Khatsalano in the rain

I remember Khatsahlano last year. It was under the blazing sun, and the whole festival felt like a struggle to stay hydrated. I was super sticky after a day of checking out the performances and moving from vendor to vendor! This year was the exact opposite. The day started off a little gloomy, and then it started to drizzle. Honestly though, it was more enjoyable as an attendee for it to be cool, than super hot in my opinion. A little rain never hurt anyone. Of course, for the vendors (especially all the ones trying to sell drinks), it clearly caused a dip in business. That’s not to say the festival wasn’t busy. Quite the opposite!
IMG_1312There were music performances (duh— that’s what the whole festival is about), performers (Harrison Lee for one, the yoyo master), and lots of vendors. I ended up getting a few things! A cute Princess Leia bookmark, hand painted by Luiza Salazar, a fancy soap with shell-shaped little soaps on it from Sum Inspiration, and cookie butter from Pirate Joe’s. If you’re a Vancouverite, you should know Pirate Joe’s story. Love it!

One interesting stretch of Khatsahlano was the Etsy Marketplace! It’s where they got a bunch of Etsy stores to come alive— taking a break from their online sales to sell things in person. It wasn’t the busiest part of the street party, but it’s interesting.

We then saw a camera crew running around and realized it was Carlos from YTV! He’s been the host of that channel ever since I was just a kid. Saw him again on TV the other day. Kind of surreal seeing him in the flesh.

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And that was that. A wet day, but I probably liked it better than if it was a super hot one :)

– Karen

Contingent Contemplation: Canada Day

July 1st has always been a public holiday for me. In Canada, people will wear more red than usual and go downtown to celebrate the three provinces coming together to form the country of Canada. Then, after moving to Hong Kong, July 1st was a day celebrated by all as the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day. For Hong Kong, it was the day the British rule stopped in Hong Kong, and they were handed back over to China. But they would also retain their freedom to remain capitalist and not be put under the communist government. “One Country, Two Systems”.

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Canada Day used to be special in my family. My mom, dad, sister and I would go downtown to watch the parades, followed by the fireworks. My dad, the stingiest guy on earth would pay for parking downtown. That’s how special that day was. It was a family day. After coming back to Vancouver, it was no longer a family thing. It was more of an “oh look, the fireworks are on TV” thing.

2015 was different. I went downtown bright and early (okay, it was around 1PM) to check out what was going on! I was actually doing something for Canada Day again! For one, I knew that the FIFA Fan Zone was running (it’s ran by the marketing agency I used to work for! Pretty proud), and they’d be giving away free Coke. Away my boyfriend and I went to quench our thirst with promo beverages! People were there watching the England vs Germany game and they were in overtime! Eventually, England won :)

We had come just at the right time to take pictures with the actual FIFA Women’s World Cup trophy. It was there for three hours on display to the public! The fan zone was a place for everyone to come together to watch the games, as well as get some free swag from sponsors, and experience some hype around the FIFA games.

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Meanwhile, the Convention Centre was bustling with more festivities. There were SO many drink samples (McDonalds, Nestea, some truck promoting milk, this other iced tea brand, Sparkling Ice, and I don’t even think I’ve listed them all), but since it was a sweltering hot day, there were huge lines ups for all of them.

The Olympic Cauldron was lit to celebrate Canada, and there were shows going on around Jack Poole Plaza. We ended up buying snacks and drinks from the nearby food carts. I couldn’t resist the skewers. LOOK AT THEM! As for dinner, we ate at the Spaghetti Factory because the line up was decent (everywhere was a little crazy), but ended up eating through the parade. We were pretty tired, so we didn’t mind.

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After dinner, we started getting ready for the parade. It was crazy how many people had spots reserved starting from God knows when. They had blankets, snacks, and some had their own poker games running amongst friends, sitting around to make sure they’d have a good spot to view the fireworks. And of course, leaving was a whole mess altogether. That picture above was the crowds of people rushing to get home.

All in all, this year’s Canada Day was one of the most fulfilling one I’ve had in years :) I was super tired after walking around all day, but it was worth it. I just wish it wasn’t quite so hot!

– Karen

Killing Floor 2 Gameplay: Guts are Awesome

killing floorDuring this year’s Steam summer sale, I surprisingly didn’t get a lot of games. Mostly because I have a long queue of games that I have still yet to play, and that this summer’s free time is significantly less than previous years. I did, however, get Killing Floor 2. And it’s awesome. Gory pics ahead.

If you’ve played the original Killing Floor, a lot of mechanics in 2 will be the same. They still use the arrow guidance system to get you to the trader (except now, the traders are no longer actual human NPCs), you still get to choose your class, and the perks that come with it. But now, it’s so much more satisfying to kill zeds. Be prepared for blood and guts everywhere.

