June 13, 2008

Scootering in Spain

I just came back from a 5-day trip to Barcelona, where I met up with Monzi visiting from Toronto. The weather there was actually much cooler than in Sweden, but it was nice and refreshing.

One of my favourite things about Barcelona is the wonderful architecture of Antoni Gaudí dotted throughout the city. Gaudí-designed buildings and public spaces such as the Sagrada Família, Padrera, Casa Batlló, and Parc Güell, and public street furniture like whimsical lamps and benches give the city such a unique and fantastical character.

The highlight of the trip was renting a scooter for a day and riding from Barceloneta beach across the entire city northwards and all the way up to Mount Tibidabo, where we had a breathtaking view of the city. From Tibidabo we scootered over to the western hill, Montjuïc, site of the Olympic stadium and Mies van der Rohe's beautifully simplistic Barcelona Pavilion.

I absolutely loved Barcelona's Gothic Quarter and El Born areas for their labyrinths of narrow alleyways filled with boutiques, cute cafés and restaurants, public squares, medieval architecture and random street performances. Everywhere you walk there's a surprise at each turn, whether it be a beautiful massive cathedral, bullet holes left intact from the Spanish Civil War, a cloister courtyard that was home to 13 geese (each goose represents one year in the life of the martyr Santa Eulalia), or a performer twirling sticks of fire.

I also checked out the Picasso Museum, which had been set up by Picasso himself and to which he personally donated a huge collection of his early works. I was completely blown away with his Las Meninas series, in which he painted 44 stylized interpretations of Velázquez's famous painting. Another great museum I visited was the MACBA (Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona). Since I came here the morning of my last day I only had enough time to check out an exhibit on Barcelona's Francesc Torres, a multimedia and conceptual artist focused on themes of memory, culture and politics.

I was really looking forward to amazing food on this trip but was slightly disappointed. I guess we weren't going to the right places, but we encountered undercooked chicken or almost raw minced meat at several restaurants we chose x_X Thankfully Paul, who had lived in Barcelona for 2.5 years, met up with us a few days later and took us to a great place by Port Olympic and we enjoyed seafood paella on the beach. We did it Spanish style too, starting our lunch at 3:30pm and eating until 5pm — it was a fantastic meal with good food, nice scenery, beautiful weather, and great company ^_^

Posted by mich at 11:43 AM | return | dreams [0]

February 9, 2008

Happy Year of the Rat!

Gong hei fat choi! ^__^ For New Year's Eve my Chinese friend and I prepared a small dinner for a few friends and it turned out quite well! On the menu we had cucumber salad, borscht soup, Peking duck, homemade dumplings, tea leaf eggs, and soy sauce chicken - I was quite impressed by what we pulled off! I took a bunch of pictures so I can show my parents... they won't believe it otherwise, haha.

This evening I was invited out to a new year dinner at a Chinese restaurant with a Chinese group I had just met. It was a bit weird for me though because they were mostly speaking Mandarin and Swedish so I couldn't understand anything unless they spoke to me in English o_O I was so fascinated though by how they just switched back and forth between Chinese and fluent Swedish, it was pretty cool. The dinner was my first taste of European Chinese food (something I had been really reluctant to try) but it wasn't too bad. The cuisine was more northern-China style so it was quite heavy and saucy, which I'm not used to.

So it's finally February, thank goodness. It felt like January would never end with all my endless nights slaving away in front of my computer. It was such a brutal month for me and I swear I almost turned into a zombie with the little sleep I had. But I did manage to squeeze in a few fun activities to keep my spirits up.

Dinner at Koh Phangan
For a friend's birthday we went to to a really great Thai restaurant called Koh Phangan. Right when you walk inside it feels like you entered a tropical paradise of beach huts, bridged walkways, waterfalls and caves. It even had a "rainstorm" in the middle of dinner. The food actually wasn't too bad. I just ordered a simple vegetarian plate of pad thai, but at $25 that was the most expensive pad thai I've ever had!

Colombian Night
My Colombian roommate gathered her Colombian posse over to our place one evening and cooked us a dinner of arepas, chorizos, and beans. Very yummy indeed. They continued the festivities into our living room by cranking up some Latin music and taught the non-Colombians some salsa dancing. That was great fun, but I was stepping all over people's toes :P

Konserhuset
I attended my first symphony concert here watching the Stockholm Philharmonic one afternoon. It was so nice and I got all nostalgic for my symphony-going days with Christina back in Toronto. The repertoire they played that day was a modern set - very punchy, playful and oddly rhythmed, which is something I wasn't used to hearing but I thought it was so fantastic.

Hawaiian Pub Night
Every last Friday of the month my office holds a pub night. This time it was a Hawaiian theme to bring some sunshine to our dark and dreary Scandinavian winter. Some people acted as bartenders all decked out in Hawaiian shirts and mixed colourful fruity drinks complete with umbrellas and pineapples. The Hawaiian island music and leis were the perfect finishing touches... totally made me want to go to Hawaii!

