Elephant Jungle Sanctuary – Chiang Mai, Thailand

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I’m notorious for not planning anything when I travel but the one thing that I did spend time researching and reading about before my trip were these elephant parks all around south east Asia. I’m always a bit iffy about going to places with animals for pure human enjoyment. I had heard about the mistreatment of elephants and tigers in Thailand so had initially decided not to visit one until I heard about these ethical rescue centres.

After a lot of research, I had decided that Elephant nature park and the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary both had good reputations for treating their elephants with care and respect.

I ended up booking a full day tour at the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary and had an amazing experience. They have a no-ride policy and their elephants are free to roam around without chains and are not held in cages and are not disciplined using bull hooks. The elephants don’t put on shows or entertain the guests. I’d describe the day more like the elephants were just hanging out and we got to experience the day with them.

The full day started with a pick up from my hostel at 8am. We rode in a songthaew which is a typical mode of transportation in Thailand. It’s essentially a pick up truck that’s been altered to carry a bunch people in the back.

The ride to the sanctuary took a little over an hour and a half. The driver’s drive pretty fast and the roads get pretty bumpy especially driving up the mountain so you’ll have to hold on tight.

When we first get there, we learned a little bit about the village and why elephant riding is very discouraged. We learned a little bit about the elephants that live in that village and then we made some little elephant snacks that were full of vitamins.

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We then carried the elephant snacks and the bags up bananas up to where the elephants were hanging out.

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They gobbled up the food really quickly and then we followed them as they walked through the jungle for a bit.

The elephants decided to stop at this mud pit and spent a good 20 minutes just rolling around in the mud. Except for the gramma elephant. She wasn’t too interested in the mud. Instead she walked off and hung out near some dried bamboo plants and kept on feasting.

After taking a few pictures of the elephants, we left them for a bit to go have some lunch.

After lunch, we changed in to our bathing suits and got ready to have a mud bath.

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After the mud bath, we headed over to the river to wash off the mud. Again only 3 of the elephants wanted to go in the water while the other one kept playing in the mud off to the side by itself.

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All in all in was an incredible day, made even more enjoyable by our amazing guide, Robert! image1-2

If you want a closer look of my day, check out my gopro video!

Doubt kills dreams – Free printable

So often I’ve realized that so often, I only did new things if I felt confident that I could succeed. I often felt embarrassed when I failed at something and I let that fear of failure hold me back.

So when I saw this quote by Suzy Kassem, I wanted to add it my personal collection. Here’s a free printable of the quote I have at home to keep inspiring me to go forward, and try things with an open mind, and appreciate the failures along with the successes. Doubt Kills More Dreams than Failure Ever Will.

Download now

DIY Tissue paper tassel garland

DIY Tissue Paper Tassel GarlandI’m a big fan of party decorations and I’m always looking for ways to make a big impact on a small budget. These tissue paper tassel garlands are super cute and can be made with so many different colours to match your party theme.

Materials

  • tissue paper
  • string
  • scissors
  • tape

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Step 1. Take one piece of tissue paper and fold it in half one way and than again the other way. This will give you 4 layers of tissue paper.

tissueimages 4tissueimages 7Step 2. With the folded edge away from you, cut strips into the tissue paper, leaving about 1 inch at the top. Make sure to cut through all 4 layers. tissueimages 04Step 3. Once you’ve cut all along the length, gently unfold your tissue paper and cut this piece in half along the crease. You will now have two pieces of the tissue paper.

tissueimages 06Step 4. Each of these pieces will make one tassel. Now take one of the pieces and gently open it up. Lay all the strips down flat and tightly roll up the tissue paper along the crease. tissueimages 09

Step 5. Once it’s all rolled up, fold it in half and create a loop. And you can either twist the tissue paper or use some tape to keep it in place.tissueimages 12

Step 6. Now just put it on some string and hang it up!tissueimages 15

To see the full step by step tutorial on how to make tissue paper tassel garlands, check out my Youtube video!

2015 Highlights

I’ve started making a habit of regularly taking the time to reflect and appreciate just how lucky I am and how wonderful life is. And there’s nothing quite like go over old pictures and videos to help keep my humble and motivate me to keep trying to make the out of life.

2015 was full of babies, weddings, travels and so many great friends. Thank you to everyone who has always supported and encouraged me and have given me the confidence to be unapologetically myself.

Here’s a little video of some of my favourite moments and events from 2015.

Let’s make the rest of our lives, the best of our lives!

xox ngoc

Tea flavoured shortbread cookie recipe

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Hey guys!

I’m a big tea drinker so when I learned about  infuse butter to add tea flavour in to your baking, I had to try it! I used a simple shortbread cookie recipe and infused it with a Choco Cherry tea from teaBOT but it’s amazing with any quality chai or black tea.

Ingredients
1 ½ cup flour
½ cup icing sugar
1 cup butter
¼ cup cornstarch
3 tbsp of teaBOT Choco Cherry Tea 
ingredients
First thing you will need to do is infuse the butter with tea.

