Back in Ottawa!

May 03, 2016

You know you’re back in Canada when…

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Bagels, timbits, and Tim Horton’s coffee – who doesn’t make a pit stop as soon as your plane lands? We certainly did once we arrived in Toronto! Landed in Ottawa and was so incredibly happy to be greeted not only by my mom and brother, but also my grandparents and my Uncle 2 (Cau Hai)! Despite how late it was (midnight!) they insisted on a meal – so we ended up at Pho Ba Ga La in Chinatown!

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I’ve never been out so late with my grandparents! 😉

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It was a good time with the family, but you know me, no Vietnamese restaurant beats homemade food and I still stand by it!

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Thank you to my wonderful family – so happy to be back in Canada!

In case you were wondering where Michael’s family was – they live in Kingston so it’s a drive to Ottawa! Since Michael was planning on staying in Ottawa for the coming couple of weeks for wedding planning, it made sense for them not to drive up but we would see them soon!

Off to Brisbane!

May 02-03, 2016

Finally, 5 weeks of night ward call are over for the both of us! On to 5 weeks of holiday! Including getting married! Can you imagine how excited we were to embark on this adventure?!

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Thank you Yoni for picking us up when we landed in Brisbane, obviously so good to see you again! 😀

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We were so excited to enjoy a delicious Japanese lunch at our collective favourite – Wagaya – in Chinatown. Unfortunately, it was closed! Not sure why, but perhaps it was a holiday (May Day)?

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Instead, we had lunch at Thai Wi-Rat, with very cheap options off their lunch menu!

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Both Yoni and I got rice with roasted pork (approx $10). Rather than succulent pork with crispy skin, Thai Wi-Rat appears to further fry/bake their pork after chopping – which made it quite tough and dry 😦 I have also never liked the bland cooked vegetables that often accompany such meals – I would much prefer a dressed salad or a bit of stirfry, but I suppose it’s standard! My Thai iced tea was good though!

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Mike quite enjoyed his rice with roasted duck 🙂

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We then checked into our serviced apartment at the Meriton on Herschel Street. Beautiful view and a good value for the space – which is also perfect for entertaining some friends!

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Our amazing view – we missed Brisbane!

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I asked the Meriton to leave a note from me to Michael in our hotel prior to checking in. It wasn’t a problem and a welcomed surprise for him!

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Cheers to our holiday!!

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Night view was just as nice!

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In the evening, we caught up with one of our favourite gals – Fiona! Had some delicious Korean food including crispy chicken wings and bulgogi at another favourite – Maru!

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So good to see this one!

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Yoni dropped by after his evening shift to hang out with us some more – and he drove us to their airport the following morning, you’re the best!

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Gloomy morning before checking out!

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No problems with checking in for our flight and soon we were on our way to North America! First, Brisbane to Los Angeles with Qantas. Then, Los Angeles to Toronto to Ottawa with Air Canada!

I’ve always liked the better quality of food with Qantas airline!

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SOON… HOME SWEET HOME!

Moments back in Ottawa

We had a few goals this time back in Ottawa:

  1. Spend time with family
  2. Plan our wedding
  3. Relax

Did we obtain our goals? Yes!

One of the things I was most excited about was seeing my grandfather. As some of you may know, my grandfather has been deaf my entire life. He had sudden loss of hearing shortly before I was born – I suspect the hearing loss was precipitated by a viral illness. He had contemplated a cochlear implant at that time but decided against it… until last year.

With the suggestion, help, and support of the family, my grandfather proceeded with a cochlear implant surgery on November 4, 2015. My mom sent me photo updates, including some very cute ones of my grandpa bundled up on the hospital bed before going into surgery. Unfortunately, I do not have those photos at this time.

I’m sure he was feeling quite anxious at the time, but what was even more prominent in his facial expression was optimism!

Yes, we are THAT family when a family member is at the hospital.

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Here are some photos of my grandpa after coming out of surgery – smiling and hopeful 🙂 And aside from ugly stitches, he experienced no complications!