Riga Cruise
Last weekend a group of us took a cruise to Riga, the capital of Latvia. It was an overnight boat trip and everyone was prepared to party and take advantage of the duty free alcohol prices, but our tiny boat was hit by a storm by 9pm. With the extreme rocking and shaking, most of us ended up with pretty bad motion sickness, including yours truly. We finally made it through the night though and spent the next day exploring the city. Riga is pretty small so we were able to see most of the main sites within the day. It still seemed pretty European though... I was expecting more of a Soviet feel. We boarded the ship again that evening and for the ride back we armed ourselves with motion sickness pills. The storm on the second night was actually even worse than the previous but luckily we were already lying down in bed by that time. What an experience... I'll stick with bigger boats next time to Finland and Estonia thank you very much!

Posted by mich at 10:42 PM | return | dreams [0]

December 25, 2007

God Jul!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful white Christmas back home! I'm spending the holidays with my old family friend who's working in Göteborg (Sweden's 2nd largest city on the other side of the country). Here it's +6 degrees and rainy, yuck.

I arrived in the city on Christmas Eve and by the time my train came in at 2pm the sun had already disappeared! :( Paul took me back to his place and we snacked on different cheeses and knäckebröd (Swedish crackers) while catching up. It was wonderful to find out how much of a foodie he is and that's all we talked about until dinner when he made me a delicious dish of couscous with stir-fried veggies, raisins and walnuts. Then we relaxed by the TV and watched Sex and the City (I had never seen it before believe it or not) while pigging out on dark chocolate and drinking glögg. Mmm living the lazy life!

This morning we totally slept in and made crêpes that we ate with various combinations of nutella, cheese, honey, lingonberry jam, and butter. We couldn't really call it brunch since it was 2:30pm by the time we sat down to eat! There's a pattern that's starting to repeat itself: we just can't stop talking about food! Living in Sweden, it's so expensive to eat out that you don't really have the same luxury of eating out all the time as we would in Toronto or HK. So we just fantasize about all the food that we miss back home and just drool over the places we'd eat at when we go back to TO or HK... it's quite pathetic really! Paul however is a master in the kitchen so I'm hoping to learn some cooking tips from him during my stay :) He whipped up a simple but yummy Christmas dinner of Swedish meatballs with lingonberry sauce, mashed potatoes and green beans.

Posted by mich at 8:09 PM | return | dreams [0]

December 22, 2007

Swedish Christmas

Christmastime in Sweden doesn't feel much like Christmas to me. The holiday is really family-oriented here and not nearly as commercialized or so in-your-face as in North America. I admit that the excessive commercialism of the holiday has gotten to me in recent years (especially now when Christmas decorations start coming out even before Hallowe'en), but I really miss seeing all the colourful and festive decorations and hearing Christmas tunes everywhere you go. Things here are really subtle; even in the darkest time of the year* everyone's house is just simply decorated with a 7-stick electrical candlebra that sits on the windsill or with a decorative star lamp hanging from the ceiling. That's it — no colours either, just the incandescent yellow of the bulbs. We don't even have snow yet and apparently it won't come until January :(

Back in the olden days, December 13 used to be the darkest day of the year, which was the day that Lucia Day was and continues to be celebrated. It's quite an important day in Sweden and here it marks the beginning of Christmas. I woke up early that morning to watch a Lucia concert, in which a procession of girls dressed in white and are led by a girl chosen to represent Lucia, who wears a crown of candles on head. They stop and sing Swedish Christmas songs and then continue their procession. At my office that day we ate lussekatter (saffron buns), which are traditionally eaten only during Christmas, and drank warm glögg with raisin and almonds. That particular glögg had 10% alcohol however, and although I only took about 10 sips, I was pretty much out of commission the rest of the afternoon, zzzz.

julbord. It was my first time trying Swedish food, which consists of a lot of cold salmon prepared in various ways, raw herring in different sauces, and cold cuts. There weren't many warm dishes but the meatballs and Jansson's Temptation were delicious. I did make the effort to try the fish dishes that I normally wouldn't eat. I didn't realize the herring was actually raw so it came as a nasty slimy surprise. I also tried the fermented herring, which is a very Swedish dish. I never though I'd ever eat it when I read about it before coming here, but it's not as bad as it sounds when you eat it with potatoes. I probably won't ever eat it again, but now I can say I've tried real Swedish food :P Later that evening the restaurant converted into a karaoke bar at one end and a disco on the other, which seemed pretty strange to me. People were going nuts in the karaoke area singing out of tune to cheesy Swedish 80s pop music. I've come to realize that Swedes LOVE to sing. I hear them singing out loud everywhere I go: subway trains, dinner tables, airports, bars, and especially at karaoke. The dance floor was no better; the DJ was spinning all Euro dance, which I can't stand, LOL.

