In and Out of Canada {Take 2}

Another year, another jaunt to Canada for the weekend.

Toronto, Canada. The land in which I undoubtedly consume an inordinate amount of carbohydrates and sodium. But goodness gracious, how can you say no to the fried rice and crispy noodles?

The food wasn’t nearly as important as the occasion and the company of course. My family took a little trek to Toronto this weekend to celebrate my grandparents’ 50th anniversary! How beautiful, eh? (← had to)

Friday

Early wakeup to leave the house at 6AM! I definitely should not have stayed up until midnight to watch gymnastics/procrastinated laundry the night before. But Simone and Aly were worth it.

Nectarine banana overnight oats as per travel tradition.

IMG_2429

I was also nearly half deaf on Friday because my right ear has issues (I was born with two ear holes instead of one in that ear), so I’m prone to infection and having too much stuff in my ear. One of the more gross facts that you didn’t need to know about me. But not being able to hear that well out of even one ear really made me appreciate the gift of hearing!

IMG_2423

some morning double rainbow action

Madre had been up in Toronto since Tuesday, since she was the executive party planner. Pop, Ben and I took Friday off of work to drive up, and it took wayyyy too long. A road trip that usually takes 9 hours took almost 12 hours. But we made it safe and sound, which matters most.

IMG_2431

Salad dipped in guac. All I can hear is Rachel saying to me, “Be better. Or at least be less weird.”

IMG_2432IMG_2433

so much of this

We rolled into our cousins’ place at around 6pm. We were staying with the fit family again 🙂 Obviously that meant doing handstands and cartwheels in the basement with my cousin Amy upon arrival.

My family took off again soon after for dinner with other relatives at Congee Queen.

IMG_2437

congee = rice porridge with lots of good stuff inside

Pro: it’s cheap, delicious food. Con: it’s cheap, delicious food.

IMG_2436 IMG_2438 IMG_2439

best fried rice ever with [fake] crab, roe, and eel!

IMG_2440 IMG_2441

I am positive that I ate more at this dinner than I do at Thanksgiving.

Back at home, I showered, and my cousin and I stretched while watching the Olympics with our parents. Only at their house can I enjoy a big stretching mat and foam rollers in front of the television!

Saturday

I slept in until 8ish and headed to the basement to warmup and do Jen’s 1000 Rep Workout.

My legs were insanely tight from sitting all day Friday, so this workout was great for loosening them up, but I could feel that there was lots of lactic acid in my body (not soreness but all around fatigue/tightness/heaviness). All I wanted was to foam roll and drink water until the cows came home.

After showering (and getting my right ear to hear again!), I helped Amy make avocado egg toast for her and her dad. She saw on my blog that I ate it once 25793 times before and bought the ingredients to make it while I was visiting.

IMG_2447

I’m always a proponent of spreading the avo-egg toast love, and I’m happy that they love it!

IMG_2448

For myself, I ate some quick banana oatmeal with protein powder and almond butter.

IMG_2449

While Madre, Pop and Ben were setting up the hall for the anniversary party the next day, I got to hang out with Amy. We played “Just Dance” and a Mario Party “board game” on the Wii after breakfast.

Working out + Just Dance made me pretty hungry again in no time. I ate leftovers for lunch with my cousin’s family before they left for Kung Fu practice (NBD). As for me, I laid horizontally on their couch (I had a stomachache for a bit), foam rolled, and caught up on blogs and reading.

IMG_2450

I did some handstands too. Amy believed that I could do a one-armed handstand facing the wall (after seeing my failure last week), and I could! The power of encouragement, man.

IMG_2458

When my family got back home, we headed to 5pm Mass. This parish we visited had the most beautiful-sounding music ministry. I cried.

Then for my favorite meal of the trip at my favorite restaurant in Toronto— Ten Ren’s Tea House! Everything here is cooked with tea, and they obviously sell a million kinds of tea beverages.

IMG_2461 IMG_2462 IMG_2463 IMG_2465

p.s. More often than not in Toronto, we share everything family style. #justAsianthings

I actually skipped a tea beverage this time because I wanted a tea dessert, and I’m not really a dessert-sharer, so…. I ordered a green tea soft serve in a waffle cone for myself, which was fantastic.

IMG_2466

I also had a couple bites of “brick toast” for the first time ever. It’s what it sounds like— toast the size of a brick that’s caramelized and topped with something yummy. Our table shared a sweet milk custard one and a peanut butter (!) one.

