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From Vancouver to Manila: The Journey Home

It’s been a little over a week since I left Vancouver’s sunny green spaces for Manila’s overcast concrete jungle, and though my heart ached a little as I entered the plane for the flight back home, honestly, it hasn’t been that bad πŸ™‚ Because at the end of the day, though we all whine and complain (uber/no uber), the Philippines will always be my first love.

A lot of people though have been asking me why I decided to give birth in the Philippines instead of Canada, and believe you me, so many well-meaning people also tried to talk me out of it. Definitely, it was a very difficult decision to make. First of all, in the beginning I didn’t even want to think about it because I only wanted to focus on BEING PREGNANT. Towards the end however, I really had to make a decision as I was getting close to 31 weeks and any later the airline wouldn’t have allowed me to fly.

The journey home. And may I also take this opportunity to say way to go, Philippine Airlines! Your new business class is AWESOME! What a world of difference πŸ™‚

Why the Philippines? Because I wanted to be under the care of a doctor I could really trust. Not to say that my Canadian O.B wasn’t any good. Actually, she was pretty great. But at the back of mind, I could never shake off that little bit of anxiety from thinking I didn’t really know her background, I didn’t know any of her other patients…I barely even knew the person who recommended her to me!

Maybe I could have learned to trust her more if we hadn’t already been through such a roller coaster of a baby journey, but well, you all know my story πŸ™‚

So here I am now under the care of a doctor I trust 150%, Dr. Anthony Ancheta, one of our country’s top IVF specialists. He also happens to be familiar with my IVF doctor in San Francisco, Dr. Christo Zouves, and in fact, has taken over the care of quite a few of Dr. Zouves’ patients from the Philippines who, like me, also decided to go home to Manila to give birth (Dr. Zouves takes care of his patients up to the 12th week of pregnancy, after which an O.B of your choice takes over).

First glimpse of Manila after over a year away πŸ™‚

Will I regret this decision? No. Because trust me, nobody else has weighed the pros and the cons longer than we have. Also, because we based our decision on two things:

1. The health and safety of our baby ABOVE ALL

2. Gut feeling

Or dare I say, mother’s instinct?:)

Bare-faced, hot, sweaty and swollen πŸ˜› But happy to be home

Well, there’s also no turning back now because I’ll be 33 weeks this coming Sunday, haha! So please, I hope I can still ask you all to pray for us and our little baby miracle. We still have a couple weeks to go and I’m just hoping everything goes smoothly.

And thanks for the warm welcome, Manila!

It really is good to be home.

Love,

Celine

Best Places to eat in Vancouver

I realize that my last two posts on this blog have been about my β€˜baby journey’ (My Gift of Infertility and My Greatest Adventure) and while I appreciate the great reception they have received (thank you SO MUCH for all the sweet comments and messages of encouragement), I figured it might be nice to write about something lighter this time around.

And since I haven’t done a travel post in a while, this would probably be a good time. I mean, I’ve been away for a year – you’d think I’d have some experiences worth sharing, right? πŸ˜€

Well, I’m happy to say that I do! And today it’s all about my favorite places to eat in Vancouver. Truth be told, my ‘favorites’ list is much longer than 12. There’s at least 30. But I can’t write about them all in one post so I whittled it down to 12 (I tried 10 but that didn’t work :P).

One thing is certain: You’ll never run out of great choices. In fact, there are still so many places I have yet to try and I’ve been here for a while! But you know how it is when you think you have time – all of a sudden, time runs out! Well, It just gives me something to look forward to for next time.

Here they are in no particular order:

Chambar

Fine dining, award winning and tasteful interiors. It has wonderful ambience for dinner, but it’s absolutely perfect for brunch. If the weather is good, ask to be seated outdoors for the full effect.

Le Bon Matin

My top pick: You probably should order the waffles, but if you like to keep it fairly healthy like me, then have the Bon Matin. It’s light, can be shared and it’s just kind of nice to pick on a smorgasbord while enjoying a lazy morning chatting with friends or on a date with your significant other.

Fable
A wonderful farm-to-table spot, perfectly located along the hippie and trendy Kits area. The menu changes depending on the season and availability of ingredients, and I remember I really enjoyed their zucchini bolognese which I had around spring time. Now that it’s summer, it’s no longer on the menu, but I did see that they have a duck meatball tagliatelle with mushrooms instead, and that sounds amazing.

