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.


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

Panama, Costa Rica and weddings

puravidaYou may remember the save the date photos I did for my friends a couple months ago. Well the date finally arrived and I was lucky enough to celebrate their wedding with them in Costa Rica just last week.

UUUUUUUUURRRRRRGGGGGG you know that feeling where you’ve waited too long to book and then flights are a billion dollars? Ya.. that’s what happened with all the direct flights to Costa rica. Indirect flights were about half the price so I took it as an opportunity to book a longer overnight layover to do a bit of exploring. That’s how I found myself in Panama City for 18 hours. My family and friends were slightly horrified that I was going to be in this “dangerous” city by myself. Of course there are bad neighbourhoods (just like in any city) and I would recommend that a single girl be cautious and aware of her surroundings, but the culture and personality of Panama city is definitely worth experiencing.

I was mentioning that I wasn’t sure how to get to the hostel from the airport and a coworker told me that she had some family in Panama and offered to have her cousin pick me up. He was so friendly and sweet that it put me in great spirits after having to wait for almost 2 hours to get through customs, immigration, and baggage. When I got to the Los Mastros hostel, I was told that the water was shut off in the city for the day. Apparently since it’s still a developing country, due to construction and maintenance, sometimes they just have to shut off the water. WWWWWWWWWHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAATTT?!?!?!?!? Some hotels and restaurants will have a special reserve so you can still use the washrooms. The little $15/night hostel I stayed at though wasn’t quite so fancy. We had to carry a bucket full of water up the stairs in order to flush the toilet. This brought me back to my adventures in Vietnam. 

I was still in my Canadian winter clothes and there was nothing I wanted to do more than get out of my sweats and hop into the shower, but I settled on wiping down my face with a wet nap and throwing on a dress. I was excited to get out and explore the city, and luckily for me, I met a friendly American at the hostel. He was actually going to meet a friend who lived in Panama so I tagged along.

We hopped into a cab and went to what felt like a sketchy area and stopped at this little microbrew. I was absolutely exhausted at this point but within 15 mins of sitting on the patio, I looked around and quickly remembered why I love traveling so much. There I was, on a patio with two fascinating people that I didn’t even know existed until 30 mins ago, chowing down on some seriously delicious pizza and craft beer at La Rana Dorada and having my new friends give me a lesson on mining for Bitcoins, with the sun starting to set in the background. The unpredictability of what was to come, and being in a place that was so new and different, yet feeling so comfortable is what drives my desire to keep exploring. Everything about that moment was just perfect.

We ended up bar hopping and checking out a few of the different hot spots in the area. The rest of the night will be left out as my poor mother reads my blog and I think she may be better off not knowing about my shenanigans. Don’t worry mom! I’m sure I didn’t do anything that dad wouldn’t have done at my age!

I didn’t take many photos in Panama but here are a few from the night.


Enjoying the view one last time before heading to the airport


Rooftop bar with some cool Americans

Then early in the morning (6:30am!! Why do I do this to myself?!), my new friend was nice enough to take me to the airport so I could head to Costa Rica to join my friends.

An hour and a half flight later, I landed in Liberia airport and hopped onto a shuttle courtesy of the bride and Xplore Costa rica, and made my way to Tamarindo (which is about an hour away). We stayed at Cala Luna resort. HOLY MOLY this place was nice! It was a stark contrast from the minimalist hostels that I’m used to. As soon as I walked into the lobby, I was greeted with a cool towel, a beautiful cocktail, and a nice lad insisted on taking my backpack for me. I didn’t take any photos of the villas so the following resort photos are from Cala Luna’s website.

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Ridiculously luxurious, right?! Now to some of the fun stuff! Excursions!