Over the weekend I visited Skansen, which is an open-air museum featuring historical pioneer buildings transported from all over Sweden. You can visit each building and watch people dressed in costume demonstrating things like bookbinding, glass-blowing and weaving. My friend and I primarily went there to see the Christmas market and I picked up an English copy of a Swedish cakes and cookies recipe book that I'll be trying out this weekend. I think by the end of my year in Sweden my goal is to be able to read enough Swedish to buy myself a cookbook in Swedish :)

Good news on my housing situation: I got a new roommate from Germany, who's awesome, AND my landlady's finally moving out! Hallelujah! For a while she was being so wishy-washy about whether she was actually going to move out by the end of the month (her son had bought her a new flat, but she wasn't sure if she wanted to move there). But my roommate and I just kept persuading her with cheesy lines like her son will be so disappointed if she doesn't take the place, etc. In just a few weeks we'll be free to have pork, wine and boys at our flat, haha.

* The sun rises at 8:45am and sets at 2:45pm, depressing huh?

Posted by mich at 8:49 PM | return | dreams [0]

December 14, 2007

Frankfurt Weekend

Last weekend I headed down to Frankfurt on my own, mainly to check out one of Germany's oldest and largest Christmas markets. It was my first time in Germany and I really enjoyed it, but the language barrier was a bit difficult sometimes. Here in Sweden everyone's extremely proficient in English, so when I arrived in Germany I was a bit surprised at first that not many people spoke or even understood English. I've completely taken for granted the fact that everyone in Sweden knows English!

Since Frankfurt is mostly a financial hub, there's not that much historical or cultural attractions to see, but I did visit three excellent museums: Museum für Moderne Kunst (Museum of Modern Art), Deutsches Architekturmuseum, and Schirn Kunstalle Frankfurt. The MMK had an amazing photography exhibit featuring the works of an American who persuaded her way into some of the most private spaces kept away from the public and documented what goes on inside, including an HIV research lab, death row facility, cryo-preservation unit, Microsoft prototype house, nuclear waste storage area, and headquarters of the KKK. The images were powerful enough on their own but reading the descriptions and background behind each shot really put me in awe. The architecture museum was small but it still had some interesting exhibits like Shrinking Cities that examined social, political, economic and architectural factors for population loss, Contemporary Architecture in Korea, and Gaudí Unseen that put some of Gaudí's unfinished works and ideas on display. The Schirn Kunsthalle's Art Machines Machine Art was the most fun and engaging of the three. It looked at artist-created machines that produce unique and random art and examined the role of artist as engineer and the machine as the art but also the "artist." Viewers were also invited to interact with the machines, thereby becoming part of the art-making process. I felt like a kid again going to all the different stations — two hours later I left the gallery with 4 pieces of original artwork :D

I spent my two evenings walking through the Christmas market. It really required those two nights to see everything in the market since it's SO massive... it goes along various streets and alleyways and spills into not one, but two public squares. I really didn't buy much in the markets, just a cute Santa Christmas ornament and a wooden figure that "smokes" when you open him up and put an incense cone inside. I mostly spent my money on food! That weekend I didn't sit down once to eat because I did all my eating at the street markets. It was the most unhealthy thing, but it was so fun to try all sorts of food from the various stalls (tasty too!) Some of the things I had included: a foot-long sausage, greasy deep-fried potato pancakes with apple sauce, dark chocolate covered fruits on a stick, humongous pretzel, broccoli and cheese pizza, corn on the cob drenched in garlic butter, apple-cinnamon glazed almonds, and a hot mug of apfelwein. I also saw my first Starbucks since arriving in Europe (there's surprisingly no Starbucks in Sweden considering they're the world's heaviest coffee drinkers after Finland), so I caved and treated myself to a 4€ small cup of gingerbread latte (but I was so disappointed they didn't have my peppermint hot chocolate *cries*).

Posted by mich at 5:13 PM | return | dreams [0]

December 2, 2007

Paris, je t'aime

Last weekend I took a trip to Paris to meet up with Jason, who was visiting from Hawaii. I figured it would be nice to see an old friend, and what better place to hang out than Paris! The temperature was a glorious 10° C and the sun was still shining at 5:30pm. I didn't realize how much I really missed daylight — I felt so happy! Poor Jason though; being so spoiled by tropical weather he was suffering in the coldness and getting the sniffles, while I was basking in the "warmth." It was also great to be able to use my French again. People actually spoke back to me in French so I guess my French wasn't so terrible.

I arrived in Paris Saturday morning after only getting 2 hours of sleep the night before, waking up at 3am, taking a 1.5 hour shuttle bus to the airport, flying for 2 hours, and taking another 1.5 hour bus into Paris. Such is the cost for such cheap airfares: the buses end up costing more and take twice as long as the flight itself. Over the course of the trip Jason and I visited the Rodin museum, Notre Dame, went up the Eiffel Tower at night (but we just rushed around the balcony since we were absolutely freezing from the 1 hour wait for tickets), shopping along the Champs-Élysées, climbed up l'Arc de Triomphe, and explored the Montmatre area. We didn't really go on a hard-core sightseeing run and so it was a pretty relaxing trip, which was a nice change of pace for me. A lot of the time we just stayed in restaurants and cafés chatting and EATING! Since I first arrived in Europe I haven't really dined out but in Paris I totally pigged out... and it felt fabulous! Duck, rabbit, pasta, fruit tarts, crêpes, and French pastries, yummy yummy! You can't find this sort of good food in Sweden :(

