Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Concert At St. Andrew's Church

I spent a rainy, windy night cozy inside a church for some lovely Christmas music performed by the Vancouver Symphony And Orchestra and two choirs. Being inside a church celebrating Christmas somehow  soothes and restores me. The church filled up by 7:30pm and the music filled the air. We all sang along to some songs. Stories and jokes were told. Solo performances from the choir were sung. It was absolutely enjoyable.

Christmas High Tea

Our own private tea station where we got to take a waft of each tea before we made our selection.
When we were kids, we all had Christmas traditions of opening presents early morning on Christmas day and even writing a letter or leaving out cookies for Santa. Now that we are older, we can now start new traditions of our own. My family is all about traditions and celebrations. We'll use any excuse to get together and have a good time. We've somehow started a new tradition amongst my cousins and our friends, and that is, Christmas high tea. 

This year, we had made reservations for the Xi-Shi Lounge at the Shangri-La Hotel, but with us being nobody's, and because of a somebody else, who was willing to buy out the entire lounge for their own party, we were transferred to a private room up at their restaurant, Market.

With connections to the hotel, we were able to also move their lounge pianist up to our private room too. Imagine that! Our own pianist for our own private high tea party. What we got was a comfy and modern room with a fireplace, which made it extra cozy for our little afternoon get-together. 

Beautiful festive decorations.

Karen and Wendy smelling the tea. Shangri-La has their own blends of tea. I chose their "Christmas Lights" blend, which was a green tea with tiny specks of red cherry.

Even Baby Sarah and Sophie made it out. She wasn't all too happy to be at an adult party though. The Shangri-La Hotel also gives out stuffed animal bears to little kiddies, which probably wouldn't have done much to comfort her. She just wouldn't have it. 

My favorite part of high tea are the sandwiches. My pick out of this selection would be the salmon on the open-faced bagel. I'm not sure I'd say they make the best sandwiches for high tea, but not complaining. They are still pretty good.

Okay, maybe I lied. With high tea particularly at the Shangri-La, my favorite is actually their scones. (Anywhere else, it would be the sandwiches.) They make the best scones I've ever had. Crispy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside, and not dry at all. Mmm... just typing this makes me want one right now. Scones are generally a hit-or-miss at other high tea places I've been to.

By the time I get to desserts, I'm usually done. Too full to pack it all in. But this is the reason why we choose the Shangri-La for Christmas high tea every year. Their high teas are seasonal, meaning they change their menus every few months. Because it's Christmas, it's of course, most fitting to have festive desserts. Gingerbread cookies, peppermint bark marshmallows, a chocolate Christmas log, and my favorite... the eggnog creme brulee. So yummy.

And lastly, but not least...a picture of the group!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

'Tis The Season

Bro : "They say that money doesn't buy happiness. But when you give it to others, it makes you happy. So really, money can bring you happiness. It's by giving it away."

It is true. 'Tis the season for giving!

When we were young, like every other child, we would get so excited the night before Christmas we cannot sleep. For many early years, we believed in Santa. We hung stockings on our fireplace and were ecstatic to find presents in them. We woke up early Christmas morning sitting by the tree waiting for our parents to wake up. Christmas Eve was always dedicated to a family gathering with everyone on my mom's side. And Christmas Day was spent with my dad's side. We always shared an enormous turkey. We sipped on eggnog. We sang Christmas carols by the piano. We opened Christmas crackers. We did everything Christmas. And I am thankful to have shared all these traditions with all my loved ones.

Now that I am older, I'm happy to see traditions carry on. The excitement now doesn't come from opening presents, but finding that perfect gift for that loved one and watching them opening theirs. (I can't wait till they open their presents this year!). There will be laughter shared over games and food comas from devouring too much turkey. We will still jam Christmas songs on the piano. And now, it's not just my mom and dad's sides of the family, but my friends - that I've met through elementary school, highschool, and university... will all come together too and join us at my aunt's house. And this makes me so happy. All my loved ones under one roof!

Looking back on this year, it wasn't the most stellar one. With watching loved ones going through heartbreaks in losing theirs, going through heartbreaks of my own, enduring a frustrating recovery period of an injury, and going through changes at work... has left me sometimes helplessly broken in spirit. But I'm always reminded that you have to experience the bad to really appreciate the good.

I'm so blessed. To family and close friends : I appreciate and love you. See you all in the next couple of days!

Let the festivities begin!

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Canyon Lights - Capilano Suspension Bridge

I talked about visiting the Capilano Suspension Bridge in the summer with family visiting. That visit gave us a year-long admissions pass so we decided to make use of it and check out the winter lights.

Let's step into the gift shop first. Decorated with all things festive.

No point in showing you the suspension bridge while on the suspension bridge. Without using a flash, it was impossible to stay absolutely still on a wobbly bridge. And with a flash, you wouldn't be able to see the lights. 

Before the hike in the freezing cold, grab a cup of hot chocolate and treats to keep you warm. I thought this little cabin of a concession stand was really cute.

Let's start it off by going up to Treetops Adventure. 

Walking over mini suspension bridges amongst the tops of the trees. Strings of Christmas lights lit up your path.

It was pretty cold up there but I enjoyed it very much still.

Amongst the trees, you can spot a reindeer or two.

They lit up the trees with different colours making them appear even more majestic and tall.

They also had some snowflake lights. 

You can read up on everything at their info area.

Back across the Capilano suspension bridge we go. You cannot even sense the height of the suspension bridge when it's completely dark beneath you.

