Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Eve

I haven't yet really had the chance to stop and look back at 2011, but to feel it from memory, I gotta say that 2011 was one year of learning and growing. And I love it.

I didn't take any new classes or travel any place new - as I normally would do one, the other or both. I haven't changed a lot in my life to prove any lessons learned. No great big milestones (aside from turning 30 and becoming the "next category" in some age check box lists). But, this may be by far one of the greatest year of learning in the past little while.

It's not something that's easily explained. But it certainly has a lot to do with life experiences, building character and creating layers. But most importantly through it all, life is about perspective. It is much to do with how you see it from inside you. This blog has given not just you, but me, the snippets of what I choose to slow down and see and enjoy. And that was my one secret resolution at the beginning of the year. To learn to enjoy whatever it is thrown at me. No matter good or bad. Big or small. Enjoy it.

It sounds almost silly to be asked to enjoy hardships and trials in our days. But it is those days where it is even more important to do so. On a cloudy, stormy day... enjoy the coziness of indoors and snuggle with a book. When your friend confides in you with horrible news, sit with them in quiet and listen. When family are going through troubles, take an afternoon and walk out for a cup of coffee and forget the rest. What you will realize is, through the grey, bad, and uglies... what you  feel and remember and enjoy, is that good book, the quality quiet time you spent with your friend, and that amazing cup of coffee. There is a lot in enjoying the small things. You just gotta choose your perspective.

This post is vague, and I was going to apologize for it but I'm not gonna. Maybe I'll explain it all in the new year, and maybe I won't. But if you've read this far... you might as well keep sticking around.

I'd love to write so much more, but I've got one more morning shift to work this year, and then a countdown party that's guranteed to last till midnight. So, to all who's been tuning in... I wish you all a very happy new year!

Welcome, 2012!

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Wow, I cannot believe it. I started this blog one year ago - on January 1, 2011... and it's still trucking along. There's a consistent influx of readers a day... which has recently switched from mostly Canadian readers to Americans. The only importance of that is, y'mean my readers aren't majority my friends at home? One year and close to 13,000 views later, I'm ready to make this blog even better next year. I keep clicking on the "Mosaic" format and scrolling up and down to see my year in a nutshell. It's been a fun ride!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas, Everyone

Merry Christmas! Now that I'm finally caught up on life, I'm going to catch up on my blogging. So, so, so much to update on.

I've been completely spoiled rotten this Christmas. I feel so blessed to have the people that I do in my life. Carrying on traditions since childhood, gobbling up all the turkey and roasts we can get at Auntie Irene's, playing our annual games, and family and friends all under one roof... my heart is swollen with love.

Until I sift through all else that I wanted to update on...

I hope everyone is enjoying this beautiful Christmas day with your friends and family. May your new year be filled with many more wonderful memories to be made. Above all, wishing you all health, joy, and happiness :)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Homemade Goodies

These were both baked from the same muffin tins. The first one is a decadent chocolate fudge cupcake. The second is Christmas stuffing.

I went over to Wendy and Sam's to drop off a lil somethin' for Christmas. In return, I got homebaked goodies. Mmm.... Wendy baked the cupcake (which was dessert for their family Christmas dinner), and Sam baked the stuffing (which was also leftovers from their Christmas dinner). That is just so you know why the strange combination...

I have to admit, Sam is still the better cook. That stuffing was so good... completed with bits of apple that added a something sweet to it. But, not to say the cupcake wasn't also decadent. Wendy, you definitely got style. Look at the presentation of that cupcake! Beauuuuutiful.

(Yes Wendy, your cupcake is now officially on my blog!).

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The first house was one of the first houses I saw with lights this season. If only this was in video, you'd you the lights hanging from the trimings twinkling down like lights on icicles.

As much as I am pro energy saving, when it comes to Christmas lights, I still am in love with the colourful yellowy kind. This is one of the many reasons why I love December. Christmas lights. It brings a magical spark inside me... nothing overwhelming, just a tiny, little fire. Igniting the memories of childhood excitement come this time of year. And, they're pretty. Very pretty.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Honolulu Cookie Company

If you haven't tried these, you gotta fly yourself to Hawaii and get yourself a box right now

Honolulu Cookie Company. They are so good. They have that perfect kind of crunch. I love them. There are many different varieties, and Bran and Dan, you're right... the chocolate-dipped kind are the best. The pink one? That's passionfruit flavoured. Mmm... 

Thanks for thinking about me! (Even on your honeymoon. haha...)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Meet Lyla

Face palm! Knowing who's baby-sitting her...

This is Lyla. She is such a cutie patootie! Babysat her while her daddy brought her mommy out on a dinner date for mommy's birthday.

