Saturday, December 14, 2013

End of the School Quarter

Hi everyone!  Long time no see.  As of this week, school is over, until January.  So to celebrate, I would just like to catch up on my blog.  I have much to say.  For Thanksgiving, Brandon and I didn't have a large dinner.  Instead, we did hot pot, then went Black Friday shopping at H&M.  We scored a bunch of good stuff.

We went to Vancouver, BC the next day.  The weather was cold, in fact it was FREEZING.  But it was sweet to get away with Brandon and spend quality time with him.  We discovered that Vancouver has lots of Japanese restaurants everywhere and I mean EVERYWHERE.  We only actually went to one in the three days that we were there, but were impressed with it.  I ordered a seaweed roll that had no rice in the middle, but only vegetables and mango in the middle, with this incredible ginger soy dipping sauce.  I wish I took a picture, but it was raining so much that we decided to ditch the camera for most of the trip.

We were staying at a four star hotel, and the entrance was very beautiful.  The hotel was downtown and within walking distance of everything.  Right across the street from us was a grocery store that had quite a variety of good foods, from organic Kombucha to ketchup chips.  I will have you know that I bought plenty of wine gums, and discovered a new kind of Cadbury chocolate bar - cookies and cream I think it was... anyway, it is my new favorite (right up there with Top Deck).  Also, nearby was a movie theater, where we saw Ender's Game.  By the way, that movie ROCKS!

A few highlights of the trip included hanging out with our friends Alvin and Olivia, eating a really good French breakfast with them, discovering smoothie places and taking wheatgrass shots to attempt to be healthy, and most of all, I loved getting a Thai couples massage on the last day that we were there.  It was one of the BEST massages of my life, seriously.  The only pictures we took were of the breakfast we had with Alvin and Olivia.

I got fruit, lamb+beef meatballs with hummus, poached eggs, and toasted bread to dip in everything.

Brandon got this.  My only complaint: the servings were WAY too small.

Olivia's looked good.  I liked how they used fresh herbs and everything.

Alvin got this bruschetta with a soft-boiled egg.  They served us tea as well. :-)

Overall, that trip was nice, but I would definitely rather go there in the late spring or early fall instead of the dead of winter.  In other news, SCHOOL IS OVER!!! Yes, I mentioned that, but I have to say I am truly going to miss the new friends I made in my Japanese class, Mashu-san, Ashu-san, Chris-san, Greg-san, Sara-san, Zachu-san, and Mayu-san.  I will miss my teacher too.  He was really good.  

Lastly, Brandon and I are attempting to be more health-conscious.  So far, he is a lot better at it than I am, but here are some things that we have been trying to do:

1) Educate ourselves on nutrition more.  I have been watching documentaries like crazy on Netflix and it has really opened my eyes to the problem of obesity in America.

2) Take vitamins and supplements.  I take a multivitamin, biotin, St. John's Wort, Fish oil, Super B Complex, Apple Cider Vinegar, Red Ginseng, and Chlorophyll.  In addition to that I like to incorporate Chia seeds and Flax seeds in my diet.  Brandon takes other things that are vital to his exercise plan and health goals.  I do not claim to be an expert on health but I do know that when I keep on top of these things I feel a lot better and a lot more energetic.

3) Drink enough water and eat the right kind of nutritional foods.  I have been purposefully adding more vegetables in my diet.  I have become more aware of how important eating salads is to my own personal health, as well as juicing and making healthy smoothies.

4) Brandon has been good at exercising.  He wakes up at the crack of dawn to work out.  I, on the other hand, am not the best, but I am working on it. ;-)

5) Getting to bed earlier.  This has made a big difference and I value sleep very much.  It is so important to be well-rested.  

Here is an example of a snack I have been loving: salad, a clementine, and a cup of red tea. 

I am the queen of making good salads.  This is something my mom has taught me well, and I thank her for teaching me right.  Some of my favorite tips about healthy salad are:

1) A good salad base is a green leafy vegetable such as romaine, green leaf, red leaf, or butter leaf lettuce.  I like my lettuce to not be wilted in the least.  For this reason I try not to get the packaged kind of lettuce, but lettuce that I cut myself.

2) For nutrition, on top of the salad base of choice, add a dark green leafy vegetable (or add more than one), such as spinach, collared greens, spring mix, etc.  

