My first time at a fancy dinner fundraiser!

Friday, September 14, 2012
It was mine and Justin's first time at a fancy dinner fundraiser in honor of my brother-in-law Alex Chen. Alex is competing in the 2013 Bocuse D'or and Bocuse D'or Canada committee was holding a fundraiser for him in order to raise money for everything he needs to do well at the competition.

It was held at the beautiful Fairmont Palliser Hotel in downtown Calgary and we were lucky enough to get FREE tickets to this event. Tickets are about $150 regular price. It pays to be related to the guest of honor! LOL!

16 restaurants from all over Calgary participated in this event. Each restaurant had their own station set up and you can sample their signature dish that they prepared for that event and decide if you liked them enough to go and visit them at the restaurant to try out the rest of their menu. Here are some shots of the dishes Justin and I got to sample. I didn't get a photo of all of the 8th dish, I started to lose count and forgot to take photos! Haha! I was too busy eating and enjoying by that point.
Top Left: The Petroleum Club: Smoked BC Octapus with Fresh Papaya Noodle Box; Top Right: Catch Restaurant and Oyster Bar: Wild BC Albacore Tuna Caparccio; Bottom Left: Il Sogno: Cannellini Bean Salad with Marinated Octapus; Bottom Right: Hotel Arts: Dungeness Crab Salad with Compressed Honeydew and Crispy Prosciutto
Top Left: Bavarian Inn: Pork Tenderloin with Bacon Bread Dumpling; Top Right: Don't remember what restaurant it was and it's not on the program, but it was steak; Bottom Left: Rush Restaurant: Peaches and Cream Foie Gras Torchon; Bottom Right: The Ranchmen's Club: Whole Roasted Leg of Lamb

with the Guest of Honor, Alex and his Bocuse D'or coach and good friend, Chef Dan Olson
Super awkward, sitting at a table where we didn't know anybody...

There were also a couple dessert stations and a cheese station, but by then, Justin and I were too full to even think about dessert! We just sat back and enjoyed lots of wine =)

In another section of the hotel, there were tons of items on silent auction and they also had an auction for other things such as a trip to a vineyard in California or an experience to have Alex and 2 other well-known chefs come to your house and cook for you and your party! All in all, the event raised about $55,000, and that was only for the Calgary event! There will be 3 other events like this one held in Edmonton, Toronto and of course, Vancouver! Hopefully these other fundraisers will be just as successful as the Calgary one. With all this money raised, Alex and his team can afford to buy the equipment he needs to best prepare for the competition. If you'd like to support Alex and attend the Vancouver event, please check out their Facebook event page for ticket info and event details.

It was a great experience and I can't wait to go to Lyon, France in January 2013 to cheer Alex on! We are all behind you ALEX! Hope your practicing is going well and stay FOCUSED! We are looking forward to watching you compete at the Bocuse D'or! We are so proud of you =) Lots of love!

My first time shooting a gun

Sunday, September 9, 2012
On Justin's uncle's lakeside property in Eckville, AB, not only were we able to ride around on the ATV (see previous post), but we were also able to shoot a gun! This was my first time shooting a gun in my LIFE! I can't remember what kind of gun it was (9mm hand gun perhaps?!) but boy, was it scary holding that much POWER in your hands. I could've taken someone's LIFE with that thing! I was hesitant to shoot it at first, but after much coaxing and convincing from Justin and his cousins, and a mini tutorial on how to use a gun from Justin's uncle, I actually took a shot! Here is a photo and a video of me shooting the gun. I've also attached a photo of Justin shooting and of course, he's like a PRO!

According to Justin, the next time we are up at his uncle's lakeside resort, he'll probably have other guns for us to shoot around (yes, he's got more than just one gun...he's got like 4-5 I believe!). Let's see if I have a better shot next time. LOL!

My first time on an ATV

Today, Justin and I along with his parents, aunt and uncle and cousins all went up to Eckville, AB to spend some family time on his uncle's lakeside property. They are building an RV and Camp site on this piece of land that is supposed to be the size of Stanley Park! Crazy right?! This property used to host girl/boy scout groups for camps and retreats.

On their property, they had an ATV. Justin and his cousins were all taking a turn to whip it around the area. It was my first time on an ATV with Justin. We've been snowmobiling before so it's quite similar. Justin always thought it was romantic for a girl to be on the back of an ATV or motorcycle, holding onto a guy's waist. LOL! I thought it was pretty awesome as well. That thing is so much fun! I didn't drive it coz I'm chicken, but Justin was more than happy to have me ride on the back and hold onto him. =)

Here are some shots from the day. The views were spectacular as you can tell from the photos.