  • Melt the butter over medium heat and add the tea
  • Stir so that the tea is immersed in the butter
  • Let simmer on low for at least 6 mins
  • Strain using a fine mesh sieve to remove the tea leaves strainbutter

Your butter will be liquid at this point. Leave it to solidify. You will need it to be at room temperature to use so if you want to speed up the solidifying process by putting it in the fridge, you will need to leave it out to soften to room temperature before using.  solidifiedbutterPreheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Once that is mixed well, add the cornstarch and flour. If you didn’t use salted butter, than add a 1/4 teaspoon of salt as well.

Mix until the batter is just crumbly. Careful not to over mix or your cookies could become quite dense.

When the batter is crumbly, remove from the bowl and finish kneading it together with your hands. You may need to add a bit more flour if you find it is sticking to your hands too much.

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Now cover and let it cool for at least 30 mins in the fridge.

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One a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, roll the batter in to little balls and lay them out on your cookie sheet.

Use a fork to flatten the cookies.

Bake in the oven for 12-18 mins and remove when the bottom and edges are just starting to get golden.

That’s it! Cheers!

You can also see the whole process in the following video!

Coffee filter Christmas tree tutorial

So Christmas is only 4 weekends away… which means it’s time to start decorating! Over my next few posts, I’m going to show you a few of my favourite DIY holiday decorations.

For this craft, you will need:

  • Bristol board
  • Scissors
  • Glue gun
  • Coffee filters (about 100 of them)
  • Ribbon or bow

Check out the video to see the full instructions.

DIY baby drool bibs

A friend of mine mentioned that she loved these baby bandanas but they were a bit pricy. So I decided to make a couple of them for her.. and pretty much for every single baby I know.

To make a baby drool bib, you will need:

  • fabric. For a 6 month old baby, I used fabric that was 14 inches wide. Use either cotton, jersey, or terry cloth.
  • velcro
  • sewing machine

Check out this video to see my step by step tutorial.

IKEA designed soft toys based on kid’s drawings to raise money for charity

IKEA has taken 10 drawings from children around the world and turned them in to adorable soft toys. This limited-edition line is part of the Swedish company’s Soft Toys for Education Campaign, and they are donating $1 from each sale to UNICEF and Save the Children to support children’s education projects.

When I saw an ad for these toys, I had to go pick some up for my little cousins. These stuffies are even cuter in person than I had imagined. And the little ones thought they were pretty fantastic as well!

SAGOSKATT Soft toy, monster, blue

Photo: Adweek and Ikea

 

Blue ikea toy

Photo: Adweek/Ikea

 

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Photo: Adweek/Ikea

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The stuffies were super soft and squishy and easy for their little hands to grab and play with. And they really did all look remarkably like the drawings. To see all the stuffies from this special line, visit: http://www.ikea.com/ca/en/search/?query=SAGOSKATT

 

 

Archery Dodgeball at Battle Sports

So for my dad’s birthday, he wanted to do something that he’s never done before. If you’ve ever met my dad, you would know that he’s a man of very few words and even less emotions. You may remember him from my sporting life 10K post.

That is pretty much his expression in every photo. So trying to think of something that both he and mom my would enjoy, that would also be fun for my brother was a bit of a challenge. After a bit of research, I stumbled upon archery dodgeball. There are a couple of places around the GTA but we settled on Battle Sports near Downsview station. It costs about $24/person which includes 30 mins of training and then 1 hour of “battle” and all the protective gear.

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Booking a session is really easy on their website. You will likely be paired up with other people unless you’re booking a private event or are booking the entire slot for 20 people. I’d recommend getting there 10-15 mins early so you can change and sign your waiver forms. They have lockers in the main area and coat hooks for your jackets.

The session starts off with them teaching you how to properly stand and how to hold the bow and arrow. And then you take turns shooting at the targets that they have set up. The bows come in 3 different weights and the lowest weight (16 lbs) was really easy to shoot. And that’s coming from me, a girl who has the arm strength of a 6 month baby.

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The face masks were a little uncomfortable but I promise, once you start playing and the adrenaline starts rushing, you won’t even notice the masks anymore.

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For the dodgeball “battle” part, you are split up in to 2 teams. And just like dodgeball, each team stays on their side, with a “safe zone” in the middle. You can’t shoot your arrow or be hit while you are in the safe zone. One each side, they have some barriers set up where you can shield yourself a bit but you are never fully protected. Once you are hit by the opposing team, then you go stand in the back behind the mesh. Once one side has no more players, the game is over. Each game lasts around 10 minutes. We ended up having enough time to do a practice round, and then 3 games. The hour goes by incredibly quick and had us all in great spirits.

You’re welcome to bring in camera equipment but it’s at your own risk. I got so caught up in the “battle” once it started that it didn’t even occur to me to take photos. However, sometimes, the staff will take some photos and they usually take a big group photo at the end.

I cannot stress how fun this was!! It was pretty well organized and the staff were really friendly and helpful. I’d definitely recommend this for anyone from their teens to their 60s.

Battle Sports

26 Ashwarren, North York, ON

Phone: 647-800-6977