3) For crunch, add cabbage.  I like to use both green and purple cabbage.  

4) The more colorful the salad, the more appealing it is to eat.  Add sliced or cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, avocados, shredded carrot, cucumber slices, and perhaps even diced up fruit.  I really enjoy adding sliced strawberries, diced apple or asian pear to my salads.  

5) Do not add too much dressing to your salad.  Just a small drizzle is enough.  Also, choose a dressing that is either homemade, or made with good quality ingredients.  Avoid MSG if at all possible.

HA!  I don't really know how I got to spilling my secret about my famous salads, but it is really simple if you follow those 5 steps.  

As for Christmas coming up, I am done with most all of my Christmas shopping.  I would show you what I got for everyone, but I don't want to give away the surprise!  Just wait until later.  This year, we are visiting Las Vegas and Utah to see family.  That is going to be super nice.  I will try to take pictures of everything. :-) xoxox

~Sincerely, Ashleigh Son

Monday, November 25, 2013

So, We Went to California

Hi guys!  It has been a while since I have blogged.  Not surprised seeing as I feel so dead all the time these days from school.  But enough about that.  I have a bunch of photos today!  Brandon and I went to California to visit some family.

Day 1:

We didn't think we would have so much fun on the first day we arrived, but Brandon's cousin Jennifer spoiled us rotten and took us to the best sushi place HANDS DOWN I have ever had in my life.  I don't think I can ever eat other sushi again without a pit of sadness in my stomach for the loss of not having this restaurant readily available to me.  The place was called Sushi Gen, in LA.  The chefs were super nice, but be careful not to eat too much!  It adds up very quickly. The coolest part was that the menu had Hirigana and Katakana, so I ordered in Japanese.  THANK YOU JAPANESE CLASS!  Did I mention Jennifer is the best?  That was my first time meeting her, but she was so gracious to us, and was a really fun person to talk to and is drop dead gorgeous.  We drove around Korea-town a bit as well.  Actually we did lots of stuff but my memory is kind of failing me.  *SIGH* This is why it is best to blog the day after something happens....

The sushi chefs at Sushi Gen.  THEY ARE AMAZING.

One of the MANY delicious sushi pieces we ordered (this one was plain tuna).  Do not be fooled by the simplicity.  It is the absolute best.


Day 2:

First, we went to brunch at a Korean restaurant with Brandon's dad and his cute grandmother.  Then, we went to DISNEYLAND!!!

Seriously, this place makes me so happy!  I love the attention to detail even in their gardens.

They already had Christmas stuff up, which is something I am usually opposed to before Thanksgiving, but Disneyland can definitely pull it off.

We went to the Mad Hatter as our first stop and bought hats.  Here is a cute shot of Brandon wearing his.

And this is how I dressed (sorry for how blurry it is).  The weather was perfect for it.  Notice I match Minnie Mouse.  Ears and all.  

Brandon humored me and rode the Winnie the Pooh ride, but look how cramped his legs were in the seat!  It was hilarious.

The teacup ride!  How I love Alice in Wonderland, so this is one of my favorites.

We actually took tons more pictures but they all came out blurry on account of me not being able to use our fancy camera properly.  UGH!  Brandon's cousin, Benjamin, fixed the issue for us the next day.  Sadly, we didn't stay for fireworks because we had been walking around for six hours and got too tired.  However, we did polish off a large turkey leg, churro, chili lime corn-on-the-cob, and a hot cocoa.  :-) I just wish we could have had more time so we could have done more.

After Disneyland, we had a dinner and dessert date with Benjamin and his super cute girlfriend, Amber.  We were so extremely tired at this point, but had a lot of fun with them.

Day 3:

We started out our day meeting our friend, Esther at this Bruxie place.  Apparently, this chain is everywhere in California.  It was my first time going there.  I had a tuna waffle sandwich.

That day we kind of took it easy and relaxed.  We also went to this amazing Italian restaurant, Pizzeria Mozza.  OH MAN!  Again, another restaurant recommended by Jennifer.  That girl has great taste in food.  I recommend their Margherita pizza.

Oh, did I mention Benjamin let us drive his Corvette the entire trip.  It was so nice of him.  Gosh, we have the COOLEST COUSINS EVER!

