Do Not Go Gentle

In the whole of October we had three days of sunshine. Quite dreary. Constant cloudy weather can be rather depressing. November hasn’t been much better.

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Still, I wanted to add a bit of brightness to my mood. I miss summer dresses once the season is over, so I figured I’d try and transition a bit more slowly from summer to fall.

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Pairing it with my classic leather jacket. A definite fall staple.

Summer dresses are light, but fall means layering. Adding tights, a leather jacket, and boots to a dress makes it warm enough for fall.

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I chose a dress that has muted colours. Softer, and easier to match.

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The bag that I’m wearing is 100% Canadian. Lowell is a company based in Montreal, and all of their products are locally made. The leather is incredibly soft, yet durable. The designs are classic and functional. I’m absolutely in love with this bag.

If you’re looking for a bag that will last you years, I highly recommend this brand. It’s a bit of an investment, but well worth it. There will definitely be more on this bag in the future!

I hope you’ve been enjoying your fall! Winter is just around the corner…

Some Happiness

So it’s a bit early for anything Christmas-related, but I’ve already started making my Christmas cards. I always try and make them by hand, since I really enjoy the process, and I feel that a nice card becomes a present in itself.

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Most of my cards will probably be Jerry -inspired. I swear I’m not a crazy cat lady.

Last year I wasn’t in the best of places due to stress and work, so I barely made any. I regretted it as I gave my Christmas gifts. I felt that something was missing.

This year I’m in a much better place. And it shows through the fact that I’m already working on cards and that I’m so excited (rather than daunted) to make them all!

I definitely have been busy, especially with the wedding coming up in just a couple months, but I’m still finding time to work on my projects. It’s a great feeling. And starting early will give me enough time to make them all (hopefully).

I wish for positivity and happiness for all of you. And if you don’t have it right now, I hope it comes to you soon.

A World Away from Home: And the Last

Our last day in Zurich, we decided to actually go hiking this time. We went on a short hike up a local mountain, and were rewarded with a spectacular view of the city and the far mountains. It really is beautiful.

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Peekaboo view along the way.

We also met up with a friend I’ve known since elementary school who happened to have moved to Switzerland recently. It was really nice to catch up, since I hadn’t seen her since I graduated high school.

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Apparently it was a bit hazy so we couldn’t see all the mountains. Still beautiful.

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Countryside on this side.

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My sister forbade me from yodelling.

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There was a nice cafe at the top.

We took our time hiking, since my sister had previously managed to pull a muscle, but it was nice not to be in a rush. It was a popular trail, and the locals also used it for jogging. Definitely felt a lot like home.

Afterwards we decided to go into the city to do a little bit of shopping. And of course, since we were in Switzerland, we had to go get some Swiss army knives! And kitchen knives. Because it was about time we upgraded from cheap Costco knives to proper knives that cut rather than squish tomatoes (no more sad salads).

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Swiss army knives.

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LOTS of Swiss army knives.

The store was quite big, and had very impressive displays. I decided to get a cute little Swiss army knife to put on my keychain, and Ryan decided to get the actual Swiss army knife. A little bit of his and hers, I suppose.

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I can’t say I didn’t get it because the cat looks like Jerry

We also got some delicious Sprungli chocolate. The white chocolate was my favourite. It wasn’t overly sweet, as most white chocolate is. And it had a hint of a grassy taste from the type of cows they use. I should have bought more than one bar. It’s not cheap, but well worth it.

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Super cute little Sprungli cows.

Then we had to say goodbye to my friend as she headed home and we wandered back to my sister’s apartment to get ready for dinner. We went to her friend’s place for a barbecue dinner which consisted of lots of meat, bread, and delicious homemade garlic butter. Also two salads and tons of ice cream. (We tried to make oreo milkshakes but ended up with a kind of soft serve. Wasn’t complaining.)

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It was a wonderful day to be out and about, and a great way to end the trip. A week was way too short, but I’m glad that we went. Seeing family is always worth it.