The famous ‘Canned Tuna’

My top pick: The Best “Canned Tuna”. And you can find out for yourself why they call it that πŸ˜‰

Ask for Luigi

Probably top of mind for most Vancouverites for Italian cuisine. Unassuming from the outside, but oozing so much charm inside that you forget the annoyance you felt while waiting in line (warning: no reservations and usually a very long wait list). Famous for their fresh, hand made pasta and hefty portions. Bring only your favorite people because they will only seat up to a maximum of six pax per table πŸ˜‰

The cozy atmosphere of this charming restaurant is the perfect vibe for an intimate meal with good friends. Here we are with our buddies, Mike and Katie πŸ™‚

My top pick: The ricotta & herb ravioli with butter and sage. I don’t have a photo because we were starving and we ate too fast. BUT, the best thing to do is order a bunch of things and share!

Il Giardino

I love this place! It’s Italian cuisine as well, but more traditionally presented. Also, a little more on the fine dining end of the spectrum. They have a beautiful garden (hence the name) which is the best spot to enjoy a delicious meal in the summer.

The Bison Carpaccio looks a little too red here but it’s just the lighting πŸ™‚
My top pick: I have two. The Bison Carpaccio (Bison meat is so much tastier) and the Carbonara – because there’s no place for diets here πŸ˜€

Tavola

I just love the rustic ambience in Tavola. Still Italian, but I couldn’t NOT include it. Such a feel good place with delicious food and a relaxed atmosphere. Don’t be surprised if the chef comes out for a chat and a laugh. It’s also located along trendy Robson street so try to eat early and walk off your meal afterwards while checking out the neighborhood.

Their Brick Chicken with Roasted Garlic Jus

My top pick: Impossible to narrow it down to one. The Burratta with La Quercia Prosciutto, the Bucattini all’Amatriciana and the juiciest ‘Brick Chicken” with roasted garlic jus. So, so, good.

The Pourhouse

My friends and I ate a couple of really good things in this place. Scotch Eggs, Roasted Bone Marrow, Foie Gras & Chicken Liver Terrine, The Pourhouse Burger, Steak and Frites…the kind of place to put a smile on your man’s face.

Just look at that burger topped with Foie.

My top pick: Everything I just mentioned but match it with a good bottle of wine or a crisp beer.

Le Crocodile

French fancy-schmancy and one of the city’s most acclaimed and visited restaurants. A lovely choice for a special occasion.

Sablefish cooked to perfection on a bed of the creamiest pasta that only the French can do best

My top pick: Hands down, the sablefish.

Hy’s

For 60 years they’ve been serving Canada’s most perfectly cooked steaks. You can never go wrong with Hy’s and this is my family’s go-to place to celebrate meaningful life milestones.

A Vancouver classic

My top pick: The Bone-In Rib Steak with a side of Atlantic Lobster Tail. And the mussels!

Gotham

It’s pretty hard to choose between Gotham and Hy’s, because they both serve excellent beef and seafoood, have impeccable service and great ambiance. Gotham however, is housed in one of Vancouver’s few remaining art deco buildings (built in 1933 and designed by Max Downing), so it’s both a visual and gastronomic delight. A bit pricier too.

Steak and Lobster Tail

My top pick: Just like Hy’s, the Steak and Lobster, of course. And the mash!!! Although I had the lamb once and I thoroughly enjoyed that as well.

Hawksworth

A five-time winner of Best Upscale Restaurant in Vancouver Magazine’s Restaurant Awards, they are known not only for excellent food but also for their warm and attentive service. In fact, I experienced this first hand when my friends and I did a private tasting menu. Not only did the server remember that I was avoiding gluten and was allergic to squid (they prepared some of my dishes in a different way to accommodate this), she thoughtfully replaced certain dishes she deemed “too risky” (and explained why) for someone pregnant like me, and made sure that I enjoyed every dish I ate despite the changes.