Day 4:

 We went to Huntington Beach first thing in the morning.  Notice the Panda and Lion shirt!!!

We ended up having breakfast at a quaint place nearby, and then renting bikes and riding along the beach.  It was WONDERFUL and I am so sad we don't get to do that regularly.

We also walked along the pier and saw this Pelican!!  At least, I think it is a pelican.  It was fearless and didn't fly away even with tons of people surrounding it to take a photo.

In my opinion, it was too cool outside to go surfing, but it was fun to watch other people doing it.

Benjamin was being a friend to all the birds on the beach that day.  It was hilarious.  They were all a bit wary of him.

Cheese alert!!! I can never go to the beach without writing "I <3 Brandon" in the sand.  And here is Brandon making us all laugh.  He is so cute and hilarious!

He wrote one for me too.  We are so cheesy, my goodness!

That night we went and had Korean barbecue with Benjamin and Jennifer's parents.  The meats were phenomenal!  

It was Kang HoDong's restaurant!  So I made Brandon take a picture in front of the cardboard cutout.  

Day 5:

We had to leave early in the morning to head home.  We were sad, but it was nice to have a day off from work. :-)

Well... I am now super tired after blogging all of this.  Hope you all enjoyed it.  xoxox

~Sincerely, Ashleigh Son

Monday, November 11, 2013

Hot Pot and Other Stuff

GUYS!!! I miss you.  I have been wanting to blog so bad, but seriously have been exhausted.  I am in the midst of doing full time school and full time work and being a Young Women's leader, and trying to be a good wife and trying to keep the house clean, etc.  So naturally blogging has been skipped for about a month.  But I am back because I just wanted to share some stuff.  First, I want to show you some Hot Pot pictures.  Brandon and I had homemade hot pot for dinner and it was absolutely divine!  Pretty much the best hot pot I have had in ... forever!

We started with homemade chicken broth...made by Brandon of course.  We put it in a hot pot (a pot that you can control the temperature manually while it is on the table).  This broth came from the bones of a Costco rotisserie chicken.  Brandon added onions, celery, and carrots to flavor the broth and then drained it afterward.  He probably added pepper to taste... and maybe salt?  I don't know.  Anyway, it was SUPER good broth.

We bought some meat from H-Mart.  The beef was thin-sliced...as was the chicken.  You don't want to have cuts of meat that are too thick or else there is a chance that it won't cook enough and you will get sick!  I also sliced some boiled eggs for extra protein.  I know, the whole tin-foil thing doesn't look too pretty, but we just kept it like that for clean-up convenience.

Then, we had a huge plate/platter of vegetables.  We had sliced savoy cabbage, separated bok choy leaves, sliced red cabbage, baby spinach leaves, broccoli, enokitake mushrooms, and zucchini slices.  Brandon's mom said watercress would have been good too, so we will try that next time.

This is what it looked like before we started.  Basically you have this stock boiling in the middle of the table... or should I say... simmering.  And then you just add whatever soup fixings you want.  We also added some Sriracha sauce and spicy Vietnamese chili sauce to our broth since we love a spicy taste.  PS... that cute little tea set we were using was a gift from my dad when I was 15 years old.  I still have the whole set and love to use it on special occasions.  

Ignore my eyes creepily glowing in the camera and the open dishwasher....  I was absolutely thrilled - and I mean THRILLED - to eat Hot Pot at home.  Also, notice I am wearing the Lana Lang kryptonite necklace... :-)  I had a picture of Brandon too.  He was eating his soup and that picture showed off his muscular arms nicely.  HAHA but he made me promise I will not post that picture.

This is what it looks like when it is cooking.  We had some lovely pure Jasmine tea with our meal, but I wish we had also served it with tall glasses of ice-cold lemon water!

Long story short, it was amazing.  

As for the rest of life... school is hard, but not so bad as last quarter.  I am taking a Japanese class, economics class, and an Accounting class.  I have not gone out with too many friends lately, but we have had a few cool people move into our church and have had a chance to get to know them.  I got a gelish manicure!  I absolutely love it.  My grandmother from South Africa finally moved in with my parents in Utah, so that is awesome.  Lastly, I am going to Disneyland this week!  I can't wait to get away, since I really need a vacation.  Work has been making me so stressed lately.  Although I feel blessed to have a job I can't wait until school is over so I can work somewhere that I am more passionate about.  My current job is perfect for life at the moment, but it is definitely not what I want to do for the rest of my life.  Anyway, I had better get going! xoxox

~Sincerely, Ashleigh Son

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Best and Worst

Hi guys! Just want to drop you a line this morning.  When did it become October?? I feel like it should still be July.  In order to make this quick, here are the best and worst of stuff I am up to lately:

Work...

