Huge Life Update (Hint: Vancouver)

Life has been a real roller-coaster for me the past year. It feels like ages since I’ve updated my website too; likely because it HAS been ages. My my, how the time has flown. At the same time, so much has happened in such a short time, when you compare the two together.

For any of my past readers who are finding this post now, I just want to say that I so appreciate you for sticking with me and coming back to check on me. I have become good friends with some of my readers (you know who you are) and our friendship has greatly enriched my life, especially this past year when things have been so hectic.

For everyone else who has completely no idea what I’m talking about and are probably yelling at me through your screens “so what’s the big update? Tell us already!… here goes.

You know how I’ve been saying that I LOVE Vancouver? I’ve been blabbing on about how there’s just so many neat things to do in Vancouver when it comes to entertainment, shopping, activities, night life and oh… snowboarding?

Well, I know this is going to sound crazy but, I bought a home in Vancouver and have just finished renovating it. I spent the first couple nights in it for the first time just the other week. Crazy right? I know the housing market here is nuts and yes it was a pretty big stretch on my budget, but I don’t regret it at all for a second.

So let me tell you about the new place in Vancouver. I got a place in Kitsilano, which is a beautiful area. It’s close to the water and downtown, yet it’s quite and peaceful there. The place I got isn’t brand new and definitely needed some work done to it. To help me out, I hired a home renovation company in Vancouver called Top To Bottom Construction. They also do home restoration work for water damage and things like that, which actually came in handy when the owner of the company noticed that there was an area in the ceiling showing a leak in the roof. That ended up costing me a little more, but I’m glad that he caught it and fixed it when he did, because winter is coming up and that small leak surely would have caused a lot more damage in the coming months.

I had a lot of renovation work done, from the flooring, windows, doors and cabinets to the bathroom faucets, tiles and kitchen. The kitchen was a big project on its own but I am so happy with the way it has turned out. The original kitchen had a warm style from the 90s which, admittedly, was nice but it’s almost the year 2020 and I wanted a more modern look. I don’t mind the 90s look too much but there were a lot of repairs that needed to be done so I decided to just go all the way and completely renovate it to a newer style. It looks fantastic now! Here’s a big shout out to the guys at Top To Bottom Construction that were a complete pleasure to work with. My home is not featured in their video, but you can see some of their other work below:

Anyway, I won’t bore you with all the details. All in all, the renovations took about 3 months. I had a landscaper come and do some work on the front and back yard as well. I’m excited to host a barbecue on the new patio outside, although it will probably have to wait until the Summer time for that to happen. I love Vancouver, but it could probably do with fewer cold and rainy days.

This has been a huge step for me and I am so looking forward to the snowboarding season coming up! If I can get around to it, I’ll try to post a few pictures of the renovations.

Until next time!

Vancouver Sightseeing How I Love Thee

Vancouver, as you might know, is one of my favorite cities in the world.  Of all the traveling I’ve done, Vancouver is way up there on the list of places I just love.

Vancouver is one of the most dynamic, cosmopolitan and multicultural cities in the world.

There’s so much to do in Vancouver and the city offers a ton in entertainment, shopping, eating, activities and more.

One of the places I make sure I pass through when I visit is the seawall, which is this gorgeous path in downtown Vancouver with the water on one side and the famous Stanley park on the other.

Downtown Vancouver is just a short 20 min train or drive north from YVR Vancouver International Airport.  Here’s another shameless plug for my go-to Vancouver Airport meet & greet.

direct video link:

Some of my favorite things to do in Vancouver include snowboarding on Grouse or Cypress mountain (or Whistler, which is pretty close by), kayaking and biking the Seawall.

The people in Vancouver are super friendly and are quite active outdoors whether they’re running, hiking or swimming.  This surprises me a little bit considering the often rainy weather in Vancouver.  They often get made fun of for it, but generally, people in Vancouver are very polite and open.  There’s a vibe of health, wellbeing and activity in Vancouver.

Let’s talk about the scenery.  Few other places in the world do you have the ocean and beaches so close to the mountains.  This makes for some remarkable views from people’s homes and really just anywhere in the city.

This also means that you can go skiing, surfing and golfing and finish the day off at a great seafood restaurant all in the same day.  There are other options for activity including boating, kayaking, fishing, helicopter tours, etc.

