Thursday, January 31, 2013

QOTD: Hair accessories

My sister graduated a couple of months ago. After her ceremony, my sister's friend, Hong (male, mid-late twenties), dropped by our house to hang out. It had been an arduous day (hey, running around a campus on top of a mountain in 4 inch heels is not easy) and I was determined to spend the afternoon as comfortable as possible. Which meant pajamas and clipping my bangs back with a special velcro meant for hair. (It catches all the hair but does not dent or change how your hair is styled). This caused some confusion for Hong.

Hong:  (staring at me)
            Hey, do you mean to have that black thing on your hair?
Me:      ...
            Yes. It's to hold my hair back
Hong:  Oh, cause I was wondering why you had duct tape on your hair.
Me:      It's velcro.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day 2012!

Why is there a day to celebrate love but not one to celebrate friendship? Lovers may come and go, but best friends will always be there for you. 

Last Friday, just as I was lamenting that my youth was quickly passing by and my social life was as inactive as ever, I found this waiting at home for me.

{Hello Kitty duct tape!}

No, it is not a Coach gift card but something even better. C, one of my dearest friends, always puts a lot of thought into her gifts and this lovely surprise sent by snail-mail was no exception. 

Inside the carefully taped package was a super sweet (though at times a bit intense, haha) Valentine's card and hand & body soap from Lush. The soap smells heavenly of jasmine and I predict that it will be a while before I can bear to use it. 

I have always believed that the value of a present is not in how much it costs but in how well it represents the receiver. I love the card because of the feelings expressed in it and I love the soap because it is so unexpected* but so totally appropriate for me. There is nothing better in this world than to have friends who know you so well and are willing to spend time letting you know they care.

Thank you so much C! Hope you and everyone else has a great Valentine's Day! Whether you are in love, out of love or just simply single, celebrate that you are alive today by doing something sweet for someone around you.

P.S. Check out the Kelowna stamp! Its their version of the Loch Ness Monster. 

*Any reference to Valentine's usually involves chocolate, candy and teddy bears.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Nom-nom: 2nd Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival

I meant to post this earlier but hopefully there is enough time left for you to go and check it out. Last month, I found out that the 2nd Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival was taking place from January 14 to February 14. The festival is exactly what you think it is. A group of Vancouver's top chocolate makers offer special versions of their hot chocolate to raise funds for the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre. The list of flavours are endless and come in dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate and even non-dairy. Some standout ones include orange blossom flower, Italian honey nougat with roasted hazelnut and match with yuzu marshmallow.

My first reaction was: There was a hot chocolate festival last year? How did I not know this?

My second reaction was: I have to go. Have. To. Go.

But I'm a lazy chocoholic and none of the participants were within a 10-minute drive radius. So I bided my time and waited for my opportunity to come. Finally, I received an invite to try out the Dine-out Vancouver 2012 menu at a restaurant across town (post to come later) and I quickly googled the area.

Success! Three options were close by but I went with Thomas Haas. It IS ranked number one on Urbanspoon and my birthday cake last year from them was just too fantastic.

I dropped by the store before dinner and found it tucked away in an inconspicuous little spot along Broadway. It was packed even though it was half an hour before closing and people were still coming in when I left.

Despite being tempted by the other flavours they offered, I went with one of my favourite flavours: Classic Hot Chocolate with Soft Caramel and Fleur de Sel. It was served with two warm Chocolate Sparkle Cookies which brought the right amount of sweetness to the saltiness of the hot chocolate.

Contrary to expectations, the soft caramel and fleur de del were not infused into the liquid but were used as toppings. This in no way negatively affected the flavour but actually enhances the experience by layering in different textures. The soft caramel cream was cool against the warmth of the liquid and the bits of sel were crunchy pops of flavour. The hot chocolate was so rich and creamy that it just slid down my throat like molten gold. You barely finish one sip before wanting to take the next again and again until the cup is empty.

At this point, if you are still not convinced, then there is nothing I can help you with. However, for all others, quickly go to City Food Magazine to find out where you can get a cup of heaven.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

QOTD: I "noodle" everyday

I've been told by my family that I am crazy so often that I am quite immune to them. In fact, the point that they aren't quite sane either makes me care even less. But when I heard similar comments recently coming from my friends, some new and some old, it gave me some food for thought. To me, Jennifer is a pretty old-school, normal name and I wondered if it was an appropriate name for me or if there was something better.

Me:      Mom, do you think Lulu is a more appropriate name for me?

Mom:   What? Noodle*? Yes, you "noodle" all day everyday anyways.

Me:      Noodle?!? You think Noodle is an appropriate name for me??!

*I LOVE to eat noodles, even more than rice. I could have noodles three meals a day and I would love it.
Dream. Come. True.
But it still makes no sense as a name in my opinion unless my last name is Soup or Combo.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

QOTD: Grandma says ...

I called my grandma last night to wish her a happy Chinese new year. She lives in Hong Kong while I live in Vancouver. Before I go on, you need to know that my grandma is super cool, smart and has a social life like no other senior. Last time I was in Hong Kong, it took me three days to actually reach her at home because she was always out. Anyways, our phone conversations are usually about catching each other up on our latest happenings. However, this time there was a little twist.

Me:          So what have you been up to for the holidays, grandma?

Grandma: Oh, on Saturday, this organization had a social event where we only had to pay $40 but it  included ... (basically went on a long description about her day and then started talking about her neighbour who helps her out a lot) ... she has stronger legs so she goes downstairs to get the newspaper everyday. After she finishes it, she gives it to me to read. She also helps me around and makes sure to include me any events she goes to.

Me:           She sounds really nice. It's good to have nice neighbours.

Grandma:  It really is great to have such good neighbours. It's better to have close neighbours than relatives who live far away.

