December 29, 2005

Random Tidbits

For all of you bored at work or home this holiday, here's a cute puzzle to try.

There's a guy who's been trading up his one red paperclip to eventually end up with a house. He's now up to a 3-day trip to Yahk, British Columbia... it's up for trade if you have anything good to offer!

I watched 21 Grams this weekend and it was pretty good. The movie was actually filmed in sequence but followed a non-linear narration. The ending scene had an interesting quote:

How many lives do we live? How many times do we die? They say we all lose 21 grams... at the exact moment of our death. Everyone. And how much fits into 21 grams? How much is lost? When do we lose 21 grams? How much goes with them? How much is gained? How much is gained? Twenty-one grams. The weight of a stack of five nickels. The weight of a hummingbird. A chocolate bar. How much did 21 grams weigh?
Posted by mich at 5:46 PM | dreams [0]

December 26, 2005

Not Cut Out For Boxing Day Anymore

It's been a hectic few days this holiday weekend what with tons of shopping, eating, and more shopping; and it continues tomorrow with round #2 of boxing day :P

On the 21st I lunched with Dennis at Carnival Grill, a new Brazilian restaurant that opened at East Beaver Creek. It's actually a buffet/all-you-can-eat place there's not only a buffet table for you to fill your plates, they have waiters coming around to everyone with freshly grilled meats to anyone that wants. The best thing that came was the massive grilled pinepple coated in cinamon. YUM. Afterwards we visited Vaughan Mills to do a once around the block. The next day I had Christmas dinner with family and relatives at Pacific Mall. On the 23rd I took the car early in the morning and hit up the library to borrow a some DVDs like Nobody Knows, 21 Grams, Million Dollar Baby, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, to name a few. I met up with Christian in the afternoon at Fairview Mall to buy a cute bonsai tree for my mom. We were only able to stay for 1.5 hours before I was beckoned by my parents to pick them up early from work. I got to my mom's workplace believing that she was all ready to leave, but we were left waiting for 45 min or so. The plan was to pick up my mom then pick up my dad from Hillcrest Mall, where he decided to go after work but didn't anticipate the extended stay... oops. When we arrived at Hillcrest, we spent around 20 minutes looking for him at the entrances of the Bay... it was like a game of hide and seek. I thought he just eventually fell asleep on one of the couches in the mall! But he actually meant that he was waiting for us at the Bay entrace *inside* the mall... aiya. Later that evening after dinner, Chris and I met up with Justine, Brad, and Jon for some dessert at Williams Coffee Pub waaay up north. The waffles were delish, although my milkshake wasn't too great >.< Stayed up until 3:30am working on some portfolio pieces.

Christmas Eve my family had to get to Pacific Mall for 11am to reserve a table for dim sum with Christian and his family at 11:30. Early in the morning and the restaurant was already so packed! The rest of the day was just spent walking around the mall and then grocery shopping at Loblaws for Christmas day meals that Chris and I were going to prepare. I found some really nice cookie cutters that were half price for a dollar, which was a much better deal than the cheap plastic one I got from Bulk Barn the day before. However, they were rung up at regular price and the cashier people had the biggest problem finding the proper price for them. Finally, 15 minutes later they resolved everything and they let me have one for free for all the trouble... so I got 3 cookie cutters for $2! Sweet! Haha, omg I'm such a nerd.

Christmas morning I woke up at 10:30 to make brunch for my family. Started preparing the food at 11am... and finished cooking at 1:15. I couldn't believe it took me over 2 HOURS to make a freakin' meal of homemade hashbrowns, cinamon pancakes, and omelettes with onions, peppers and cheese. And the worst part was... that it wasn't even enough food!! OMG. If a lazy sleepyhead (aka my boyfriend) didn't sleep in until 1pm, maybe a little help would've gone a long way :P But he did come to the rescue in the end by whipping up some yummy maple syrup covered sausages. So he actually *is* good for something (I kid I kid!) :P

After eating we all opened presents, then Chris and I went on to start preparing dinner at 4pm (because who wants to have dinner at 10pm?!) Anthony dropped by for a bit later in the afternoon so we had a nice chat with him. Then it was back to making our Herbed Roast Pork Loin and Gratin Dauphinois (but without the fatty cream that I used last week). At the same time we prepared the yummy Chocolate Chip Cream Chese Squares that we tried out last year. In the end, dinner and dessert all turned out great :)


At night we tried out our new mah-jong table and played until 1am. Christian and I played as a team, and having been our first real time playing the game, I must say, we kicked some serious butt :) Too bad we weren't playing with chips!