Marlin Del Rey – Catamaran

As a ‘thank you’ to all the guests, the bride and groom generously treated all of the guests to a catamaran ride on the Marlin del rey. I’ve had a bit of a soft spot for sail boats ever since my summer at The disabled Sailing Club, so I was beyond excited for this excursion. And it DID NOT disappoint! I loved every single thing about the catamaran ride. They picked us up at 2 and drove us out to an island where I got to try snorkelling and paddle boarding for the first time.

snorkeling costa rica paddle boarding costa rica

And then after we were all pooched from the activities, they made a really delicious buffet style lunch as we sailed around. We did a bit of whale watching, and then headed back to shore as the sun was setting. This was the perfect activity for the wedding guests as people of all ages and risk levels could enjoy it.

Xplore Costa Rica – Super fun day of ziplining, rafting, rapelling, mudbaths, hot springs

The next day, we were all signed up for a full day adventure excursion through Xplore Costa rica. Our day included some ziplining, rapelling, rafting, mudbaths, hot springs, and a buffet style lunch. We were offered a special rate because there were 40+ of us but I think the normal rate is _____. I’m a big chicken with a serious fear of heights and just the thought of that falling feeling in my stomach is enough to make me sick. So I was really weary of going zip lining but after the first line, I can promise you that it’s really not scary! The worst part for me was walking the steps up to each platform. You don’t get that falling feeling at all!   Rafting – Since the tide was still pretty low when we went, the rapids weren’t as intense as they can be in the fall. I was paired with one of the experienced rafters so we didn’t get stuck along the way as many of our beginner pairs. This was an excellent workout for your arms.. and if you want to really test out your relationship, you can pair up with your significant other. See how much you guys like each other after yelling at each other about your inabilities to steer.. and accidentally (maybe intentionally?) hitting it other in the head with the paddle over and over… The only downside with pairing up with one of the workers is that you constantly have to stop to help dislodge other less experienced paddlers from the rocks and bushes. My arms were really tired after the zip lining and rafting so I opted out of the rappelling since once you repel down, you have to be able to climb back up. I have the upper body strength of a 6 month old and didn’t have the confidence that I would make it back up. Is it just me or does the term mud bath imply laying in some kind of bath tub filled with mud? I guess for sanitary reasons.. a mud bath actually meant someone was going to paint mud all over your body, and then you hang out in the sun until it dries and then you can hop into the river to wash it all off. How awesome is it to swim in a place like this?!


Then you can hop over to one of the hot springs and let your muscles relax after a long day of activities.


The next day, a bunch of people went horseback riding, but after my 2 hour ride in Calgary, I think maybe I’m done with horses. Instead, I went to town to try and find some surf lessons. Most places range from 30-40 for a group lesson. I’ve also heard a bunch of people grab really cheap lessons by walking along the beach and just asking some locals. I decided to get a private lesson for $35. This included a 2 hour lesson, the board, and a rash guard (which is really just a thick shirt). I think having a private lesson helped me learn a lot faster.


We spent about 15 minutes on land practicing jumping up on the board before he decided I was ready to hop in the water. (OMG was he serious?!) I was able to semi stand up for half a millisecond on my third try but once you’re able to stand up, you kind of get a feeling for what you’re supposed to do. I think the hardest part of the whole thing was being able to get the timing right. I opted to go surfing the day before the wedding and ended up with a couple of bruises on my arms and legs. I also got bumped in the head a few times so if you’re a bride, I probably would hold off on the surfing until after the wedding photos. The awesome part is that renting a board for a full day is only 10 bucks so on Saturday once everyone left, I rented a board again and just hung out in the water by myself for a few hours.

Due to a bit of a mix up with the schedule, I ended up staying an extra day once the rest of the wedding guests left. I opted to save some money and moved out of the beautiful Cala Luna and settled into Blue Trailz Surf Hostel. This was a cute little hostel with a kitchen, air conditioning, and warm water. For 15 bucks a night, I couldn’t complain.

A few tips

Most places will take American dollers

It costs 29 US dollers to leave Costa rica. You have to pay this departing tax at the airport. Make sure you have cash as they take credit card charges as a cash advance.