Best:  Being close to everything nice downtown.

Worst:  I was informed that my work has a dress code that I have been violating since I started working here.....no jeans allowed.  *sigh*

School...

Best:  My Japanese class!  It is so much fun and I love my professor and classmates.  This is my first class I am actually taking on campus as opposed to online.

Worst:  The cold weather associated with driving to campus for this quarter.  Last night I was pelted with rain and freezing on my way back to the parking lot.

Reading...

Best:  Enid Blyton books!  I am going to be thinking this for a while.  I just finished The Adventures of Pip.  It was really cute, and had some pretty amusing chapters.

Worst:  Online reading for my Economics class, because I have such a short attention span and get very impatient and keep getting distracted while I am supposed to study.

Television...

Best:  East of Eden.  I have never cried so much while watching a KDrama in my life. 

Worst:  New Girl.  Please don't hate me.  I think Zooey Deschanel is adorable.  But that show ended up being kind of a flop for me since it just got more and more crude (aka not really my kind of humor), and also Brandon didn't even think Episode 1 was that funny.   I watched a few episodes before moving on to other shows.

Life...

Best: Brandon!!!

Worst:  Missing family and friends in Utah and South Africa.

Clothes...

Best:  My three new dresses from Canada!  I promise to take pictures... one of these days.  Also... on a side note, since I am obsessed with Smallville I bought a Lana Lang necklace.  SO pretty!

Worst:  Gaining weight so that my pants are hard to slip over my butt.   Also, one of my favorite dresses shrunk in the wash and is now nothing more than a really fancy shirt.

Blogging...

Best:  Honestly, the best moments are when bloggers I admire end up reading my blog and commenting.  I have also enjoyed many new online friendships from loyal readers!  Add me on Facebook if you want!

Worst:  People that post anonymous rude comments, hiding behind their computer screens just so they can speak their mind and be a total jerk without me knowing who they are.  I delete their comments faster than you can blink.

Food...

Best:  For lunch I often have meat and rice as a main dish.  A good topping is a drizzle of Bolthouse Ranch and few squirts of Sriracha sauce.  SERIOUSLY GUYS!  Try it.

Worst:  I can't eat fried foods anymore without feeling very ill.

Music...

Best:  I am ALWAYS going to be biased toward KPop of course.  I can't narrow down to just one song!

Worst:  Dubstep.... Not my style at all.

I think we are in need for a fashion post soon?  Yes?  Anyway, as an update, this school quarter is so far not as bad as last quarter.  I love learning new things and am trying not to let it stress me out.  Talk to you later, darlings! xoxox

~Sincerely, Ashleigh Son

Thursday, September 19, 2013

I Am Currently...

I stole this idea from this blog... Thought it would be fun to give a little current update.  Also, I think it would be fun if some of my readers did this on their blog as well. :-)