Now that I’m home, I definitely miss Europe, and I miss the family I have there. But it’s also nice to be back in my own place, still surrounded by family and loved ones. It’s quite incredible, to be able to have important people in so many different places. There are so many trips to be had. So many places to see, and never enough time.

Until next time, Europe.

A World Away from Home: Zurich

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Lakeside Zurich

On our second day in Zurich we had big plans to go hiking, but instead we ended up lazing around the apartment all day and relaxing. It was nice to have a day where we did not need to do much at all.

In the evening we decided to go out for a delicious pizza dinner. According to my sister, you have to reserve ahead of time, otherwise it’s nearly impossible to get a table.

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Pizza!

It’s also a lot more expensive to eat out in Zurich than it is in Vancouver. If you’re planning on visiting Switzerland, make sure you have a decent amount to spend on lodging, transportation, and food!

It was delicious pizza – some of the best I’ve had. Well worth the money.

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It was also warm and sunny, so we were able to sit outside and enjoy the weather.

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Afterwards we decided to walk to the lake with some ice cream. Zurich, apparently, has the worst ice cream in Switzerland. Still tasted pretty good to me, though.

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The Opera House

It was really nice to see public chairs available for people to relax with friends or on their own in the big plaza. There was a beautiful view of the sunset and lots of space for everyone.

The sky in Zurich was filled with jet streams from planes. It created some beautiful artwork in the sky.

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We listened to a very talented violinist who was busking nearby, and then slowly meandered home. A wonderful and relaxing day to recuperate from the busy days we’d been having.

A World Away from Home: Rheinfall

Photos, and even words, cannot do justice to the beauty and power of nature. But I’ll try anyway.

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Rheinfall

We arrived in Zurich Thursday morning and dropped our luggage off at my sister’s apartment. We also took a bit of time to rest and recharge. Taco salad was on the menu, and home-cooked food while traveling is always extremely welcome. I am blessed with sensitive digestion, so the simpler the food the better.

It was a hot day in the sun. Both Germany and Switzerland seemed to be warmer than Vancouver. I wasn’t going to complain, though. Much prefer it to a rainy vacation.

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After eating and resting for a while, we decided to go to the Rheinfall. These are incredible waterfalls right next to a castle on the hill. It was about an hour train ride from the city, so we got to see gorgeous countryside go by along the way. (Also wasn’t complaining about the air conditioned coolness in the train.)

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The castle and train tunnel. Picturesque.

We decided not to go to the castle, since there was a tour group of schoolkids, and it looked incredibly busy. We were all a little bit tired, and did not feel like dealing with large groups of people.

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On the other side.

Luckily, since it was a weekday, the waterfalls were not half as busy as they would have been on the weekend. We took a boat across the river to get a view from all sides.

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From the boat. My phone could not capture the majesty of the falls from so far away.

It had been raining a lot, so the waterfall was rushing and strong, roaring at full strength. The sound could drown out all else, and the sight could hold me, mesmerized, all day.

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I told them to look out at the falls. They thought they were so funny.

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I wanted to dip my feet in the water.

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A place of calm and gorgeous colours.

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I’ll take one bottle, please!

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A cute little restaurant overlooking the falls.

Once we had taken in our fill, we considered walking to a nearby town for delicious ice cream (apparently the ice cream in Zurich is mostly sub-par, according to my sister), but it was so hot, and already getting on in the day, that we decided to forego the 50 minute walk and to go home and go for dinner at Tibits, a healthy salad buffet. It ended up being delicious, and I highly recommend it. We also got Ovaltine ice cream bars, which brought back my nostalgia in full swing, since Ovaltine was a very common dessert drink when I was young.

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Go team!

And after such a long day it was nice to get back to my sister’s apartment and just relax. Though it was not as private as a hotel room would have been, it felt much more like home.

A World Away from Home: Bergedorf

My grandmother lives in a small town call Bergedorf. It’s just outside of Hamburg, so it’s easy to travel to and from the city centre.