IMG_2470

We’re pretty sure it was natural peanut butter because LOOK AT THE WAY IT MELTS. It also wasn’t too sweet. The sweet milk custard one was even better though, honestly. Imagine creme brûlée on top of toast….Yeah.

I also had a few bites of this snow ice dessert.

IMG_2468

It’s shaved ice topped with coconut milk and four toppings. We got tapioca, taro, lychee jelly, and red beans. Tasty and refreshing!

I think the rest of the night involved more stretching and Just Dance. We didn’t throw knives this time around, darn it.

Sunday

The big day! My family headed to the hall to prep for the anniversary party all morning.

DSC_2606

Sidenote: I was tweezing my brows in the car (I was NOT driving) on the way to the hall, which I do not recommend for effectiveness, accuracy, or safety.

We did some rehearsing, some decorating, and LOTS of food scooping into trays. As we were transferring all the food (that Congee Queen catered) into smaller trays, all I could think was, “these noodles are perpetual…this fried rice could feed an army and a half…this is all the General Tso’s chicken in Canada.”

DSC_2629 DSC_2630

Needless to say, many people had many meals to take home at the end of the party.

There were several heartfelt speeches, many songs, lots of laughs, a couple baby screams, and almost three hundred people celebrating my grandparents’ inspiring 50 years of marriage. I sang “La Vie en Rose” for them with my brother accompanying on the piano!

DSC_2607 DSC_2608 DSC_2609 DSC_2632 DSC_2614 DSC_2641

DSC_2657Pop and his bros singing + Ben on the keys + pad thai 
DSC_2623

twins!

I wore spiky, pointy-toed heels for 3 minutes before calling it quits and switching to sandals.

DSC_2659

So many people worked very hard to plan, set up, and attend this celebration. Special shoutout to my mom and her family and friends, who were indispensable contributors to the setup and cleanup of the party. They’re amazing! Everyone on both sides of the family who helped and came out to the celebration are just remarkable.

Cheers to everyone and to my Mah Mah and Yeh Yeh!

DSC_2615

We were utterly exhausted after running around all day. To think that Pop, Ben and I had originally planned on driving home to New York overnight immediately after the party makes me want to die inside. Thank God we were all able to get Monday off work.

I did go on a walk with my cousin, aunt and uncle after dinner because the weather outside was perfect and the sky looked like cotton candy!

IMG_2475

homemade jello made by Amy, naturally sweetened with honey and lemon — so refreshing!

But after watching the 100m men’s track final at night, I went to bed at 10 and passed. out.

Monday

Pop took one of our cars to go back home early with his aunt, and the rest of us slept in a little bit before we hit the road with our other car. I ate some breakfast cookie dough cereal before saying goodbyes, and then we were off!

First though, some road trip snacks from the Asian supermarket.

IMG_2478

cart-basket contraption

IMG_2479

“meat floss” seems neither appealing nor helpful in any way

Lunch on the road:

IMG_2482

pork bun

IMG_2484

cold Taiwanese noodles

Also, we bought ketchup chips in unhealthy and healthier form.

IMG_2485

A Canada classic that makes ketchup lovers rejoice and ketchup haters question humanity.

The trip home was a lot better than the trip to Toronto, thankfully. We even got some good views of Niagara Falls at the border!

DSC_2688

Our last hurrah was dinner at a Japanese restaurant with my dad’s aunt. I shared an eel avocado roll with my mom and ordered steamed chicken and vegetables with brown rice for myself. I was honestly craving as little salt and oil as possible. I love those two things, but Toronto serves it on a whole ‘nother level.

IMG_2488 IMG_2489

It was a fun mini vacation with my beloved family, but I’m excited to go back to work and not have as much acne on my face 😀

So tell me:

What did you do this weekend?

Have you ever tried brick toast or Taiwanese snow ice?

How has someone encouraged you recently? 

Advertisements

In and Out of Canada

Because everyone takes a weekend road trip to Canada.

Our adventure was supposed to start on Saturday morning at 5 am after a nice early bedtime on Friday night. But of course, why start the excitement Saturday morning when you can start it Friday night?

7:30 pm

Dad: “Aghh. I left my drivers license at the security desk of the bank today… They don’t usually take my license for security, so I forgot. You’re going to have to drive all the way to Canada by yourself…”

Alison: “Ohhhh man….. Well okay. It’ll be fine.”

8:30 pm

Dad: “I need to go get my license. I’m going to need to drive around when we’re in Canada.”

Me: “You’re going into the city to pick it up now??”