Two more places I want to talk about.  First, there’s Gastown.  Historically, Gastown is where development of the area began many many years back.  That’s where the first saloon in the area was set up and from there, the rest of Vancouver as we know it today was developed.  The small district maintains some of its old-time charm with cobble stone streets and old historic buildings.  In Gastown there are a lot of fantastic places to eat and a lot of interesting shops.  I love the environment and ambiance in Gastown, especially at night after a great dinner.

Second is Granville Island.  This little gem is sandwiched in between downtown Vancouver and metro Vancouver to the south.  There, you’ll find a lot of unique shops with hand-made creative handmade goods.  There’s also the public market with amazing local food.  Again, there’s tons of great restaurants in Granville Island.  After getting a bite to eat, you can check out some of the live theater shows or browse the artisan shops set up all over the “island”.  It looks like an island, but is connected to the mainland by a small stretch of land—so it’s technically a peninsula.

I love you Vancouver.  See you again soon. =)

Some lovely Vancouver photos below:

Whistler Woohoo

A little unexpected surprise happened.

If you’ve been following me, you know that I took a work trip to Whistler last month, only to leave heartbroken feeling a little bitter sweet.  It was the first time I had been to Whistler and it was absolutely amazing.  I loved everything about it.  Unfortunately, because it was a work trip, I had little time to do any real exploring and I didn’t get to go up the mountain at all since the ski and snowboard season hadn’t opened up yet.

Having to leave at the end of the trip without getting to experience and explore the area, I told myself that I was determined to make it back in the near future to check out the restaurants, the shops, and especially the slopes.

I don’t know if I mentioned in my last post, but I’m into snowboarding.  No, I’m not that great at it, but I’ve tried both skiing and snowboarding.  I like snowboarding way more.  I’m not that good at it because I live a long drive away from any decent mountain to snowboard on, but I have gone a good handful of times.  So, I’m not great at it but I can handle green runs and the occasional blue reasonably well.

SO… back to the unexpected surprise.

I said I was determined to make it back to Whistler in the near future.  When I said that, I was thinking maybe in the next three or four years.  I certainly didn’t expect to be coming back the very next month.  Well…  that’s exactly what happened.  I had told my family about how excited I was to get back to Whistler.  A couple weeks later, my company gave me an early Christmas vacation, with the downside that we’ll need to get back to work immediately after Christmas.  I guess it’s more of a shift and a bit of vacation extension, but still quite a pleasant surprise.  I told my family about it and celebrated.  They came up with the idea that we should all just head back out to Whistler, now that the slopes have opened up for skiing and snowboarding.
I didn’t think that we could make it because we’re all pretty busy.  But my family did some juggling around and we were just able to make it work.
I’m happy to announce that I’m in Whistler this very moment as I’m typing this and we’re going to be here the entire week!

I’m so excited…

We haven’t gotten out to the slopes yet, and but everything looks wonderful here and it’s so great that my family could come here with me.
Thanks again to KJ Limousine for the fantastic ride here from YVR Airport.  As promised, I called them up again the next time I was in town.  We got the same friendly driver.  It was great to see him.  He even remembered my name and that I was going to come back.  He was surprised to see my back so soon too, haha.  He was happy to see me and was also excited about their new vancouver to whistler promo video.  I just watched it—loved it.

I got their return trip discount of $75.  (if you book both trips with them to and from Whistler, you get $75 off your entire fee).  Our driver even includes a free 20min stop and group photo at Squamish or Shannon Falls.  We chose Shannon Falls.  Gorgeous place and it was great to be able to stretch our legs a little bit halfway through the trip.  Did I say that I love this limo company?  Turns out I’m not the only one.  Just check out KJ Limo on Yelp.  Lots of other happy limo customers there.

Anyway, we’re getting some of the gear rentals booked today and just hanging out in the Village before we head to the slopes all day tomorrow.  We just finished lunch at our hotel’s restaurant area.  It was pure delicious.  Excited for some more good food and some good slopes tomorrow…

Sorry about the long winded post.  I think this blog is going to be more of a blend between a personal life blog and a design/creativity blog.