The Fois

My top pick: Go hungry and have the tasting menu. $118 per guest / $186 with pairing

Kirin

While normally the best Chinese food can be found in the city of Richmond, the best dim-sum in my opinion is in Kirin, particularly their location in downtown Vancouver along Albany St. It’s been said that Vancouver’s Chinese food is even better than Hong Kong’s because the ingredients found here are fresher. Personally, I think it’s true. Then again, maybe I’m biased πŸ™‚

The ultimate comfort food

My top pick:

Dim-sum is the ultimate comfort food and it’s easy to just keep ordering the same old things. I always order the steamed pork spareribs in XO spicy sauce and the shrimp har gau for example. But one thing I’ve also learned to do is to order at least one dish that’s not my usual, that way I can discover something new that just might turn out to be another favorite.

Raisu

While a lot of people say that Miku is the best Japanese restaurant in the city, personally I think Raisu rocks. A little hidden (the entrance is right by a grocery store), it’s easy to miss this urban, tapas style izakaya if you’re not careful. But just like any hidden treasure, it is a gem of a find. Seriously, Vancouver’s Japanese food is only second to…well, Japan’s πŸ˜€ – they do get a lot of their fish from Canada after all πŸ˜‰

B.C Fresh!

Thanks for reading this extra long post πŸ˜€ And I hope you find it helpful the next time you find yourself hungry in Vancouver.

Love,

Celine

Nature Adventure at the Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish

Hello. Long time no see πŸ™‚

For those that have been following my posts on Instagram, you’ll know that I’ve been traveling outside of the Philippines since mid July, and with that said, I just want to apologize for the last few weeks of absence – it’s just that I felt this great need to unplug for a while and really soak in the lazy first couple days of my vacation. I’m sure you understand.

But now I’m back to serious blogging mode, and I’d like to show you what I’ve been up to these past weeks in North America.

Excited for our first nature adventure of the trip: The Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish
Excited for our first nature adventure of the trip: The Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish

First on our nature trip list was the Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish, a community and a district municipality in the Canadian province of British Columbia, also easily one of its most scenic sights. It is every nature lover’s dream β€” a doorway to all year round outdoor adventure that includes hiking, interpretive walks, panoramic views, viewing platforms…and a huge Summit Lodge that offers a self-serve dining experience featuring fresh, local ingredients.

It only takes 10 minutes to get to the top
It only takes 10 minutes to get to the top
But first, some coffee and breakfast :)
But first, some coffee and breakfast
with my handsome date :)
with my handsome date πŸ™‚

I don’t know about you, but when I’m in the concrete jungle that is Manila, I daydream a lot about being surrounded by nature. I think about forests full of trees, mountains, lakes and flowers…and even though it’s just my imagination, it brings me to a place where I feel like I can really breathe.

360 degrees of just beautiful, you don't even know where to look first
360 degrees of natural beauty, I couldn’t decide where to look first

So when I am faced with the real thing, I feel so much joy in my heart that I feel like it could seriously explode.

Taking photos along the Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge
Taking photos along the Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge
My nature-adventure partner for life!
My nature-adventure partner for life!
Just one of the many panoramic viewing stations
Just one of the many panoramic viewing platforms
Magnificent
I could just stare at this for hours
Pure bliss written all over my face :)
Pure bliss written all over my face πŸ™‚

And even just the simple pleasure of being able to walk amidst such beautiful surroundings…

Happiness is zero traffic
Happiness is zero traffic
Let's stop here :)
Let’s stop here πŸ™‚

is something I have learned to never take for granted after spending countless of hours stuck in heavy rush hour traffic.

So this is what it feels like to have the world at your feet :)
So this is what it feels like to have the world at your feet πŸ™‚

Not that the Philippines isn’t beautiful. In fact, for all its flaws, I still think it is one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

But I do wish I didn’t have to travel more than two hours just to see some semblance of greenery. Wouldn’t it be so nice if Metro Manila could learn to nurture nature?

A gentle reminder of just how tiny a space we actually occupy in this world
A gentle reminder of just how tiny a space we actually occupy in this world

Well, maybe one day. But in the meantime, I hope you feel refreshed and just a little more relaxed after seeing these photos…

Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Just us :)
Just us πŸ™‚

…and hopefully they carry you through the stress of another crazy Monday πŸ™‚

Love,

Celine

P.S The Sea to Sky Gondola is open daily from 10AM – 6PM, last ride down from the summit at 7PM

P.P.S All photos were taken by my friend, Jenny Liu πŸ™‚ You can follow her on Instagram: @jennyliublog and @jennyliuphotography, and please do check out her fashion blog, www.stuff-i-love.com

Sundowners Vacation Villas: A Review

Now and again, we all need to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city for a break, and since we live in the Philippines, the winning formula for quick rejuvenation would usually be some sun, sea, and sand.