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After a month of healing, his implant was then activated, tests were completed, and he started (and still continues) his audiological training, with help from my uncles. What started off as indiscriminate clicking noises and echoes eventually became recognisable sounds and words, yay!

Of course, there were frustrations. My grandpa described not being able to set the perfect program for his implant, often returning from his appointments with more background noise than before, sometimes feeling dejected and unwilling to train. The annoyance of having the external transmitter continuously fall off – the magnet is not as strong as you think! He has tried different methods of securing the transmitter but it remains an inconvenience.

Upon coming home, for the first in my life, I had (mostly) a verbal conversation with my grandfather! By speaking slower, enunciating well, and using shorter sentences, I was able to freely converse with him! My entire life I have always spoken to him via notes (piles of paper and books have amassed over my lifetime) which take considerable time to write – what a change! My written Vietnamese is at the higher level it is today thanks to the dedication of my grandparents to teach me and the numerous opportunities to put it to use when speaking with my grandpa. I am also quite lucky because my grandpa said my voice is easier for him to understand compared to other family members. Now we can just sit and talk, with an occasional written note, how awesome is that?

I’m surprised at the lack of photos from our trip back to Canada this time… but here are a few fun moments back in Canada!

Note: From March 05-12th, we went to Turks & Caicos for a one week vacation. It was amazing and will be have its own post!

Target was having their liquidation sales during our time home. The sales were actually terrible and the cash registers were always freezing. Here we are waiting in line forever!

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We came home just after lunar new year. One of my favourite Vietnamese new year’s treats is Banh Tet (savoury glutinous rice with mung bean + pork or sweet banana filling, wrapped in banana leaves and steamed). One of the best things to do with leftovers is panfry the savoury mung bean and pork ones until its nice and crispy… thanks mom for the treat!

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And belated new year red pockets from the family, thank you!

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Having this little one so very excited every time you walk in the door. And constantly following you around and begging you for food at every opportunity. I miss Benny!

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Forgetting how dry Canada is! Cracked, itchy, stinging skin even with moisturizer!

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Enjoying some things you can only get in Canada, like ketchup chips, one of my favourites!

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They have even come out with ketchup Doritos… although I am not a fan.

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Regular stops at my favourite shop – Tim Hortons. I don’t drink coffee but dang do I miss the cheap, delicious, variety of donuts, pastries, and bagels. Now I want a bagel…

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And of course, with Tim Hortons comes Rolllll up the rim to win! Probably one of the most Canadian photos I’ve ever taken…

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Visiting my favourite bakery in Ottawa, Macarons et Madeleines, now at a new location! The best croissants, caneles, and macarons in town. Expensive, but delicious!

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Officially asking these wonderful ladies to be a part of my bridal party!

When my sister agreed to be my maid of honour 🙂

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Had to ask my cousin Janet over Skype because she’s studying in London

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Catching up over food and having 2 of my best friends say yes to being my bridesmaids!

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My sister went to Japan over her Christmas holidays and was kind to bring back some Japanese chocolates for us to try!

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Limited free time but still catching up with friends! Sushi at Kiko Sushi Bar – expensive but tasty!

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A visit to another favourite with Mike and Julia – Art Is In – where my brother now works! Amazing food and great atmosphere!

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Ruixi took me to a hole in the wall (Hung Sum Restaurant) for the best dim sum I’ve ever had in Ottawa – literally!

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Visiting my dad at Beechwood Cemetery for the first time in a long time!

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My sister had bought my dad these ornamental dog figurines (representing us) for his garden when he was alive. We brought them out to his grave years ago and although a little faded, they are still around!

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While planning a wedding, still making time to go on dates with my love! We did get a bunch of wedding planning finalised, but I will save that for another post!

A skate on the Rideau Canal for the first time in many years, all 16km – how we’ve missed it!

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Waiting in line at one of these huts…

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For some Beavertails and hot chocolate – not a visit on the canal until you’ve had this!

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Of course, we had to have a lunch date at Play, one of our favourite restaurants in Ottawa.

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Mike’s newfound love for beef tartare meant he had to have it at Play!

