Graduation presents

December 21, 2014

After lunch at Wagaya, our families came back to our house to visit – a first time for my family from Perth!

In addition, our families took that opportunity to give us amazing, generous, graduation gifts – thank you so very much!

My mom gave us our gifts from my grandparents first – as they are the oldest and couldn’t attend in person – thank you Ong Ba Ngoai! We will put the money towards our future and wedding planning!

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I received a nice watch and card from Ong Ba Ba

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Thank you to Ong Ba Ut for their generous gifts – we will put it towards our relocation and setting up a new life in Rockhampton!

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A very special gift to Michael from his parents, a laminated card that his mom has kept safely for many years

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My mom is the best, as always!

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With the best card 😛

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She gave us each a Pilot retractable fountain pen

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Michael also got a beautiful dark purple DKNY tie from my mom, and I received 2 Pandora beads – thank you mom!

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Thank you to Di Loan for your lottery tickets! We were really hoping to win, but alas!

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Also a very special thank you to Ong Ba Hai (Ong Ba Ut’s best friends) and Nghiem for sending me cards and gifts!

Some family photos

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I also want to share the graduation gifts from Michael’s family! We received them on December 11, 2014, during our beach getaway at Noosa with his family 🙂

Aunt Patsy and Uncle Dan gave us a generous gift to treat ourselves out to a celebratory graduation dinner – thank you! It was really too bad that our graduation date was changed to a week later this year compared to previous years. Unfortunately, they couldn’t attend but I’m sure they had a great time on their cruise!

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Uncle Rick and Aunt Wendy gave us the cutest Christmas ornaments. They definitely went on our tree and will be on our tree every year!

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Uncle Jim and Aunt Brenda gave us the novel “Breathless” written by Dr Todd – a thoracic surgeon who performed many of Canada’s early lung transplant operations.

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Thank you so much to everyone for all your love, gifts, and kind words! Treasured forever!

DHAL: July 28, 2014 – My 27th birthday!

Thanks to my lovely sister for spending the past weekend and indulging with me! Unfortunately, it was back to the real world for me and back to Vancouver for her this morning!

On the other hand, happy 27th birthday to me! Gosh, makes me feel old! I spent my birthday in the hospital, working hard and coming home late, just like any other day because no one knew it was my birthday and I felt it unnecessary to share. Despite being alone, I received so much love from family and friends in the form of text messages, phone calls and Facebook messages – many thanks everyone!

Facebook message and photo from my sister

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Received these 2 Pandora beads from my sister. The left one is the Birthday Bloom charm for my birth month. The left is an engagement present and called Forever Entwined. I love them, thanks Jenni!

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Cards from Mike’s parents and my sister (telling me to cheer up)!

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Facebook message and photo from Mike

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Received part 1 of my birthday gift at the airport from Michael. I’ve been wanting a fitbit for a while – it’s a bracelet you wear that helps you track your activity as well as sleep, thanks love! I haven’t started using it yet because I have no one around to discuss it with at the moment. I’m also excited for part 2 of my gift – soon reunited!

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Facebook message and photo from my mum!

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Before I left Ottawa at the beginning of this year, my mum had already given me my birthday gift in advance – this gold heart Pandora charm. Perhaps she forgot about it and that’s why she has another present for me? 😛

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I even came home to a chocolate bar and well wishes from my housemate Lyndsay, thank you! 🙂

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My first birthday spent truly by myself away from family and friends, but I felt the love!

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! ❤

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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Preparations for my Grandpa’s 80th Birthday

Hello friends!

My grandpa turned 80 years old last Sunday (Nov 24)! Our entire family thought it would be appropriate to throw him a surprise party and tasks were divided up in order to get everything organised for the big day.

My responsibilities included being in charge of decorations and making a big card for everyone to sign. This is pretty hard to do when you’re on the other side of the world, with exams, and haven’t seen what the rented room looks like or how many people will be attending, etc. But no worries, the cousins united once I got back in Ottawa to get things done!

We all met up at my house on Friday, Nov 22, to work on the decor and to make the giant birthday card – which featured hand-print trees from all 13 grandchildren.

Yes, my sister flew home just for the weekend for my grandpa, yay!

Some photos of us hard at work 😛

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The ooo’s and the aah’s that came after each person lifted their hand to reveal a perfect print was pretty hilarious. Who knew we had such mad skills!

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Getting there!

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I also decided to bake some mini cupcakes the next day – apple cinnamon with orange frosting and chocolate caramel with peanut butter frosting. Had to bake these at my cousin Janet’s house because our oven is too old and temperamental for baking.

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And our family present to my Grandpa! It was decided that every family would have their own present as opposed to pitching in for one large gift. As my grandpa really enjoys trying new foods, we decided to buy an assortment of interesting goodies for him to try and share with family and friends. Some items have personal notes on them as well 😀

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I’ll be posting photos of the actual birthday party soon! ^_^

Kristen’s Baby Shower!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

It was a beautiful day to celebrate such a special event with Kristen! 🙂

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We were invited to join her for a delicious high tea that was held at Spicers Balfour Hotel, a lovely boutique hotel hidden away from the business of the city.