Making: homemade almond milk!  I followed this recipe, but skipped the sweetener and added vanilla and a pinch of salt.  It turned out DELICIOUS. 
Cooking: Cooking?  Well I have to be honest.  The last thing I cooked was anything but delicious.  Oatmeal with almond meal and protein powder.  Blegh.  Next time I'll skip the almond meal.
Drinking: lots of tea!  I am dying to brew some of that lovely Green and Fruity Rooibos from David's Tea in Canada.  It is incredible both iced and hot.
Reading: Tales of Toyland and Other Stories, by Enid Blyton.  I also plan to read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë.
Wanting: to take the time to make homemade kimchi.
Looking: for creative ways to exercise and eat healthy food.  So far, I run around a high school track, do blogilates, lift dumbells (weight training), go on little hikes, and make smoothies regularly.
Playing: while I can, before school starts.
Wasting: lots of almond meal (left over from the almond milk recipe) since I don't know what to make with it.
Sewing: nothing at the moment, but planning on finally making another dress.  The fabric is just sitting there by my sewing machine...
Wishing: I were graduated already!!!
Enjoying: little moments with Brandon every day.
Waiting: to figure out what is going on with our house-buying situation.  We made an offer and are still waiting to hear back.
Liking: all the re-runs of Smallville I have been watching.  Have you noticed everyone in that show is FREAKISHLY gorgeous?
Wondering: when my baby sister, Rachel, grew up so much.
Loving: Fall weather, Nabi (our cat), my wonderful family, and most of all, Brandon!!
Hoping: to get straight A's again this quarter.
Marvelling: at how easy it has been to learn Japanese Hirigana characters.  Yes, I am studying a bit before I jump into my actual Japanese class.
Needing: more sleep.
Smelling: my amazing new shampoo.  It smells so delicious, and Brandon is in love with it as well.
Wearing: Jeans, a dark gray shirt, tacky white socks, royal blue shoes, and a royal blue peacoat.
Following: Annie Jaffrey's blog and youtube channel.  Seriously I admire her in so many ways.
Noticing: the difference between not cutting my hair for over six months and a small hair trim.
Knowing: that God is on our side, and everything will work out as it is meant to be.
Thinking: of getting yet another shellac manicure.  It's easy to feel all dolled up when your nails look pretty.
Bookmarking: this fitness inspiration tumblr, this healthy food inspiration tumblr, and this homesteading blog.
Opening: a package of new (silky soft) sheets.
Giggling: every time I have a Skype date with my bestie, Rene!
Feeling: grateful for all my family members and many blessings.

Hope you had fun reading this!  If you put one on your page, let me know! xoxox

~Sincerely, Ashleigh Son

Sunday, September 15, 2013

End of Summer

I am sad, because I have only one week until school starts again.  I become a complete zombie during school, even ask Brandon.  Before that happens, I better post all the summer photos I missed showing you guys.

First off, since I am a Young Women's leader at church, I had the opportunity of driving up to Camp Zarahemla for an evening at Girl's Camp.  Oh, the fond memories of being a teenager came rushing back to me.  Believe me I had some BLACKMAIL photos of the girls (and Bishop!!), but out of the kindness of my heart I will not post them.  Instead, here are some beautiful things about girl's camp that I will fondly remember.

 Washington is so GORGEOUS!!! It was like a sea of endless trees on the way to Camp Zarahemla.

 When we got there, I marveled at the fresh air and all the tall trees surrounding the camp.

 They had a really nice facility up there for the girls, complete with cabins for individual groups of girls!

 I thought this was so cute, next to a huge table where lots of crafts could be created by the girls.

 Did I mention the campsite was next to a GORGEOUS lake?

I am crazy about this kind of scenery.

Then... there were a few birthday photos I missed posting.

 Brandon got me this ADORABLE Hello Kitty Lion T-Shirt.  It says "Hear Me Roar," on the back. LOL.

 Brandon designed this Panda and Lion T-Shirt.  He really does have a creative streak, doesn't he?

 Here is that giant balloon I was telling you about.  By the way, it has been over two weeks and it is still floating. :-)

My cake, card, flowers, and gifts!  Unfortunately when I took close-up pictures of all these my camera was freaking out and everything turned out blurry.  What a bummer!

I also have a few other RANDOM photos:

 A long time ago, Brandon gave me these roses in a little pot.  Then one day they disappeared.  They had been wilting, so I thought they were thrown away.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered that my mother-in-law planted them in the garden so we could enjoy them for a long time.  So sweet of her!

 She also planted this cute little vegetable garden in our side yard.  Currently we are enjoying as many fresh cucumbers as we want!

 I arranged all my Sanrio stuffed animals on our windowsill.  Also, I have successfully collected 50 Enid Blyton books.   I have since arranged those books neatly onto the bookshelf so my desk isn't cluttered.

 Yesterday, Brandon surprised me with french toast made from sourdough bread.  It was really tasty!  Look, he even added mint leaves on top just to make it look prettier.

 Another shot of the french toast, with Brandon's homemade honey-banana sauce.  It was sweet and delightful.

See those cushions on the couch?  I sewed the pillowcases.  Online, these very pillowcases cost anywhere from $20-$60, not including shipping.  So I skillfully found the fabric online and sewed them myself.  It only costed about $9 per pillow, INCLUDING shipping.