On our last day together Jason had a flight to catch to Rome so we checked out of the hotel at 6am. After that I was left on my own to explore so I went to la Défense in the downtown area. Since it was still too early to do anything I lounged around at a café with my newly purchased French design magazine until the streets (and myself) started to wake up. I did some shopping, exploring, took another break at the nicest McDonald's I've ever seen, and then walked an hour to the bus station (but I was told that the walk was only 20 minutes.) In any case, my back felt completely broken from carrying my big backpack the entire morning. I really didn't pack that much, but I asked Jason to help me buy a sleeping bag from the States (plus a few cans of macedemia nuts :P), and I bought quite a bit of stuff, and tons of heavy magazines. Buying the magazines before I reached the airport was actually pretty dumb because I ended up having to pay an overweight surcharge for my bag at check-in. It turned out that I could have easily found my magazines in the airport terminal, DOH! But I really wasn't sure with these tiny airports so I erred on the safe side.

Even though this was my 2nd time in Paris, everything felt so new and exciting to me once more. I completely fell in love with the city all over again. The weather was gorgeous, people were so friendly and happy (as opposed to Stockholmers), I understood the language, and it reminded me again of Montreal — I didn't want to come back to Stockholm! The saddest thing was that I had to resort to do my shopping in Paris... definitely not the cheapest option, but still considerably cheaper than Sweden!

Posted by mich at 6:06 AM | return | dreams [0]

November 16, 2007

Daily Life in the Stock

It's been 2 weeks now in Stockholm and I'm getting used to the everyday routine of living here on my own. It hasn't been the easiest, but hopefully I'll feel more adjusted within the next few weeks.

Here are some of my thoughts about living here:

People

My colleagues are super nice and friendly so I really enjoy my work environment. Strangers however, sometimes seem quite cold upon first impressions but they are generally polite and friendly when you talk to them or ask for help. I'm still not used to salespeople in stores because they never greet or even acknowledge customers. They'll even completely ignore you and continue talking to their co-workers while blocking the shelf you're trying to look at. I'm told that this is quite common in Sweden since salespeople find the service industry to be beneath them so they tend to act snobby.

The thing that most surprised though is how pushy people are here. Multiple times, when walking up the escalator or walking along the people mover, people who wanted to walk faster (and everyone who's walked with me knows I'm definitely not a slow walker) would actually push me over the the right just to pass by. Like, what the hell? Who does that? Apparently lots of Swedes. The worst incident was yesterday when I was walking up the escalator and had to stop because there was a woman blocking the path. So I stopped too. But then a hand from behind extended over my should and pushed the woman and she fell over her kids! So then I turned around to the old man and told him he didn't need to push. And then he started to push me aggresively! Seriously, what's wrong with these people? Unbelievable! I wish I turned around and elbowed him in the face or something, but of course I did nothing.

Language

My company enrolled me in a Swedish class so I started learning Swedish last week. It's fun, but it's pretty hard. My teacher is really good but she speaks only Swedish to the class so most of it still sounds like gibberish to me. I did learn some basic things like counting numbers, saying "My name is," "I come from," "I speak English," and so on. The pronunciation is the trickiest because things aren't pronounced the way they're spelled. For example the letter 'K' can sound like 'sh', so "Kina" would be pronounced "sheena", which means China. The city "Göteborg" looks like "gotburg" but it's really pronounced "yur-teh-boray".

The Swedish language is still kind of difficult for me to distinguish (it sounds nothing like the Muppet Chef!), so sometimes I can't really tell if someone is speaking Swedish or not. If I were in a different country and I heard Swedish, I probably wouldn't be able to pinpoint the language. I thought it would be a bit similar to German, but it isn't at all - it's much more soft and melodic. Also, everybody here speaks English (and they don't sound like the IKEA guy) so I'm never forced to bust out my phrasebook.

Shopping

This place is freaking expensive! From the prices I've seen, many things are 2-3 times more expensive than back home. The most outrageous price I've seen was a puny head of iceberg lettuce for almost $8 yesterday!!! I almost dropped dead. I went shopping for running shoes since I couldn't find any sizes in the States or styles in Canada, and a simple pair of Adidas costed $200. Body Shop body butters were $30-$40 and books were double the price of the Canadian prices. On the streets in Stockholm, everyone sports a Canada Goose jacket, and even back home those cost a pretty penny, but here they seriously cost over $900!!! The most confusing thing is that full-time salaries are equivalent to those in Canada, but people here pay more income tax and sales tax and high living costs so I'm so confused how people can actually afford everything!

Fortunately, the prices at IKEA are cheaper than in Canada so I've already made 2 shopping trips there :) They also have a nice line of shower products and lotions so now I know where to go instead of the Body Shop!