At the beginning of the night, she wondered where her parents went. We had to fib a little and told her her parents went out to pick up milk. Still, she wondered where her parents went. So, we tried to distract her with a cartoon on TV. And where are all the cartoons on a Friday night?

She was soon mezmorized by the Christmas Special episode of the Family Guy where Santa... gets killed. (The only cartoon we could find!). She laughed when that happened. Gosh. She's young. She won't understand. We... hope. If only her parents knew... (Is this post going to ban me from any future babysitting duties?? I hope not. I love me some baby time.)

Meanwhile, we made some "Gow Jee's" (potstickers) from scratch. They were super delicious and so easy to make. Lyla loves them! No MSG. And probably a lot more healthy than the store bought version. I should really make these more often.

Man... try cooking and tending to a child. One hard feat. I give crazy props to all those mommies out there!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Nutcracker

With all the excitement of listening to the songs of the Nutcracker a few nights ago, it all came pouring back tonight when we got to actually watch the Nutcracker at The Centre. This was put on by the Goh Ballet. It was a special preview for RBC employees. And since we know someone who works there, we were lucky enough to score some free tickets.

Majorly cute performance especially with the kids!

Moments like these makes me especially grateful that my parents had put me through years and years and years... and years... of studying music. Taking piano lessons from age 5 to 22, and many years of music theory in between... I learned to really appreciate it. Enjoy it. Love it.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas Afternoon Tea At Xishi


We planned the day full of Christmas treats. From morning to night. I spent a lovely morning with Allie rummaging through all the goodies at the One Of A Kind Show at the Convention Centre. Knowing that I had only a couple of hours before meeting up with the other girls for afternoon tea, I did my speedy, mad chicken walk around the show.

Scope. Then go back if I needed to.

I did spot some things that I really liked. Surprisingly, the one item that I bought... I had bought last year. It's a repeat gift. A repeat gift?! Yah. That's right. I gifted it last year to one friend. Then another friend came to mind this year. Nothing wrong with getting the same gifts when you're pretty sure they're gonna love it!

Then, I met up with Karen, Ray, Cathy, Wendy, Sam, Jen and Anthony for afternoon tea at Xishi. Phew! That's a long list. Karen chose the venue 'cause she's been, liked it, and wants us to try it. Xishi is essentially the lobby lounge restaurant at the Shangri La Hotel.

I was the first one there.

An older man approached me at the table where I was sitting and introduced himself. He was the pianist who would later serenade us with beautiful Christmas songs on his grand. I told him that there was no need for such introduction, since we had purposely booked that timeslot for afternoon tea knowing that he would be there to perform. We've been there before and have heard him play. Karen, in particular, is infactuated with his music, which is apparent why she is so if you've heard him play. He looked a bit surprised by my comment, but thanked me and said he's flattered.


Shortly after, the rest arrived and we enjoyed a lovely Christmas afternoon tea together.

(Not pictured : Jen, Anthony, and I. Spent more time enjoying tea and took only a couple quick shots with my phone).

As part of their seasonal offers, we also got a complimentary hot chocolate and gingerbread man cookie. (As if there wasn't enough sugar already!). Sad to say that I took a sip of the hot chocolate, and couldn't finish it all. It was so decadently rich.... too much to wash down all the sugar with more sugar. I took the gingerbread man cookie home... but it too went to waste. 

A few tables away from us was Laurence Fishburne. Y'know, the Matrix? Ahh, star sightings always make your day a little more interesting for some reason. 

There was a great variety of sandwiches and the scones were crumbly but fluffy. I was rather disappointed in the dessert tier 'cause they all seemed to be mostly chocolate. I would have preferred a variety. It didn't matter anyway 'cause I was so full from everything else, I didn't make it far thru the desserts. The best part was their own blends of tea. Rich enough for you to add cream and sugar if you so desire. I would recommend the afternoon tea at the Shangri La Hotel if you haven't tried it. It is a bit on the pricier side. If you haven't tried afternoon tea at all, then I still would recommend Secret Garden in Kerrisdale for a more homey alternative. Just my preference. I don't know what is more "authentic". The couple times I went to afternoon high tea in London (where it originated), it was all very glitzy rather than homey, but it may have been the choice of place.

We walked off all that yummy goodness with a stroll in the crisp air. We did a bit of browsing along Robson St. before we headed to St. Andrews Church. 

Another VSO concert! I let the music lull me to contentment. Jen was super excited awaiting the Nutcracker. There is something about sitting in a church and listening to classical music or plain Christmas classics that eases your mind into a peaceful state. For the duration of the concert, you tend to forget the rest of the world... simply making you enjoy the present. The master of ceremony and the conductors were hilarious. A VSO concert is not all just around the instruments! And another thing about them? They never disappoint. 

It was a wonderful winter night. Festive music. Beautiful church. Great company. What more can one ask for...

