Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Happy 30th Birthday to My Sister, Jenny

I can't believe it, my sister Jenny is turning 30 this year. Of all the people in my life, including my own husband, Jenny is the only person whose birthday I actually remember. Part of it has to do with her birthday being on November 13th. That means once every couple of years, it falls on a Friday, which makes it easier to remember because I've got that weird Chinese superstitious-ness.

Another part of it is that I really just love my sister. I was six years old when Jenny was born. You know that thing that happens when you're female bodied and there's a baby around, you just want to hold it and play doll with it? I remember doing some of that with Jenny.

I find it fascinating when two or more people share almost the same exact life, parents, and context, but end up on different paths. Jenny and I have lots of common, but at the same time she is very different from me. She's way smarter, hipper, and harder working.

I also find it fascinating when siblings transition from being people you have to interact with, to people you actually like and admire.

I'm super proud of her and her winding path in life. She's currently getting a PhD at the University of Southern California, and works really hard. If we lived in the same city, we would probably hang out way too much and get on each other's nerves, but I would love every moment of it.

Happy birthday dear sister. I wish you good health and lots of happiness in this new decade of your life.

Jenny and Ly at Stanley Park, Vancouver (8/20/12)
Jenny visiting Vancouver in 2012.
Jenny Walking around Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles (4/9/12)
One of my favourite pictures of Jenny because of the classic smog filled LA scene behind her.
Jenny with Canada  Pride Flags, Vancouver (8/20/12)
Jenny being fabulous.
Jenny on Bicycle at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden, Vancouver (8/21/12)
Jenny being a dork.
Ly, Jenny, and Annie at Stanley Park, Vancouver (8/20/12)
There's actually 3 of us Hoang girls. I love Annie, who's the youngest sister, just as much, but she can be a grouchy bear and way to hip for me. And if I were to ever post more than 1 picture of her, she would hurt me in my sleep the next time I'm home!

Making More Whimsy: Delta, BC

One of our favourite ways to spend time together is to find a hiking trail, and bring along our camera, binoculars, and a birding book. We did that recently on a warm fall day and here are our photos.

Most of the time, Dzung has the camera around his neck and I'm trying to identify birds, but once in a while I'll spot something that I really want to photograph. I love meadows with wildflowers and tall weeds. I think it's the romantic teenager in me that spent way too many hours reading Jane Austen novels. We came upon a sweet little meadow, which was more of a bog, and took time to make some whimsy.

Dreamy Meadow. Deas Island Park, Delta BC (10/11/14)
On our hike, the sun was just setting behind these banks of trees and filtering through this grassy meadow.
Dzung in Meadow #3. Deas Island Park, Delta BC (10/11/14)
Of course, I made Dzung pose for me.
Ly in Meadow. Deas Island Park, Delta BC (10/11/14)
And of course, he then made me pose.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Island Hopping: Beautiful British Columbia

One of the great things about living in Vancouver is the proximity to all the amazing Gulf Islands. The other great thing is that each island has it's own personality. We recently got invited to Salt Spring Island to hang out with our friend, Sura. Salt Spring is the biggest Southern Gulf Island and is known for it's arts and farming culture.

BC Ferries in Fog. Salt Spring Island, BC (9/28/14)
This is one of the many ferries that shuttle people, cars, and bikes across the Georgia Straight. Dzung and I were noticing that taking a ferry is such a chill way to travel. You reserve a ticket and then you hop on board for a couple of hours. You're free to move around and if you like hang out on the deck to take in the views. Or, just read a book and relax.

Lighthouse and Mountain #2. Gulf Islands, BC (9/28/14)
This is view from our ferry ride back to Vancouver. I think that lighthouse is on Mayne Island and in the background is Mt. Baker, which is in Washington State.

Dzung, Sura, and Ly at Ruckle Park. Salt Spring Island, BC (9/27/14)
This is our fabulous friend Sura, who played tour guide and local expert while we were there. Thanks, Sura!

Local Apples at Cusheon Cove. Salt Spring Island, BC (9/28/14)
There are tons of farms on Salt Spring Island. The produce gets shipped over to Vancouver Island or the mainland. Each farm has a farm stand just outside their property on the main road. The farm stand has fresh produce for sale. There is usually a small locked box for you to put your money in. Sura told us that, although there is some theft, islanders live on an honour system. They trust and watch out for each other. The farmers who have been tending the land have been doing it for generations and everyone knows each other. Dzung and I found this way of life charming and refreshing. We had a great time slowly down and enjoying all the fall bounty.

Salt Spring Island, BC (9/28/14)

Lucky for us, we just so happen to be visiting the island during their annual apple festival. The island has over 200 varieties of apples growing on various farms and throughout the park lands. People really geek out about apples in the Pacific Northwest.

2014 Apple Festival. Salt Spring Island, BC (9/28/14)

There are also many thriving artist on the island. During the summer months, there is a big public market to sell their wares. Throughout the island there are signs everywhere along the roadways inviting you in to visit their studios. We absolutely loved visiting Salt Spring and looking forward to going back. Anyone want to join us next time?

See more photos on Flickr

- Text by Ly, Photos by Dzung

Full Moon Over Vancouver

Chinese Moon Festival is traditionally celebrated on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunisolar month, which usually happens sometime in September or October. Also known as the Mid-autumn festival, this is a festival where family and friends gather to admire the full moon and eat moon cakes.

Chinese people believe a full moon is a symbol of peace, prosperity, and family reunion. On Mid-Autumn Festival night the moon is supposed to be the brightest and fullest, which is why the festival is also known as the moon festival.