If you’re craving snacks, try some of their local brands instead of some of the bigger north American brands that you’re familiar with. A can of Pringles or a bag of doritos can cost anywhere from 4-6 dollars, but a bag of plantain chips is only 1 doller.



Nashville: The pedal tavern

Bachelorette party on the pedal tavernSo a few of my high school friends hopped in a car and made our way down to Nashville for some bachelorette fun. If you find yourself in music city, you 100% ABSOLUTELY need to book a tour on the pedal tavern! It’s a 16 person bike that you can drink on. For $30/person, you bring your own drinks and do a little bike/bar crawl through broadway, or midtown. I’d recommend this even if you’re not drinking. It’s just a super fun way to see the city.Bachelorette party on the pedal tavern


Here are some tips that will help make the most of your pedal tavern tour.

  • Wear shoes that stay on your feet! I opted to wear flats which fell off 5 minutes into my intense pedalling. My shoe got run over by a car, but one of other girls jumped off het bike to retrieve it for me. To avoid that happening again, I biked the rest of the tour with just bare socks. Pedals with no shoes = not good times. pedal tavern in socks
  • Premix your drinks or bring cans. You leave your drinks in a cooler and only the people sitting in the back seat can really access them. Having them pass down a can or a bottle is easy. Having them pass down liquor, ice, and mix is much more difficult. *Remember though that you can’t bring glass on the bike. We bought a case of water so we could fill the bottles with our drinks.
  • Book early for weekends! We booked 2 weeks in advance and could only get the 5:15pm spot on the Friday. Saturday was completely sold out. Although 5:15 gave us a lot of time to go out afterwards, all the bars we stop at on the way were a little empty. I’d recommend starting your tour between 7:30 and 8:15 so that you can go for dinner before hand, get a solid pre-drink happening on the bike, and still have time to hit up the popular bars afterwards.
  • We stopped at the Swinging Doors and Bootleggers inn on our tour. We were given wrist bands and coupons for 2 for 1 drinks and other specials. Pace yourself. We went real hard and were a little burnt out by midnight.
  • Bachelorette party at the swinging doors in Nashville Shots at the swinging doors in Nashville
  • Only some of the seats were adjustable. I’m a little shorty so I got one of the adjustable seats but even my 5’5ish friends were commenting that they had to extend their legs the whole way to pedal which was exhausting.
  • The bike is SERIOUSLY hard to pedal. 16 girls, with drinks, up hills… we were probably moving at negative 5 km/hour. But the slow speed gave us time to really take in the view as we rode up and down broadway.view of Broadway from the pedal tavern
  • Bring something that plays music. They have an AV plug that you can stick your mp3 or phone into. We didn’t bring music but luckily our driver/guide had a bachelorette playlist already made.
  • There is no motor. For real. You have to pedal up that hill.
  • There’s not much space on the counter except a little cup holder. Everything else will need to be tucked in the overhead compartment that isn’t easily accessible or in your purse. As cute as our little props were. Carrying them the whole time is a real pain in the butt. Bachelorette party on the pedal tavern

All in all, it was a super fun night. Even our pregnant friend loved it! If you’re interested in seeing more, you can check out this horrible video that I took while on the bike.

Friday Night at the ROM

Friday Night Live at the ROM FNLDrinks. Dancing. Dinosaurs. That’s what you can expect at Friday Night Live at the ROM. A few of my friends decided to go last summer and we LOVED LOVED LOVED it! If you’re looking for a fun, unique place to go in Toronto on a Friday night, I’d highly recommend it. They are holding these events every Friday until Dec 6. Tickets are $12 dollars, or $10 if you have a student card. Here are a few tips that we learned from last year. 

