September 28, 2007

Weekend in the Bruce

I was utterly exhausted this past week. I came back from a weekend road-trip to Bruce Peninsula, which was fantastic except for the 13 hours I spent driving. The ride up was scenic and gorgeous; in addition to the wonderful farmlands and colourful trees I spotted 2 vultures by the roadside, a field of wind turbines, and an old-fashioned streetcar-turned-diner.

On the first day Christian and I arrived at the northern Bruce Peninsula at noon, unloaded at our wonderful B&B at Miller Lake (completely built by the owners themselves), and first headed to Dyer's Lake, which had some really interesting flat rocks creeping out into the Georgian Bay. We then spent the rest of our afternoon in Bruce Peninsula National Park, particularly around Cypress Lake where we started our hiking journey that lead us to the tall cliffs along the bay. The views were stunning throughout our trek along the Bruce Trail from the "wave pool" and caves of Half Indian Head, to rock climbing down into the Grotto (with an underwater passage to the Georgian Bay) and climbing back up to Boulder Beach, which was a huge expanse of, you guessed it, boulders. By the time we reached this area, Christian and I had just grew so tired of rocks... our ankles and feet were in complete pain after that rugged hike. The national park extends to the other end of the Peninsula so we drove over to Singing Sands beach facing Lake Huron to watch the sunset. For dinner we headed back to Dyer's Lake to eat at Applewood Inn, a quaint little restaurant recommended to us by our B&B hosts. Christian's soup and fish were delicious, but my veggie curry didn't taste at all like curry... more like tomatoes...? We shared a scrumptious fresh blueberry crêpe with ice cream afterwards which made up for my non-curry dinner. Afterwards I tried some super long exposure shots of the moonlit lake with my film SLR so I made Chris wait around for me for 30 min, hehe. I just submitted them for developing, but I hope they come out!

The next morning we woke up to a lovely breakfast of the yummiest raspberry blueberry scone (I'm trying to get the recipe from the host), fresh berries, eggs, bacon and toast with homemade jam. We high-tailed it to Tobermorey, situated at the northern tip of the Peninsula, where we took a ferry out to the Fathom Five National Marine Park (apparently this is the scuba diving capital of Canada). We ferried around the various islands and got off at Flowerpot Island, which is famous for its towering flowerpot rock structures that were carved out by pounding waves. On our way back to Tobermorey, the ferry took us to see two of the 22 shipwrecks in the park. The ferry had a glass-bottom floor so it was sooooooooo cool to see the shipwrecks. up close.

On our drive up the Peninsula the previous day we encountered the funniest signs for the Tobermorey Sweet Shop (for example, "Losing Weight? Fight Back! The Sweet Shop") so of course, we had to step inside. We ended up getting a single scoop of raspberry chocolate ice cream (deeeeeelish!) but the "single scoop" was really soup bowl jam packed with at least 3 scoops! And it was only $2, woo!

Being the sole driver on the trip, I had to drive us all the way back home after our exhausting weekend... not fun. Only upside was that I was able to make pit stops whenever I felt like it so I stopped a few times to take some pictures of the gorgeous road-side scenery. I've realized that I'm completely obsessed with wind turbines. And my bf seriously needs to get his license.

bruce_peninsula.jpg
Posted by mich at 8:57 PM | dreams [0]

September 20, 2007

Sad Tales From the Kitchen

I'm home alone again so on Monday I attempted to cook myself some rice pilaf. I found myself a simple recipe in one of my cookbooks and starting whipping up the dish. It was starting to smell and taste great but the rice wasn't quite ready yet. I was getting impatient because it was taking too long and I just turned the stove a bit higher and left it for 5 minutes. When I came back however, all I could smell was burning and a 1-inch layer of burned rice had cake itself to the bottom of the pot. Most of the rice looked fine and unharmed, but it had absorbed all the burning scent so that it overpowered the nice aroma from the onions and spices. Even though the rice tasted like burning, I ended up eating a whole bowl because I had no other food in the house :(

The next evening Christian and I attempted to make our own butter chicken and ratatouille. The only reason I wanted to make ratatouille was because of the movie — I didn't even know what it was before. The ratatouille turned out great, but the butter chicken.... not so much. It didn't taste much like butter chicken but rather more like tomato sauce that left a sour aftertaste. Apparently we picked out a really sour yogurt that we used in the recipe. The consistency was too thick so it wasn't as saucy as the ones I've had at restaurants. Bah, how am I supposed to survive on my own?