Waking up at 8am this morning was absolutely brutal. But that's the sacrifice one must make to land some great sales :P We all headed to the Club Monaco outlet at 9am where they had 50% off everything in the store. We shopped there until 11 then headed downtown to the Eaton Centre where Christian and I were almost killed >.< It turned out that there was a shooting by the mall right across from Sam the Record Man. We were right there only a couple of hours before the shooting! Scary man. We stayed at the mall until 6pm when everyone was totally shopped out and exhausted. It was so hardcore, it felt like we were back in Disneyworld.

Oh, note to everyone: NEVER go to Bubble Tease- it SUCKS. I normally would never go there for bubble tea, but today I was suffering from Shop 'Til You Drop syndrome and was craving some milk tea. I don't know what it is that I ended up drinking, but it did not taste like tea, or even juice. More like watered down sugary powder... YUCK!

Herbed Roast Pork Loin and Potatoes

1 boneless pork loin roast, about 3 to 4 pounds
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon thyme
1 to 2 teaspoon freeze-dried or fresh chives
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
4 to 6 medium potatoes
salt and pepper, to taste

Rub pork loin with 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons thyme, then sprinkle with salt and pepper; place pork loin in a shallow roasting pan. Roast at 325° for 50 to 55 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel and quarter potatoes; cook in boiling water for about 10 minutes. Drain, let cool, and place potatoes in a large bowl; toss with olive oil, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, chives, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, and salt and pepper. Place potatoes around pork loin; roast an additional 45 to 60 minutes, or until pork registers at least 155° on a thermometer.

Cover roast pork loin with foil and let stand for about 15 minutes before slicing.

Serves 8 to 10.

Posted by mich at 10:15 PM | dreams [0]

December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas!

Hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday! Now it's time for me to make some brunch :)

Posted by mich at 11:09 AM | dreams [0]

December 19, 2005

French Cooking

Last Thursday my sisters and I made a homecooked French dinner for my parents. The menu consisted of: french baguette, Chicken Provencale, Sautéed Shrimp with Fried Garlic and Baked Tomato, and Gratin Dauphinois. Although parts of the chicekn were a bit overcooked, the whole meal turned out pretty nice :) And for dessert I made a yummy Tapioca Sago (not French :P) using a recipe I found at Bulk Barn.

Continue reading for the recipes...

    



Chicken Provencale

For Vegetables:
2 cups cubed peeled eggplant
2 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 medium red sweet pepper, cut into thin strips
1 medium green sweet pepper, cut into thin strips
1/4 cup red or dry white wine, or chicken broth
2 tablespoons snipped fresh basil or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil, crushed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt

For Chicken:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (1 pound total)
1 tablespoon olive oil or cooking oil
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Salt

--------------------------------------------------------

FOR VEGETABLE: In a large saucepan combine the eggplant, tomatoes, onion, red and green sweet peppers, wine or chicken broth, basil, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Uncover and simmer for 5 minutes more, or till vegetables are tender and nearly all of the liquid is evaporated.

FOR CHICKEN: Rinse chicken; pat dry. Place each breast half between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Working from the center to the edges, pound chicken lightly with the flat side of a meat mallet to a 1/4-inch thickness. Remove plastic wrap. Sprinkle chicken lightly with salt.

In a large skillet heat the oil and paprika over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook for 4 to 6 minutes, or till tender and no pink remains, turning once.

TO SERVE: Spoon vegetables on plates and top with chicken.

Makes 4 servings.




Sauteed Shrimp with Fried Garlic and Baked Tomato

4 tomatoes, about 1 1/2 lb total weight
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb medium-sized shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Dash of cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground pepper


1. Preheat an oven to 450 degrees F.

2. Cut the tomatoes in half and place them, cut side up, in a shallow baking dish. Season to taste with salt and pepper and drizzle 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over the tops. Bake until cooked through but still firm, about 15 minutes.

3. About 3 minutes before the tomatoes are done, in a sauté pan over high heat, warm 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the shrimp and salt and pepper to taste and sauté until pink and firm, 2-3 minutes.

4. Transfer the baked tomatoes to individual serving dishes. Place the sautéed shrimp on top of the tomatoes, dividing them evenly.

5. In a small saucepan over high heat, combine the garlic and the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil and sauté until the garlic turns golden brown, about 1 minute.