Tips for Friday Night Live at the ROM

  • Although you can drink on the different floors, you can’t carry your drink from one floor to the next due to restrictions in their alcohol permit. I learned this the hard way when I bought 2 beers at the bar on the main floor and wanted to go up to meet my friends on the second. I was left with the decision to abandon my drinks… or quickly in a very non-classy way, quickly double fist/chug my drinks at the bottom of the stairs… **EDIT** apparently you can bring your drinks on the stairs now! 
  • You have to buy drink tickets, and then use those tickets to buy drinks. So don’t waste your time waiting at the bar if you don’t already have tickets, only to get to the front to find out that they will not take your money.
  • It might be different this year, but last year the last call was pretty early. I think it was at 11pm, and then the event ends at midnight. You’ll want to get in line before 11 though since people will be frantically lining up, trying to use up the last of their drink tickets.
  • The main floor bar is really busy! If you’re planning on going to the other floors anyways, I’d recommend just ordering your drinks up there where it’s not as crazy.
  • Get their early! Doors open at 7. The lines are LONG. REALLY LONG! I think we went around 9:30 and had to wait in line for 45 mins.

Overall it was a really fun experience so grab a couple of your friends for a fun night dancing with the dinosaurs.

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Super hero scavenger hunt

Super hero themed party ideas Ngoc NguyenSome of you may remember the super hero party I threw last year for the bf’s birthday. It was a huge success so I had a few friends request that I throw another one. The best thing about already setting a precedence is that no one complained this year about my strict costumes mandatory rule. Instead, they all realized that the more outrageous the costume, the cooler everyone else thought you were. I was so pumped that people went all out on their costumes this year!

To spice things up a little bit, I kicked off the party with a photo scavenger hunt. I made a fun list of things to do, and gave everyone 1 hour to complete as many of the listed items as possible. Although some people were unsure about running around the city in their costumes, by the end of it, everyone had a blast, and now they have all these great photos to show for it. Feel free to download my list for your own party!

Super hero themed photo scavenger hunt ideas

Benefits of a photo scavenger hunt

  1. Great way for people to get to know each other. I made teams at random which forced people to work together with others that they might not normally talk to
  2. Everyone has a competitive edge. And a hunt is a great way to bring that out in people.
  3. Great photos! I’m all for photos and giving people a list to do gives them a reason to be silly in pictures.
  4. It’s fun being a kid. We don’t give enough credit to just doing fun, silly, PG13 kind of activities.

Tips tricks and lessons learned from the scavenger hunt:

  • Give a wide range of tasks in varying difficulties
  • Teams of 4 worked really well – the teams are small enough to easily coordinate and work together, while being big enough that people know that you’re part of a group you’re not a random crazy person walking around the streets in a costume.
  • I gave everyone an hour to complete the list and 2 teams finished all 26 tasks. Next time I’d add probably put at least 30 things on the list with some really hard ones
  • Remember to print off the list beforehand. I was rushed the day of and couldn’t get to a printer in time. Luckily, everyone has smart phones now a days so I just posted it online and had everything download the list to their phones.
  • Picking a hashtag lets everyone post to the same social media channels so they can see how their competition is doing. We used #HeroHunt for ours.
  • If you plan ahead and are tech savy, you can collect everyone’s photos and play a slideshow of all the pictures during the party

Some pictures from the hunt!

Super heroes themed scavenger hunt

scavenger hunt - fireman carry a stranger

Super Heroes doing a scavenger hunt

Super heroes jumping

Super heroes themed photo scavenger hunt

earth worm jim costume

super hero battle in toronto

he man and wonder woman

It’s not every day that you get to party with Sailor Moon and Wonder Woman!

female super hero costume

Or how about Super Dave and Asbestos lady?Super dave costume

And of course the whole crew from Kick-ass decided to join! Kick-ass in toronto costume ideas

Did I mention that I live in Gothum City? 

dark knight and bane costumes

Thanks to Heather from Shameless Vanilla for making these awesome cupcakes!

super hero cupcakes

Color me RAD!

