Edmonton's Mid-Autumn Festival 2015

Every week, we try to go somewhere to explore our new home, Edmonton. Last month, we decided to go to the Mid-Autumn Festival at the Churchill Square. The event's Facebook page describes  The Mid-Autumn Festival as follows:

The Mid-Autumn Festival is traditionally a harvest festival that revolves around the gathering of family and friends, giving thanks to the harvest, and wishing for longevity, good fortune, and happiness. It is often celebrated with mooncake, lanterns, and reunions.

After Berto's work, we all trouped to Churchill Square Downtown to watch the magical lanterns float on the wading pool in front of the City Hall.

There were also stalls that sold mooncakes and talked about martial arts, riddles and lantern-making. Since we're talking about a Chinese festival, can a dragon dance be far behind? It was a definitely loud and fun experience. 

Even Bea had a great time launching her own wishing boat too.

In an effort to get great shots, my Berto waded into the freezing pool! Brrr!

I am so grateful for times like these. Simple opportunities to bond and spend time as a family. I know my husband is making a big effort to do this, being tired and all, after working in a highly-stressful job.

I am also very grateful to the City of Edmonton for holding free events like this so that Edmontonians can enjoy our time with family, the diverse culture and the outdoors too! (while we still can).

On a side note, I am loving these shots taken by the Fujifilm X-A2, the "selfie camera". I know it has been a sort of bias now about asians loving to "selfie", but let me just say, it has done wonders for our family outings. We now get beautiful shots with everybody in the frame without the trial-and-error shots before the good one. Even my Canon-loyalist husband agrees. I will have to make a separate post about my new camera soon!


Digital Project Life, My Way

I have been on a bit of hiatus for a while. School and life just took too much of my time. Now that school is almost done and I am doing my work practicum, I have more time in my hands. I actually started with several projects and hobbies like jewelry making, but then I started getting interested in scrapbooking again. That's what usually happens with my creative juices, either they're not there or they come in bucketfuls.

I've always been into scrapbooking, the digital kind, but when the hubby and I started our photography business years ago, I had no more time to spare. Recently, as I was watching youtube videos of jewelry-making,  I stumbled upon a video of Becky Higgins and Project Life. I have been hearing about it but I never really bothered to find out more. When I finally sat down and read blogs and watched videos, I was hooked!

I went to the Project Life website where you are given a choice between the physical or digital kits. I went to the digital site and just went crazy! The kits are just so pretty! I went ahead and bought a few kits and told myself I should try it out first, but then after a few days, they went on sale of up to 50% off. This meant one thing.... more shopping!!!

When I sat down and started doing a layout, I tried following the rules, like it should be two layouts/spreads a week, in a 12 x 12 layout, using design A. However, I changed my mind and decided to use a 8 x 10 layout which is easier to print in my nearby Shopper's Drug Mart. And I also decided a layout a week, unless there is a special activity that week and I will just allow myself extra layout space for that. Being lenient with the rules will let me keep my sanity with this project and will help me keep at it.

2015 Week 34 (Seafoam kit, Project 52 title card)

This was the very first layout that I came up with. I didn't use the filler cards much, but I felt pretty good about it. I was so happy to just get everything down in a layout, have it printed and stored in a book. I just bought a pink binder and some regular page protectors in Staples and stuck the prints in there. It was a fairly easy process.

Here's the plan: I will try to prepare the current week's layout and make a few spreads going back until the start of the year. The goal: catch up with 14 years worth of pictures and put them in a Project Life book. It's a pretty daunting task, but I've seen people in YouTube do it.


Cooking Lechon Kawali in Canada

One of the things I  really miss from our life in the Philippines is the food.  One of our favourites is Lechon Kawali.  It is definitely not the healthiest food choice,  but it is soooo good.  That became our staple contribution to family potlucks. 

When we came here to Canada,  one of Berto's comments were they didn't have enough fat in their meats. When he finally saw pork belly with fat in them,  he was so glad that he'd be able to make his Lechon Kawali! We bought some from the Superstore.  Perfect timing too because my mother in law gifted us with a turbo broiler last Christmas. 

Here's how we make our lechon kawali:

Ingredients :

Pork Belly

Procedure :

Boil water,  put in salt, onions,  and peppercorns. Put pork belly in boiling water for 10-15 minutes.  Score pork skin,  this means lightly course the knife along ths skin to make it crispy. 

After boiling,  put in turbo broiler for 30 minutes at 350F, skin facing up. After 10 minutes,  open ans scatter some salt on the pork skin.  After that,  turn upside down,  and cook again for another 30 minutes with the same settings.  

Once done,  chop and serve with soy sauce and kalamansi or lemon juice as dipping sauce.  Delicious! 


Dinosaur Unearthed Exhibit at the Telus World of Science

Yesterday was Victoria Day here in Canada, a holiday.  We were so grateful for the chance to rest and be together longer.  Weekends always seem too short.  We wanted to go for a trip to Calgary,  Jasper maybe, we also received invitations to join different groups of people camping.  It was pretty obvious everybody was bent on enjoying the long weekend.  Since Bea was still a bit sick,  we decided to just stay within the Edmonton city limits.

Last month,  we went to see the Indiana Jones exhibit in the Telus World of Science. Last May 15, TWOSE started the Dinosaur Unearthed Exhibit,  featuring dinosaurs from North America and Asia. They also have full-scale skeletons on display.  They also have actual fossils that helpful assistants let us touch.