6. Add the vinegar and deglaze the pan by stirring to dislodge any browned bits from the pan bottom, about 30 seconds. Immediately pour the contents of the saucepan equally over each serving. Sprinkle with the parsley and cayenne. Serve at once.

NOTE: Tomatoes can be replaced with a bed of steamed spinach.

Makes 4 servings.




Gratin Dauphinois

3 pounds (1.5 kg) baking potatoes, such as russets, peeled and very thinly sliced
2 cups (50 cl) whole milk
3 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 bay leaves
1 cup (25 cl) creme fraiche or heavy cream
2 cups (about 5 ounces; 160 g) freshly grated Gruyére or Chedder cheese
Freshly ground nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (175 degrees C).

2. Place the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with the milk and 2 cups (50 cl) of water. Add the garlic, salt, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally so that the potatoes do not stick to the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring from time to time, until the potatoes are tender but not falling apart, about 10 minutes.

3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer half of the potatoes to a large, 14- by 9- by 2-inch (35.5 by 23 by 5 cm) gratin dish. Sprinkle with the nutmeg, pepper, half the creme fraiche, and half the cheese. Cover with the remaining potatoes, and sprinkle again with nutmeg, pepper, and the remaining creme fraiche and cheese.

4. Bake, uncovered, until the gratin is crisp and golden on top, about 1 hour. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.




Tapioca Sago

1/4 cup small sago
2 1/4 cup milk (or coconut milk)
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Dash of salt

1. Soak sago in cold water for 2 hours, drain, then add milk. Cook in double boiler until clear.

2. Beat 2 eggs slightly. Add sugar, salt and vanilla extract. Mix in the cooked sago.

3. Pour into 7"-9" greased casserole dish. Place casserole in a pan of hot water and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes.

4. Serve with fruits or sauces.

Posted by mich at 10:04 PM | dreams [0]

December 16, 2005

The End of My Mindblossom Ordeal

Ok, I'm a pretty patient person and it takes a lot to peeve me off. But I've never had to deal with such unprofessionalism in my life... it's unbelievable. So after over month since I worked at the company, I still didn't get paid. I had phoned the creative director about 3 weeks earlier and he told me to come in to pick up my cheque. I went into the office the next day and the guy told me that it wasn't signed yet and that the person who was supposed to sign had already left for the day. So the guy said he'd have it mailed to me. Ok fine... but what a waste of time.

A few days later I sent an e-mail asking about the status and when I should be expecting the cheque. No reply. Weeks passed, and surprise surprise, nothing came in the mail. Then last week I sent an e-mail to the head guy of the company who signs the cheques and no reply either. I phoned the creative director again this Monday and he started acting so fake, pretending to be surprised when I didn't get any e-mail response from the head guy (ummm excuse me, *you* didn't reply either). He then said he'd ask the other guy to sign that day and then he'd e-mail me to confirm everything. Morning passed into the afternoon and turned into night, and... nada. O.M.G. Now I'm pissed.

The next day I bombarded the creative director with phone calls starting at 10:30 am. "Cheque still not signed yet eh? And the guy's in a conference call now? You're going to phone me back in 30 min? Ok fine." No call in the morning, no call in the afternoon. This guy's getting too predictable. Tried calling him in the afternoon and got his voicemail. By 5pm on my way to drop him a visit I phoned once again. The phone picked up and I heard some fumbling and then a hang up. Phoned again and got his voicemail. What the hell!!

Up in the office I had to wait forever watching the creative director leaning back in his chair, feet up on the table, while chatting on his cell (to this day, I still don't know what his job function is). Finally, he comes out to greet me, tries to chat me up and takes me into the back to one of the offices where I see my cheque just sitting there on the table. I just didn't understand it; how hard is it to sign a piece of paper? And I told them in the morning that I'd just drop by to pick it up... they couldn't even have it all ready for me by the end of the day?!?! I had to wait a while longer for the guy to run and get it signed. Holy cow. I just wanted to get in and out. But FINALLY, I got paid. Now I never have to deal with those jerks ever again.

On a happier, more cheerful note, I went to see The Nutracker at the Hummingbird Center last Sunday. It was my first time at the ballet in well over 10 years since Vanessa did ballet, and it was quite delightful! The set designs were absolutely gorgeous, especially the transition into the fantasy world. The one dance that stood out the most for me was the Arabian Dance, which was so beautiful. It was unfortunate though that we had like the worst seats in the house high up in the bleachers, so we had a pretty poor view of everything. I wish I could have been up closer to actually be able to see the dancers and costumes in detail. Maybe next year.