Colour me RAD group TorontoA couple months ago when we first heard about Colour Me Rad, it only took 30 seconds of looking at photos on their website before I was sold on the idea. I mean, who wouldn’t want to look like a rainbow vomited all over them?! SO FUN! For those who have never heard of this before, it’s a 5K run where you have coloured starch thrown at you. Once you hit the finish line, everyone is given a colour bomb for the ultimate rainbow war finale. I had an eventful birthday party to go to Saturday night which left me a little less than 100% for the run on Sunday morning. After running/walking (mostly walking.. maybe even dragged a bit) there are a few tips for those who are thinking of doing it for the first time.

But first…. Let’s check out some awesome fun photos from the day!

Ngoc Nguyen at colour me rad

ngoc nguyen color me rad ngoc nguyen color me radColour me Rad boyssmallDSCF3422 ngoc nguyen color me rad

Tips and Tricks

  • Wear white if you want the colours to show up well. I saw a few runners wearing black and the coloured starch looked a little mucky and muted on the black. 
  • Try not to open your mouth too wide during the colour stations. The corn starch has a way of instantly drying out your mouth if you get too much in there. 
  • If you want to bring your phone or camera, keep it in some sort of clear bag. You will get starch on everything you have. I brought along my crappy 10 year old camera and kept it in a cellophane bag which works a little better than a zip lock bag as the material is typically clearer and firmer which gives less distortion when you’re taking a photo through the bag.
  • Don’t make plans for immediately after the race. You’ll likely want to go home and shower unless you plan on leaving a rainbow trail wherever you go for the rest of the day… 
  • If you’re driving there or getting a ride, bring plastic bags to sit on for the ride back unless you want to leave a nice print on the car seat.
  • If you cut the sleeves on a shirt, the piece that you cut off makes a great head band.
  • If you’re running on a sunny day, careful about where you put the “RAD” tattoo that they give you. I have a pretty sweet RAD tanline on my biceps now.. I’d HIGHLY recommend putting it right on your forehead… All the cool kids are doing it.

Science Everywhere : Air Pressure

science everywhere be a science ninja experimentI’ve been helping out a wonderful friend of mine, Ernest Morgan with a project called Science Everywhere. The idea is to show how science is all around us by using everyday materials to demonstrate different science principles.

The first video that will soon be up on Youtube demonstrates how air pressure is all around us . Using every day items like duct tape, garbage bags, a shop vac, we showed how you can use air pressure to suction yourself up against a flat surface.

preparing for a science everywhere experiment #beascienceninjaThanks to Goorin Bros Hat shop who graciously let us use their store front window for this experiment. Here are a few teaser shots of the day. Check out Science Everywhere’s facebook page and Youtube for the videos and full explanations.
preparing for a science everywhere experiment #beascienceninja science everywhere air pressure experiment #beascienceninjaGoorin Brother's Hat shop

Tips and tricks

  • lay the garbage bags down and the ground and tape them together first
  • you will need a perfect seal all around the plastic bag in order for this to work. Pay close attention to the legs and neck area. 
  • never cover your face with the plastic bag! This is very important because if your face is covered when you suction out the air, YOU COULD DIE!
  • hold one hand over the vacuum hose to help control the suction. If you don’t do this, it will suck up the plastic bag
  • always have a buddy with you
  • if you are going to suction yourself to a window, make sure it will hold your weight!
  • it will get very hot under the plastic bags

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We’ll be doing fun experiements across the city all summer. Follow us on twitter to find out when the next one happens so you can join in! @soundslikeknock @science__ninja

Disabled Sailing Association of Ontario


As the winter is finally passing and the warmth of summer is within reach, I wanted to share with my Toronto friends a wonderful volunteering opportunity that really changed my life. A few summers ago, when I was in the middle of so many life changes that left me a little bit lost, I knew it was time to make some changes in my life. I needed to stop thinking about just myself and I knew that if I started looking at how my life could help others, that I would eventually find my way again. I remembered my friend Julian had mentioned that the Disabled Sailing Association of Ontario was in need of volunteers so after work I dropped by their little office to see what I could do. This sailing club provides people living with a disability the opportunity to learn about and enjoy sailing.