Luckily for us, we’ve got quite a few beautiful options, though not all are that easily accessible. Sometimes, you need up to three modes of transportation to get to one destination, and honestly, I can’t always be bothered to make those necessary arrangements, especially if I’m only looking at a two-night stay. It’s just too much trouble.

So I’m really happy that I discovered Sundowners Vacation Villas in Bolinao this year, a little slice of paradise only five hours away by car. It’s far enough away to feel completely unplugged from Manila, and yet conveniently accessible that you can pick up and go at your own leisure.

Splash on!
Splash on!
The cocktail bar
The cocktail bar
Just hanging' out
Just hanging’ out
It's a 15 foot drop to the pool from this famous diving board and...I chickened out! Haha! Though I promise to do better the next time I visit. And I promise, there will definitely be a next time :)
It’s a 15 foot drop to the pool from this famous diving board and…I chickened out! Haha! Though I promise to do better the next time I visit πŸ™‚

Their villas are set on top of a cliff overlooking the South China Sea, so you can imagine the view is nothing short of spectacular – a view we best appreciated while taking a dip in our villa’s private plunge pool whilst sipping on our fresh mango shakes.

Fresh Mango shakes: delicious and refreshing
Fresh Mango shakes: delicious and refreshing
My favourite spot: Our villa's private plunge pool
My favourite spot: Our own private plunge pool
A perfect moment
Enjoying a perfect moment

Probably what I like the most about Sundowners Vacation Villas is that it feels less like a resort and more of a ‘home away from home’.

Each villa is equipped with everything you might need for an easy-breezy getaway: air-conditioned bedrooms, hot and cold showers, large balconies, dining and grilling areas, a fully functioning kitchen and access to their breathtaking infinity pools.

We stayed in the Loft Villa and this is how the upstairs bedroom area looks like. So cozy!
We stayed in the Loft Villa and this is how the upstairs open (but air-conditioned) mezzanine bedroom area looks like. So dreamy!
It can definitely squeeze in quite a few people quite comfortably.
The other side of the room can squeeze in a few more people quite comfortably
My husband and I opted to stay in the master bedroom downstairs which has a comfortable queen sized bed. I love all the Santorini inspired details, it cools the eyes and makes you feel relaxed.
My husband and I opted to stay in the master bedroom downstairs which has a queen sized bed
My friend Jenny found a cozy little nook to read a book
My friend Jenny found a cozy little nook to listen to music and just chill out
 I love all the Santorini inspired colours and details, they cool the eyes and makes you feel relaxed.
I love all the Santorini inspired colours and details; they cool the eyes and make you feel even more relaxed
I love this!
Isn’t this pretty?

A definite plus, especially for those who love to cook, would be that their kitchen has most of what you might need to feed your family or your baranggay of friends (or both). Aside from a good sized refrigerator, there are plates, pans, bowls, mugs, glasses, pitchers, cutlery…name it, they have it. Except a coffee press. So if you’re particular about your morning brew, I do recommend you bring your own.

In fact, bring anything you want because there is no corkage fee – not even for booze *slow clap*

If you don’t cook, don’t worry. You can always order from their menu or politely ask one of their staff to buy food from the local market nearby and then cook it for you – for a fee.

My husband studied in Les Roches International School of Hotel Management in Switzerland so by default he was in charge of the kitchen :) Here he is preparing our dinner. Thank you, love! Everything was perfect
My husband studied in Les Roches International School of Hotel Management in Switzerland so by default he was in charge of the kitchen πŸ™‚ Here he is preparing our dinner. Thank you, love! Everything was perfect

So, thanks so much to the cheery Sundowners crew for the warm welcome and enjoyable weekend stay. I already know I’ll make my way back in the near future.