I'll post up the recipes later but here are some nice pictures:

ratatouille_butterchicken_strip.jpg

butter_chicken_ratatouille_meal.jpg

Last night our hockey team, Puck Off, had our first game of the season. We won 6-3, with the first goal scored by yours truly :P I'm really looking forward to this season- Christian gathered all our CS friends from school so it'll be so much fun, plus we're actually not bad!

Posted by mich at 4:55 PM | dreams [0]

September 17, 2007

Abandoned Part II

My family's gone on a huge vacation without me... again... *cries* The first time was a cruise to the Caribbean, this time it's a trip to Japan, HK, and China. Woe is me — I need vacation!! Being the sweet daughter that I am though I bought them a new digicam, the Canon SD750 and gave it a test run on a biking excursion from Eglinton to downtown along the Don Valley trail.

The nicest thing about the camera is the gigantic 3" LCD screen. At first I wasn't a big fan of the Canon buttons and interface (whereas Sony's interface is much more more elegant and intuitive), but after getting used to it, it's not too bad. The face detection failed me many times, so the most difficult part was getting it to focus where I wanted it to and there's no image stabilizer, so steady hands at high zoom is a must. Another thing I didn't like was that it only had a night portrait mode but no simple night scene mode so night pictures are killed by the flash. If I simply try to suppress the flash, it doesn't try to compensate for light by using a longer shutter so the picture ends up completely underexposed... big thumbs down.

But overall it was a great camera to use on the bike ride and Christian and I had loads of fun shooting ourselves scaling rocky bridge underpasses, running through open fields, and hiding in ferns that double our height. Actually it was just me doing all that crazy stuff and Chris doing the picture taking since he was wearing his super-duper clip-on shoes for his bike :P I had considered just getting a consumer point-and-shoot digi like the Canon one, but after playing around with it, I was pretty irked by the focusing and exposure problems. So today I finally ordered myself the Leica D-Lux 3 after eying it for months. The fact that it's a Leica that's actually somewhat affordable, has manual controls, shoots in 16:9 format, and it's not as clunky as my SLRs completely hooked me in. I went into a spending spree today because on top of the Leica, I also ordered a new Nikon 18-200mm lens o_O They're currently on their way to my cousin's place in the states and he'll be bringing them up for me when he comes visits in October... hey, gotta take advantage of the crazy exchange rate right? :D

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During this year's TIFF I only got to watch one movie, but it turned out to be a little gem. None of the Toronto media had reviewed Son of Rambow so I had no idea whether it was actually good, but the premise sounded so precious. It's a coming of age comedy about two kids, one a bully and the other who had never been allowed to watch TV, who become inspired by the first Rambo film and set out to create their own film Son of Rambow. The movie's filled with colourful characters, hilarious muckups, imaginative fantasy sequences, and whimsical doodle-like animations. I absolutely loved the film and even cried a bit over the touching ending.

Posted by mich at 4:06 PM | dreams [1]

September 12, 2007

MFA Is the New MBA

Even though I've only committed to a 1-year contract in Stockholm, I'm actually thinking about extending my stay overseas, whether it be in Sweden or somewhere else in Europe. At first I considered continuing to working abroad for another year or so after my initial contract, but I've started looking into grad schools. The thought of getting a Masters of Fine Arts or Masters of Design has always appealed to me, but I was reluctant to commit to full-time studies after having already started working here in Toronto. But I wouldn't mind studying abroad full-time; it'd be pretty cool, especially when Europeans are such forward thinkers in art and design. The wonderful thing about the Swedish education system is that tuition is free to all (even foreigners), so I wouldn't be desperately poor.

