In and Out of Canada {Take Three}

We had such a productive four days in Toronto!

It’s seems that my family has an annual tradition of being in and out of Canada to visit relatives. Here was take one and take two.

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Whenever I leave the ever-walkable city of Boston, my daily step count plummets by approximately 15,000 steps, while my calorie intake increases significantly, especially when in Toronto, amidst Asian food paradise.

But…

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After a fun and active day on Thursday with my cousins, Friday was a fun and food-filled day with my cousins at the Canadian National Exhibition! First though — moves, grooves and breakfast.

I did a nice 10 minute warmup (I am a zombie if I work our first thing in the morning) before completing this 20 minute workout (30 seconds on, 10 seconds off, 5 rounds):

  • burpee tuck jumps
  • weighted squats
  • donkey kicks
  • superman to scapula retraction
  • burpee to plank kick throughs
  • hamstring ball curls

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Followed by 4 x 30-40 second wall walk holds and Greek yogurt with fruit and granola.

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My cousin Amy and I were chaperoned by my parents to the train station and then took a train and bus on our own to get downtown.

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Quick story: At the train station, I tried to pay for my ticket with a $50 Canadian bill, but the guy at the ticket counter told me, “Go away,” while gesturing to the turnstile. I was confused and slightly distressed and didn’t know what he wanted me to do until Amy whispered, “He wants us to go for free!” OH. (You don’t see this happen in Boston or NYC.)

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I’m eight years older than Amy, but age is obviously just a number when it comes to having a clue about anything.

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Anyway, after a pleasant (and free) ride on Toronto’s public transit, we arrived at the CNE, ready to explore! The CNE is basically an annual MEGA fair in downtown Toronto. Just visit the website if you want to learn about what happens there; it’s huge.

We explored the “farm” first, which is a building filled with farmers and their animals from around Canada.

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alpacas!

I felt the slightest tug to never eat pork or beef ever again, but I’m a cold-hearted person I think eating meat conscientiously is not a bad thing.

Next we visited the arts and crafts building, which housed hundreds of vendors and booths, which means we housed many samples in our bellies.

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Amy and I met up a little later with my other cousins, Kate and Megan! We all hung out together for the rest of the day, which made for a sweet girls’ day 🙂

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The CNE has quite a few shows and performances throughout the day, so we first went to the ice skating and acrobatics show. It was awesome (and a little heart-attack-inducing with some of those acrobatics). There was also a “Fire Guy” show in front of the arena beforehand.

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Then it was time for lunch! The food building is RIDICULOUS, guys. There are so many food stands, healthy and…daring alike.

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this is like 10% of it

I walked around for 10 minutes feeling overwhelmed yet hungry, but I knew that I definitely wanted pierogis (Polish potato and cheese dumplings), so I got a cup of four with sour cream on the side to start.

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My uncle also recommended the waffle ice cream sandwich (a CNE classic apparently), so I had my heart set on one of those. It did not disappoint!!

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it doesn’t look like much, but it was PERFECT — tender, buttery, warm and toasted waffles with good ol’ vanilla ice cream in the middle — UGH

I wish I had more time/money/space in my stomach to spare, because there were so many things I wanted to try. Look at this list of 10 outrageous foods at the CNE, some of which look repulsive and some of which I would so eat.

We scurried out of lunch to watch the parkour show just outside the food building! This was one of my favorite things at the CNE. It’s just so entertaining and awe-inspiring to see people flip and jump over obstacles like it’s absolutely nothing.

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After the parkour show, Amy and I walked around the carnival area while Megan and Kate went on a couple rides.

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Amy and I shared a corn dog at some point because a) Amy had never eaten corn dog before; b) I secretly love corn dogs.

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The four of us met back up at another big exhibition hall for more samples and people trying to sell us things, like these self-massagers (admittedly, I could have used that thing for an hour).

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There were also sand and butter sculptures in the making!

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the butter sculptors were working on recreating that black and white photo in the background — Justin Trudeau holding baby pandas LOL

‘Twas such a successful trip to the CNE with these beautiful ladies!

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met up with our Aunt Sharon at the very end too!

Amy and I headed back outbound to our families for sushi dinner at 8pm. I really wanted vegetables at this point, and a starter salad had to suffice for the day, but I’m okay with a day of only 2-ish servings of fruits/veggies.

Because THIS:

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{Sushi} Roll me outta there.

On Saturday we spent a lot of time with Pop’s parents, which was wonderful. There was also a big family lunch at Congee Queen in there!

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The rest of the day was just spent chillin’ with my grandparents, dropping them off at a wedding, a walk/deep chat with Pop, Mass, and then more foooooood.

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Vietnamese for dinner (aka so many veggies YES)

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my two kids in a candy store 😉

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banana + tapioca in coconut milk *moment of silence*

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red bean pastry

My Asian side (aka my whole side) thrives in Toronto.

We all had big plans for Sunday morning, but none of them really worked out. I had big plans to work out before we hit the road for NY, but that didn’t happen as I went to sleep past 1am.

We also had plans to leave at 7am, but that didn’t happen as we promptly discovered that our car battery was completely dead. Thank God for CAA for coming to the rescue! We only left 1.5 hours later than we planned, which wasn’t bad at all. (I also got to foam roll and stretch before sitting in the car all day #bless.)

Then the rest of the day involved road tripping. Snacks and stretching are a must.

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ketchup chips are a Canadian road trip specialty/necessity in our family

We were back in New York as the sun was setting, so we headed to So Gong Dong for a last hurrah Korean dinner.

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Korean short ribs to share (the best)

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veggie bibimbap

Madre also graciously helped me buy some new training/running shoes at TJMaxx after dinner since mine were about as useful as slippers.

One day in NY now before heading back to Boston for another four months!!

Hope you all have a joyous Monday!

p.s. WHO IN THE US IS WATCHING THE SOLAR ECLIPSE!? My brother gave me special eclipse glasses to view it this afternoon from NY (not total eclipse, but 76% coverage isn’t too bad!)

So tell me: 

Have you ever been to the CNE?

What is your favorite carnival food?

Two things you did this weekend!

Has your car battery ever died? Thank God ours didn’t die in the middle of the road!

 

 

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.

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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!

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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.

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

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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.

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congee = rice porridge with lots of good stuff inside

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

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

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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!

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

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

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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!

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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!

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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.

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cart-basket contraption

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

Lunch on the road:

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pork bun

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cold Taiwanese noodles

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

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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!

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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.

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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?