Christmas Festivities

December 24, 2015

A quiet Christmas Eve together at home. And of course, Michael can’t do Christmas without some eggnog, rum and cinnamon!

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Also spent the night baking some of my favourite white chocolate & cranberry cookies to share on Christmas.

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December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

We slept in, which was glorious. And then we opened presents together… our 5th Christmas together, how I love this man!

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We agreed not to spend too much on each other for Christmas presents this year (around $150)… gotta save up for the wedding!

Some stocking stuffers from Mike – I think he got me the Toblerone because it’s his favourite and he knew I would share 😉

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A card from Michael’s parents

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Some of Michael’s stocking stuffers

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The Paediatric Ward did a Secret Santa gift exchange… I got some beautiful earrings and a notebook – thank you Santa!

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Gifts from my sister… all the way from Canada, thank you so much!

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Michael was so incredibly proud of his Christmas presents to me, and to be honest, I was amazed! He got me so many great things at such incredible deals, he stayed within the budget!

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I’ve always wanted a wicker picnic basket, and this one had 4 complete sets of stainless steel dinnerware and cutlery! And now that we have a beautiful island to visit, he’s bought me some fins to complete my snorkel gear. And a ground pad and inflatable pillow for camping (after getting me a sleeping bag earlier in the year!) And a girl can never have too many underwear – thank you so much my love!

Some of my gifts for Michael. Friends made fun of me for getting him a textbook but I thought as this is his current, most serious, decision in life – it would never hurt to have a good (recommended) reference book

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This was our first year away from family at Christmas, a little sad! But so kind of Nerissa to invite us to join for lunch with her parents (Aunt Neetha and Uncle Danny) visiting from Brisbane. We had a great time and it felt like having a family away from home 🙂

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Old man Jin helping with lunch

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Started with a fresh watermelon and prawn salad with feta, mint and proscuitto

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We were treated to a full home cooked dinner complete with a turkey! And even got to try a different styled stuffing with a base from chicken liver, something tasty we’ve never had before!

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We had no idea, but there was even a gift exchange, which was so lovely! Thank you so much to everyone for including us two Christmas Orphans!

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How cute are these two?

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Garrett mugs for everyone!

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A Corelle set from Jess & Jin, mug from Garrett, Spa kit + men’s set from Aunt & Uncle… thank you so much guys!

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Love you guys!

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Dessert

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With these avid fishers, once the topic of fishing came up… it didn’t stop 😉 Not only did they go down to fish in the evening, they also made plans to go fishing bright and early the following day 😛

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Thank you so much to our friends for a warm and beautiful Aussie Christmas celebration!

December 26, 2015

Family Christmas get together in Ottawa! Got to skype the g-parents the join the fam jam 😉

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Even from afar they think of us too ❤

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These two!

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A beautiful Christmas gift from Amanda – diffuser with mood lighting

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A few days later, a package came in the mail for us – from Michael’s parents!

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So many delicious goodies!

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And some beautiful Christmas cards from our friends ❤

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Putting up the Christmas Tree!

November 26, 2015

We put up the Christmas tree! Of course we didn’t care that it was not yet December, we would’ve put it up earlier if we could!

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Apparently, it was enough of a celebration for Michael to finally break into his Christmas present from me last year – a 21 year old Glenfiddich single malt scotch whisky. It was pretty tasty, even I (and I don’t like scotch) enjoyed a sip! Michael was a happy man!

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And he got to spend the whole evening with this crazy one…

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Ta da!

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Some our favourite decorations, mini-me graduation presents from Uncle Rick and Aunt Wendy! Not that the inscription is in any way true!

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Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2014

I’m chuckling because I’m writing about our Christmas in April – better late than never?

My mom and I decided to stay home and relax on Christmas, but Michael and his parents braved the hoards to experience Christmas on the beach 😛 Weather was good and they had a fun time!

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How many Canadians can say they spent Christmas in this kind of weather?

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I was adamant I would be cooking Christmas dinner – letting my mom relax. Unfortunately, it was one of my biggest cooking fails – a raw meat loaf – so upsetting! The other dishes were good, including corn, potato wedges, prawn toast and salad.

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Our first Christmas tree in Australia

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Beautiful, love our colour scheme!

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Family photo!

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In previous years, our cousins have always had a bit of fun at family get togethers, like colour coordinating our outfits, wearing ugly Christmas sweaters, custom made t-shirts, etc. Imagine my delight when Mike’s mom produced these funky Dollarama light necklaces – complete with 3 different modes and extra batteries!