Next post will be back on topic, I promise. =)

Whistler Blackcomb Adventure

Digressing Already

Look at me…

This is supposed to be a blog about design, this is only my second or third post, and my scatter brained self is already getting the best of me. I thought I would last longer than this but I guess not.

Yes, I’m breaking off of what I set out to do a little bit today… I’m going to talk about a little personal story, but I promise I’ll divert back to something about design, creativity or inspiration by the end of the post. =) I just really had to document and share this story. I want to get this post down as a way to keep myself accountable to heading back to Whistler someday to do some snowboarding.

Work Trip To Whistler

As part of work, we took a company trip over to Vancouver BC, Canada for a couple days for a conference. The first day was in Vancouver, but the bulk of the conference took place in the lovely city of Whistler.

Whistler is one of the top ski and snowboard resorts in the world. It was actually voted best resort in North America. a couple years in a row, I heard. Maybe it was best ski resort in North America.

I’m a snowboard person myself and I would have loved get some time on the slopes. Unfortunately at the time we went, the ski/snowboard season wasn’t open yet, although there was already a lot of fresh snow up there. We didn’t have much time to ourselves anyway, so I wouldn’t have gotten to get some snowboarding time in if I wanted to. After spending some time here though and just taking in all the beauty, I really want to come back to explore the slopes.

The slopes where I’m from don’t compare to the huge selection of lifts, ski runs and facilities that they have at Whistler and Blackcomb. I can definitely see why Whistler/Blackcomb is rated one of the best in North America.

I landed at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) late at night and I got picked up by a limo to take me to my hotel. Really great limo company by the way. I was impressed by the great service from my driver. I’ve been driven around in limos in the past, but this experience stood out. The chauffeur was really polite, well dressed, fun to talk to and the limo inside was really clean. Thanks to KJ Limousine in Vancouver for the service! (I’ll remember to call them up when I come back to visit, hehe.)

After a good night’s rest, a group of us got picked up again by KJ Limousine for the scenic drive to Whistler.

I’d like to just say that the drive to Whistler is gorgeous. Once you get on the highway, there are no (or very few) stops all the way to Whistler and it’s all overlooking the water for the most part. Thankfully there wasn’t any snow on the highway, as I can imagine that can get quite treacherous really fast.

We pulled up to our hotel and where the conference would be held at the Four Seasons. The Four Seasons is beautiful. It’s more than I’d like to pay for myself when I come back to visit, but I really did enjoy my time there.

When we arrived, it was straight to the conference room for a day of learning.

The learning isn’t what I want to talk about in this post though. The things that I really want to remember (not that I don’t enjoy my work or anything), are the few moments when we were walking around Whistler Village and the view of the mountains was just absolutely incredible!

Majestic Mountains

Where I live, there are mountains but they are not nearly as majestic and I live quite a ways away from the mountain. But in Whistler, being able to step right out of the hotel and be just a few minutes’ walk away from the foot of the mountain is really something else.

Unfortunately, I didn’t bring my camera with me. Even if I did, I doubt I or my camera would be able to do the experience of the view any justice whatsoever. I was able to find a couple pictures online that somewhat capture the feel of being there a little bit. Nothing like being there in person though.

* The pictures below are not taken by me and I take no credit for them.  I found them somewhere on the internet.  I would add credits for them but I can’t find the pages I got them from.

We were there for just a handful of days and it was pure magic every time I stepped out into the crisp air, admiring those magnificent slopes. Although there were no people on the slopes, since the season hadn’t opened yet, I could just imagine how much fun it would be to spend a whole week exploring all of the many runs that are available for the taking.

I’m determined to make my way back to Whistler/Blackcomb, spend at least a week here, go over the Peak2Peak gondola and just have the time of my life.

Tying this back to being inspired and creative… being able to experience the beauty and majesty of those mountains has been a solid source of inspiration for me. Modern society has a lot of people cooped up indoors all the time. Getting to experience nature like that for “indoor” people like myself is an experience to say the least.

What sources of inspiration has nature given you recently?

Intriguing Mysterious Jar Photo

I stumbled across this really interesting photo the other day.  It was just an image in a collage of many other pictures.  There was no write up or explanation nearby so I have no idea who took it or how they took it.