Dad: “Yep. You’ll drive me down. It’s better if I have my license.”

Me: “Oooooookay. Alllllllrighty.”

WG8zw

[source]

So instead of going to bed at 9 like planned, we drove an hour down to the city, picked up his license, and then an hour back. Whatcha gonna do?

I’m glad we made that extra push to get his license though, because that made the 9 hour drive to Ontario much more doable being able to take turns.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Overnight oats in a jar is THE way to go for early morning travels. 100%.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Plus egg and cheese sandwiches.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

It’s also fun to know that I can import and order alcohol legally in Canada. *purple devil emoji*

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

{importing scotch for my aunt, and had one sip of beer at a restaurant. haha.}

My dad and I are spending just a little bit of time here in Toronto primarily to visit my grandparents, but we’ve also seen tons of other relatives.

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

Where there is family, there is food.

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

puffy pita + fattoush chicken salad

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

dim sum

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Moroccan feast incl. harissa carrots, fish tagine, and orange creme brûlée 

Things I’ve learned this trip:

  • All my cousins are growing up so fast (I guess I am too), and I’m having a little retrospective freak out.
  • Asian elders will always comment on your physical appearance, so you just have to deal with it.
  • I know I love my breakfasts, but making breakfast for five people is nerve-wracking, especially when you’re not in your own kitchen.

But it works out well when the people (my healthy, fitness-loving relatives) love the breakfast trifecta as much as I do.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

impromptu yogurt protein pancakes + classic banana oatmeal with fruit and nut butter

  • How to throw a knife.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

But I’ll keep that on the DL. *three purple devil emojis*

Canada is where the wild things are.

Today I’m rock climbing with my cousin! I’m in ninja training, essentially. Tomorrow, Dad and I are driving all the way back to New York, unpacking, and then packing again for Washington for a wedding. Weeeeeeee!

Hope you all have an awesome week. Watch out for ninjas.

So tell me:

Have you ever left something very important behind accidentally?

What is your favorite travel food?

Do you have any ninja skills? 

Taking Advantage of Silence

I spent about four hours total in the car yesterday.

I drove my uncle to the airport, and let’s just say that I was {safely!} able to eat my lunch while sitting in traffic on the way back. Driving to the airport = 1 hour. Driving from airport to internship = 2 hours.

DSC_1471

packed this avocado, double egg, sriracha sandwich to go + salad in a tupperware

Then I drove home at rush hour = 1 hour. While no one is a fan of traffic, I actually strangely enjoyed the alone time. Who gets 4 hours of alone time these days when you really can’t do anything but sit with your thoughts?

As much as I want to blast music the whole time when I’m in the car (especially when THIS Tori Kelly song just comes out!!!), I think it’s important to take advantage of silence. Time to listen to your thoughts in our busy society is sort of a privilege, don’t you think?

I like to talk out loud, even when I’m by myself (hence vlogging), so I’ve been into talking to God as if I’m having a conversation with a good friend. That may sound weird, I get it, but He lends a great ear 🙂 Doing so allows me to sort out any of my anxieties, joys, fears, excitements, questions, or frustrations with the driver who just cut me off.

If you have some time for silence, whether that be in the car or in the morning, make it your own.

  • Make a single mini goal for the day.
  • Reflect on a quote or inspirational story/blog post you read recently. How can you implement the lessons/ideas in your own life?
  • List the things for which you are grateful.
  • Choose one person you love, who you might be a little frustrated with at the time, and think about the qualities you love in him/her and the good memories you’ve had with that person.
  • Crank out some new ideas for your home, cooking, blog, etc.
  • Think about people who you haven’t talked to in a while.
  • Pick one thing that you need to improve (for me— punctuality) and analyze ways in which you can go about improving.

…and the list goes on. It’s incredibly easy to default to noise, because silence can be boring and uncomfortable when our minds know that there are so many things we could be doing. Trust me, I still itch to turn on the radio. But consciously taking advantage of silence can make a positive difference in your day. It certainly has for me!

___________

Other notes for the day:

The fish bone ordeal is somewhat under control, I think. My eustachian tube is definitely still feeling wonky and like there’s something around that area, but nothing hurts much at all anymore. I don’t think there’s a little fish bone hangin’ out either. I’m just going to wait it out and see if the discomfort disappears.

Speaking of fish, I made tuna cakes last night, which very much embodied the saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

DSC_1473

tuna “cakes”…

These were tasty though!

Ingredients: Canned tuna, onions, garlic, a little bit of leftover brown rice, cilantro, paprika, cumin, mustard, black pepper, Greek yogurt, lime juice and zest, honey, and a couple eggs.