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The food and service almost never disappoints!

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Lots of silly moments with my family

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Quality time with the family… delicious onion ring poutine and burgers at The Works!

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Mom’s Com Hen (basket clam rice) – delicious broth, eaten with rice, ginger, shallots, alfalfa, pineapple, peppers, starfruit, mango, and basket clams!

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My favourite brand (President’s Choice) of hors d’oeuvres! Just cannot find anything like that here

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Can’t visit home without a trip to all you can eat sushi – a family favourite!

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We didn’t have any family events when I was back home, but I did get a chance to stop by and see my Uncle 2’s family!

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I also had the chance to see most of my other family members at different opportunities, which was nice!

A weekend out on Buck Lake to be with Mike’s family… always indulgent and fun!

Focus of attention on the newest member of the Brown family – Rinoa

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She look like a doll or what?

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But their cat… their cat is always trying to kill me. One day, I will need an epipen…

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A last meal out with Mike’s parents, introducing them to play!

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Our last photo together at the airport heading back to Australia – unfortunately my brother felt unwell and stayed in the car! 😦

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Looking back now… what an unbelievably short trip 😦 Until next year!

Last moments with friends in Halifax

September 12, 2014

Our last night in Halifax, Matt and Laura were kind enough to let us have a BBQ at their house for one last chance to see everyone! Thank you Dan, Will, Ian & Sarah, Mike & Tina, and Christine & Stella for dropping by and spending time with us! We will miss you all!

Here are a few photos I took with Laura and Christine and their daughters playing outside while we waited for the boys to return from Go-Karting.

Beep beep!

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Stella was so shy initially!

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Isabelle is such a miniature version of Matt, it is uncanny. So adorable!

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Haha, this is her ‘smelling the flowers’ face, so cute!

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Hopping/skipping/running down the neighbourhood!

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Smiles with Christine and Isabelle!

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Some mommy daughter moments

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Sorry I didn’t take more photos with everyone who came by, but thank you to EVERYONE for your time and hospitality during our stay in Halifax, we miss you all tons!

DHAL: July 13-19, 2014 – Ottawa for a week!

One week home in Ottawa, been looking forward to this for weeks! 🙂

Michael and I aren’t planning on going home for over summer/Christmas holidays, since our graduation date isn’t until December 20th and we expect to be moving and preparing for a job rural at the end of the year, hopefully! This rotation is our opportunity to spend some time in Canada… so who knows when we will be back next!

Spent some quality time with the family!

Got to eat one of my favourite Vietnamese meals – Bo Bia! Fresh rolls with Chinese sausage, sauteed turnip, egg and veggies including Thai basil dipped in a hoison peanut sauce – thanks mum!

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A meal selfie!

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My mom’s famous deboned, stuffed, and breaded chicken wings! Delicious! And some homemade samosas

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And with my grandparents!

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Trying out my grandpa’s first batch of banana lime liqueur – coming along well!

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We enjoyed quite a few different taste testings, haha!

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I finally got to meet Benny! The dog my brother adopted earlier this year who is now considered the baby of the house and my mum’s favourite. He’s a cutie and (mostly) really well behaved but always gets a little too excited when new people come over that he pees on them.

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He’s a sweetheart and a whiner, always crying and looking out the window if you leave him behind.

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And he loves his balls and squeaky toys…

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Had the opportunity to go down to Perth Road Village to spend some quality time with Mike’s family on July 14th. Their property is by a lake and very cottage-like, so it was very nice and relaxing! Mike’s brother Matt and sister in law Jessica recently had their 2nd child – Rinoa, who’s super cute! Their oldest, Jasper has grown so much since I last saw him!

Some of my favourite photos, you can view all of them HERE.

Matt, Jessica and Jasper out on a canoe ride

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Matt & Jess’ dog Bubba – not feeling well today.

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Father son laughs

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Auntie and niece bonding time.

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Little Rinoa

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Tummy tickles!

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Like father like son

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Hanging out with Uncle Mike

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Indeed!