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Had a glitch with one of them – ah, expected of Dollarama!

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Blueberry pie for dessert, thanks Caroline!

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Some more family photos before opening presents

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I look sort of like a monster here

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My love!

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Let me share some of the wonderful presents I received 🙂

Gorgeous ruby (my birthstone) and diamond earrings from Michael that nicely match a necklace he gave for Christmas in 2011

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A beautiful Ivanka Trump dress from my mom. I’ve received many compliments wearing it already!

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A nice leather Coach clutch from my sister and some delicious chocolate bars! Can’t find those in Australia!

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Presents from my brother…

A wine making kit. I haven’t used it yet, will have to soon!

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And an electronic measuring cup and ceramic knives – now staples in my kitchen 🙂

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From Michael’s parents, goodies from Canada!

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And a few items from his mom! The candle holders fit nicely in our new home in Rockhampton!

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Michael was very happy with my Christmas present to him – adding to his collection 😉

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It’s long passed, but I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas holiday with your loved ones!

Early Christmas Dinner with the family

December 23, 2014

My family from Perth were staying in Brisbane until Christmas Eve evening. That meant we definitely had to take the opportunity to have an early Christmas dinner with everyone present.

If you know my family, food is a priority. You will never attend a family event with us and leave hungry. NEVER. EVER.

Visiting another city and living in a serviced apartment? No problem! The Nguyens always deliver!

Preparing the food is all part of the fun!

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Sneaking in some more views from their apartment

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The… Christmas tree?

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Some of the food dishes… all homemade!

Inari – aburaage (deep fried tofu) bags filled with rice. Our addition – topped with seaweed – yum!

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Variety of sushi rolls

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Vietnamese cold meat – thit nguoi – one of the traditional meats seen in Viet subs

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Roasted leg of lamb

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Shrimp cocktail ring with traditional Viet garlic mayo. So much better than marinara sauce!

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Curry egg salad

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Couscous salad

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Ong Ba Ba!

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Michael and his mom

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Ong Ba Ut

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My future parents-in-law 🙂

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Ba Ut and I

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View of the spread

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And as always, family photos before eating!

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She who cooks, carves

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Self serve buffet

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He’s so cute.

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The following day, December 24, 2014, was all about relaxation and spending our last day together. We ate Christmas leftovers and hung out at the apartment. Michael and his parents climbed Mt Ngungun during the day and joined us at the apartment in the afternoon to see my family off.

Love my family! Don’t know when I’ll see them next 😦 Thank you so much for everything, can’t wait to see you again! ❤

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.

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Family photo in onesies!

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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. ❤

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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!

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

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Ou, Pandora beads!

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Hugs!

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Me too, me too!!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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!

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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!

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Plating up the side dishes

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Uncles carving the turkeys

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Almost there

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Yay, eating time!

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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!

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Trying to replicate our faces

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Silly faces

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Isn’t Mike such a lucky man? 😛

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Playing games as soon as we finished eating!

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

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My grandparents! Probably watching our shenanigans!

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

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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Christine with her colourful and tasty pinwheel short bread cookies!

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Janet with fortune cookies!

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

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Andy going with the traditional chocolate chip cookies

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Flora and her decadent peanut butter cookies!

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

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Mike and his triple chocolate candy cane cookies – so chocolatey

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

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So many cookies!

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The haul!

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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!

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

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More Christmas photos HERE

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

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! 🙂

Yummy delights at Macarons et Madeleines

December 18, 2013

I finally had the opportunity to visit my sister and brother’s favourite bakery in Ottawa – Macarons et Madeleines – a beautiful, warm and cozy home bakery tucked away in Chinatown that specializes in French pastries.

A semi-detached house, the first things that greet you as you enter: delicious aromas of freshly baked goods and Stephan Ethier’s friendly welcome.

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As it is a business run out of their home, Macarons et Madeleines does not have space for customers to sit down and eat, however, that doesn’t mean that their atmosphere is lacking in any way.

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A price list and guest book are set up in the foyer, Christmas decor lines the small yet spacious room, even a lovely wood fireplace.

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Looks like there should be a cat around, but we didn’t get to meet him/her!