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Full of cute buildings

I have been there many times, so I have my familiar places, restaurants, and shops that I regularly like to visit.

My grandmother, of course, always likes to take us for steak. She was horrified when I contemplated getting a burger. (We are at a steakhouse! You must get a steak!) And one does not simply refuse her. She is very stubborn. In the end I did not regret getting steak.

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No cars allowed

Sitting outside in the pedestrian-only area of Bergedorf is always a treat. The buildings are gorgeous, and it is full of the murmurings of people.

There is a level of detail in the architecture that we do not get here in Vancouver. The intricate railings, the carved decor, the tower-like roof points.

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Would love to live in one of these apartments.

It’s very suburban in Bergedorf, but it’s comfortable. There are many open plazas where people sit and drink coffee and eat ice cream (eis). On Tuesday we sat with my cousin well into the evening, eating eis and drinking Hugo – a wine cocktail that she insisted we try (she could not fathom how we had never heard of it before).

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Hugo

You don’t see too many people rushing around with coffee in their hands. Here they sit and take their time sipping. There was a Starbucks in Bergedorf at one point, but after the initial hype fell away, so too did its popularity. Compared to the incredible bakeries and cafes, it fell short.

There are so many bakeries and cafes, in fact, that I sometimes wonder how they all stay in business. On every block there are multiple bakeries. Every train station has at least one. And they’re always bustling.

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Apparently this is a thing you can do in Bergedorf. My grandmother was politely horrified.

And during the summer everyone eats a lot of ice cream. Like, a lot. Which is fair, considering it’s delicious.

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The Castle

Bergedorf also has its own little castle. Everyone is, of course, very proud of it. First used in the 1500s, it remains today, now a museum and cafe.

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The entrance

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Gorgeous details on the door

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Because castles need moats

Small as it is, this city will always have a special place in my heart. Spending weeks here during the summer was a huge part of my childhood. And I think this town will always remain important to me.

A World Away from Home

One of the nice things about having family that lives far away is that it provides excellent reasons to travel.

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Bergedorf, Hamburg

 

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Beer on the Elbe at sunset

It’s always such a treat to be able to visit my family in Germany. It’s tough not being able to see them very often, but it’s always so special when I do.

And while I don’t tend to visit very many tourist attractions, I get to live and soak in the culture. I get to establish memories and remember where I used to love buying chocolates, or go walking with my grandmother, or where I went for a boat ride when I was younger. A world away from home, but in a way, still home. A part of my history that has made me who I am today.

 

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Train stations inspire wanderlust

While I have been to Germany a fair number of times, and while often my travels take me to the same places to see family, this trip I am also visiting Switzerland for the first time!

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Georgeous Switzerland

It’s about time I visited my sister, who has been studying here. It’s a short trip, but a fantastic one, and one that will, for sure, inspire more posts!

For the Love of Pattern

I love bold patterns. I often opt for solid colours out of safety, but once in a while there’s something too incredible for me to pass over.

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A dress I bought in Singapore – the base has the most intricate and delicate design.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s clothing or decor. Sometimes something more is needed to create a stronger contrast, and a more daring image.

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My favourite summer yellow with a floral print.

Too much, of course, is overpowering and overly busy. The eye cannot settle and everything clashes.

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Mixing pattern and solids.

I love a balance. Which is, ultimately, a philosophy I try and follow in most aspects of my life.

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Modern bohemian prints. I’m a bit of a sucker for them.

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I bought a sheet of wrapping paper just to frame on the wall. 

The perfect touch in the bedroom. A bright splash of colour that’s not too distracting.

How do you incorporate patterns into your every day life?

 

 

The Farm

Every once in a while Ryan and I try to go out to Vancouver Island to help his friends with their farm. It takes a while to get there, what with the ferry and all, but it is always well worth the trip. Visiting good friends always is.