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It’s been pretty fun playing 2 player rounds, but playing in bigger groups is better in my opinion. With a bigger group, although it scales to be harder in terms of the monsters you get, you get more sides covered. Also, there’s these really annoying crawlers that forces you to look down at your feet instead of focusing your gun on your usual head level enemies. So every once in a while, you’re realize you’re losing health, and that you have to shoot at that thing at your feet. Really annoying. In a bigger team someone else almost always picks them off you so you don’t have to do that. It’s much easier for them to aim at your feet than for you to switch what you’re looking at to purposely look down.

And OH MY GOSH the stalkers are so annoying. Not even because they’re invisible, but because they feel the need to do crazy kung fu moves in front of you to show off, THEN proceed to bash you on your head.

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I may be complaining about these zeds, but honestly I love the game. Don’t get me wrong there. Me hating them makes killing them that much better. Plus, the slow mo shots black and white moments are really cool (but sometimes dumb when it happens at inopportune times and you’re just reloading in slow mo).

This game is early access, but it feels very much complete in terms of gameplay. There’s a few bugs here and there (me, and a teammate from a random game both realized even though we pressed on the button to refill our ammo, our ammo didn’t actually get refilled, so we were screwed for the next wave).

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Bad things? Currently, there’s only four campaigns. And one boss, which is that guy up there who’s surviving on pumping Mountain Dew directly into his veins.

– Karen

FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada

I bought last minute tickets to the FIFA Women’s World Cup game that happened yesterday. Literally last minute, as we closed the Craigslist deal an hour before the game. We still had to print out tickets and get there, so we ended up being late for two minutes or so. We had planned on going, but we wanted to wait till someone was desperate to sell them at a lower price. We got center seats in the end for $100 each, which wasn’t the cheapest, but given the prices we were seeing yesterday, it was pretty good.

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Canada was off to a rough start. Englad was aggressive and managed to get two goals in within the first 15 minutes. It was plain to see that the team was a little demoralized, and the crowd was also getting unhappy. Nonetheless, Christine Sinclaire managed to get a goal in at around the 42nd minute. The team livened up again, and smarter plays were made. Sadly, it was the only goal we got and it wasn’t enough to tie us or make us win.
IMG_1132Honestly, I’m still very proud of the team. We came very far— just one game away from the finals :( The team did us proud. I’m super happy when I see young girls being inspired by the women’s team, and jumping up and down, trying to get a team member to look their way. The team stayed around after the game, and were very accommodating to fans! We got to snap a few pictures of them, and they even agreed to do selfies!

The turnout was really good and you could see seas of red everywhere. It’s really touching to see everyone congregating to support the girls <3

IMG_1120One thing I didn’t like was the weather. Sure, there were blue skies and it was summer, but the heat was crazy! On the bus, we sat across from a guy who was literally towel drying himself (not just his face. Anywhere he could reach that could pass as being proper in public) on the bus every 5 minutes, and another guy just sat there dripping sweat. Wearing red also didn’t help cool me down.

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Anyone going to the finals? Anyone got free tickets? I’m broke. But I want to go. Quite sad Canada won’t be fighting for the cup, but hey, we got far. Keep on trooping Canada’s women’s team :) Keep inspiring!

– Karen

THREE DOGS IN MY LIFE!!!

Today, I got ridiculously happy when my boyfriend told me that he’d have two dogs sleeping over. He also has a dog, so there would be THREE dogs in my life today.

I knew I had to go get dog treats for them somewhere. I happened to recall a dog bakery along Main, so I headed there right after work. This place was Three Dog Bakery — WHICH NOW I REALIZE IS SO PERFECT. Because there’s three dogs at our place today. Only now do I realize this. Sigh.

IMG_1076I ended up getting a bunch of goodies. I got three rawhide braids for them (beef flavoured), three donuts, and an extra cookie for my boyfriend’s dog because I heard he was getting a little jealous from all the attention that now went to the two other dogs. I couldn’t have little Rascal feeling left out. The guy who worked there was really nice and also gave us a little baggie of their oven baked treats as a sample :)

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I cannot believe I wasn’t buying this for myself. There’s no chocolate here, just carob. They look so good!

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LOOK AT THEM ENJOYING THEIR TREAT (I didn’t get a picture of them eating the donuts because I was too excited watching them). I have no idea if the treats were any good, but they pretty much gobbled it up. Like the guy at the store’s response of “basically all of them” when I asked which of the treats were fan favourites, I think dogs will eat anything.

Anyway, a little later on, we took them for a walk so they could do their business. Ollie (the brown & black dog) was quite a handful, but she was my responsibility because Tommy (the jet black one) would be too strong if he bolted after something, so my boyfriend took his leash. My boyfriend’s mom took Rascal…and I didn’t want to compete with her because Rascal would get hurt if she walked somedog else.

SIT

SIT!

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I need more dogs in my life.