The only group shot I have. Thanks, Ciara!
The only group shot I have. Thanks, Ciara!
Till next time
Bathed in a pink sunset

But till then, I suppose I’ll just have to dream of sea-ing you soon πŸ˜‰

Love,

Celine

The Loft Villa costs Php 10, 000 per night to rent, 6 pax max (additional Php 1000 per head if you’re more than 6). For other villa options, please see their website: www.sundownersvacationvillas.com

Complete address of Sundowners Vacation Villas and contact details:

Luciente 1, Bolinao Pangasinan (Town Proper)
+639778597299
+639985448070
+6329645108

Follow them on Instagram @sundownersvacationvillas

The Magic of Bolinao

I’m not quite sure what I expected when I first set foot on the sandy shores of Bolinao, but I can tell you how I felt as soon as I took a whiff of the fresh sea air from that little coastal town of western Pangasinan: just magical.

Admittedly, getting there is quite a trek. From Manila, it takes about five to six hours by car, but it’s a beautiful drive; the roads are smooth and the view quite picturesque.

Delicious and refreshing, fresh mango shakes (our welcome drinks) from the popular Sundowners Vacation Villas
Delicious and refreshing, fresh mango shakes from the popular Sundowners Vacation Villas
Treasures from the sea (which we gently placed back into the water)
Treasures from the sea (which we gently placed back into the water)
Care for some fresh uni?
It doesn’t get any fresher than this

The funny thing is, prior to this trip, Bolinao was nowhere on my radar of places to must see. I had maybe heard about it once or twice in passing, but no words exchanged with acquaintances ever really compelled me to give it a second thought.

Bolinao's oldest church, St. James the Great. A Spanish colonial structure over 400 years old
Bolinao’s oldest church, St. James the Great
A peek inside
A Spanish colonial structure over 400 years old
A glimpse of the devout
A glimpse of the devout
Don't miss out on the famous Binunguey (suman sa kawayan or in English, rice cake cooked in bamboo), located near the entrance to the church. A sweet delicacy you definitely must try when you visit
Don’t miss out on the famous Binunguey (suman sa kawayan or in English, rice cake cooked in bamboo), located near the entrance to the church. A sweet delicacy you should try when you visit
Sungayan Grill, a highly lauded floating restaurant along the most pristine river in the country,  The Balingasay River. I'll be back for sure
Sungayan Grill, a highly lauded floating restaurant along the most pristine river in the country, The Balingasay River. I’ll be back for sure
Kain na! (Let's eat!)
Kain na! (Let’s eat!)

Now, I’m convinced that this was deliberate, for Bolinao has the air of an untouched paradise – you can’t help but want to keep her a secret. There is a rawness and a purity to her beauty that evokes a sense of protectiveness.

You just want to keep her all to yourself.

The famous Patar Beach
The famous Patar Beach

In fact, it took me quite some time to come up with this post. I made my way to Bolinao during the first few days of March to attend the baptism of my Goddaughter, and now summer is already over, and I have had very many excursions to other seaside destinations in between

A spectacular sunset at Birdland Beach Club
A spectacular sunset at Birdland Beach Club

and yet, the magic of Bolinao still permeates my daydreams of a memorable, blissful and bright summer of 2016.

Love,

Celine

For more information on Sundowners Vacation Villas, follow them on IG @sundownersvacationvillas or check out their website, www.sundownersvacationvillas.com

For more information on Birdland Beach Club, follow them on IG @birdlandbeachclub or check out their website, www.birdlandbeachclub.com

To make reservations at Sungayan Grill, call +639123534433

A Weekend in Paradise

You know, I had such an incredible weekend in Balesin and I just want to share it with all of you.

In truth, every trip I take to the island is always such a magical experience that it’s hard to believe that this place exists only 20 minutes away by plane from Manila.

Our home for the weekend: Toscana Village
Our home for the weekend: Toscana Village
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The magnificent view
width="2370"
Bali Village: So beautiful and so tranquil

But this time was even more special than ever because I got to share its breathtaking beauty with the people I love the most in the world: my family.