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Not only were the venue and food beautiful, but more importantly, the mum-to-be looked gorgeous and glowing! Her white dress, swept back hair and of course, those beautiful blue eyes and smile really exuded happiness and excitement. Or was it because school was finally over? Haha, I’m sure that played a small role too! 😉

I apologize for all the stuff in people’s faces in the next few photos…

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For her gift, Fiona, Christine and I agreed that our present would revolve around pampering for Kristen, especially after just completing the most difficult rotation (Medicine) of year 3! Baby presents can come later! 😉 We decided on a pregnancy massage at Rainesforest Massage & Day Spa, as well as a candle and a bottle of bubble bath. You’ll have to let us know how you enjoyed it Kristen!

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Presents from other guests all had one thing in common: ADORABLE!

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Very lovely to meet her friends, and especially her mom

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Girlies!

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I am so excited for the arrival of their bub, I know her and Matt will be wonderful parents! The gender of the baby will be a surprise, which only adds more to the excitement! The only sad thing: she is due next month, and I’m in Canada! But that’s okay, because Mike and I are visiting her family first when we’re back in Brisbane! 😀

Mike’s 34th Birthday!

Another long overdue post!

Mike turned 34 on September 21, 2013 – woo hoo! We had a quiet day at home with just the 2 of us… focused on food, haha!

Started the day by making us some mini blueberry and white chocolate pancakes for breakfast! 🙂

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For lunch we went to our favourite local sushi restaurant, Sakura Sushi – they have new menu items! They keep improving every time we visit – highly recommended!

And a lovely homemade meal to celebrate for dinner 🙂

At Mike’s request, Banh Tam Xiu Mai – one of his favourite Viet dishes!

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Also made some coconut basil shrimp, mmm so tasty!

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Happy birthday my love!

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And also at his request, Caramel infused chocolate cupcakes with chocolate icing. My best homemade cupcakes yet, huge stamp of approval from the birthday boy!

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And of course, presents!

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Wishing you many more happy birthdays to come my dear! ❤

Another year older…

Thought I should finally blog about my 26th birthday which was last month on July 28 – ah, I’m getting so old!

My birthday was very uneventful. I stayed at home all day and lounged on the couch, which was really just what I needed! 😀

For dinner, Mike made yummy chicken Kiev with potatoes and vegetables and chocolate cupcakes! I didn’t plan an event or do anything with friends, but perhaps next year!

Wasn’t expecting anything, but I even got presents…

Really cute wrapping from Mike, he was very impressed at his handiwork. Even the bow was handmade 😛

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Mike added 3 charms to my Pandora bracelet: Suitcase + Aeroplane, both representing each other’s travel buddy, the travels we’ve done together so far, and the places we’ll see together in the future. He also gifted me the Medical charm, also known as the Caduceus charm. Yes, we are both aware that the Rod of Asclepius (and not the Caduceus symbol) is the proper symbol of medicine!

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My sister sent me a package from Ottawa that contained a dinosaur card in an envelope that roared (sounding very much like my brother) when you opened it.

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Inside the card were my presents! Awesome gift certificates, you should take a look!

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In addition, I also received a bunch of Reese peanut butter cups! Delicious and not easily available, or cheap, in Australia.

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Unfortunately, they were all squished and looked like this!

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My brother ordered me a set of ceramic knives – nice! I’ve always wanted a few of these, and now I have some! He even gave me the “never sharpen ceramic knives” speech 😛 Yes bro, of course I know that already! 😉

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Thanks family!

And as a bonus, some gifts from Kristen! Cute heart-shaped silicone cupcake liners and a paper set with little decorations! Also a lovely brown skinny belt with a gold feather buckle and a turquoise clutch/wallet. Thank you my dear!

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Oh, did I mention my family back home had a party on my behalf? Thanks guys! Although I think you used my birthday as an excuse to eat cake 😛 Just kidding! Thanks for remembering me and including me in the family!

Here are some pictures from the “party”:

Me with my cake!

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With mum and the siblings

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And Di Nam (mum’s sister)

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And altogether!

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Siblings and Janet

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Cutting my cake

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Even get to eat cake!

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Bonus:

My siblings, their pets, and cousin Janet

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We’re having a baaaall!

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26 years old… gosh time is going by too quickly! I wonder what this year will hold? 🙂

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!

 

Photo #309: Keeping Dad Company

January 02, 2013

My siblings and I went to visit my dad at the cemetery today. There was so much snow that his headstone was half buried, not to mention it was SO COLD. Years ago, my sister got these 3 dogs as a small gift for my dad, they represented his three children since he was born the year of the dog. Today, we marked them with our Viet names and brought them out to keep my dad company in the snow.

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?

Photo #208: Testing the Flash

September 24, 2012

Finally picked up some rechargeable batteries for the camera flash my brother got me for my birthday! Thanks bro! This was my first shot using it. Had all the lights off and Michael was just sitting in the dark patiently waiting for me to blind him 😛

Photo #181: Gifted Journal

August 28, 2012

This diary/journal was a going away present from my friend ‘S’ 2 years ago when I left for Australia. This year, it has become my most used notebook. With me every time I’m in the hospital and full of little notes and details of amazing ‘first-time’ experiences on the ward. Thanks dear!

Photo #152: Personalised Gifts

July 30, 2012

Sharing a few of the personalised gifts received from my sister – 25th birthday presents! Had so many laughs that night – big thanks to my family and Michael for all the wonderful presents not included in this picture! ❤