That's a photo of Justin's youngest cousin Nick and sitting in front is his cousin Mark who is also from Vancouver, living in Calgary.

And here's a little video blog (or VLOG as Youtubers like to call them) as we ripped around on the ATV. We were on a hill that overlooked the lake and the land that Justin's uncle's property was on. Yes, all the land on the LEFT side of the lake belongs to his uncle. I'm not kidding!!!

My first time house hunting and karaoke-ing with Justin

Saturday, September 8, 2012
Today, Justin and I actually had an appointment with a realtor in Calgary to take a look at some properties. We saw about 5 listings ranging between townhouses and single family homes. Our budget is $300K-$350K, but of course, we are trying to stay within the lower end of that spectrum.

There were 2 houses that stood out to Justin and I. One was a foreclosure home, listed at $376,600 and another was a single family home listed at $369,900.

The foreclosure home (MLS # 3535169), located in the NW quadrant of Calgary, was about 1600+ sq ft and had 3 good sized bedrooms, bonus room (kinda like a family/TV room) and a finished basement. It also had a newly renovated kitchen and big backyard. It was kind of a mess though because the previous tenants just left it in a chaotic state. But looking through all the mess and dirt, this property had a lot of potential. With a new coat of paint, new appliances and new carpet, it could really be a great starter home for Justin and I. And because it's a foreclosure, that means the bank owns the home, therefore, we can offer about 15% less than the listed price and probably get the property. The realtor said that we'd probably be able to get the property at around $330K which is a steal for a 3 bedroom single family home in that area.

The second home (MLS # C3538069), also located in the NW region of Calgary called Tuscany, was a beautifully decorated and furnished single family home. It was much smaller at 1050 sq ft and also had 3 bedrooms but they were much smaller. The thing that stood out about this house was the amazing deck, backyard and spacious 2 car garage! Also, the previous owners took great care of the place and everything was fully updated. The only thing is the price of this place is not as negotiable as the foreclosure home. Listed at $369,900, it was already well above our budget and it probably won't sell less than $350K.

After a couple hours of checking out houses, my brain was totally fried. I don't know how people do this! House hunting is so stressful. By the end of the tours, I was mixing up all the features of each house with one another. I couldn't remember which house had an ensuite and which one didn't, or which one had the finished basement, etc...

But I have to say...being able to experience this with Justin is so awesome! In each house, I try to envision how we would spend our lives in there! I think about what room we'd use to convert into our huge-ass closet to hold all our clothes and shoes, or which one would maybe be the nursery!?! LOL! J/K...well actually, not really...haha but no I'm NOT pregnant! So even though it's quite nerve-wrecking and stressful, it is pretty damn fun!

After a day of house hunting, Justin, his family and I went to his cousin's place for dinner and karaoke! It was the first time we've ever "sang" together. And for those who are interested and care, the song we choice to be our first karaoke song was "Maneater" by Hall and Oates.

Anyways, I'm sure I'll be keeping you all posted if we do put a bid on any of these places! Exciting huh!? I promise that we'll have enough room so that our friends from Vancouver and come visit! Yay! Guests!

Till next time...miss all of you!

My first 10 hour road trip to Calgary

Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Justin and I took off for Calgary on Monday, September 3, 2012 on our first 10 hour road trip together. We didn't do the full 10 hours in one. Instead we had an overnight pit stop in Revelstoke, BC and stayed at a cute little bed and breakfast spot called the Powder Pillow.

The whole drive all the way to Calgary was beautiful. The mountains are gorgeous especially when it's a perfect, sunny September day. I'm so grateful for a problem-free drive. Justin did all of the driving. He's a happy driver when he's got his iPod plugged in and he can sing along to all his songs. I definitely got a little Justin Torio (or should I say, Justin Lumbercreek - his singer alias) concert in the car! It was awesome!
here's a little sample of my exclusive Justin Lumbercreek concert:

We arrived in Calgary around 4:30pm and unloaded all my belongings. I still can't believe that I managed to fit as much as I did in my trunk! My little Nissan Versa is awesome. I was able to fit so many boxes and bags of clothes and shoes and it survived all 10 hours of the drive without a hitch! I really love my car.

Anyways, that's about it for my first ever 10 hour road trip. All in all, a very successful drive. We arrived at our destination safe and sound and Justin and I got along just fine! LOL! 

Thanks to all our friends who wished us a safe ride. Your positive thoughts definitely got us here safely. We miss all of you very much!