My dad admiring the view around Balesin's Mykonos Village
My dad admiring the view around Balesin’s Mykonos Village
My older brother, Quitos and his wife, Anna :)  As doctors they both had to take a leave from hospital and clinic duty for this much needed break.
My older brother, Quitos and his wife, Anna πŸ™‚ As doctors they both had to take a leave from hospital and clinic duty for this much needed break.
Couldn't resist taking a photo of my niece, Cibelli, with this beautiful mosaic as a backdrop
Couldn’t resist taking a photo of my darling niece, Cibelli, who gamely posed for me with this beautiful mosaic as a backdrop

Funnily enough, when I was growing up, I was the child who was always out of the house, going places with my friends. But now that I’m older, I find that the time I get to spend with my family is what I value the most and what makes me the happiest.

I guess it’s because these days it’s a bit harder to get everyone together – people are married, we have day jobs, some have school and not to mention the biggest obstacle of all: we live in different countries.

Traveling around by private jeep. Beep, beep!
Traveling around the island by jeep. Beep, beep!
I love that I was able to capture my mother-in-law showing my mom her favourite sunset spot: Rico's Hideaway
I love that I was able to capture my mother-in-law showing my mom her favourite sunset spot, Rico’s Hideaway
My husband, Matt, probably daydreaming about his childhood summer days spent on this part of the island, admiring this very same view where their house used to be.
My husband, Matt, probably daydreaming about his childhood summer days spent on this part of the island, admiring this very same view where their house used to be.

So when the stars align and we can get everyone together for a trip, it really is something short of a miracle.

It's true when they say that the time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time
It’s true when they say that the time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time
Saying hello to the birds in the aviary
Saying hello to the birds in the aviary
Mommy and me :)
Happy to be with my mother dearest

I guess by now it’s obvious that this blog post isn’t a typical travel post that talks about what I did, what I saw or what I ate. Instead, this is about the people I spent time with, and more than anything I hope it inspires you to hug your loved ones a little tighter, talk to them a little longer and just be grateful that you have them in your life.

So grateful to my parents-in-law, Daddy David and Mummy Penny for this wonderful trip. Thank you so much, Mum and Dad!
With my husband, Matt and my parents-in-law. Thank you so much for a lovely trip, Mum and Dad!
I hope you enjoyed your stay, Mom and Dad :)
Happy campers: My parents πŸ™‚

And maybe on another post about Balesin Island I can write about the things to do, see and eat…but for now, I think I’d like to borrow a few words from Walt Whitman, one of my most favourite poets of all time.

“We were together. I forget the rest.”

Love,

Celine

Temptation Island

I mean Granville Island, Vancouver, BC πŸ˜‰

has a certain charm that I just can’t resist. Rich with fascinating history and buzzing with a colourful artistic community, the peninsula was once a busy industrial area.

Luckily for me, these days it seems she has decided to let her hair down, imbibe a few drinks, put on her most comfortable pair of jeans and embrace her inner millenial.

Some cool amenities now include an extensive marina, a university for art and design (Emily Carr University of Art and Design), a community centre, various performing arts theatres, galleries, microbreweries, kitschy boutiques and waterfront restaurants.

Artisanal everything is just the norm here in Granville Island
Artisanal everything is just the norm here in Granville Island
So we bought these pillows. I don't remember why except they seemed a good buy at the time
So we bought these pillows. I don’t remember why except they seemed a good buy at the time
And these 'Silver Bells' seemed a good buy too, right mom? haha! (sorry, private joke ;) )
And these ‘Silver Bells’ seemed a good buy too, right mom? haha! (sorry, private joke πŸ˜‰ )

The main attraction (for me) however would be the Public Market which holds a treasure trove of items to tempt you, things that you probably don’t need – but might want.

Say hello to my parents :)
Say hello to my tour guides – my parents πŸ™‚

And personally, I like to meander around the food hall, sniffing and then tasting everything that vendors boast to be ‘home cooked’, ‘artisanal’, ‘organic’, ‘third wave’ or ‘locally made’– words that speak to most hearts these days.

Everything you want your vegetables to be: fresh, organic and cheap
Everything you want your vegetables to be: fresh, organic and cheap
So here's that food hall I just mentioned. It gets pretty packed and sometimes you might need to share a table, but it's a great way to make new friends :)
So here’s that food hall I just mentioned. It gets pretty packed and sometimes you might need to share a table, but it’s a great way to make new friends πŸ™‚
This man was thoroughly enjoying making his pasta noodles - it was a joy to watch and I swear, it almost made me want to switch careers.
This man was thoroughly enjoying making his pasta noodles – it was a joy to watch and I swear, it almost made me want to switch careers.
Sweet treats...
Sweet treats…
...and delicious meats
…and delicious meats

I just love that every visit is slightly different and that there’s always room for the unexpected.