Dinosaur Teeth 

Dinosaur Poop

They looked scary.  What I found amusing though was that many of them were furry!  I thought they were all hard and scaly,  but apparently some had feathers.  In fact, current descendants of dinosaurs include birds and chicken! And a few million years ago,  they actually roamed Alberta,  Canada! Wow! 

After the exhibit,  you can also check out the 3D IMAX movie the have playing about,  what else?  Dinosaurs! 

Check out the exhibit with the whole family! 

Below are the rates:

PublicTWOSE Members
Adult (18+)                                                                  $26.50 $9.95
Child (3-12)                                                                 $19.50$7.95
Youth (13-17)                                                             $ 23.50$8.95
Senior (65+)                                                               $ 23.50$8.95
Student (with ID)                                                       $ 23.50$8.95


Lessons I Learned From Working at Tim Hortons

My stint as a Tim Hortons team member 
Before we left for Canada,  I was aware of people with established careers in their home countries,  start from scratch.  I knew of people who worked in what they called "survival jobs".  I felt anxious of me getting into the fast food industry as well,  not because I looked down on people working in this industry,  but because I know I am clumsy and I feared that I would be asked to serve a tray filled with food and I'd spill everything on my customers!

When Bea started school in September,  I had nothing to do at home.  I decided to try looking for a job.  I needed a job with a schedule  that would allow me to pick up Bea from daycare in the afternoon.  So I went and applied to the Tim Hortons branch near where Berto was working.

I got accepted and started working in October.  I got 1 week training for the basics,  like how to operate the coffee machine and the milk/cream/sugar dispensers,  what a one and one or a double-double means,  how to greet the customers etc. It was a huge adjustment from the work place I was used to.  I really wanted to quit after that one week,  but I didn't want to be a quitter so I persevered.  I'm  glad I  did,  I learned a lot from my stint in Tim Hortons.

  • Customer Service - Customers differ.  They can be the nicest,  most understanding and appreciative people, but they can also be difficult and unreasonable.  Despite that,  it was our job to keep them happy and to keep them coming back. 
  • Time Management - Everything is fast-paced.  There is a target time for making the coffee, tea, iced cap,  smoothies,  sandwiches,  soups.  Walking in a relaxed manner is simply unacceptable.  One has to be always rushing,  shouting "behind"  or "hot, hot!" There as so many things to do,  chores to finish,  showcases to refill,  and everything has to be done fast! 
  • Team work - I worked with people from different cultures and backgrounds.  There may people you don't particularly like but you still have to do your best and work well with them. If you do this,  you will end up with valuable interpersonal skills that will benefit you in the long run.
  • Multitasking and Working under pressure - serving cranky customers,  getting instructions from grumpy supervisors,  malfunctioning equipment, listening to unreasonable requests from customers were  part of my everyday routine.  After a few months,  they didn't bother me anymore.  Plus I became more patient. 
I spent only four months working in Tim Hortons because I decided to go back to school and get a Canadian diploma. Those four months may have seemed like the longest four months of my life,  but I really learned a lot.  I also appreciated the people working in this industry a lot more.  Boy,  it wasn't easy! Fast food jobs are often looked down on,  but it is actually a noble job with lots of things to learn that you will get to take with you no matter where you go. 

Hopefully when I graduate,  I will land a good office job,  something right up my administrative /accounting /financial alley.  One thing I am sure of,  I will never forget the lessons I learned from my short stint at Tim Hortons. 


Our Typical Friday Night

Yesterday,  I got home feeling tired but excited.  It has been a very long week for me.  I have been having a hard time in school.  I just feel so stressed all the time.  Deadlines creep up on me and I feel overwhelmed.  Needless to say,  I welcomed the weekend with open arms.  

My friend from school dropped me off and I dragged myself up the stairs to our apartment. I tried to find the energy to cook dinner for my family but failed.  I texted Berto the sweetest message with a pizza request in the end.  He asked "what flavour?"  Score!  

For Bea and I,  our  favourite Papa John's pizza flavour is cheese! Boring, I know,  but we just can't get enough of it.  For Berto,  it's different every time.  This time he ordered The Works.  

The Works 


Happy Anniversary Berto and Kwala

I can't believe it has been 14 married years already, plus 8 years of being together. Berto and I have definitely been through a lot. No need to bore you guys with all the boring details of our fights, some petty, some  huge; the important thing is that we always make up in the end. Our life has been one big adventure, a big roller coaster ride. What counts is that we face life's surprises together.

At different points in our lives, we found ourselves unhappy, lost, dissatisfied, in career limbo, with family problems. It was hard, and it meant the world to have each other to give support and comfort. There are lots of good times as well,  and celebrating is that much more enjoyable with someone who's been with you from the very beginning.

Now, we're in a foreign country and like many others before us,  we have to start from scratch. People are amazed just how fast we've adapted. For us, it's easy because we see it as just another chapter of our big adventure. We were anxious, but we're together and that's enough. We see it  as a second chance, a chance for new beginnings.

Here's to more adventures together. 

Thanks for being best friend,  my number one fan and my loudest cheerleader. Thanks for supporting me and my dreams.  I'll always be here to do the same for you. Here's to looking forward to more shared adventures with you!


Hollywood Celebrities Support Pacquiao Despite Loss.

Jimmy was part of Pacman's entourage that night 

Rocky loves Manny
The Filipino pride lost the "Fight of the Century".  I just took comfort in reading tweets from Hollywood celebrities who still believed in Manny Pacquiao.

I wonder what's next for the Filipino champ?
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