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A pair of loons and a baby! We tried to get as close as we could without being intrusive and they certainly kept an eye on us the whole time just in case!

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This dinosaur

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Got to satisfy a few of my cravings! Including McDonald’s McGriddle breakfast (mmm sweet and salty, maple syrup and sausage) and of course, Shawarma Palace with their awesome garlic sauce! Not shown: Stops at Tim Horton’s!

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Even had time to catch up with some of my best girls! Thanks for coming over on July 17th Atong, Julia and Hue!

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Julia loved Benny!

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Julia requested Cuttlefish snacks by Nong Shim, which apparently can’t be found in Ottawa anymore. They are delicious though, even Mike’s hooked on them.

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A lovely engagement gift from Julia & Atong 🙂 A family cookbook that even has room for photos!

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And perhaps most importantly, my mum held an unofficial engagement dinner with Michael’s parents so they could formally meet all of my family. This was on Friday, July 18th, the night before both Michael and I flew out to our respective electives. We decided to have dinner at Chu Shing and luckily, only a handful of family were missing. It was the usual family deal, chaotic but I think it went well! Thank you also very much to my grandparents and to Ong Tia Ba Y for their generous gifts!

Some of the photos!

Selfie at the dinner table

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With Mike’s parents, my mum, my grandparents, and my dad’s aunt and uncle.

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The elders!

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All my aunts and uncles (except for my 4th aunt who was in LA with her daughter Lilian) and a few of the cousins

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Some more cousins as well as Aunt Diane, Uncle Andrew (my great aunt and uncle’s daughter) and their 3 children.

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Group photo!

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With my dad’s side of the family

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Aren’t I lovely?

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With Michael’s family. Unfortunately, his sister Meaghan was not able to join us due to work. His brother has 2 small children on an early schedule and it’s a drive up from Kingston!

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Before heading home, we dropped by Phuket Royal, a restaurant where my cousin Kevin was working (couldn’t make it to our dinner) to say hi. He was just getting off work so we decided to go to My Sweet Tea to catch up over bubble tea. We didn’t get back until past midnight, and Mike and I still needed to pack! Needless to say, it was a late night.

Woke up at 4:30am the next morning to have breakfast together at Perkins with Di Nam before heading to the airport for my 7am flight to Vancouver. Good bye family and see you again soon!

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They’ve changed the format of the security line at the Ottawa Airport to be extremely inefficient, causing myself and a number of other passengers to almost miss our flight. At other airports, once passengers go through security, they may be pulled aside to a different station for an explosives scan, which is when they swab the outside and also open your bags to swab the inside and test for explosives. For whatever reason, Ottawa has decided to incorporate the explosives scan as part of their security line, before your bags go through the scanner. The ENTIRE security line gets held up when someone’s having their bag tested. Meaning nobody’s bags are being scanned and nobody is walking through the metal detectors. Completely inefficient, I don’t know what they were thinking, but they better change that.

My sister met me once I landed in Vancouver and we had time to grab a quick bite to eat before I had to start heading to Horseshoe Bay to catch my ferry to Nanaimo. It took a good 2 hours to get there from the airport via the SkyTrain into the city and then bus to the ferry terminal. More about Nanaimo in my next post!

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! 🙂

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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Random moments since being home!

This post is just as it sounds, enjoy!

There were ripe bananas at home so made some banana chocolate muffins

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How silly is this? Beechwood Cemetery sent this addressed to my dad (who is buried there) inviting him to join for a Memorial Candlelight Service.

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Birthday present from my mom! Belated because she kept it in Ottawa until I got back 🙂 Even matches my birthstone, thanks mommy!

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Shawarma Palace is my absolutely favourite shawarma shop and now they have a fancy new location – thank you Elvin for the treat! 🙂 So nice to catch up with him and Vinh!

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On Nov 27, it snowed. A lot. It’s not even winter yet.