– Karen

Car Free Day on Main Street

Hey guys,

It’s summer, so Car Free Days are popping up around Vancouver, with blocks being closed off from traffic to accommodate for street festivals! My boyfriend lives near Main street, so we decided to spend the Sunday with the other folks who decided to give up their car for the day. Ironically, we drove to Car Free Days. But in our defence, we were busy in the morning, so in order to have ample time at the festival, we had to drive there. I drove a car share car though, so maybe that makes it a little better? :P

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I can’t remember if I went last year. You know? Sometimes these festivals kind of blend in with one another. Italian Day, Car Free Days, Khatsahlano.. eh. But honestly, I don’t care, because I love being amidst the crowd in the lively streets.

As with any street festival, the main priority was quenching our thirst and not getting a heatstroke. We started off our walk at Broadway, making our way up Main from there. Which meant the conveniently located Tim Hortons was our first stop, in which we got an iced capp. It was gone in about maybe 10 mins? Maybe less.

Kids and dogs crowded around Homesteaders Emporium's chicken

Kids and dogs crowded around Homesteaders Emporium’s chicken. They had fun homestead living ideas you could takeaway on postcard pamphlets!

The festival was busy enough, but definitely not as busy as Italian Day last weekend. Lots of food trucks, artisan foods and crafts, second hand apparel, and activities for kids scattered around the twenty or so blocks on Main Street! There were also live music performances every few blocks to make sure it felt like a party.

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I ended up getting a henna tattoo, FINALLY had a slavic roll (pretty good, but pretty expensive. $6 for one), tried shaved ice from Cloud 9 (always wanted to try their cotton candy, which is what got them famous in the first place, but on a hot day, something cold is too enticing). The guy there also gave us free samples of mini donuts (baked not deep fried!) :D

It’s well into Summer, but there’s other street festivals to check out! If you’re in the Vancouver area, you still can make it to (dats for 2015):

– Khatsahlano (July 11th)
– Canada Day (July 1st) or at Granville Island (went last year, and it was mediocre at best)
– Carnaval Del Sol (July 11th-12th)
– Caribbean Days (July 25th-26th)
– Powell Street Festival (August 1st-2nd)

I really want to check out Carnaval Del Sol and Caribbean Days. Both I heard great things about back when I did promos for companies at my last internship. I guess we’ll see if I end up going :) I do want to take the Seabus again so Caribbean Days will most likely be a go!

– Karen

Unfi Saturday Market: Healthy food and brands for cheap!

Hey guys,

So my co-worker told me about this mysterious healthy grocery sale behind the Home Depot parking lot, that I now know as the Unfi Saturday Market. I tried to wake up for it last week, but alas, the alarm lost its battle and I didn’t wake up.

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This week, I managed to wake up at 7:30AM on Saturday along with my boyfriend, and we drove to the parking lot. We had no idea where to go. My co-worker’s instructions were super vague, but honestly, looking online revealed nothing about a sale either, so we drove around in circles. He did tell us that we should get there at 8:30AM though if we wanted the good sales. That gave us time to wander around aimlessly.

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Then we saw it. People started forming a line outside a warehouse. We weren’t quite sure if it was the right place (12757 Vulcan Way, Richmond), but most of the people in line were either in yoga gear, or were old asian grannies who looked like they could spot a good sale. So we decided to park the car and stand in line. We felt inadequate, with our one reusable shopping bag. People had carts, cooler bags, crates, and were basically standing at the ready. At 9AM, a super tall guy (who we now know is called Lars) opened the door, and people ran in.

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Lars, the giant who can solve any problem you may have at the market

Lars, the giant who can solve any problem you may have at the market

The sales were pretty good. Okay, so if we’re talking about regular canned Campbell soup which you can basically get at 70¢ a can, then it’s probably expensive. But we got five bags of Happy Planet soups for $7.50. They’re usually $6 a bag, so those are huge savings. Some items weren’t as cheap, especially if you don’t buy in bulk. E.g. Terra chips were $3 a bag. We bought a Camino chili and spice chocolate bar for $2 because we were curious about the flavour. Granted it probably would’ve costed more if we bought it outside, but again, the savings weren’t insane. We got 20 bars of the almond and cranberry Camino chocolates for $10 though (they were $1/bar, if you bought a box of $20, you get half off and thus $10). Again, buy in bulk for best savings.

Here’s was our haul for the day:

We regret not getting more of those cookie chips that’s prominently displayed in the first pic. We went home, opened it, took a bite and regret flooded in. Those Hannamax chips were pure cinnamon goodness. It was $2 a bag, and if you see it, I highly suggest you try it. They had other soup flavours there as well (butternut squash and something else), but to get the bulk deal they had to be of the same type. And we didn’t think we could finish 10 bags of soup by Monday.

We got so little compared to people who wheeled away carts of food. They would get 10 boxes of pistachios or something. It was quite a sight.

One thing to note is that you should check the expiry date on all the items. Our chocolate bars didn’t expire for another year, but we knew that our Happy Planet soups would expire in about 3 days. Same went for that roll of brie cheese we got. The expiration dates vary, so make sure that you’re able to put the food to use within the allotted time.

It’s worth checking out if you’re willing to wake up early on a Saturday. It’s out of the way, so I highly suggest bringing a car!

– Karen