Next was the Cliffwalk. Funny if you're talking about being afraid of heights, this one gets me more than the suspension bridge would. I don't think it's so much the height thing actually, but that this pathway is narrow. More claustophobia? It can only fit one person-wide, hence you can only go in one direction. Anyway, none of it is really all that scary but if I had to choose which one is worse, I'd probably pick the Cliffwalk.

The Cliffwalk really doesn't do anything for me except for these fun facts you get to read along the way. 

At the end of the Cliffwalk were the two most gorgeous Christmas trees ever! I love the rainbow coloured one. 

Ahhh.... definitely got a good dose of Christmas in at Canyon Lights. If you already have a pass, I would definitely recommend you check it out. If not, be prepared to pay $31.95 a pop. It isn't so bad considering it gives you a year-long membership, and this place is definitely worth checking out in the summer. (Gotta get a dose of my trees!). (Unlike Vandusen Garden's Christmas Lights, where admissions is separate from their annual membership pass). 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Winter Haul

I'm currently narrowing down some Christmas festivity photos, so before those posts go up, in the meantime, I thought I'd show you a part of my latest shopping spree. Here are some quick photos with some of it laid out on my bed. Above is from the Sugoi warehouse sale. Came out with three items. Two jackets and a long sleeve. When I first walked in and spotted that neon yellow/green jacket, I couldn't imagine why anyone would pick it over all the other colours that they had. Magenta, turquoise, royal blue, black... but as I pondered over it, it only made sense to be the most visible you can be while cycling, and decided that was the colour to go with. I grew to now LOVE the colour. The grey jacket will probably turn out to be more of an everyday Spring jacket. Love the combination of grey, black, and neon zippers with all its reflectors. All the long-sleeve, well, is just a love-sleeve.

The colour of this sweatshirt is actually a deeper pink. My birthday present from my bro. Yah, I chose it and asked for it. And now, I practically live in it.

I've been wanting a waterproof, simple and classic black NF jacket for some time now. Actually, been wanting it for years. When Sports Chek had their 25% off all NF things, I thought this would be the perfect time to get it. I had an additional 20% off (even sale items) coupon so I was set to finally make this purchase. After probably an hour of trying on all the black NF jackets they had, I decided on the most expensive one in the store. A black soft shell with a puffy liner. The liner can be removed and become a second jacket - to be worn together or even separately. The pockets are lined with soft fleece. It is incredibly warm. I love it. $400 reduced to $200 after all the discounts. I'd say $200 for a 2-in-1 jacket is a steal.

A gazillion posts of Christmas festivities to come! Stay tuned...

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Who Is This Cutie Pie?

Sarah @ 6 Months. She is full of expressions. And a little mischievous one. This little one cannot stay still. She is ready to explore the world. She will fuss and cry for you to take her out of her stroller, and once you give in and do just that, she'll burst into laughter 'cause she knows she's totally gotcha wrapped around her tiny finger. Love her to bits.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Cold December Nights

Been spending quite a few nights in the living room with a hot cup of tea. Sometimes with all the lights out except for the ones decorating the tree. You can't obviously tell from the picture, but the white lights blink and sparkle in a calm, rhythmic beat. It's soothing to watch. Tonight, I decided to start my gift wrapping earlier than usual. Before that, I was giving my Christmas cards a photoshoot. They're much more simpler than last year. Decided to repeat a few designs rather than making 25 different ones. This year, it's all about sparkles, white-stitching, and reverse stamping. You'll see that post later in January.

For now, hope everyone is enjoying their month of festivities and Christmas cheer.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Kick-Off To The Christmas Season

Aight, this isn't really a kick-off post, considering I've already done a dozen Christmas-related things but just haven't blogged. But here it is, a kick-off party so therefore a kick-off post. This party was arranged a couple months ago, and finally, it's happenin'. To be honest, I was totally looking forward to it. Not only did it mark the beginning on a self-created long weekend (arranged it with my boss that I needed an extra day off to recuperate before the hoorah crazy busy Christmas season), but I just really wanted to hang out with a big group of people that I'm most comfortable with. In the end, I realized that it was a big reunion of all types. Present at the party was a friend from elementary school, a couple people from highschool that I haven't seen since highschool, my cousin and her fiance and her coworker (whom we've dubbed as our VSO crew), and many from my good ol' dragonboat days. Almost my entire life showed up at the party... almost. (And a bunch that I didn't know too).

The night started off with me making a few dozen chicken drummettes for the party. I left about a dozen at home just for myself and family. Sorry, was in such a rush, there is no finish product photo. But, it was such a hit! The 40 drummettes were gone at the party, and by the time I got home, the dozen I left at home were gone too!

The party was at Bert's. Great big party room with a view. The only reason I got the girls to smile this big is because moments before this picture, we spiked Wendy's ginger ale without her knowing it. 

Wendy : This ginger ale tastes funny.
Kathy : Really? How?
Wendy : It's a bit bitter.
Me : (takes a sip from her cup). It tastes fine to me. 
Wendy : Did you guys put something in it?? 
Kathy : How would we have done that? (There were no evidence of alcohol bottles around us).
Karen : (takes a sip from Wendy's cup). No, it tastes like ginger ale. 
Wendy : Maybe the ginger ale's gone bad. Am I going to get sick?

Shortly after, I was distracted by the entrance of MacMac! Auntie Kat wakes her up. But MacMac was cool with that. She's cool with anything.

MacMac meets her friend, who was born just four days before her.

They're holding hands!

Left : Me and MacMac. Right : MacMac partying it up with her dad.

Ok, enough of babies.

The party goes on.

The drunkiness brings out a "yoga-off", a competition on who's more stable, grounded and focus under the influence.


Thanks to host and hostess, Bert and Mel for a great party! (pictured with Fred and Winnie).