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This is really yummy if you’ve never had! I don’t think they have this kind of Greek/fruit yoghurt in Brisbane so I will enjoy all I can while I’m here, haha! 😉

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My brother got a bike trainer so he can still ride his bike during the winter 😛

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CINNABON. Best cinnamon bun ever. Always look forward to having this when I’m back in Ottawa, thanks bro for buying me one! 🙂

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Ambitious project going on… I’m trying to digitize all our photos

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Face squishies!

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My brother made kale chips, tasty! But I don’t really think they’re worth the money.

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Delicious green tea chocolate by La Chocolaterie – so creamy and rich in matcha flavour

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Dinner one night at home: thit kho (braised pork) with bamboo and egg, greens and a mixture of different kinds of rice – very yummy!

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Look how easy it is to do a bowel cancer screening test now, from the comfort of your own home with prepaid postage. Everyone over the age of 50, please get screened at least every 2 years! Very easy to get a kit, just ask your family doctor for one the next time you visit!

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Couldn’t resist trying Domino’s pizza here… nice size, nice crust, BUT WHERE MY CHEESE AT?

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Good crunchy lava cake though!

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Made dumplings… lots and lots of dumplings…

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Mum brought home some macarons from work, yay! Although they were really lacking in flavour, it was hard to make out what most of the flavours were.

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More to come soon I’m sure! 😉

Back in Ottawa!

November 20, 2013

After an uneventful short-but-felt-like-forever flight, we made it to Ottawa just after midnight. And of course, greeted by both our families! ❤

She must be holding my hand because she missed me so much, right mommy?

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Even my grandparents came out to pick me up even though it was so late, thank you! 🙂

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My bro, always has his eyes closed in photos, “My eyes, they’re so sensitive!”

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And a picture with Mike’s parents before they headed off with a 2 hour drive ahead of them.

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Yay, finally home!

Vancouver: Day 03 (End)

November 19, 2013

Woke up to… clear blue skies, yay!

My sister had class this morning so she headed off with her housemate (Erin) after breakfast. Mike and I finished packing before heading out in order to make our lives easier.

We were pretty excited, with such a beautiful day, we were definitely heading back to Stanley Park and renting bikes!

And so we did! Thank you to Erin who lent us mittens and hats as well! They kept us warm during our excursion 🙂

We rented our bikes from Ezee Riders at $5/hour and went to check out the park… many photos!

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Got to see the Totem poles 🙂

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Such a gorgeous day!

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We finally saw the mountains!

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Feel proud guys. This was my third time on a bike in public and boy was it an achievement. I didn’t fall or drive off any roads or into any people or inanimate objects… like the last time I biked. 😛

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Sadly, the time passed more quickly than we expected and soon we had to return our bikes and start heading back.

Ramen House 大街小廚 on Urbanspoon

We decided to stop for Japanese ramen, but due to our eagerness, we walked into a place on Broadway called Ramen House. They were a Chinese restaurant… that didn’t have a Japanese ramen menu…

We felt bad getting up to leave after already being served tea so decided to stay and check them out anyway. There were a lot of items on the menu so we took longer than usual to make up our minds. The poor owner, felt bad for us and said he would not be offended if we wished to leave to get Japanese ramen instead. But no worries! We decided two mains and two dim sums to share.

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Calamari was tender and not greasy, very nice!

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At the owner’s suggestion, I got Tan Tan Noodles, which were delicious! I’ve never tasted anything like this, so can’t really explain, I remember it being savoury but sour, and very garlicky. The noodles were nicely done as well.

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Mike got Hot and Sour Soup with Dumplings – I haven’t had this soup in a long time and found it to be quite nice. Never tastes as good as the one my mom makes but I was pleasantly surprised, could do with more veggies and tofu though!

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We had such amazing Fried Red Bean Pancake at Swee Choon in Singapore that we ordered it here as well, hoping for another delicious treat. Unfortunately, the pancake was not evenly crispy and quite greasy. A disappointment but the filling was actually quite nice!

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After lunch, we headed back to my sister’s place to pick up our luggage and find our way to the airport! Took the bus and the skytrain without any problems and were soon checked in and enjoying some Starbucks at our boarding gate for our flight at 4:20pm.