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Macarons et Madeleines offers a small selection of approximately 10 pastries on a regular basis. For macarons, only a few flavours are chosen and made each week, many of them creative adventures suggested by customers. In addition, there are others (like the chocolate almond croissant) available only on the weekends. They are also very happy to work with you to create any custom orders you might have, which is great!

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Stephan is a very friendly and extremely passionate patissier (read his biography here). He was more than happy to thoroughly explain the story and work behind the pastries, provide any tips and answer any questions. I did not have a chance to chat with his wife that day, but my sister tells me she is lovely and also just as friendly.

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After a bit of a chat and being given some information on everything available, it was difficult not to get everything to try!

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Christmas macaron flavours available were: pistachio-cinnamon (red), hot chocolate with marshmallow (white), and eggnog with rum (yellow) – we bought 2 of each to share ($2/each). Our favourite was the pistachio-cinnamon, having the most vibrant flavours of the 3, as well as great colour for the holiday season!

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Since we’ve never had a Cannele Bordelais ($3) before, we had to try. A small striated cylinder with a crispy carmelised crust and a soft custard inside – rich, creamy and delicious!

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Croissant ($1.75) – flaky and tender, easily one of the best ones we’ve ever had!

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Pain au chocolate/Chocolate croissant ($2.50) – even better than the regular croissant because of its smooth, creamy, chocolate centre, mmm!

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Apple turnover/Chausson aux pommes ($2.50) – most unique one we’ve tried as it is made with a velvety home made apple puree filling. I love apple+cinnamon, this one definitely did not last long.

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We also got a Brioche Parisienne ($1.25) which was very nice as well!

Macarons et Madeleines offers delicious French pastries Wednesday to Sunday starting at 7am until quantities last. Definitely worth a special visit, I promise you will not be disappointed! Not only will you be warmly received into the home of one of the most passionate pastry chefs, you will surely leave with amazing treats that will leave you pining for more!

Macarons et Madeleines on Urbanspoon

No excuse for not blogging!

Hi friends!

Yes, I have no excuse for not blogging, I am on vacation after all!

How is everyone doing? Getting excited for the holidays yet?

For once, I am (mostly) on top of Christmas preparations! That even includes putting up the Christmas tree by myself at the beginning of December, yay! Not to mention all my presents have been wrapped… which normally never happens until the night of the 23rd or 24th.

Here are a few scattered moments since my last blog post:

Remember when I said I was digitizing all our old photos? Well, I finished! But I have not yet organised them T_T

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Mum made delicious guacamole!

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Got the tree up and this was my first present wrapped!

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Grilled cheese on a panini grill

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Snacking

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Made some macarons with the bro. They were successful in that they had feet, but failed in smoothness and texture – overbaked and way too crispy! We’ll try again soon…

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One of my favourite fruit snacks – pineapple with salt and pepper, yummy!

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Don’t know what made my mom think this would be good – smoked oysters (from China) in a can by Clover. Needless to say, she tasted one and didn’t get further.

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A little bit of a lot going on in this photo

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It snowed so hard on Dec 15! 😦

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Which was also the day my sister came home for the holidays from Vancouver. Thank god my uncle (Cau Hai) drove us to pick her up… or we would’ve died on the road.

The flight was, of course, delayed. Our poor grandparents had to chill at the airport until close to 3am when Jenni finally arrived!

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December 16 – day after my sister came home. And Michael came up, finally! ❤ We went to see the Ottawa Senators vs St Louis Blues hockey game at the Canadian Tire Centre!

My sister, the biggest Toronto Maple Leafs fan… forced to wear a Sens jersey

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One of the most exciting games I’ve been to with the winning goal scored by Ceci in the last minute of overtime, yay! Note: I dislike hockey and have not watched many games in person.

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My brother “studying” before we left for the game.

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December 17 – breakfast with mum at Cora’s before driving her to work! Cora’s food was a disappointment, this is my 4th or 5th time going and it just… never wins me over.

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And homemade jajangmyun (Korean noodles with black bean sauce) that night! Mmm!

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Of course, Michael couldn’t visit Ottawa without having lunch at Play! Love the current menu options, although they have since increased the pricefrom 2 plates for $20 last year to $22. Still a great deal though!

Started off with house bread and frites with aioli sauce.

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Our first plates. beef laab / hoisin / jalapeño / daikon / romaine / ginger for Michael. So fragrant and delicious! Great contrast of flavours and textures, definitely a favourite.