I found one amazing MFA program that's right up my alley offered by Konstfack, University College of Arts Crafts and Design, called Experience Design. The premise of the Experience Design Group is to design time in order to create meaningful human experience using interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary art practices. However, the application process is quite arduous: not only is there the typical transcript and portfolio requirements, you also have to submit a thesis proposal complete with references detailing exactly what your research will be focused throughout the program. If you even pass the preliminary selection, then you're invited to present a 20-minute lecture to a committee on a topic related to your field of study (but different from the proposed thesis topic). Apparently there were only 8 students accepted last year, so it looks pretty darn competitive. Not so surprising though considering that the MFA is the new MBA. I've already starting some preliminary research and readings into the whole experience design area, and if I ever come up with a thesis that's compelling and innovative enough, I'll take the time to go through the application process. Time to be a keener again.

Posted by mich at 3:25 PM | dreams [0]

September 7, 2007

Summer, I Never Knew You

I can't believe it's already September. Where did the summer go? In fact, this whole year seems to be whizzing by. Well, technically summer's not officially over and the warm weather makes me happy still, but back to school always marks the end of summer fun. It especially sucks now commuting to and from work since the heavy traffic tacks on an extra 30 min each way.

Even though I didn't get to go away for the long weekend, it was still quite hectic, yet fun. I went to the CNE at night, which was my first time going to the Ex in probably 15 years. I've never been a fan of these types of fairs and midway rides, but all of a sudden I had the urge for Tiny Tim donuts and riding on the massive ferris wheel. I ended up having a great time: I rode the ferris wheel, which was a bit disappointing because it was quite slow, went into a cheesy haunted mansion, and then Christian forced me onto the big swinging pirate boat. My first and only time going on that kind of boat ride was when I was like 3, when I begged my dad to take me on it at Wonderland. It was a horrible experience and my parents claimed that my face turned green afterwards. Ever since, I had never dared to go back on that sort of ride... until last weekend. It was just as terrifying this time around and I was screaming like a banshee (I woke up the next morning with the worst sore throat), to the point where I got so tired of screaming that I wanted to stop, but couldn't suppress myself until the ride finally ended. The highlight of the evening was Aquarêves, an acrobatic and pyrotechnic street performance by La Compagnie Malabar. It was a mix of various acrobatic feats choreographed with stilt walkers and jugglers in alien costumes set against a gorgeous floating pirate ship. It ended with pyrotechnics, bursts of flying confetti, and a non-stop gush of foamy bubbles that blanketed the entire pavement. The whole audience ran into the stage area and just played in all the foam - it was fantastic!

The entire weekend mostly consisted of eating: junk at the Ex (butterfly chips, Tiny Tim's donuts, and deep-fried perogies), Italian dinner at Yorkville, Greg's ice cream, French brunch at La Palette in Kensington (must go back for dinner!), Japanese dinner with family, and breakfast at Chez Cora's with my sisters and almost-twin-brother, Jon :P

It was only on Monday evening when I concluded I need to go on a diet: I was putting on a dress I had bought in the beginning of the year only 45 minutes right before Eyal's wedding and came to the horrible realization that I could not zip up my dress! What was a girl to do? Naturally, I was freaking out. I tried on my sister's dress but it was a little too big, then I tried on my older formal dress but the fabric's started to pop out in weird places. My mom finally came to the rescue and with a little creative re-positioning and adjusting of the halter straps, she was able to squeeze me in. Whew, disaster averted. The wedding was great - it was a Jewish ceremony so it was quite festive and involved dancing, singing and lifting the bride and groom in their chairs. Quite different from the more reserved Chinese weddings I've been to! The food and desserts were absolutely delicious... which also did not bode well at all for my dress problem, shoooot.

Posted by mich at 6:30 PM | dreams [0]