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And that… is the end of our Vancouver visit! Pretty short and sad because of the weather but I’m so glad we ended it with beautiful weather!

Looking forward to being home!

3 weeks since I last posted!

Unbelievable how fast this rotation has gone by… tomorrow is already my last day in hospital… of the year. Then final exams next week!

I haven’t blogged in over three weeks, ashamed! No excuses! Although getting home late most days leaves me completely exhausted, especially after dinner when I still have to study 😦 That, and I have not done anything interesting during this rotation! Mostly focused on school, I haven’t even been taking photos regularly! Oopsies.

I’m very excited to be approaching the end of third year, which has been fantastic. I love being in the hospital, being part of a team, and the opportunity for hands on learning. Definitely excited to be finishing up this year, but a little apprehensive about next year as well, ah!

Here are a few updates:

  • So fortunate to have been a part of such an awesome medical team for this rotation. We are having a farewell lunch tomorrow… I’ll definitely be a little sad but it will be nice to see their faces next year as well 🙂
  • Final exams next Wednesday morning! It will consist of a long case and a short case. For the long case, we get 1 hour with a patient and during that hour, we must get a full history and do a full examination. This is followed by 20 minutes with two examiners where we present our case and get grilled. The short case will be a focused examination completed within 8-10 minutes, also followed by a brief summary/presentation to the examiners and being questioned. Sounds nerve wracking? It is!
  • Because real patients are used for our exams, we are banned from the hospital as of Friday. That way, newly admitted patients are kept secret 😉 And so, I’ve decided to go to the beach this weekend. Relax and do some reading under the sun… lots of reading to get through in preparation for my exams next week!
  • Will be going to my first baby shower! Mum-to-be is my lovely friend Kristen, who makes pregnancy look absolutely beautiful!
  • Then Mike and I are flying home on Sunday, November 17th at 7:45 am! We’ll be heading to the airport quite early, will we be up all night doing last minute packing? Mike will for sure. I’ll be doing my packing while procrastinating studying for exams.
  • We’ll be arriving in Vancouver on November 17th at 7:25 am and will spend a couple of days visiting my sister (studying OT at UBC) before going back to Ottawa, arriving at 11:40 pm on November 19th!
  • Yay, I’ll be home for my grandpa’s 80th birthday!
  • After many weeks of snail mail, I have finally completed my registration to write the Medical Council of Canada Evaluating Examination (MCCEE)! This will be the first of 4 Canadian exams I will have to complete should I wish to train in Canada. My exam will be on February 28th in Melbourne!
  • I have a lot of studying to do… for the rest of my life.
  • But yay, home soon! And for Christmas!

Hey, it’s snowing on my blog!

And I can’t remember how to stop it… you’ll just have to deal with it until I fiddle around and find that magical switch to turn it off.

So… I’ve been back 2 weeks and have been terribly blog-silent, what have I been doing?

You might’ve seen me mention it in earlier posts, but home renovations took up quite a bit of time! Does it count if you’re not tearing down walls? Because I didn’t do that this time.

Our living room: Before

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Our living room: After

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Not too shabby? I am amazed I put this together without:

  • Destroying it
  • Having it fall on top of me
  • It being crooked!

I’ve also helped my brother with his bedroom but it’s still full of his unorganized junk, so no pictures for now!

What else – I FINALLY had Tim Hortons!

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Look at the glorious selection (or at least what’s available at 8pm). A dozen donuts for approx $7 – apple fritters, I have missed you!

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Even better that this Timmies is just on the corner of my street.

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Yum, makes me so happy! Got some apple fritters, blueberry fritters, apple cinnamon with jelly filling, Boston creams, blueberry/strawberry jelly-filled, maple cream, yum!

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We also had (really simple) Subway dinner with my grandparents on the evening of his 79th birthday (Nov 24)

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My sister brought her turtle, Franklin, over to visit my grandparents after dinner 😛

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The next day, Nov 25, we celebrated his birthday with the entire family!

The foods!

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The birthday man!