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I enjoyed the pappardelle / chorizo / duck / celeriac / winter squash / shallot. Also very tasty! The pappardelle (broad pasta noodles) was cooked just with with really nice flavours but way too oily for me.

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Onto our second plates! rabbit meatballs / pork / cornbread / eggplant agrodolce for Mike. Tender and moist meatballs against fluffly cornbread made for a very hearty meal.

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I chose the pork belly/edamame/Thai sauce/apricot/red bell pepper/onion. The flavours danced across my tongue… easily our favourite dish of the day! Crispy pork belly on a bed of wonderful delights with a good amount of heat. Unfortunately, the sauce in this dish was too oily, which was worse than my pappardelle because the pork belly is already so fatty. Still a delight though!

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And finally, guess who!

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Some of my Christmas presents :)

I mentioned that I would share some of my Christmas presents in an earlier post – I’m finally getting around to it!

Christmas with the family was really lovely this year, thank you again for all the gifts!

16 tupperware containers (so compact!) and a hand food processor from my mom and sister. A silicone mat from Mike’s mom, Caroline, and a Crustache (which I am definitely going to use as a cookie cutter) from his sister, Meaghan.

A Pandora bracelet from my brother and charms from my mom and sister!

A Calvin Klein shoulder bag (that I can use in the hospital!) from my mom and a bottle of nail polish from my cousin Janet!

Funny t-shirts from my siblings

‘I miss my wonderful family :'(‘ t-shirt from my sister – I will wear it proudly

50 Shades of Chicken cookbook (lol) from my cousin Janet and a 32GB USB from my brother. The USB is so tiny, I’m afraid I will lose it soon…

There were other gifts as well, including yummy edibles and red envelopes filled with $$ 😀 Looking forward to next Christmas!

 

Noel, Noel, Noel!

Christmas festivities at my grandparents with the entire family!

Some of the goodies our family made:

We made butter ‘bark’ cookies

I made Hors d’Oeuvres (ricotta & spinach, potato & mushroom, 3 cheese & olive)

My mom made Nem Chua (pink – cured fermented pork) and Cha Lua (white – Vietnamese ham/cold meat)

My mom also made scalloped potatoes and my grandpa provided a turkey, cooked by Cau Hai’s family!

Canh Ga Chien – Crispy garlic chicken wings from Cau Hai’s family. And salad from Cau Ba’s family in the background.

Banh Mi Chien – Deep fried baguette toast with shrimp paste from Di Nam’s family

Goi Du Du – Papaya salad with beef jerky from Cau Tu’s family

Soo much food!

All the kids

With Di Nam and my mom!

There are way too many pictures of our grandparents reading cards and opening presents from all the kids to post, so here’s a few!

All the kids received wrapped boxes of chocolate from my grandparents and the adults received gifts from them as well.

We then played boardgames… for hours and hours. And ate another meal during boardgames… and played some more until everyone had to go home.

Christmas was a great day. The kids even had an ugly Christmas sweater themed photo shoot, but more on that later…

FULL CHRISTMAS ALBUM HERE!

Christmas Eve with the Grandparents

Our pretty Christmas tree with presents!

We went to church tonight and also cooked up a yummy turkey dinner to have with our grandparents!

But before that, we took some family pictures. You’ve already seen the “proper” family photo in a previous ‘photo of the day’, here are the better looking ones 😛

I love turkey soo much, seriously.

The spread

Family picture!

Time to eat!

My mom after a drink, her face suddenly matches the colour of her sweater 😛

A family photo courtesy of my grandpa

My grandma was also in the middle of baking and filling many many Banh Xu (aka Choux-Crème)… these are super delicious and a hit with anyone who tries one!

We ended the night back at our house opening presents. I received such lovely presents, will have to write a separate post about them once I’m back in Australia and have taken pictures of them! 🙂

Photo #301: First Cousins Portrait

December 25, 2012

Can you believe that we’re all grown up but today was the first time all 13 of us took a picture together?! Yea, me neither. Obviously we are quite special though.

Although I took many pictures today, this photo shoot (photo cred: Andy Nguy) was my favourite! Not bad for a first ugly Christmas sweater attempt?

Photo #298: Holiday Gifts

December 22, 2012

This year, I finished buying and wrapping all my Christmas presents before December 24th. My gifts were first under the tree, woo hoo! How nice it is to be done a few days early and not have to stress out about it, I should procrastinate less often 😉

How about you? Are you ready for the holidays yet?