Last, but not least, Nabi's favorite spot these days seems to be on the windowsill in our bathroom.  He is such a funny cat!

Hope you enjoyed my little photo update.  In other news....

1) I am attempting to make homemade almond milk.  Just for fun.
2) I am re-watching Smallville.  I love that show.
3) Brandon and I got new glasses!  I will have to show you pictures of those soon.

Other than that, there is not too much else I can think of.  Talk to you later! xoxox

~Sincerely, Ashleigh Son

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

My 25th Birthday

So you guys... it has really been a while.  On August 29th I turned a quarter of a century old.  I never thought I would be 25.  It's like some huge milestone for me.  :-)  I can't help but think of how much more mature my mom was at 25 than I am.  I mean, she had two children already.   And me?  I feel like an immature teenager still some days.  HA.  Anyway, I can't even begin to tell you how awesome Brandon (and many others) made my birthday.  He planned way ahead of time a trip to Victoria, BC - That is in Canada for those who are not the best with world locations.  Well, first off, on my actual birthday I was woken up at the crack of dawn (LITERALLY) by my family calling me to sing happy birthday.  It's a funny and messed up tradition in the family we have had for years. I am pretty sure I was half asleep when I answered the phone.  Unfortunately I had to go to work and the day took a turn for the worse.  I was working on a very time-consuming project which made me neglect something I was supposed to get done that day, which made my boss kinda mad at me.  Then I had to catch the bus and it didn't even show up even though I showed up at the bus stop early so I had to wait for 45 minutes in the rain and I was SOAKED THROUGH before the next bus came.  I ended up getting home around 7:00 pm.  Usually I am home by 6 at the latest.  Thankfully I did receive some lovely phone calls from family and texts from friends with lots of birthday wishes so that cheered me up.  Also at work a lovely patient of ours sewed me a homemade water bottle holder by hand.  WHAT A SWEETHEART.  She also mailed me a birthday card.  Wow, I was so taken aback by that.  When I came home I was surprised with an oversized Hello Kitty balloon.  I mean, seriously this ballon was HUGE!  At least that is the first thing that caught my eye.  There was also a bouquet of flowers, a VERY romantic card, and the same kind of cake we had for our wedding celebration.  I was so happy and pleasantly surprised.  After that, I packed our bags for our trip and only ended up getting to bed at 1 am.  At 4:30 am we woke up to drive up to Seattle and get on our ferry to get to Canada.  Brandon and I were so groggy and exhausted, but SO happy.  We needed this vacation.  When we got to Canada we took a ride on a tour bus that had a guide (his name was Joe) with THE most relaxing voice I have ever heard in my life.  Brandon and I both fell asleep on the bus because of Joe's voice.  Then the bus stopped at the Butchart Gardens.  WOW!!! Is all I can say about that.  Those gardens are incredible.  I only wish we could have gone without a tour group because it was sooo crowded.  I could hardly snap any photos without someone walking in front of me.  Also, I ruined plenty of other tourists' photos from walking in front of them.  Not on purpose of course.  After that the bus took us to our hotel, where we took a nap for a couple hours.  It was called Hotel Rialto!  I highly recommend staying there if you ever get to visit Victoria.  The staff was so friendly and helpful.  From there on out, we explored downtown Victoria for the next two days.  Some highlights? Well this is where all the pictures I took come in handy.

On the ferry early in the morning.


Another ferry picture.  I can't even begin to explain how tired we were since we woke up so early.  

Our tickets to the Butchart Gardens... Notice my hot pink nails?  That is my first Shellac manicure.  I am LOVING it.

SERIOUSLY!!! This view was incredible.  And I might add, it was literally breathtaking in real life.

I felt like I was in the Garden of Eden or something.

There were many bodies of water in these gardens as well as beautiful plants.

The colorful flowers made me feel so cheerful!

Doesn't it look like a painting or something?

Elephant bushes having a tea party.

More colorful varieties of flowers.  Did I mention I am kind of obsessed with plants?

This flower was gigantic, bigger than my hand.

More HUGE flowers.

There were even giant sunflowers.

I had never seen a flower like this before.  It felt very unreal being around all these oversized flowers.

In the center of these flowers are little black bees.  They were SUPER cute.  I am not scared of bees like a lot of people.  My fears are more reserved for spiders and electric powerlines.

