

My mommy gave me a lovely fuchsia dress from Tommy Hilfiger, a nice addition to my clinical wardrobe! Also, a super comfy pair of black pants that I actually wore onto the flight home!

Michael gave me a Wilton piping set, something I’ve been wanting for a long time, thanks my dear! He also gave me a camera accessories kit but we decided to return it as it too came with a tripod, which my siblings already covered.

IMG_6281

Teavana teas from my cousins Janet and Kevin, will enjoy trying them and adding them to my tea collection! They also gave me a French Press which I didn’t take a picture of.

IMG_6251

Colette and her husbane Pete are old friends of my mom, look at the gorgeous card we received from them. Not to mention gifts!

IMG_9323

She even gave me gifts! A Burt’s Bees gift set with a lovely travel bag that I’m actually using for my flight bag. It’s cute, small and fits everything I need! Also a bracelet from Twilight Jewelry.

IMG_6259

IMG_6263

Michael’s parents gave me a bagful of goodies, including a long and light snake-print scarf that I used repeatedly on the flight home! I think it will be perfect for Brisbane’s mild winter – Thanks Caroline and Greg!

Untitled

Every gift I receive, big and small, is valuable and sentimental to me. I hope you don’t mind, but I am not blogging about them to show off but to document these memories so that I may look back and read about it in the future. ^_^

This year’s Christmas was super special to me, in many ways, which perhaps I will elaborate on in a separate post. The time I got to spend with my family and friends, although short was very much treasured, especially because I may not be back in Canada for next Christmas. Thank you everyone for your love, time and generosity!

Whether or not you celebrate Christmas, I hope that wherever you were and the company you kept left you with joy and happiness!

Merry Christmas Everyone!

December 25, 2013

For as long as I can remember, the entire family has gathered at my grandparents for Christmas day. We always have lunch, complete with 2 turkeys and a plethora of side dishes and dessert. Food is followed by a large break filled with napping or catching up or board games with many laughs. Then evening rolls around and we have our second turkey meal of the day – leftovers from lunch!

This year was slightly different from previous ones. We had THREE turkeys. And a non-family member, Michael, joined the family festivities for the first time.

3 turkeys!

IMG_6146

Plating up the side dishes

IMG_6151

Uncles carving the turkeys

IMG_6159

IMG_9209

Almost there

IMG_6163

Yay, eating time!

IMG_6164

IMG_6166

IMG_6167

In the past few years, as we get older, the cousins have been trying to do something a little different for special family occasions. You might remember at my grandpa’s birthday a few weeks ago, all the kids had lanyards stating their name and birth order. Other occasions have included colour coordinating outfits.

This year, my sister designed t-shirts for all the kids, including Mike. I think they turned out well, what about you? And surprisingly, all the cousins wore their t-shirts the entire day, as opposed to changing out of them once photos were taken. Thanks guys!

IMG_9947

IMG_7442

IMG_4292

IMG_9220

IMG_6168

Trying to replicate our faces

IMG_9223

Silly faces

IMG_9224

Isn’t Mike such a lucky man? 😛

IMG_9198

Playing games as soon as we finished eating!

IMG_9218

IMG_5112

So much laughter and craziness playing ‘Heads Up’, Ellen Degeneres’ game that we played similar to charades.

IMG_5103

IMG_5105

IMG_5110

My grandparents! Probably watching our shenanigans!

IMG_9227

When it comes time for presents, the grandparents always receive theirs presents and cards from the grandchildren first.

IMG_6185

IMG_5220

IMG_9307

Then my grandparents will give children either a lucky red pocket with money inside, or a small gift each. This year, however, my grandpa decided to do something different – 2 raffle prizes for the kids. Each prize box contained tons of edible goodies with specific instructions to share with the other kids. Win win for all!

IMG_5269

IMG_5288

And of course, my grandpa always arranges prize draws for the adults. Sadly, our family (the 6s) has never won one of my grandpa’s raffles! The 2 family were, again, the lucky winners!

IMG_5252

All the cousins participated in a gift exchange this year! Since we are all poor, we agreed to the challenge of buying one item from Dollarama for this gift exchange, with the option to steal presents. Worked out nicely and provided a bunch of fun!

IMG_5294

And some of the cousins participated in our first cookie exchange! Such a great idea and so many cookies to munch on for days. Can’t wait to do this again!

IMG_5302

There were 9 cousins who participated in total and we decided to do batches of 5 cookies as opposed to the traditional dozen. Good idea, because we would’ve had A LOT of cookies to eat.

Kim with her cookies. She attempted to make cookies which included fresh pomegranate syrup but they didn’t quite turn out, mainly because she didn’t use a recipe! She decided to make up for it with cute little bags, thanks Kim!

