It’s that time of year again, folks.  Halloween’s been dumped into the 80% off bins, and Christmas has assertively taken its place.  Get outta town you skulls and ghoulish ghosts; gingerbread houses are here, and they’re ready to be decorated.

I didn’t really notice the change until yesterday, when I went to the Michael’s store on Bridgeport Road.  It’s much too tricky to send presents to everyone I know, so I usually make Christmas cards.  A homemade card is a present unto itself, after all.  I’ve been making them for a few years now, but have never gotten started this early.  I’m feeling quite smug and productive.

One cannot think about crafting when one is hungry, however, so I made lunch my first priority.  Villa Vietnamese Cuisine is on Bridgeport Road, a quick ride from the skytrain station.  It’s bright, clean, and run by a family.  Mom is in the kitchen, while her son and daughter take care of the front.  Someone had recommended their grilled skewers with vermicelli, so I asked for that, opting for chicken instead of pork ($8.25).  I also ordered the deep-fried salmon skin ($6.25), mainly because I’d never seen it on a menu and was curious.

They were like big, grey chips.  The batter on the outside was quite thick, so at first I assumed they’d taste of nothing but deep-fry.  They were also firmer and crunchier than I’d expected; I thought the skin would be more fragile for some reason.

At first, they did just taste like deep-fry, but then a strong, distinctively fishy taste came into play.  I don’t think they’d be for everyone, but I quite liked them.  They came with nuoc cham, a sweet Vietnamese dipping sauce that provided a much needed contrast to the robust flavour of the skin.  The sauce was was so good, I nearly drank it straight/squealed with delight when another bowl of it came with my chicken skewers.

My entree made for a nice, light lunch.  The skewers were properly grilled, and the meat and veg-filled spring rolls were a little different than I’m used to; I think they battered the wrappers before deep-frying them.

Ok, maybe I shouldn’t throw around the word ‘light’ so casually here with all the talk of deep-fry, it didn’t feel heavy!  The meal also came with a salad of lettuce, cucumber, pickled daikon and carrot, as well as more of the nuoc cham.  I was pretty satisfied with this plate as a whole.

After lunch, I went back out into the sun, and cycled west towards Michael’s.

At the store I had two goals:

1) Buy blank cards with envelopes.

2) Avoid spending another $90 on stamps, sparkly pens, and stickers.

As anyone who’s ever been into a Michael’s can tell you, it is WAY too easy to spend a paycheque or two while there.  Fortunately, I met two lovely ladies who were also shopping for craft supplies, and they told me this:

Rule #1 of Michael’s: Never Go In Without a Coupon.

Then they showed me how to get one!  All I had to do was go to Michael’ on my phone, click on “Weekly Ad” on the homepage, set the Richmond store as ‘my store,’ and boom!  I had myself a 50% off coupon and was laughing all the way to the bank.

I bought a set of 50 blank cards, a stamp, and two ink pads.  Now you ask, what will I do with them?



Villa Vietnamese Cuisine

3031 Beckman Place, Richmond BC


Cash and cards accepted

Vegetarian options available