Directions and measurements: Throw some amount of everything into a bowl. Form into patties and pan fry. Hope for the best.

The first few were more like tuna hashes, but the last batches turned out a little prettier.

DSC_1475

As pretty as tuna cakes can get, that is.

And lastly, I ate a good ol’ favorite last night!

DSC_1480

Dried figs and Greek yogurt! If you’ve been reading for a while, you might remember how often I used to eat this pair. Like, obsessively.

Alrighty, it is past my bedtime as I type this. I hope you all have a wonderful Wednesday! Embrace the silence.

So tell me:

If you have a long commute, how do you fill the time?

What do you do/would you do with a little bit of silence in your day?

What did you eat for dinner last night?

Simple Phrases That Make All the Difference

Greetings from New York!

I had to refrain from making that greeting ALL CAPS because I’m beyond excited right now! As soon as my eyes fluttered open this morning, I noticed that:

a) I wasn’t in my dorm and I felt a little discombobulated.

b) I smelled something delicious cooking (Madre at work ♥ )

c) It’s snowing!!!

I ran downstairs like an excited 5-year-old on Christmas to say good morning to my mom. I am now watching The Price is Right while eating overnight oats. The finer things in life.

DSC_0447

It looks like there is a blizzard outside, but that’s only because I had to lighten this picture, like, 10 times.

We arrived home from Boston via car at around 1:30 AM this morning (hence me sleeping in and this post going up super late). The Thanksgiving traffic coming out of Boston added a hefty two hours to our commute, so we were drained and ready for bed by the time we got home.

unnamed-3 copy 4

But being me, I was hungry and I wanted a snack, so I reached for something I had missed dearly

IMG_2317

Almond butter!

And then I made sure to prepare the overnight oats that I am currently eating because it has been way too long since I had my fave. I was literally quasi-yelling, “Oh my gosh YAAAAASSS,” while  was making them. Thankful to be home indeed.

Simple Phrases That Make All the Difference

Speaking of being thankful, tomorrow is the day for such thankfulness for us Americans, huh? I was reflecting on how I wanted to bring together my thoughts of thanksgiving in a blog post, but I was stuck for a while because I didn’t really want to start the inexhaustible list of things for which I am grateful.

Instead, I noticed that one thing I’ve been hearing and saying more often than ever recently is, “You’re beautiful,” or, “You’re awesome,” or, “You’re wonderful.”

Many times I’ll be passing by a friend on the sidewalk and saying hello with a warm hug, and then we would exchange at least one of these simple phrases. They don’t deserve a prize for unique compliment of the year by any means, but when you think about what beautiful, awesome, and wonderful mean, you can’t help but smile.

via my friend Rachel’s Instagram

If I want to be sappy and honest, hearing and saying these words so often has made me more thankful for the companionships in my life. I get that some people might say, “You’re awesome,” as a quick, colloquial compliment when you don’t know what else to say, and maybe that’s the case for other people and I’m just being a mushy blob of feels right now. But my friends at Boston University definitely give me a sense of genuineness every time they say one of those phrases. I certainly mean it if I say them to you!

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Breakfast date with my freshmen friends. That would be a wheat waffle with pb, banana, and honey. Mhmm.

Words are powerful. I guess that’s why I like to blog (even though my words are a bunch of crazy foodie talk half the time). We can throw words out there without thinking about what we are actually saying, or we can use our gift of language and communication to tell others how much we love them. We do both of these things at the appropriate times (hopefully), but when it comes to the latter, there is something so special about a simple, friendly phrase.

When I hear or say, “You’re beautiful,” I don’t think about aesthetic beauty (although, I have some good-lookin’ friends, don’t get me wrong). I think of how beautiful their spirits are— how they are humble, faithful, and charitable.

When I hear or say, “You’re awesome,” I think about how strong and resilient people are. Everyone has their trials that we may or may not be able to see, but people still have the ability to smile, do well, and help others.

When I hear or say, “You’re wonderful,” I think about how we are all children of God. That’s wonderful enough in and of itself.

So I tell you now in this season of Thanksgiving: You’re beautiful. You’re awesome. You’re wonderful.

And lastly, thank you.

I hope you all have a joyous, safe, and blessed Thanksgiving!

So tell me:

What is one simple phrase that resonates with you?

What are you doing today?

Half of my day is gone thanks to sleeping in, but I’m planning on going to the nail salon, doing some homework (ew, I know), and maybe seeing friends!