And you never really know what you will see or who you might meet…

Look who I bumped into. Two charming Filipina ladies serving the most delicious clam chowders I've ever had.
Look who I bumped into: two charming Filipina ladies serving the most delicious clam chowders I’ve ever had.

…and the best surprise of all…

Mama Mia! Will you look at that!
Mama Mia! Will you look at that!

…what you will eat πŸ™‚

Love,

Celine

p.s Granville Island is located across False Creek from Downtown Vancouver, under the south end of the Granville Street Bridge

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

I can’t believe we are already approaching the end of January. Time moves so fast these days that sometimes I feel like I can hardly keep up with life’s pace.

Especially as a PR Professional. I really believe that people in our industry feel the days whizz by faster than the average person because of the nature of the job. We are always thinking way ahead, planning campaigns and events months in advance and it can be very stressful.

So I’m happy to share that over the holidays, I had the most amazing two weeks in Canada and I swear, for the first time in years, time stood still.

Not exactly in the most appropriate of winter shoes :P I accidentally left my boots at home. But one tip I can give you, those Heat Tech items from UNIQLO really work well.
Not exactly in the most appropriate of winter shoes πŸ˜› I accidentally left my boots at home. But one tip I can give you: Heat Tech items from UNIQLO work really well

Do you remember that feeling as a kid? When Christmas really felt like…well, Christmas? That is exactly how I felt while I was there. I don’t know, maybe it was the combination of being with my family, the cold winter snow, the lights and the merry tunes I kept hearing everywhere.

Whatever it was, I definitely felt the Christmas spirit – I felt Santa’s magic like I was four years old all over again and it was the best, BEST Christmas I’ve had in years. To think I never thought I would ever feel that sense of childlike joy again.

I just want to hold on to this feeling
I just want to hold on to this feeling

And yet it enveloped me in warm mugs of hot chocolate and gently kissed my face with the whitest and purest of snowflakes.

Oh, to be a kid again
Oh, to be a kid again

Actually, I’ve been meaning to post my pictures from this trip for a while now but kept putting it off because I suppose, there’s still that part of me in major denial that the holiday season is over (LONG OVER).

But now that January is about to end, I know I can’t carry on like this forever and it really is time to move on – seriously.

One last look back before I move on to the adventures 2016 has to offer me
One last look back before I move on to the adventures 2016 has to offer me

Anyway, I have much to write about the ‘second best country in the world to live in’ but since I can’t fit it all into one post, I’ll just have to do it in parts.

For now, I’d like to share some photos of me taken along the beautiful snow capped mountains of Whistler by Vancouver based fashion blogger and photographer, Jenny Liu (Please do follow her on IG at @jennyliublog and www.stuff-i-love.com).

My magical moments in the snow that I’ll certainly be dreaming about till my next visit.

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Love,

Celine

Good Food, Fresh Picks and Words from the Wise

As a PR professional with a very hectic work schedule, I make it a point to find time to kick back, relax and slow down the pace a little.

Some days, a little stay-cation at home will suffice, while others entail a long trip somewhere far and exotic.

But most of the time, what I really need is just a quick getaway – like a short road trip to anywhere as long as it’s far from the madding crowd, has wide open spaces and fresh air.

This was a lovely day. Here I am, dressed down, with zero make up and surrounded by a wide expanse of green.
My idea of a lovely day: dressed down, zero make up and surrounded by a wide expanse of green.

After a deliciously wicked holiday season (lechon, crispy pata, endless desserts, bottles of wine…) and having to breathe in the smog from the new year festivities, I decided that my body, mind and spirit needed a little bit of a mild detox.

Initially, all I really had in mind was to drive over and purchase some organic vegetables from the Lolo Doc Farm in Nasugbu, Batangas – so you can imagine my delight when I got there and discovered the Victoria Pavilion, an events space and cafe that they recently opened to the public.