Food

I still haven't actually eaten out at a real restaurant since it's quite expensive. Pretty depressing huh? I've eaten a tiny plate of rice and chicken at IKEA that cost me over $10, and a food court meal, which also cost $10. Lunch time is when the best deals are to be had. That's when restaurants have fixed-price menus called Dagens Rätt offering salad, bread, entrée and a drink. I went to one place for lunch that had a huge selection of pizzas and I chose one called La Banana, which had curry, pineapple, banana, and ham. Sounded really unique and it tasted really good! The rest of the time I make myself dinner and lunch but It's usually boring stuff. I really miss good Chinese food. I did find a Chinese grocery store yesterday and bought some sauces and noodles... but... I don't know how to make anything yet :S

Flatmates

It's only been a week in my new place and already I've gotten quite annoyed with the 2 other women I live with: one is the landlady and the other is a Swedish woman and they're both middle-aged. My landlady is really nice and sweet but she's imposed some rules like no friends or visitors and no alcohol. There was a third rule I found out after I bought a package of spare ribs: no pork. She's muslim so she doesn't want pork around and made me return it to the store. I was pretty angry about that because I thought it was wrong for her to impose her own dietary restrictions on me. But being the softie that I am, I returned the ribs (surprisingly you can return meat...?) She's also been moving my stuff around in the kitchen and bathroom and comes into my room when I'm not home (and my door is kept shut all the time), so I had to speak to her about that.

As for the other woman, I had only met her over the weekend... sort of. She had gone travelling when I moved in and had returned on Tuesday. Her bedroom door was open and the light was on so when I passed by the door I looked in, but there was an old half-naked woman standing around! Yuck! That was awkward so I didn't say anything. The next day after returning to my building from work, the woman held the elevator door for me to go upstairs. I tried saying hi but she ignored me, so I thought she didn't realize I was living in the same place as her. But when we both got off on the same floor and she left the apartment door open for me after going in, it was obvious she knew who I was. Then I watched her take off her dirty shoes and throw them right onto my house slippers! That peeved me off but I didn't say anything. Later on when the landlady introduced us I said hi and smiled at her, but all she did was just look at me with a blank stare. No smile, no 'hi', nothing. Hmph, rude. The next day after coming home I saw her shoes on top of my slippers AGAIN. I wanted to say something to her but I didn't really see her come out of her room that night. So this morning I purposely put my slippers away to the side, pushed my two pairs of shoes together to the side of the shoe rack and made sure she had lots of space on the rack. But when I came home after work, there was an empty space on the rack and the woman's shoes were dumped onto BOTH my pairs of shoes!!!! *huff* I don't know what's wrong with this woman, but I was so mad I threw her shoes off of mine and off the rack. I still didn't see her tonight but I'm making sure I speak to her tomorrow.

Fortunately for me the Swedish woman is moving out in 2 weeks and the landlady is moving out end of December. There's a German girl my age coming in next month. Caaaan't wait.

Posted by mich at 3:14 PM | return | dreams [1]

October 3, 2007

Nuit Blanche 2007

The general consensus for this year's "art-thing" was a huge disappointment from last year, and I completely agree. Even though there were more venues and the event drew tons more people, I was quite underwhelmed by the big exhibits that I had been so excited for. Still, I ended up staying out until 7am (and without any caffeine!) to check out as much stuff as I could. In general, many of the descriptions were embellished and made a lot of the pieces sound much more interesting than they actually were; instead, a lot of the work felt uninspired and weren't as engaging. I really missed the creative approach many artists embraced last year in opening up private spaces to the public by converting them for different use.

MOCCA muralI started off the night at Parkdale and made my way towards the downtown core along Queen West. The first thing I noticed was the crowding — there was probably at least double the amount of people, and this year I noticed so many young kids running around (not cool for the artists who had to continually tell the kids to stop playing with their art installations.) The most interesting thing for me in that zone was Play By Hear at CAMH that was a series of horns connected together that mixes and distorts tunes from people's MP3 players. The "hub"Trinity-Bellwoods park was pretty much empty and non-eventful besides the horde of Scotiabank tents... total letdown.

Green ScreenOn the walk up towards OCAD, I went through Kensington Market in hopes to see the ASSBOOK project, where photocopier is available on site for people to photocopy their own fannies, but it was cancelled. Further down the market street I happened upon a booth set up by the Infinite Exchange Gallery, which was probably one of my favourite things of the evening. It was really low-tech, small and intimate. Each artist had an engaging project that called on collaboration from participants and in exchange for a piece of work, "buyers" would have to trade something, whether it be a story, a drawing, etc. One artist had set up a typewriter to write a letter or card to a recipient chosen by the requesting person, and in return the person sender would do a good deed. The artist would then draw up a letter of agreement stating the terms of the good deed and the details of when/what/to whom the letter/card would be delivered that was then signed by both parties. Another section of the booth was for creating BFF pins, where the artist would take pictures of the 2 BFFs and create pins so that each person would have a pin of their BFF. In exchange, each participant had to relay a story or memory of the person they brought. A third artist in San Francisco laid out a stack of homemade postcards and paint chip samples in different shades of greys and black and asked people to cut out the paint chip that matched the current colour of the sky and glue it on the postcard. The person then had to phone the artist in SF to give his/her name and address to receive a postcard with the current sky colour in her location. Really neat idea, except that the person who had called the artist before me got a message saying her voice mail was full. Bah.