When I saw it, I had no idea what I was looking at.  Yes, I can see that there are clearly two jars sitting on the pavement, but I’m confused and intrigued about everything else going on in the photo.

I mean… what the world are all those colorful floaty things?  I can’t for the life of me figure out how this photo was taken.  If you are reading this and you have any idea, please leave me a comment and enlighten me.

PS, I’ve been getting a lot of spam comments and it’s been difficult and very time consuming to try to sort through all of the spam comments.  My apologies if you have genuinely reached out to me and have not heard back from me.

I have always been interested in learning photography, but never got around to actually doing it.  But cool stuff like this image really get me pumped up and excited about exploring with a camera.

OK, so here’s my best guess on what this photo is about.  I think that the two jars have some sort of fluorescent or neon paint splattered on them.  By the bright glowy marks on the ground just beneath the jars, I am assuming that there are two lights, one above each jar, pointing straight down through the jar to the ground, lighting up the paint on the outside of the jars.

That is my best guess anyway.

Whatever it is, it looks pretty cool to me.   Now  that I have some inspiration, I just need to find some time and a good camera to go to town with.


The Pursuit of Excellence

My mother told me to always do my best, no matter what I was doing.

She always said that nothing’s really worth doing unless you’re doing it to a high level of excellence.  Sure, it’s ok to dabble with hobbies here and there… and do things quickly to get things done in a timely manner.  But with your passions and the things you’re going to do in life for the long term… the things that you devote your life’s work to achieving… do it with excellence.  Strive to be that one percent of one percent.  It’s those people that are remembered, recognized, and make a lasting impact on the world; a lasting legacy.

A jolt of inspiration always shoots into my being whenever I’m confronted with an example of utter excellence.  To see someone achieve such a high level of skill, perfection, finesse… is always such a breathe of fresh air in a world where so many dream just to be average and mediocre.

These jolts of inspiration come to me a lot especially when I’m watching the Olympics or professional athletes playing at their best.  These people have devoted their lives, pushing the boundaries of what the human body can do.

Another area I see this is in musicians, mastering the bond between their bodies and their instrument, coming together to produce one sound, one song.

This is going to sound funny when you see what I have to show you, but what I saw today gave me one of those inspirational jolts and compelled me to share this on my blog.

It’s not the typical place you would expect to discover excellence, but is without a doubt, a level of excellence beyond what I have seen before in the area it was achieved in.

I’ll stop beating around the bush and show you the vid.  And you can tell me what you think afterwards: (more…)

Swiper Unmasked and Revealed


I know this is really off topic but for my blog, but I found this hilarious and I just had to post it.

My little niece is a huge fan of Dora. I would know, because I watch a lot of Dora on TV with her. I’ve also pretty much read every single Dora book in existence. My niece borrows every single door book she can get her hands on from the library and I’ve read every single one to her for bedtime story time, so I know all the characters inside out.

Pictured above is, of course, Swiper the fox. He is, in fact my favourite character in the series. Who wouldn’t love this sneaky little guy? (more…)

Inventions Mag

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always had an interest in inventions. I guess you could call me a pessimist. I’m one of those people that likes to find the problem in just about everything. It’s not that I’m really negative are anything… Maybe the better way to explain it is that I’m always looking for ways to improve things.

First, I always ask myself how something works. Then I examine what problem whatever I’m looking at is solving. What is the problem and how are they solving it? What did they do to solve it? And then I ask how can it be made better?

If I wasn’t already in the job and career that I have now, I really wouldn’t mind being an inventor. I don’t know if it sounds really dorky or geeky, but I would love to be able to solve problems by designing and creating gadgets and inventions to make the world a better place.

One of the things that gets me really excited, is checking out new inventions and ideas. (more…)

Where Do You Go For Design Inspiration?

Two common questions I get from people I know personally are:

Where do you go for design inspiration?” and “how do you get out of a creative block?”

Well… my answer to that is this:

It’s commonly known that “everything is a remix“… OR in other words… “nothing is original“.

I forget the other saying but it goes something along the lines of… all ideas come from somewhere; nothing is purely original. That’s why all the monsters in horror movies all look like mash ups of body parts from creatures in the real world. You never really see anything “new” that can’t be seen somewhere else in some form or another.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not hinting that you should just go and out right copy someone else’s work. What I’m saying, and what I personally do is… if I’m working on a logo design or something (for example), what I do is I go and look at other logos. Yup, pretty simple and almost obvious.  Just have a look at related stuff that people have already done in the past.