At the Lolo Doc Farm you can purchase freshly picked organic leafy vegetables and herbs.
At the Lolo Doc Farm you can purchase freshly picked, organic leafy vegetables and herbs.
Choices of Mesclun (mixed lettuce), Romaine, Arugula and Kale.
Choices of Mesclun (mixed lettuce), Romaine, Arugula and Kale. While for herbs, there’s Basil, Mint, Flat Parsley, Chives, Tarragon, Italian Oregano, Lemon Grass, Taheebo, Dill and Curly Parsley
Know your farmer :)
Know your farmer πŸ™‚

I think it’s perfect that you can hang out at the cafe and have some coffee or eat some light meals while you wait for them to gather your greens.

Here are some of the food from their short menu that my family and I got to try…

Fresh from their brick oven:  Pizza Margarita
Fresh from their brick oven: Pizza Margarita
Creamy mushroom and pancetta pasta (my brother also thoroughly enjoyed the grilled pandesal on the side)
Creamy mushroom and pancetta pasta (my brother also thoroughly enjoyed the grilled pandesal on the side)
Classic Pesto. I love that they use ingredients fresh from their vegetable patches. You can really taste the difference.
Classic Pesto. I love that they use ingredients fresh from their vegetable patches. You can really taste the difference.
The winner by unanimous decision: Pizza Pepperoni!
And the winner by unanimous decision: Pizza Pepperoni!

But for those who aren’t hungry, lo and behold, there’s shopping πŸ™‚

I bought some of this organic honey
This organic honey is a good one
Some locally crafted items for the home
Some locally crafted items for the home
I love these handmade notecards
I can never resist handmade notecards

I just love that there are places like this that aren’t so difficult to get to. Nasugbu is only about two and a half to three hours away by car, offering an easily accessible respite for those who seek it.

The best part of this little trip however, is that I got to meet Jaime, a local farmer working at the Lolo Doc Farm, who generously gave me his number one tip on how to successfully grow plants (while gathering my kale and arugula leaves).

In his words:

Say hello to Jaime :)
Say hello to Jaime πŸ™‚

“Kailangan mo alagaan ang mga halaman ng parang sariling mo’ng mga anak. Kailangan mo’ng maging parehong magiliw at malakas, at kailangan bigyan mo siya ng sapat na atensyon, pasensya, at pagmamamahal para siya tumubo ng maganda.(You have to care for plants the way you would care for your own children. You have to be both gentle and firm, and you must give them enough attention, patience and love for them to grow beautifully )”

Good food, fresh picks and words from the wise.

A Saturday well spent, indeed πŸ™‚

Love,

Celine

P.S Lolo Doc Farm and The Victoria Pavilion are located in Balaytigue, Nasugbu, Batangas.

Contact details:

+63936-9988178 (Information and Reservations)
+63905-6359418 (Vivian)
+63926-3433769 (Jayson)

thevictoriapavilion@gmail.com

Just a Little Teaser: My Whistler Chronicles (Part 1)

Today I had a lot of fun doing a little project that Vancouver based fashion blogger and photographer, Jenny Liu (follow her on IG @_stuffilove) helped me with.

Initially, my plan was to do a shoot along the historic, gritty streets of Gastown because in all the years I’ve been visiting Vancouver, I’ve always felt drawn to its dark, contemporary beauty.

Jenny however had a much better idea…Whistler.

The road leading to Whistler Village, the central neighbourhood of the town of Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains.
The road leading to Whistler Village, the central neighbourhood of the town of Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains.

So yes, after travelling 14 hours from the Philippine tropics to get to Vancouver, I travelled another two to get to the world famous, snow capped mountains of British Columbia – all to do a crazy shoot (and to sip some hot chocolate by the fire)

And it was beyond magical!

My ears felt like they were going to fall off but hey, when you travel this far, you just better do what you gotta do for that perfect shot.
My ears felt like they were going to fall off but hey, when you’ve travelled this far, you just better do what the photographer asks you to do for that perfect shot.

I’m really looking forward to showing you all that we came up with because this was truly such a memorable and fun experience for me.

*sigh*

But in the meantime, I hope you enjoyed my little teaser πŸ™‚ I just couldn’t resist giving you a sneak peek on what I’ve been up to over here.

Love,

Celine