There were acres and acres of gardens.  I could have taken hundreds of photos, but I didn't.

a cool fountain surrounded by plants...

Japanese gardens.  I didn't take as many pictures here because we have been to the Portland Japanese gardens already and took TONS of pictures that were similar to these.

A tunnel of trees in the Japanese gardens.

A wishing pond with thousands of coins at the bottom.

Stepping stones in the pond.  Funny but sad story... See those people walking toward the stepping stone in the uppermost part of the picture?  Well, one of them slipped off one of the stones and fell into the pond.  It was kinda traumatizing.

Brandon looks very appealing to me with this scenery... haha.

Yet another cool fountain.

The prettiest color of flowers in the Italian Gardens....

 I enjoyed myself thoroughly at the gardens and wish we had something like this in our city.

Our room at Hotel Rialto.  I LOVED the fact that this boutique hotel was super clean and didn't have any weird smells and was close to everything downtown.

The lobby was cute too!

There were lots of dragons around the city, so I started taking pictures every time I spotted one.

Victoria has a little Chinatown that was kinda fun to walk through and explore.

This tea place was AMAZING.  I kept getting the iced Rooibos - Green and Juicy flavored.  I promise if you try it you will not be disappointed.

It was so impressive to me how many varieties of tea they had here.  I was so in love and very disappointed not to have one next to our house.  So naturally, I had to buy some loose leaf rooibos tea to enjoy when we got home.

Also, for the record, these Ketchup Chips are the ABSOLUTE BEST.  

Downtown Victoria has some very impressive architecture.

These ten commandments statues were in the yard of a church.  CUTE!

Andddd this made me laugh.

There were cute little flea markets sprinkled around this area.

We also browsed plenty of indoor shops.

This dragon was kinda creepy...

When Brandon and I first started dating we bought these necklaces that make a heart when you put them together.  It has been a while since we wore them, so we wore them practically the entire duration of our trip, just to be cheesy and romantic.

This mall, called "The Bay," was really nice on the inside.

This sashimi was incredible.  I really can't remember the name of the restaurant, but it was so fresh.

This guava drink was really good as well.  I noticed almost all the food in Canada has the French as well as English labels on it.

 I couldn't help but notice that there were lots of totem poles around Victoria.  I considered buying a mini one just for kicks, but forgot to do it.

A view of the city.

We took a tour of the Parliament building.  It is a really beautiful historic building with plenty of beautiful stained glass windows and a little rose garden out in the back.

These doors in the Parliament building were built and reserved only for the entrance of the Queen.  Fancy Schmancy!

After the Parliament tour we got a fresh tropical fruit and protein smoothie from this stand.  IT WAS DELICIOUS.

A view of the waterfront.

Little flea markets and food stands along the beach.

The Empress Hotel.  I thought it looked really cool with all those vines growing on it.

The entire city had flower beds sprinkled everywhere that were just as pretty as this one, including hanging baskets and window baskets.

These lunchboxes were reallllly cute!  They were in a random shop that we went into.

At night, there are even more flea markets set up and lots of things to do and see.  It was so romantic and Brandon and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

They also light up the Parliament building at night.  This shot really makes Canada seem like a distinct country from the USA.  It really is a romantic place with a charm of its own.

You know how I am a sucker for street sculptures.  Well, this is one of the cutest ones I have seen in a long time.

This mosaic whale was pretty impressive.  Victoria has plenty more street art that I didn't even capture.

Also, no trip to Canada is complete without buying Nestle Smarties, Maynard's Wine Gums and other candy, and Cadbury chocolate.

I don't know if this is the longest post I have ever written, but it did take me the longest to organize it, whew!

On top of this amazing Canada trip, I have pictures of other birthday stuff, but seriously, I will save that for another day.  My mom got me some healthy flax cracker snacks, the entire series of the TV show "Jericho," and the movie "Overboard."  My mother-in-law got me lots of nice Lancome makeup to enjoy.  Also, Brandon got me an H&M gift card and in Canada he helped me scope out three brand new (perfect) dresses that I would probably have never found in the US.  I have also received some birthday cards in the mail and I am very grateful for that.  I had a wonderful birthday, one I will never forget.  Well, I am going to turn in for the night.  xoxox

~Sincerely, Ashleigh Son