White Line LightI continued through OCAD, Yorkville, U of T, the village and Eaton Centre, but everything just seemed mediocre. The hugest disappointment was Nightless City, which people had been touting as the fog event of this year. WRONG! It was was pure cheese as it was just the stores lit up in red light — a literal interpretation of a red light district. Some of the exhibits I quite liked included Ghost Station at lower Bay Station (which apparently had a 1-hour lineup early evening, but by the time I got there at 5am I just walked right in), a fun light-sensitive screen that people posed in front of to capture their shadows at the Italian Embassy, and white line light at the Old Police Station that was an eerie yet captivating light and sound installation consisting of 2 long floating electrical beams resonating with low frequency vibrations.

It was still a fun event to go frolicking about at night, but with such high expectations from last year I totally underwhelmed. If anything, this has inspired me to come up with something of my own for a future Nuit Blanche. For now, I won't be too sad to be missing the one next year, I'll just be looking forward to the one in Paris instead :D

Funnily enough, I'd say the highlight of my evening was the dinner before heading out for the night. Christian took me to The Parkdale Drink, where his friend is the head chef. So in addition to the entrées and appetizers we ordered, his friend sent out some fancy extra plates that weren't on the menu like smoked salmon with cream cheese and dill on Melba toast and a cute little risotto ball (to die for), PLUS deep fried banana dumplings and ice cream.

Posted by mich at 5:11 PM | return | dreams [1]

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.

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Posted by mich at 8:57 PM | return | 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 | return | dreams [0]

August 25, 2007

Cramming Summer into 3 Weeks

I can't believe summer's already almost drawing to a close. I feel like I still haven't done many summery activities still — it was only over the last few weeks that I've been trying to pack it all in.

There was one week where Christian, my youngest sister, and my cousin visiting from HK all had their birthdays that same week, so it became a whole week of family dinners and pigging out at b-day dinners: all-you-can-eat Japanese, 3-course "Bunaglicious" meal at Bungalow Café, and a huge family BBQ dinner complete with Baskin ice cream cake. To work it all off Christian and I set off on a 20km rollerblading ride from Queen/Ossington all the way to the beaches and back. It took about 3 hours in total with a 1/2 hour break in the middle. I already developed blisters on each foot only halfway to the beach, but I still managed to truck along, but by the end I was in so much pain that Christian had to help push/pull me along. I fared much better though the weekend after when we rollerbladed around all the islands from Hanlan's Point to Ward's Island and back to Centre Island, where we played on the kiddie rides at Centreville. I can never tire of bumper cars or the ferris wheel! :)

Last week there was the Toronto Fashion & Design Festival, so on Thursday evening I headed down to Yonge-Dundas Square to check out the Highlight Toronto fashion show featuring Toronto designers and set to a live performance by King Sunshine, who were absolutely fabulous. It so was my first time seeing a real fashion show with a catwalk and everything I thought it was pretty cool. I was able to slide my way through the crowd to the very end of the catwalk, where I had an unobstructed view to snap away on my camera. It was too bad I missed the I Heart Kyoto: Ethical Fashion Show earlier that evening because from the photos I saw later on, it was wild: mohawks with punk/rock glam.

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The next evening I went to High Park to catch the Shakespeare play A Midsummer Night's Dream. The set was like a steel jungle gym, which didn't really make sense to me in the context of the play, but the fairy costumes were colourful, bright and whimsical. The costume styles were set in the 80's and during the play some characters broke out into hilarious rap while still reciting Shakespeare's prose. Despite the rain that resulted in a 30 minute pause of the play, it was a highly enjoying evening.

I went to Buskerfest on Sunday with Christian and Lilly but we couldn't see any of the performers over the mass of heads crowding around. Instead we scoured the area for food stalls and picked up some scrumptious fried dumplings and 3 huge bags of kettle corn, which I'm now obsessed about. It's the perfect combination of salty and sweet. I only first discovered it this year at the Waterloo dragon boat festival, and I craved it when I saw it again at the London regatta but that time they closed up shop before I had the chance to pick up a bag.

On the subject of dragon boat, our team won gold in Division B at London! I actually thought we we were going to lose our gold medal because although we came in first in the final race, we received a 1 sec. penalty before the race even started, which would have put us 0.4 seconds behind the 2nd place team. At the start our boat came so close to the one in the next lane so we were trying to adjust our position, but since we were at the furthest lane the officials didn't know what was going on so he penalized us for wasting time. When we contested the call after the race, they changed their story and said we were trying to get a huge running start ahead of the other boats and were set on the decision. To officially contest the decision would have costed $50 so we didn't bother. However, during the medal ceremony, to everyone's surprise they announced Banana Boat as the first place team. We got our gold medal after all!