 

Behind the Scenes #17: Just…Food.

Thinking-Out-Loud

Reflecting on food with my fellow food lover, Amanda!

1. We’re finally home! After visiting several cities for the admitted students’ days at University of Maryland and University of Virginia, I’m so happy to be chillin’ out back at our house. Except for the fact that there were patches of snow on the ground when we arrived…Excuse me?

2. Remember how I said I despise driving in DC? Well, I meant it. I meant it with a deep burning passion, because getting out of that city was a pain yesterday. It’s a good thing I had this brunch at Busboys & Poets beforehand, which made things a whole lot more bearable 😉

photo 5 photo 2 photo 3 photo 4

photo 1

Mom and I shared the Oaxaca omelette that had black beans, pico, cheese, and GUACAMOLE. Served with the best home fries and whole wheat toast. So, so delicious.

 photo 3

I had to take a picture of the men’s restroom sign. Had to.

3. After this amazing breakfast and almost a week without my usual breakfasts at home, I had some sort of enlightenment: I might be okay with savory breakfasts. I’m as shocked as you are, but I think I’ll start introducing some eggy, toasty-type breakfasts into my rotation! Sweet breakfasts will always have a special place in my belly heart though 🙂

4. I drove the whole 4.5 hours back home from DC yesterday, which has resulted in major tightness in my neck today. Luckily, we made a stop for Naked Juice and Cinnabons by the highway, so it’s all good.

5. After I attended altar server rehearsal at church for the Holy Thursday and Good Friday Masses last night, I met my parents and Victoria and her mom for dinner at a fancy tapas restaurant called 42. We had to wait a little while for a table to open up, but it was definitely worth it. We shared everything, and everything was divine. (A lot of these are small plates! Others aren’t 😉 )

DSC_7937

Crispy calamari, shrimp, and jalapeño with lemon tartar sauce

DSC_7936

Spring salad with arugula, grapefruit, asparagus, radish, pecans, and house balsamic vinaigrette

DSC_7938

Beef and pork pastry with burrata cheese and egg-yolk sauce

DSC_7943

Macau pepper steak with soft egg, burnt scallion chimichurri and brioche

DSC_7939

My dish: Halibut with mango pepper sauce, pickled mushrooms, zucchini, squash, and mint

DSC_7940

Mom’s dish (my FAVORITE of the night): whole wheat tortellini with black truffle, ricotta, parmesan, and herbs

DSC_7941

Victoria’s dish: Vegetable paella

DSC_7942

Dad’s dish: Branzino with lemon jam and roasted peanut potato

DSC_7944

Wendy’s (Victoria’s mom) dish: Kale caesar salad

6. Yeah, I’m not done yet. You didn’t think we wouldn’t leave room for dessert, did you??

DSC_7946

Cutest little plate of milk and cookies ever. Coconut macaroon, double chocolate chunk, snickerdoodle, and peanut butter cookies!

DSC_7947

Creme brûlée doughnuts. YOU READ THAT FLIPPIN’ RIGHT.

DSC_7948

“The Bar”: Ovaltine mousse, peanut butter crunch, dulce de leche, vanilla ice cream

I don’t know where all this food went, because looking at all these pictures, it looks like it was meant for 20 people. We didn’t finish the desserts, but we cleaned up our plates pretty darn well!

photo 5

This was before the food came. If we took a picture afterwards, we would have been slouching with our eyes closed…but still smiling 😀

7. I did have some MUCH needed house-made food for lunch yesterday though:

DSC_7930

Salad with homemade honey mustard dressing and a soft-boiled egg

Plus some fruit and snap peas with hummus. The freshness of this simple meal made my belly so happy…before I filled it with all those tapas, which also made my belly very happy. Tooooo happy.

8. Surprisingly, I was hungry for breakfast this morning. I was also craving oats and nut butter, so I had some cookie dough cereal and it hit the spot! Since we don’t have any ripe bananas currently, I ate it with kiwis, but I ended up eating those separately. Kiwis + nut butter is not my combo of choice.

DSC_7951

9. Of course, my hospitable mom set up a huge bed+breakfast spread for our guests:

DSC_7952

Because we obviously don’t have enough food in our lives.

10. I had a dream last night that I had a super cute piglet as a pet!!! I want him back.

Happy Holy Thursday! May we remember to serve others as the Lord has served us. 🙂

So tell me: 

When was the last time you really craved light, fresh food?

Sweet or savory breakfast?

Would you want a pet piglet?