What do I do when I’m looking at other logos?

Design is all about taking a set of criteria or restrictions and using resourceful creativity to create a solution that satisfies all of those criteria. When I’m looking at other logos, I’m keeping those criteria and design goals in my mind and then looking to see how some other past work has satisfied at least a few of those criteria or goals.

Why re-invent the wheel right? It’s all about gathering some data to work off of. It’s not copying and it’s not stealing. It really is like remixing, for lack of a better word. It’s kind of like innovating. You’re looking at what has been done, what currently exists, where you want to go, and then creating something that builds upon what currently exists and pushing forward in the direction that you want to go.

So, aside from getting some emotional inspiration to get you charged up and motivated, what are some of the practical resources that I go to when I’m either in a creative block or when I’m in need of some design inspiration?

One of the first places I go to is Google Images. Google Image search is like a massive image bank. If you’re exploring some ideas or combinations of words, it’s a fantastic place to start brain storming. Let’s say you’re designing a logo and web site for a company called… Agile Architects Inc. (don’t know if such a company exists… my intentions were to make up a fictitious one for this example). What I would first is do a quick brainstorm on images that come up when I search for the word “agile” in Google Images. That search would inform you of what the word agile means visually. You may branch off into looking at agile animals, or agile poses. Looking at agile animals may lead you to pick an animal to represent the company logo. Or you might branch off and search for synonyms of “agile” and that may lead to some ideas.

Then you do the same thing for the word “architect”. That would likely point you to pictures of buildings, or traditional architect tools, etc. As you build up a visual brainstorm from these terms, you need to keep the criteria and design goals in the back of your mind and use them to filter all the ideas that are coming to you.

For example, let’s say that one of the design goals is to come up with a brand that exudes modernity and a sense of being technologically advanced. That would likely lead you to filter out using any traditional architecture tools in any of your imagery/branding. You could also do some brainstorming with the words from your design goals, and then see where you might find some intersections/commonalities in the two groups.

After the brainstorming stage, there’s really an infinite number of routes to go from there, but that does give you a bit of a foundation to go off of.

Let’s talk about some other resources I use other than Google Images.

Another good place to go, regardless of the type of project you’re working on, is Behance.

Behance is a fantastic place to see fantastic work from all around the world from some of the most talented people. Something I really love about Behance is the filters they have on the home page which let you sort by the “creative field” you’re working in. There’s everything from Industrial Design, Photography, Web Design to Animation, Crafts, Copywriting and Toy Design. After that, you can sort by ratings, views and geographic location.

It’s an amazing resource that can be useful for almost any designer in any creative field. It can also be a big time suck because it’s so easy to splurge a whole ton of time on there just checking out all the cool stuff.

Lastly, another great resource is Pinterest. Yes, there’s a lot of cheesy tacky stuff on there, but there’s also some really good stuff if you find the right Pinner or right group of people.

I hope this helps and that you’ll find the inspiration you need to get out of your creative blocks!


Google Inbox – Email Revamped?

Google has been sending out invites to something new they’re calling… Google Inbox.

It’s they’re new take on what email should be. If you think about it… email has generally been and functioned the same way for many many years—over a decade probably.

In that time, a lot has changed and there are a lot of other alternatives to e-mail that have become better options for people. Things like social networks, the messaging on social networks, various instant messaging services, video chats, and texting. We’re email used to be the primary way that people shared images, now there’s all kinds of things like Instagram, Dropbox, and social network galleries.

The things people use been all for as constantly evolved over the years, and as the new and better alternatives for those things pop up, people start doing those things using other means, like those I mentioned above.

So what’s in store for the future of Email? What function will email fulfill and always fulfill in the long term?

First, let’s take a look at…

Current Problems With Email

It doesn’t matter what you use Email for… the fact is that it can get cluttered fast. If you’re like most people who like to sort everything that comes in into their respective folders, you know that it can get pretty tough to keep up with all that sorting. Miss a day or two and you’ve got a whole page or more to sort.