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Giving our cards and gifts

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Having lots of fun playing Articulate (came all the way from Australia!) after cake 🙂

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FULL ALBUM HERE!

AYCE sushi with my family on November 28th at Sushi Kan!

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Mmm, green tea ice cream

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RANDOM! My new favourite combination: goat cheese (herb flavour) with blueberry jam – delicious! And bagels! Australia! Why you no have delicious bagels?!

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Met up with Bea on Friday, Nov 30 for lunch at Bobby’s Table. Good company and good food in a homely and friendly little place!

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And then for dinner met up with the girls for sushi at Genji – delicious! So nice to catch up with Ruixi (and hear all about her engagement!), Julia, Atong and Alyssa – you girls make me laugh non stop – love you guys!

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BONUS! My brother’s ugly face 🙂

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Okay, I should go pack now… flying to Halifax tomorrow morning! 🙂

Photo #267: Time for a Makeover

November 21, 2012

Our living room has been out of date for too long… we’re finally giving it a facelift! First step: Sort everything to either store, donate or keep in living room. This project is ALL I’ve been doing these past few days back in Canada so I hope it turns out nice. I haven’t screwed up yet, which is always a good sign!

Home: Comforts and responsibilities

Like many people say, home is where the heart is. But after being away this year, I felt a little estranged walking in. I guess it’s simply because certain things changed and I wasn’t around to witness the process. Even little things like a replaced mat, a new appliance and small cracks in the old paint are taking me by surprise. I’m actually spending time staring at them!

I’ve also almost forgotten how much busier you can be when living in a family household, especially as the older sibling/eldest child. Someone can always use a hand, something here or there can always be done, and there is so much catching up to do when you’ve been away for so long!

I’ve come back right in the middle of home renovations, which are always such a joy! (Note: Sarcasm) Completing renovations is always very satisfying, but the potential long journey to that point is often tiring and can really test your patience. However, there are still good aspects of undertaking such projects, such as hanging out with family and using my non-existant muscles – which are already feeling the burn. We’ve barely made a dent in anything so I can’t wait to see how happy my body will be by the time we’re done. (Note: Very serious, no sarcasm meant. I really need move my butt)

The current state of our study. Hopefully the next time you see it, there will be no messes!

Besides family (and friends whom I have no time for yet) and the bed, there are many other comforts of home I often take for granted, primarily FOOD.

Things like, Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal… the taste you can see!

Vietnamese dishes I would never make myself like warm Soy Bean Pudding with ginger syrup, perfect for the cold weather!

Additionally, I’ve forgotten how many delights a fridge stocked by my mom can contain! 😛

My sister still has her claim on my old bed. She’s joined both our twins to make a massive… king sized? So she’s stuck with me in ‘her bed’ along with her life-sized teddy. I sometimes worry he might come to life and kill me in my sleep.

She’s also bought a new pet – a 5 month old yellow bellied slider turtle, which she named Franklin. Very original name, I know 😛 As you might see, his shell looks pretty unhealthy. Franklin’s previous owner didn’t take the best of care (provided no proper heat/UV-B lamp… the poor turtle) so my sister is making sure he’s getting a lot of love.

I’m also still debating on whether or not I will write the USMLE Step 1 and if so, when I will be writing it. In the meantime, I’m still going to study over the break. Pocket medicine was the only physical book I brought back with me, but everything is on my iPad, so should be fine! I’ve decided to begin studying by going over Pathoma lectures, starting with Chapter 1 today. We’ll see how that goes before I plan anything further! 😛

And while you’re here, I wanted to share with my year book profile – written by Roger and Christine with a few things added by Michael and Yoni (yes, we were supposed to get our friends to write one for us). After reading the profiles of many other classmates, I’m quite thankful my friends are nice and don’t have a cruel sense of humour! 😉

Home: The plane ride and first night

November 18, 2012

(Warning: This might be a long one! And I didn’t even take many pictures to make it easier to read)

Mike and I woke up bright and early to get ready and head to the airport.

