Wednesday, January 26, 2011

年末年始 End of 2010, Beginning of 2011

The end of 2010 was super busy for me (hence the lack of updates here). I spent most of my free time in December making/wrapping Christmas treats.

I went a little crazy this year and ordered four 1.5kg bags of Holiday M&Ms off of eBay. Somehow I didn't realize exactly how much 1.5kg actually amounted to--see, last year I used 2-3 bags of M&Ms for Christmas cookies, but after I saw the 1.5kg bags, I realized that I had probably used 750g bags before!! So yeah, 6kg of Christmas M&Ms was about four times as much as I actually needed!

So this year, on top of giving cookies to the Board of Education and students and teachers at the small schools (schools/classes with less than 30 students) I visit regularly, I also ended up giving Christmas presents to the entire sixth grade at the only large elementary school I've visited regularly this year (~120 students in total). I put some Holiday M&Ms in a small bag with some Japanese cookies/candies to make it fill up nicely.

The second last week of school (Dec. 11-17) in particular was crazy. I spent practically the entire weekend baking cookies, and then all of my spare time after work, dance practice and taiko wrapping everything! But even though it made me insanely busy/tired, it was totally worth it!

Money spent on Christmas cookies/treats: ~$200
Time spent baking/wrapping: ~20hr
Spreading Christmas cheer: PRICELESS

(Ok, cheesy, I know, but so true! I really look forward to making Christmas cookies every year!)

Then we had our office trip to Hakodate. It was my third time there so the sightseeing wasn't so important to me as the food!! I had いくら・ほたて・とろサーモン丼 (salmon roe, scallop and toro salmon rice), いかすみソフト (squid ink soft serve ice cream) and かにまん (crab meat steamed bun) all within the first 2-3 hours upon arrival!

A co-worker also had the Lucky Pierrot (a local Hakodate burger chain) 函館山バーガーHakodate Yama Burger. It's a massive burger roughly three and a half to four times the size of a regular burger and costs 1100yen. There are only 20 burgers available per day at each shop. My co-worker happened to get the very last one of the day at the shop near the station! (Apparently someone tried to order one after we ordered and was told that they were sold out.)

Other than eating, we did actually manage to see some Hakodate sights: the night view from Mt. Hakodate, the (daily) lighting ceremony for the giant Christmas tree (from Halifax!) at the Bay Area, and Goryoukaku.

December 23rd I flew back to Canada. That night we (my parents and I) had dinner at Canyon Creek (steak!) and then hit up the Chapters to get my Christmas present: a Kobo eReader!!

Christmas Eve was the church's English service. A bunch of us hung out at Ollie & Cheese's place afterward. The next morning (Christmas day) my parents and I had to be out of the house by 4:30am to catch our flight to San Francisco. My brother joined us there the next day (Boxing Day).

Some highlights from the trip:
Sea lions at Pier 39 (Fisherman's Wharf)
Mint Bliss sundae @ Ghirardelli Square
Lombard Street, "The World's Crookedest"
Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Park Japanese Tea Park
Boudin Bakery's turtle-shaped sourdough
On our last night we were also able to meet up with my aunt, uncle, cousin and her family for dinner at Park Chow. It was my first time meeting my cousin's husband and daughters since I was in Japan when they came to Toronto for a visit. Another cousin who is studying in a nearby university also dropped by our hotel room later that evening for a visit. It really was a family trip in more than one sense of the word! ^_^

We got back to Canada on the night of the 29th. The 30th I met up with Steph and Lisa and we went to Hubert and Angela's for dinner (Ceci was there too, of course)! It was my first time at their new place and meeting Caleb--such a cutie! And I was surprised at how social/talkative he is! Steph and Lisa taught us a fun game--a cross of pictionary and broken telephone--and we nearly died laughing over some of the results...

Basically every starts off with a piece of paper and writes a sentence or phrase (movie title, song lyrics, etc. are fine). Then everyone passes the paper to the next person who draws a picture of the sentence/phrase and folds the paper down so the text isn't visible to the next person. The next person looks at the picture and writes a sentence/phrase based on the picture and folds the paper down so the picture isn't visible to the next person. And so it continues until you get the sentence you originally wrote back.

(The above are from our very first round, I believe.)

The 31st was brunch at Cora's with Steph and Lisa.

Then I headed downtown to hang out with Liz and Clara until Alan came home and Huston, Ivy and Elizabeth came over and we all had dinner together.

After that I headed to Syv and Justin's for the countdown. Jen and I slept over and Syv made us pancakes and eggs (and smoked salmon!) for breakfast New Year's morning.

My parents picked me up and I spent the rest of New Year's Day reading and sleeping. The second was breakfast with the girls at Cora's (again!) before service. After church I headed downtown to have lunch (steak crepe--yum!) and hang out with Carly.

The third was the BSGE hot pot!! We actually did a good job with buying the food this time and didn't have too much leftover. We also played the pictionary-telephone game--again, with hilarious results.

My final day of vacation  (Jan.4) was another do-nothing-day at home, but in the evening we had a family dinner (i.e. Nate came to Mississauga) at Pho, of all places. (Mostly because I had overeaten throughout the holidays and really wasn't up for a big meal.)

All in all I had a pretty good end of 2010 and start of 2011.