Posted by mich at 6:40 PM | return | dreams [0]

July 18, 2007

It's a Miracle I Didn't Catch Pneumonia

Last Saturday my dragon boat team raced at the Waterloo regatta, which turned out to be the most miserable one to date. Not only was it cold and windy the whole day (and I was so under dressed), it started raining a lot in the afternoon. Yet, we still had to paddle! I probably gave my abs a great workout from shivering and hunching over so much. Amazingly, we did our first race in 2:12, which put us in the platinum division (!!!), but our races after that went so horrible, we ended up gaining 10 seconds by the time we reached our third race, aiya. This was the first regatta where my dragon boat team didn't win a medal. And wouldn't you know, the weather warmed up and the sun started shining after the entire festival was over. BAH.

Also last week I went out with Kris, Sandra and Christian for a lovely Summerlicious lunch at Fieramosca located in the Annex. They had some great bread and bruschetta, but their salad and linguine with mushrooms, shrimp and chicken were nothing to write home about. The best part of the meal was the gigantic slab of tiramisu we got for dessert. There was a bit too much whipped cream inside, but boy was it delish! As Kris was leaving for Australia the next day for 6 months, it was the last time I would be seeing her for a long time, and the last time all 4 of us would be together for who knows how long! Yes Sandra, we're all leaving you, LOL :P

I had the chance to catch the Argentina vs Poland game for the FIFA U-20, and it was exciting! It was the first time I've attended a live sporting event (that snoozfest of a Jays game last year didn't count). The crowd was wild and energetic, and the Argentinians were fabulously entertaining. I can't wait to go see the final games this Sunday!

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Posted by mich at 1:00 PM | return | dreams [0]

May 13, 2007

Siren Sounds

Last night I was a photographer for the Siren Sounds benefit concert to raise money and awareness for Interval House, a shelter for abused women. The lineup featured Fefe Dobson and Melissa O'Neil along with a few local acts, but my favourite performance of the evening was by Goodbye Glory, who were so energetic and totally rockin' it with their awesome songs (although I don't know what songs they actually sang, boo). Not only was it great to be doing this for a good cause, but It was a pretty cool experience to get to shoot people doing makeup, performing sound checks, doing media interviews, and of course shooting the concert itself. It was a pretty long day for me though as I had biked out to the Beaches earlier in the afternoon, then to the Opera House where I was there from 4:30pm to 1am... my arm was so tired from holding up my camera that whole time! Thanks to Steve for hooking me up, and for making all those super awesome Viet spring rolls :P Here's a pic of Fefe Dobson- more to come!

A few days ago I tried making my first loaf of banana bread. It turned out pretty nice, but not as moist as I would have liked. Maybe it needed a bit more banana? Not too sure. But it was yummy enough that it disappeared in less than 2 days.

Continue reading for the recipe:

----

Banana Bread

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 beaten eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (5 medium)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cooking oil or melted butter or margarine
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1. Grease bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of one 9 x 5 x 3-inch or two 7 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 2-inch loaf pans; set aside. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Make a well in center of flour mixture; set aside.

2. In a medium bowl combine eggs, bananas, sugar, and oil. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy). Fold in nuts (if desired). Spoon batter into prepared pan.

3. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 55 to 60 minutes for 9 x 5 x 3-inch pan, or 40 to 45 minutes for 7 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 2-inch pans, or until a wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean (if necessary, cover loosely with foil the 15 minutes of baking to prevent overbrowning). Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool completely on a wire rack. Wrap and store overnight before slicing.

Makes: 1 loaf (16 servings)

Posted by mich at 7:45 PM | return | dreams [1]

May 1, 2007

Reflections on China

Here are some of my reactions to several things on my travels through the motherland:

Toilets
I was prepared for the squatters, but my first mainland toilet experience was quite traumatizing. I was forced to use the public washrooms on the streets, and boy, were they ever public. Upon entering the facility, I was faced with a whole row of women just squatting there doing their business. No stalls, no doors, just low dividers! I freaked out and rushed back outside. I kept going in and out trying to muster up the courage to use the toilet and when I finally got the guts to go, I hid myself in the very last stall furthest away from the entrance. Yech, I felt so icky afterwards.

Cars
The drivers in China were all crazy. They had no respect for the rules of the road, traffic signs/lights, or other motorists for that matter. If they weren't honking for one reason or another (and they were ALWAYS honking — we didn't need alarm clocks to wake up at 6am every morning), they were charging through crowds of pedestrians or bikes. Even when crossing an intersection on a pedestrian walk signal, you still have to watch out for oncoming cars/bikes/mopeds, otherwise you'll most definitely get run over. The most appalling thing to me was that vehicles don't yield to anyone or anything, not even ambulances in emergency. I couldn't believe my eyes while I was watching an ambulance trying to crawl its way through an intersection for 5 minutes while all the crisscrossing traffic was zooming and weaving around it. I guess the only privilege you get from using sirens is not being honked at for obstructing the vehicles, sheesh.