IMG_5305

Christine with her colourful and tasty pinwheel short bread cookies!

IMG_5306

Janet with fortune cookies!

IMG_5307

Jenni with her shortbread and sugar cookies, with super fancy packaging

IMG_5308

Andy going with the traditional chocolate chip cookies

IMG_5309

Flora and her decadent peanut butter cookies!

IMG_5310

I made some orange cinnamon cookies with cranberries and white chocolate chips!

IMG_5311

Mike and his triple chocolate candy cane cookies – so chocolatey

IMG_5312

Lilian with her impressive and massive red velvet cookies with cream cheese frosting

IMG_5313

So many cookies!

IMG_5317

The haul!

IMG_5320

When our tummies finally made some room, we had dessert! Blueberry and cherry no-bake cheesecake made by my mom and Vietnamese Creme Caramel (flan) made by my Aunt 2! Yum yum!

IMG_5322

And of course, finally as always, some family photos.

IMG_9236

IMG_9242

IMG_9250

IMG_9279

More Christmas photos HERE

This is quite late, but I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas with their loved ones as well! ❤

Christmas Eve Traditions

December 24, 2014

For a few years now, since my dad passed away, our family has spent Christmas Eve with my grandparents. My mom usually has a turkey roasting in the oven during the day, we prepare side dishes, and after evening mass at church, we haul all the food over and enjoy a full turkey dinner at our grandparents’.

And this year was no different!

The turkey and some of the food

IMG_6108

IMG_6111

My mom always makes extra stuffing on the side, with walnuts and cranberries, mmm.

IMG_6114

Buttering up some rolls!

IMG_6120

Perhaps my love for photography takes after my grandpa, who you will find always snapping photos at every opportunity, documenting moments with family to revisit time after time.

IMG_6123

Carving the turkey

IMG_6127

Family pictures!

IMG_6128

IMG_6130

Having a first taste of the lime and banana liqueur my grandpa made. This was a recipe from his sister in Vietnam, where my mom and I had the opportunity to try some last year!

IMG_6132

Beautiful colour and clarity. Great flavour and not too sweet, yum!

IMG_6134

The other tradition we’ve developed is to take family photos on Christmas Eve.

Here are this year’s photos!

My sister with her turtle, Franklin.

IMG_9159

The ‘proper’ photo

IMG_9170

And what usually happens when we take family photos

IMG_9171

Happy New Year… of the Horse!

IMG_9174

Sisters.

IMG_9176

Franklin kept trying to escape from me.

IMG_9179

But would always lie perfectly still for my sister!

IMG_9188

Whether your Christmas Eve was festive or simple and relaxing, I hope you all thoroughly enjoyed it!

Laptop fixed, blog updates to come!

(Written in the air yesterday)

Hello friends!

The good news is, I have a working laptop again! The bad news is, I wasn’t able to save anything on my previous hard drive, which simply died on me. But that’s okay, I have back up copies of many files and it’s not the end of the world that I lost some of the others.

I was already behind on my blogging during the holiday season because I’m a very important person with many things to do I was busy and also lazy. And when my computer died, I felt like I hadn’t blogged for ages!

I’m currently in the air with Michael, on our way back to Brisbane. Going to try and spend a few hours writing up all my blog posts so I can post them when I have internet again! Thanks for reading, stay tuned!

Happy Holidays

Hello friends!

I hope each and everyone of you had wonderful holiday celebrations with your loved ones! And may this new year bless you with much laughter, surround you with love, and leave you with unforgettable moments of happiness!

I felt very lucky not only to be able to spend Christmas and New Years home in Ottawa but also because it was filled with so much love and generosity from family and friends.

Unfortunately, my laptop has died on me, and even though my brother and I have been trying very hard… I don’t think we’ll be able to salvage it.

And so, I was already behind on blogging and posting photos but now it is even worse because well… I don’t have a computer at the moment!

What’s going on in the next few days?

– My sister is flying back to Vancouver this evening. She is starting a placement in Victoria on Monday so will have very little time to pack up and fly out to her next destination.

– Mike and I are flying out Tuesday night, Jan 7th. The holidays have flown by and although we are excited to begin our final year of med school, we have not been able to study for our Canadian exam (MCCEE) as much as we have wanted. And that exam is at the end of February. Starting to freak out a little.

– Need to finish packing.

– Hopefully see some friends but time is running out and still so busy.

– Back in Brisbane on the 10th. Have the weekend to settle in and get ready for a busy year ahead starting Monday.

Will try to keep you updated more, thanks for reading! 🙂