[Edit November 23, 2008]

After receiving this comment and emails from other disgruntled folk, I decided to write a follow-up post regarding events that have happened since this posting.

Posted by mich at 1:55 AM | dreams [0]

December 9, 2005

I Wanna Flash Like That

Samsung's amazing Flash site for its Mobile SGH-Z107. I love how they used 2 windows dynamically interacting with the animation. So creative!

Posted by mich at 11:35 PM | dreams [1]

December 8, 2005

The Girl's Version of Snow Pants

I was just reading the paper this morning and found a blurb about a brand new type of garment: snow skirt. Down filled and everything to keep your legs nice and toasty if you ever want to wear a skirt out in the winter. How cute is that? Too bad it's $$$!

Has anyone heard of Crumpler bags? These bags are specially made for equipment like laptops and cameras but they don't look like your typical laptop or camera bag. I went scouting for a 4 million dollar home for my camera but I couldn't find any at Henry's. The ones they carried were either too small or too big. :S

Also while flipping through the paper, I found out that the new Disney Treasures are out already! Wooo! *Jumps for joy* This year they're releasing Chronological Donald, Vol. 2: 1942-1946 and Celebrated Shorts: 1920s - 1960s. Reading through the list of shorts made me so excited... like Lambert, the Sheepish Lion, Pigs Is Pigs, Toot, Whistle, Plunk & Boom. Gaaaah, I want my childhood back!

Posted by mich at 11:07 PM | dreams [0]

Scriber

Man I'm bored. For the next 2 weeks I'm attending the same meeting every day taking minutes of a discussion for the rollout of a new software product. It was pretty interesting in the beginning and I was actually making suggestions for their terribly designed UI (note: business analysts and sales people should NEVER EVER be designated to design UIs). I was just sitting there shaking my head at how they were organizing the screen elements; it was quite sad. Anyway now I'm sitting in the meeting room, but there's not structure anymore. There's either different conversations going on at the same time or everyone's just typing up documents... so I'm just left here blogging away. The nice thing about this place is they treat you well- yummy breakfast and lunches every day :P And I realized just how amazing it is to take the GO train downtown in the mornings; it's on time, super fast, and comfy! I never have to stress out like I do when I'm riding the sucky TTC.

Christmas is on the way! That means I need to: shop for Christmas tree ornaments, set up the Christmas tree, start Christmas shopping, make red & green Rice Krispie treats, go skating and watch fireworks at Nathan Phillips Square, and mail out Christmas cards. Yup, I’m always late to do my Christmas stuff every year.

Posted by mich at 1:45 PM | dreams [0]

December 1, 2005

Vegetarian Chef

Made dinner tonight for my sister and I while my parents went out dining for their anniversary.

Garden Vegetable Pasta

1 package (16 ounces) pasta
2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
2 medium carrots, sliced (1/4 cup)
1 medium onion, diced (1/2 cup)
2 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch slices (4 cups)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 medium tomatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup frozen green peas, thawed
1 tbsp. chopped fresh basil leaves or 1 tsp. dried basil leaves
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Cook and drain spaghetti as directed on package.
2. While spaghetti is cooking, heat oil in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Cook carrots, onion, zucchini and garlic in oil, stirring frequently, until vegetables are crisp-tender.
3. Stir in remaining ingredients except cheese; cook until hot. Serve vegetable mixture over spaghetti. Sprinkle with cheese.

Posted by mich at 11:23 PM | dreams [0]

Lighten Up

I stumbled up some of Ken Rockwell's humourous articles entitled Seven Levels of Photographers and Seven Levels of Artists. He also offers his opinion on why Your Camera Does Not Matter. While I agree that compelling images are captured by the photographer and not the camera, sometimes a really terrible camera/lens can make a potentially stunning image look like garbage (I unfortunately had to use one of those when I broke my camera). On the other hand, I do know some people who are all about their equipment and lusting after the newest set of expensive lenses (and who happen to be in CS, no surprise) who have only snapshots of friends and family to show for all of it. I guess I'm in the middle of the spectrum- I'm pretty picky about the camera equipment I invest in, but I love playing around with different toy cameras and experimenting with ways of using film.

Posted by mich at 6:09 PM | dreams [0]