With a river of emails constantly flowing into your inbox, comes a large ocean of emails that makes it hard to find what you need when you need it. Things like flights reservation details, receipts from your recent purchases, conversations with friends, etc. Unless you’ve done the sorting manually, you’re pretty much guaranteed to be spending a bit of time finding what you need. Wouldn’t it be great to just be able to see all of your receipts in one place without having to sort everything manually? Yes you could set up filters, but even that gets quite tedious. Plus not everyone knows how to do it, and those filters or keep themselves up to date and thus are unreliable. (eg. a “receipts” filter has all the emails of the stores you purchase from reguarly, but will not have emails of new stores).

How Google Originally Changed Email

Back in the day, the major culprits to using Email were Spam, Storage, and Attachment Sizes.

Email was fun back in the day, but it seemed like the longer you have any e-mail address but more and more spam you got every single day. And the more you tried to separate the spam from the real emails, the more Email just seemed on practical. I’m sure many AOL and hotmail accounts were abandoned simply because of being overwhelmed by spam.

As the world got quicker, and more and more people adopted Email into their daily lives, so the demand on Email storage also increased. It’s funny thinking back now, but sending an e-mail to your aunt and having that Email bounce back to you because her e-mail storage was too full, was a pretty common occurrence.

It was also quite common to try to send a couple of pictures and have it bounce back to you because the attachment size was too large. Of course, you then had to send one picture per Email. Then your friend would have to open every single e-mail individually and download the picture from each Email. Fun times!

And then Gmail came along…

I remember getting my invitation to join Gmail back in the day. I was confused and didn’t know why I would want to get a new e-mail address. Many years later, I would have been a fool to not get that new e-mail address.

Somehow, Gmail came along and solve those three problems for free. Spam almost completely disappeared, people didn’t have to worry about storage anymore now that Google offered everyone over 5GB for free, and attachment sizes weren’t really an issue anymore unless you wanted to send something over 20mb or so.

Gmail was the big game changer and has been king all these years.

With the introduction of Google Inbox, with claims of revamping email as we know it, could this be another game changer?

Google Inbox Features

When you first start using Google Inbox, you notice that it feels a bit like Google has taken all of your emails, and presents its you like a social network newsfeed, complete with headings, tags, pictures, profile pictures and thumbnails.
It feels a lot like a Tumblr or Twitter feed, and feels fairly familiar even though it’s not.

Another one of the big problems with email currently, is that it’s rather cumbersome to go from receiving a to-do task in an email to marking it down on your calendar or scheduling it for later.

In Google Inbox, that becomes an integral part of the interface, hopefully making you more productive.

You have the ability to pin emails to the top of your feed, similar to how you would star or flag an email for later, and then toggle a filter to see all of the emails that you have bookmarked. And then once you’ve dealt with that email you can unpin it from your list.

“Bundled” emails in Google Inbox is a feature the seeks to solve them need to create filters or sort all of your e-mail into categories. The thing about bundled in else is that the sorting is done completely automatically so there’s no need to update filters or sort any of your e-mail. This sounds amazing. Whether it will deliver on what it promises, and whether did well accurately bundle you know how you would normally sort it manually… is another question. Time and testing will tell.

Of course they haven’t removed the ability to create filters entirely. You can continue to create filters by creating your own custom bundles. Simply create a custom bundle, give it a name, and tell it what you would like it to filter into that bundle.

At the moment, Google Inbox only works with gmail account emails. I’m not sure if it works with google apps emails (it probably does but I haven’t tried it yet, nor have I heard from anyone that has tried it.)

One requirement to use Google Inbox is that you need to register for it on a iOS or Android phone before you can use it on your desktop. Not sure why it’s a requirement, but it is.

I have a friend who uses a Blackberry and he couldn’t start testing out Google Inbox even after receiving his invite… poor guy.

It’s still quite early for any conclusive statements on how much of a game changer Google Inbox is going to be, as it’s only been out for a couple months and it’s still in its invite phase. Regardless, it is a definite and bold shift out of the status quo of all modern email interfaces and it’ll be exciting to see how it pans out in the coming years.

Have you gotten to tinker with Google Inbox yourself?  I’d love to hear your thoughts and experience!  Leave a comment for me below if you’d like.