I volunteered as a sailing companion and was able to learn how to sail, spend my summer surrounded by water, and hang out with some of the best company I’ve ever had. I met more inspirational and positive people that summer than I have in my whole life. They showed me that you can overcome any obstacle with the right mind set. One particularly amazing person that I met was Joseph Chessari who had both of his legs severed above the knee, a year earlier in a work place accident. You would have never known from speaking to him that the accident had been so recent. There was never any traces of anger or bitterness. Just appreciation for the life that he still had, and the determination that he was going to do everything that anyone else could do. And he really does! He now runs, swims, rock climbs, paddle boards and pretty much is just an awesome rock star! Visit his site and learn more about his story and his initiatives to support and encourage other amputees.

It was also at this club that I met a boy who’s genuine desire to help others, and unmeasurable understanding and empathy, still continues to push me to achieve more from my life. He truly is the best person I’ve ever met and I’m so lucky that he lets me be a part of his life. I promise you that while you volunteer here, you’ll meet at least one person that changes your life. You’ll be constantly surrounded by amazing stories, strong people, and open minds. I really couldn’t imagine a better way to have spent my first summer in Toronto and highly encourage you to get involved.


Queen’s Quay Disabled Sailing Program

283B Queen’s Quay West (Toronto’s harbourfront area)

Open from May to September.
Days: Wednesday – Sunday
Hours: 11 AM – 7 PM
Sail sessions: 12 PM, 2 PM, 4 PM
Racing: Wednesday – 6 PM


My photo was used in a feature article in 24 hours!
disabled sailing association of Ontario in 24 hours

Volunteering at Santa Claus Fund – Toronto Star

100% of your donation goes to purchasing the contents of the gift box


With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s easy to take for granted how fortunate some of us are. Volunteering to deliver presents for the Santa Claus fund gave me the opportunity to slow down and remember the importance of giving and helping others. I remember the joy of getting a brand new toy on Christmas day and to be able to give that to a child who may not otherwise receive a gift was an opportunity I wasn’t going to pass up.


The Santa Claus Fund organized by the Toronto Star aims to give a little bit of holiday cheer to underprivileged children. One point that I wanted to emphasize is that when you donate, 100% of the donation goes to purchasing the contents of the gift box (this includes a warm sweater, socks, mittens, hats, books, toys and candies). The Toronto Star generously covers all administrative costs.


Santa sets up distribution centers all over the GTA and volunteer elves assemble to help distribute. We headed to the firehall nice and early at 8:30am last Saturday to pick up the gift boxes. To make delivery a little easier, the presents are sorted by neighbourhoods. We quickly filled up the car with as many presents as we could. We ended up fitting about 20 presents into the car so that meant we had about 14 houses to visit (some families has multiple presents because they had multiple kids). It was a wonderful experience and I’d highly encourage participating or donating to the cause. I know I will definitely be signing up again next year!


If you’re interested in participating, here are a few things that I learned from my experience.


1. Write down the addresses of the homes BEFORE putting the presents into the car and make sure you put similar streets together.  This will help you map out an efficient route and not have you doubling back to a neighbourhood because a box was hidden at the back of your trunk.


2. Dress warm and wear comfortable shoes. Since you select gifts in the same neighbourhood, they will often by separated by a block or two. Be prepared to walk a lot and wait outside of people’s houses. Since you will be carrying the presents, make sure you wear gloves.  I unfortunately learned how quickly your fingers can get really cold.