Friday, December 9, 2011

Singing Christmas Tree at the Broadway Church

We are always up for soaking up all the Christmas goodness, so a bunch of us girls met up to check out the Singing Christmas Tree at the Broadway Church. I can't believe it's on its 44th anniversary, and I've only started hearing about it this year. Kat mentioned that it's pretty good, and then Andrew mentioned it's worth checking out... so we had to see. Better yet? It's free. (Donations accepted for the church).

Apparently, they change up the story and theme, and this year, the story was based in Hawaii. Simple, and heart warming story about faith. The choir (yes, those are real heads to that Christmas tree!) was wonderful. And the individual singing performances were amazing. We didn't get the free tickets beforehand, so we were in the standby line to get in... which made us almost the last ones in in an enormous church. Our seats weren't the best, so we couldn't see everything, but overall... with the live orchestra and performances... I enjoyed it very much. All the talk of Hawaii... now I want to go back!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Small Gestures

I heart small gestures. And thankfully, throughout childhood to adult life, I've been surrounded by amazing people who have always somehow done little things to says, hey, I've been thinkin' about ya. From family and friends alike. I'm so blessed to have the people I do in my life. And I really cannot thank them enough. 

Christmas time reminds me of a time during Christmas exams. A friend left a good luck card on my desk at the library at school... where I was studying. Waiting for the moment I stepped away from my desk to purposely place the card on my books before I came back. And then to come home from late night study sessions to find a slice of cheesecake in my fridge from another friend. Who had so thoughtfully dropped it off while I was at school studying. On the box, she wrote "Happy studying!".

Or how about that time a couple of my friends took a 6-hour bus ride to Kelowna, braving the winter snow storm in the cold of February to visit me while I was on my pharmacy internship rotation.... just to deliver bubbletea? 

The countless times friends have dropped by work to say hi or to hand me a coffee or sweets (and trust me, my work is not "on the way" to anywhere.. here or back in Victoria).

Last week, a friend burnt me a CD. Unexpectedly. 

I heart small gestures. In my heart, they're far from small. 

So why bring this up now? December, to me, is the month for family and friends. Christmas... whether you believe it's become completely commercialized or not... whether you believe it's "not the same" as when you were a kid or not... to me, it's still about family and friends. We all make a point to stop and think about each other, one way or another. 

It's December first. To my friends and family, I've been thinking about you. 

I wish I could return all the gestures. I can hope to try. So, to start of December properly, I gave Kat and Maria both an advent calendar.  I haven't had an advent calendar since probably elementary grade school. Until last year. A coworker bought one and we all shared it. We were like arguing about who gets which date. I hope that even in our adult lives, we continue to receive and give these small gestures that give us if even for a second, something little to smile about. 

Camera phone. Not to shabby, eh?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

O Christmas Tree

The tree is going up! 

Let me give you a tour around my tree and show you some of my favorite ornaments.

This one is made out of glass... music sheets... and a lot of glitter. The second one is also made out of glass and painted roughly with a dirty gold. Karen had placed these two ornaments with a symphony ticket package for me for Christmas last year. Not only are these ornaments so pretty, but they bring back the memories. Memories of my reaction when I opened her present... and memories of all those times we spent going to the symphony together.

I got this glass bobble in 2008 on my Carribean cruise with Maria and Jen. It has the name of the ship written on the other side. Brings back memories of our amazing trip in the sun.

Yes, that is a purse. This one dates back to 2005. At the time, I lived with two roommates in Victoria. We went out and bought ourselves a Christmas tree at Canadian Tire (which is the tree in these photos now), and I made Christmas stockings for each of us. I hung them on the stair railing because we had no fireplace in our apartment, and stuffed each one with a purse ornament. For all kinds of ornaments, there is always The Bay.

This is one of many Christmas ornaments that Bran gives us every year. Isn't it pretty?

The left one is a treble clef given to me by my piano teacher many, many years ago. Probably 15 to 20 years ago. The right one is yet another one from Bran. Hand stitched and crafted. Such details. On the stem of the tree, she stitched "'06". Made in 2006.


The one on the left was something I made when I was in elementary school. Out of popsicle sticks and Elmer's white glue. The construction paper is slowly falling apart but it's hangin' in there. The one on the right  is dated 2010. I bought that on my trip to visit Lily in Toronto. A snowman ice cream cone! It's so cute... I think whoever went with me on that trip has one too.


There are so many more favorites. Maybe I'll give you another tour another time. For now... I'm going to sit back and watch the white twinkling lights on my tree. Enjoying the beginning of the happiest seasons of all.

(And that's how my new header to this blog came about).

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Birthday Cards Too

Took a breather between making Christmas cards and made a birthday card instead. It's a little early for a birthday in December, but early is always better!