Justin, Tivon, Genny, and Mom. Mid-Autumn Festival on our Rooftop. Vancouver (9/8/14)

We celebrated by having some friends over for dinner and moon viewing from our roof deck.

Mid Autumn Moon from Our Rooftop. Vancouver (9/8/14)

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Pacific Northwest Road Trip

This last spring, my siblings, Tony and Annie (and their dog Toph), drove 1,300 miles from Los Angeles to Vancouver for a Pacific Northwest road trip. I met up with them in Portland and we had a fabulous time.

Growing up, we spent a lot of time being annoyed with each other, pushing each other's buttons, crowding each other's private spaces, and generally being a pain. But, now I love being adult friends with my siblings. We have different and unique relationships with each other. We share our private lives, we ask for and give sound advice, and we generally like hanging out.

Of course we still have all out shouting matches and dole out superb silent treatments, but nothing beats having a good laugh with your siblings, best soul medicine there is.

Here are some pictures from our time together:

Tony, Annie, Toph Road Trip Spring 2014
Annie threatening to cut me if I didn't put the camera down (@PokPok in Portland).

Tony, Annie, Toph Road Trip Spring 2014
Super majestic cat on stoop on Portland.

Tony, Annie, Toph Road Trip Spring 2014
Annie was like, "Even the signs are super hipster in Portland."

Tony, Annie, Toph Road Trip Spring 2014
Tony walking labyrinth at the Grotto in Portland.

Tony, Annie, Toph Road Trip Spring 2014
Cute chapel at the Grotto, Portland.

Tony, Annie, Toph Road Trip Spring 2014
The Grotto is a medival-ly mystic little forest plus hermitage plus cave, definitely worth a visit if you ever find yourself in Portland.

Tony, Annie, Toph Road Trip Spring 2014
Toph being blessed by a holy statue.

Tony, Annie, Toph Road Trip Spring 2014
I'm jealous that the two youngest kids in the clan got all the height, how am I the shortest of the bunch!

Tony, Annie, Toph Road Trip Spring 2014
Toph was such a trooper, sleeping in cars and strange motel rooms.

Tony, Annie, Toph Road Trip Spring 2014

Tony, Annie, Toph Road Trip Spring 2014
Toph loved how dog friendly Vancouver was, she loved the beaches.

Tony, Annie, Toph Road Trip Spring 2014
And the sea bus ride!

Tony, Annie, Toph Road Trip Spring 2014
And the random art sculptures! 

Tony, Annie, Toph Road Trip Spring 2014

Tony, Annie, Toph Road Trip Spring 2014

Tony, Annie, Toph Road Trip Spring 2014
Toph was cold, so we got her a water proof jacket that she won't ever have to use in LA. Guess that means another  visit  to Vancouver.

Vancouver: Sunset at Spanish Banks Beach

more things i love about vancouver:

warm summer evenings
BBQ on the beach with friends and family
spectacular sunsets

Hope Working on the Grill. Spanish Banks Beach, Vancouver (8/9/14)
Hope, grilling some summer corn on the cob and wild salmon

Eva and Asher Playing on Spanish Banks Beach, Vancouver (8/9/14)
Asher and Eva

Asher Playing in the Sand. Spanish Banks Beach, Vancouver (8/9/14)

Ly, Dzung, and Mom at Spanish Banks Beach, Vancouver (8/9/14)

Spanish Banks Beach at Sunset. Vancouver (8/9/14)

Paddleboarding Home. Spanish Banks Beach, Vancouver (8/9/14)
Paddleboarding home

See more photos on my Flickr page

- Text & photos by Dzung

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Bring your kids to Vancouver!

We're always encouraging our friends and family who have young children, to come visit us in Vancouver because it's such a kid friendly city. My cousins, Riley and Audrey, are having a blast here. We're been to the beach, to some great playgrounds and water parks, we've gone on easy hikes, and the public pool.

This post is a direct call out to my brother Minh and his lovely wife Veronica to bring my nieces and nephew to come visit soon. Here are some pictures to entice you some more:

Ly and Riley and Tree Trunk. Lynn Canyon Park, North Vancouver (8/4/14)
My new favorite bestie, Riley.

Ly and Riley in the Stream. Lynn Canyon Park, North Vancouver (8/4/14)
It looks nice and sunny, but the water is freezing cold, fresh from the ice capped mountains.

Ly in the COLD Water at Lynn Canyon Park, North Vancouver (8/4/14)
Here I am attempting to go into the water, but it was soooo cold!

Audrey, Aunt Amy, Riley, in the Stream. Lynn Canyon Park, North Vancouver (8/4/14)
Auntie and the girls looking on as I attempt to swim in the cold water.

As I was swimming in the icy stream, Auntie and the girls were looking on. It was so cold, I screamed and made loud gasps as I swam. Riley (my new bestie) was so worried for my safety that she started to freak out and wanted her mom to go in and save me. She wouldn't settle until I came out of the water and held her to reassure her that I was indeed okay and just being overly dramatic.

Riley, Macy, Audrey, and Ly on the Swings at Granville Island, Vancouver (8/5/14)

Audrey Going Down the Playground Slide. Vancouver (8/5/14)

Audrey and Riley on the Hose! Waterpark at Granville Island, Vancouver (8/5/14)
This is literally the best thing in the world to kids under 4 years old. The girls had a blast just holding this hose at the Granville Island Water Park.

Tiffany, Riley, Macy, Audrey, on Stanley Park Seawall, Vancouver (8/6/14)
Even walking along the Seawall was tons of fun.

More photos from this adventure at Dzung's album on Flickr.

- Text by Ly, photos by Dzung