3. Don’t get discouraged by the number of families that aren’t home. Many parents work shifts and may be at work or are sleeping. Many also have weekend jobs or may just be out running errands. Out of our 14 houses, we had about 6 that were undeliverable. These presents are returned back to the distribution centre where the families can go pick it up themselves or someone else might try to redeliver at a later date.


4. Make sure you aren’t in a rush. Packing up the car, visiting 14 houses, and returning back to the distribution centre took about 3 hours.


5. I opted to deliver to mostly houses but if you have young children with you (I highly encouraged teaching young ones the act of giving and helping others), it might be easier to pick recipients in the same apartment building. This will allow you to visit many families houses in a shorter period of time. You will also end up staying a little bit warmer.


6. Having a cell phone really helped as many of the presents also listed a contact number for the family. Some families may not open the door for a stranger, or you might not know the buzzer code to get into the apartment building. I found that it helped to give them a call to let them know that you were either waiting in the lobby, or that you were on your way.


7. Never judge a book by the cover. You may think that from looking at the outside of someone’s home, or from the neighbourhood that they live in, that they may not need any assistance but you never really know someone’s situation. Remember, you didn’t volunteer to judge. Santa picked them for a reason.



You can visit the Santa Claus Fund page on the Toronto Star if you would like some more information about this wonderful initiative.



My blog post was featured in the Toronto Star!

Ngoc Nguyen in the Toronto Star

Super heroes party

ngoc nguyen dressed as Thor for Avenger's premiereFor some reason, people assume I’m really into comic books and that fan expo and comic cons are right up my alley. Maybe it’s because I had been looking forward to the Avengers for half a year. Or maybe it’s because I dressed up like Thor to go see it. (I unfortunately couldn’t get tickets to opening night, so had to wear my costume to the Sunday, 3pm showing… someone high five’d me.. which means I was cool… right?). Whatever their reasons are, I always thought the bf knew me better than that. Until I opened up my birthday present to find a Thor hammer and Captain America Shield. At least he was trying to be creative.


Well that’s when the idea of a super hero theme party came about. I mean, I had to find a use for my newly acquired treasures, right?


I love love love theme parties but since I’ve never thrown one for this particular group of friends, I was met with much skepticism. Because of this, I wanted to make sure I set the mood so that the next time I had a theme party, everyone would be pumped instead of weary.


A few tips:

1. I made it a costumes mandatory party. No costumes, no entry. If you are going to enforce this though, be concious of the fact that some people may opt not to come because they are too shy or feel like it’s silly to dress up. I requested at a minimum, people wear a mask or a cape. Give some suggestions of easy costume ideas to help get the creative juices flowing.


2. Advance notice. Let people know well a head of time so that they can go buy or make their costumes. This also prevented people from telling me that they didn’t have “time” to get a costume. I also offered to assist those less creative folk and I had made a few extra masks and capes for those who really struggled.


3. Movie posters. As a photographer, I firmly believe that people love photographs. I googled popular super hero movies and super imposed the faces of the guest list onto the photos (facebook has made it super easy to get photos of your friends). I put up a photo collage right near the entrance so people could have a little chuckle as they entered the party. I must admit, putting my male friend’s faces on beautiful 6 packs was maybe a little bit more enjoyable than it should have been.


4. Photo back drop. I taped craft paper together to form a giant back drop and bought acrylic paint to paint a fun and colourful backdrop. If you are going to do this, make sure you start well in advance as it took a surprisingly long time to paint and to wait for the paint to dry so I could outline all the letters. I also made a mug shot back drop and bought a small white board so people could write down their super hero name to make it look more legit. Guests had a lot of fun posing and acting out fight scenes all night.

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5. Since it was a birthday party, I had to have some themed cupcakes and cakes. This is actually an older cake from a previous birthday but it would have suited this party perfectly. I unfortunately don’t have any photos of the cupcakes from this party.

Transformer cake

The guests all had a great time and I’m confident that they’ll be less weary of dressing up for my next theme party.