They are currently finishing up renovations on a gorgeous old house. They had to gut it, repair the outside, and replace most of the inside, but it was definitely worth saving. It has been a very long and arduous process, and it’s quite incredible how much it has been transformed. And after two and a half years, they are finally ready to start moving in.

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I swear I wasn’t slacking.

The porch was completely redone, and that’s where we worked.

Inside the house there’s a treat not easily found: a great hall with arcing wooden beams that loom over nine foot windows and an enormous fireplace. It was built back in the 1800s, and then left to rot for many years, but they were able to save and restore it.

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The ceiling of the great hall – now with lights!

It’s also the venue of our upcoming wedding.

I’m incredibly excited. It’s gorgeous – photos cannot do it justice. It’s also very messy right now, since the floor and windows still need to be put in, but it’s getting there.

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The Joiner and the Engineer, hard at work.

For our last visit we helped them build a bathroom vanity. And by ‘we’ I mean Ryan built it, and I, lacking any and all woodworking knowledge, got relegated to sanding duty.

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Newbie duty.

But I got to hang out at a beautiful farm with incredibly wonderful people. So I’m really not complaining.

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I also made a friend.

 

Drag

No waste, no waste. Every breath counts.

Inhale exhale inhale.

No waste, can’t waste. Don’t let it burn up unused. It’s such a luxury.

A few minutes and then it’s gone. A few moments of warmth in the lungs. A few moments of warmth against the cold of the world.

What a waste. I’ll miss it when it’s gone.

Washi Tape

Life has definitely taken a turn for the busier. Between settling into a new job (which I absolutely love), wedding planning, and trying to make it out to the island as often as possible to help out with renovations, my writing has been slightly neglected.

So while I do have a few posts drafted, I haven’t been posting nearly as much as I want to.

I did, however, want to do a very short post about my new discovery: Washi Tape!

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Gorgeous details on the tape!

It’s nothing new to many people, but it’s something I had never even heard of before. It’s a papery tape that’s slightly translucent and can be used for decorating and labelling. It’s so versatile and incredibly fun! Since I started working at my new job, I’ve been extremely inspired to be as creative as possible.

So I decided to try using washi tape to decorate my wedding invites, and I really love the results! I’ll definitely be using it a lot in the future.

 

I, By


I work next to the smell of the sea. 

And sometimes I think that I can understand, just a little, the longing sailors feel when separated from the ocean. 

I grew up next to the sea. 

I know the sound of waves, of gulls, of water slapping the side of boats. 

I grew up watching the sea. 

To be inland, I feel a sense of loss. As if a vital part of me is missing. That sense of endlessness has disappeared. 

Less is More

Every year I find myself wanting to do less and less for my birthday. Yesterday I went to work, and then to celebrate, I went to a pub with just a couple friends.

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Mango cake! My favourite!

It was small, intimate, and perfect.

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I do feel incredibly lucky, though, to work at a place where my employers show that they value their employees.

For each employee’s birthday they will buy them a bouquet of flowers.

For me they chose yellow, since I’m a summer baby, and red for my Chinese heritage. It was thoughtful, and generous, and such a nice touch.

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I’m not sure why I did not feel the need for a great bit celebration – I certainly used to enjoy them. And I know I’m not the only one who now prefers smaller parties.

What about you? How do you enjoy celebrating your birthday? Have your celebrations changed over the years?

Welcoming

Welcoming the summer with open arms. The seasonal changes in my city are not dramatic. Ever the odd child, Vancouver has mild winters compared to the rest of Canada, and our summers are much cooler.

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And right now I eagerly step into summer. One that I hope will be filled with days at the beach, in the forests, and out in the sun.

What do you love most about summer?

Take Me Away

There’s an old train track that spans much of my neighbourhood. It’s in the middle of being taken apart, which is good because it means much-needed infrastructure is going to replace it.

Christine Fichtner train tracks

On the other hand, there was something nice about the old, overgrown tracks. Walking along the wild, untamed plants and exposed metal. They will be missed.