We were so proud of ourselves getting in the taxi and at the domestic terminal by 5:30ish… only to be told we were at the wrong terminal and needed to get ourselves to the international one. Frig! Our itinerary didn’t tell us that, and the same flight last year flew out of the domestic terminal! Luckily the shuttle bus came immediately and there was no one else on it. We hauled our luggage on and told the driver what happened. She asked us, “Did you know your flight’s delayed til 10?”

What… we did not!

Checked in at the international terminal only to have the Qantas representative go “Hmmm…” *clack away at keyboard* and then leave us standing for 20mins to go “sort this out.” So we had no idea what was going on but only hoped we didn’t have to wait until tomorrow to fly out.

He finally came back to tell us that for some reason, the Qantas leg of our flight had been canceled on their system so they hadn’t known to make alternative flight arrangements due to our delayed flight. Oh no! Leaving at 10am instead of 7:30am would make us miss our connection flight to Canada. Luckily they were able to put us on an earlier flight. But, we had to go back to the domestic terminal.

Yes, we groaned too! Before even asking, the rep spared us more trouble. He checked us (and our luggage!) in and let us leave our bags there where they would be transferred to our plane – hooray!

With boarding passes in hand, we hopped on the shuttle bus to go back to the domestic terminal… and ran into the same driver. And yes, she obviously laughed at us.

We were told there was someone sitting between us on the flight to Sydney and started joking, “Maybe this person is really big and booked a middle seat hoping no one else would sit beside them.” We boarded the plane only to have Warren (not fat, in our class, also from Ottawa) come up to us and say, “Looks like we’re stuck with each other!” Little did he know, he would’ve had the whole row to himself if not for us! But it was nice to see familiar faces (Tom was flying with Warren) on such a long trip home.

All flights and transfers went extremely smooth. My butt became numb about 4 hours into the leg from Sydney to Vancouver. By the 6th hour, my sacrum was crying and needed a heat patch to numb the pain. I’ve always hated this part the journey!

The airplane food was surprisingly a lot tastier than we expected! Which was nice because I actually ate my meals and at got at least a tiny fraction of my money’s worth. Too bad we didn’t have enough time to grab Tim Horton’s at Vancouver though – we barely made the connection!

Had a big welcome party at the airport in Ottawa. Big thanks to everyone (mom, sis, bro, grandparents, Cau Hai’s family, and Di Nam) for picking me up! 🙂 I felt special. Also nice to briefly see Mike’s parents too before we went our separate ways.

Got home around 6pm to enjoy my first home cooked meal – Bun rieu, yum!

My sister… always ruining pictures!

Unpacked my luggage! Then brought my Australian gifts over to hang out with my grandparents for a bit. We tried some of the goodies together and by 11pm I was ready to call it a night.

Came home, called Michael (miss you!) and finally showered after 2 days – gross.

Recently made dishes

I had made this meatloaf a few weeks ago and again for Mario‘s Thanksgiving lunch this past weekend. Ground turkey works fantastic for this and I now enjoy cooking with it over ground chicken.

Baby asparagus with a little bit of butter and sprinkles of salt, pepper and grated Parmesan

Grilled cheese with some home grown yellow cherry tomatoes

Pasta salad with pesto, broccoli, green peppers and olives. Tasted great, but can you tell I had veggies to use up?

Photo #202: 2 Months til Home

September 18, 2012

Surprisingly miss my family and can’t wait to be going home – even though they’ve just visited me for over a month. In exactly 2 months, I will be on a plane to Canada for the holidays!

This picture was taken back in 2010 while visiting my dad’s grave.

Photo #182: Home Intruder

August 29, 2012

Home alone and house is completely silent when all of a sudden loud noises emit from the garage. Break in? Cockroach army? Possum?

Nope, just this cute little guy jumping around the cardboard boxes and wreaking a little havoc!

My new home :)

Only a picture of the outside for now. Pictures inside when it’s neater!

I love it! And it’s so so so convenient to get around the city 🙂

Bonus picture:

“I’m just going to search on Gumtree for a couch… zzzzZZZZ”

“I can also magically sleep while holding my iPhone and keeping my feet up…”