Me:           {is she talking about me?}

Monday, January 23, 2012

Currently Loving: Jason Wu for Target

What will you be doing in the morning of Sunday, February 5, 2012?

Catching up on some much needed rest? Brunch downtown? Dim sum with the parents? 

Me, I will be glued to my computer with fingers on both hands crossed. 'Cause Jason Wu x Target is getting released that day! (happy face x 1000000000)

Fashionista recently got a first look at the entire collection and kindly shared the photos with the rest of us Tar-jay-maniacs. After so many successful collections (Proenza Schouler , Jean Paul GaultierMcQ by Alexander McQueen, the list goes on and on), you would think that Target has reached the bottom of its tricks. But if the photos show true and the products are of the usual quality of their collections, I have to say that Target has just upped the game of designer collaborations again.

The collection features flirty pieces in flattering cuts for different body shapes and sizes. Patterned scarves and matching bags round out the bunch. Prices will be a reasonable $19.99 to $59.99 for apparel and $19.99 to $49.99 for handbags. The pieces can be easily dressed up for work or dressed down for romps around town on the weekend. I am a pretty thrifty person (coupons and sales make my eyes sparkle) but I am seriously considering getting everything. And I mean every single piece that I can get my hands on.

Not convinced yet? Check out some of my favourite pieces below.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

To Live

It's been a long time since I last wrote. This post has been in the works for a long time as I was unsure of how to express what I wanted to say. Then I realized I was procrastinating and being too much of a perfectionist again. So what follows below may not be perfect and may not make much sense but it is the honest truth and directly from my heart. (Hopefully, this will be the one and only time that I will post such maudlin sentiment. Mushiness really is not for me.)

The first two years after university passed by like a dream--I was alive but not living. It had always been expected, by myself and others, that I would graduate and find a job that I would excel at and quickly move up from. I was not the smartest student nor the most hardworking but I was tenacious, ambitious and always had a way of meeting challenges head on.

Reality has a way of biting you in really painful places. Truthfully, I was also arrogant, self-entitled and had a serious case of procrastination combined with denial. There are so many things that I did not do and which I should have--I did not work hard enough; did not participate in anything worthwhile, etc. This meant that I had no contacts to reach out to, no jobs lined up for me, and no social life since there was no incoming money to pay for it. There were  plenty of people with advice about what I should do though. Which did not help at ALL.

And then once you get into the funk of being unemployed, it's a vicious, vicious cycle. You apply, get rejected, get depressed, start rejecting invitations to go out because you're worried about money, get desperate, apply for something a little different from your dream job, get depressed, reject more invitations ... until you do not want to apply for anything anymore. You convince yourself that you are really talented but just that nobody has discovered you and that you choose not to be discovered. Of course, having a real injury helps the whole deception but how many times can a person go through their youth?

Nothing is more painful then realizing that life has passed you by. To know that even as you stood still, the Earth has continued to rotate. Actually, that is not true. It is more painful to have lost your way, to have forgotten what made you strong. There is an experience that I somehow have forgotten about or at least the unhappy parts of it. And it is silly, because it defines who I am so well.

Many people know that I have scoliosis and that I had corrective surgery for it. Many do not know that the surgery saved my life. My scoliosis was not discovered until the later stages but it resisted various attempts to correct it with non-surgical procedures.

Over the years, there have been too many trips to the doctor's to count but I still remember that one visit to the specialist vividly. After yet another day of waiting rooms, x-rays, and sitting in hospital gowns, I sat with my parents inside that hospital room listening to my doctor. He told us that my scoliosis needed surgery and soon. My mom asked in a shaky voice about what would happen if I did not have the surgery. The doctor replied that at the rate the scoliosis was progressing, at fifteen I would be a hunchback in a wheelchair. By nineteen I would be requiring the assistance of an oxygen tank to breath and I most likely would not make it past twenty. My mom broke down crying instantly.

The doctor explained that even though surgery was my only option, it was not a perfect solution. Surgery had a low rate of success but high rate of mortality or being left paralyzed. Even if it was a successful surgery, there was still a risk that my body might reject the foreign rods or infection of the wound. The rods would be left inside me for the rest of my life and there would be a permanent scar. Everything that I had taken for granted thus far--sitting up, walking, going to the washroom, even eating--would be wiped out. I would need to learn everything all over again. I would also have to be very careful to avoid any physical contact with others.

While he was telling me all this, I remember thinking calmly (or maybe it was shock) that being alive but not living, confined to a wheelchair and strapped to machines was not an option. I had things to do, places to visit, foods to eat ... I wanted to live life to the fullest. If surgery was required for that to happen, then so be it.

The operation was booked for six months later. It was the earliest appointment available at that time.

As always, things rarely go as planned. During a check-up appointment shortly after, the x-rays delivered some bad news. The scoliosis was progressing faster than predicted. The surgery needed to be moved up. For the first time, I had a sense of urgency when my doctor told his nurse to make something available and as soon as possible.

At my orientation meeting (yes, those exist), when they tried to explain the technical steps of the surgery along with extremely graphic photos, I told the nurse that I did not need to hear it. I had already made my decision and I was determined to go through it and move on to the rest of my life. If my life was to be ended on that surgical table, then I would rather live the rest of my remaining days happy. There was no need for me to be sad and scared for what was to come.

That is who I am. If it is important, if it is worth it, then it will be done. Risks will always exist but they should never determine my life. I have already fought a battle for my life and won. Every year that I live now, it is a blessing and a bonus.

It was not an easy decision to write this but I want to remind myself in times of good and bad that it has been worse. And I have always pulled myself through.

I do not want to settle. Mediocrity is not an option. In ten years, I want to look at myself and be proud of what I have accomplished. And be happy that I took the untrodden path.