Language
After the first couple of days in China, I made a vow to learn Mandarin after the trip because I realized that Cantonese does jack all for you in the most part of mainland. In difficult situations when no one understood English, I resorted to Cantonese, hoping that there would be similarities with some key words. It rarely worked, especially in northern China, but sometimes it was still worth a shot. I tried ordering congee in Guilin using the Cantonese word jook, but no one understood me. Apparently over there they referred to it as rice porridge, but in Shanghai they knew it as zhou, which was close enough for them to understand me. Another time, in Yangshuo I wanted to know whether the vendor had a new doll other than the floor model but he didn't understand the word "new" nor the Cantonese word I tried using, sun. Fortunately I remembered how to write out the word for him (I guess those 9 years of Chinese school paid off), and the guy finally understood and exclaimed xin! What a big difference. By the time I got to Shanghai I picked up a tiny bit of basic Mandarin and was able to go into a convenience store and ask what kind of food the old woman was pushing me to buy. She knew I didn't understand much so she started making mooing sounds to explain that it was beef! Completely adorable.

Queues
There's no such thing as lineups in China... just crowding around. It also doesn't matter if you're lining up behind someone for anything, someone will push and bud you. Someone might even go and bud that offender. As annoying and frustrating as it was to me, it's so normal over there and no one really cares or thinks twice about it.

Food
I was a bit disappointed by the food — nothing we ate ever compared to the Chinese cuisine in Toronto. Having to eat Chinese food twice a day of basically the same dishes with slight variations on the tour can get quite sickening and have you craving for McD's. In Beijing we were excited to have amazing Peking duck, but we were presented with a mediocre dish that wasn't even prepared the proper way. In Shanghai, I waited 20 minutes at a stall famous for Shanghai dumplings, xiaolongbao, but those too were nothing remarkable. In Xi'an though we had a great dumpling dinner, during which we sampled 16 different kinds including interesting ones like pumpkin, walnut, curry, and roasted butter, and some that were shaped as pigs and fish!

But aside from all my rants, China was an amazing cultural experience and I only wish I had more time to explore it. Next time I'll probably trek along the Silk Road or venture to Tibet, and hopefully no more hospital visits!

Posted by mich at 2:30 PM | return | dreams [1]

April 3, 2007

I Heart HK

I've been in Hong Kong now for 4 days now and it's fabulous, except for the super hot weather and construction 24/7 (even at 3am on the weekend!) Nothing's changed much since the last time I've been here 3 years ago, but this time I'm staying in the central area on Hong Kong Island with Cass instead of out in the New Territories with my relatives. It was a big jump adjusting from <10 degree weather to 28 degree weather with 80% humidity. Luckily though, today's pretty chilly at 14 degrees but the rain and clouds kinda suck. The great thing about Hong Kong is that no matter what kinda of itinerary you plan, every day eventually leads to shopping... either at one of the gazillion malls, stores, street markets or vendor stalls. Even the tiny narrow hallway leading to Cass' apartment turns into a girl's clothing store by day.

My first day here was SUPER long. I arrived at 7am and just hit the ground running. Cass took Christian and I around Causeway Bay for lunch, shopping, and just some exploring. We also hit the arcade, where we played a series of 3-person mini games, and raced against each other in Mario Kart. I also tried my hand at trying to pick up a cute piggy toy with those flimsy claws but with no success. In the evening we went to a really nice lounge on the 30th floor of a building that had a gorgeous view of the HK skyline at night. Afterwards we strolled along the harbour in Tsim Sha Tsui, tried some fried chicken wings at McD's for "sui ye" before crashing at 3am.

In the past few days we also braved the crazy shopping crowds in the street markets of Mong Kok, ate the best croissant I ever had at Arome Bakery in Causeway Bay, had dinners with family, explored the financial district in Central, had one of the best dim sums ever in City Hall (normally I find the Chinese food in TO so much better, but this was an exception), rode the world's longest escalator up to mid-level of Victoria Peak (it took like 30 minutes!), and visited my mom's apartment where she used to live in Tsim Sha Tsui. Yesterday my uncle took my mom, Christian and I to Stanley, a pre-colonial fishing village that now looks like a British seaside town. It was a really neat place where we got to check out the outdoor Stanley Market, explore some residential areas, climb to the temple, which is one of the oldest on the island, and walk through the Murray House, which originally stood in Central but was dismantled and re-constructed on the opposite side of the island. It really had a European flavour to it, and most of the people who I saw were European all sitting at the British-style pubs. I've actually noticed quite a few French people here too... it's pretty funny to hear more people speaking French in HK than I ever do in Toronto!

Our last few days here will be pretty exciting, as we'll be visiting places that even I haven't been to before including Macau, Ocean Park and Lamma Island. Gotta get down to some shopping now!

Posted by mich at 8:48 PM | return | dreams [0]

March 16, 2007

Another Year Closer to 30

I'm now officially closer to the age of 30 than 20 and in the last year of my mid-20s. *cries* But luckily I had all that birthday cake — chocolate/vanilla, classic cheesecake, blueberry lemon, and strawberry cheesecake — to ease my sorrows... now it's just my waistline that's crying.

My birthday weekend was a pretty hectic one. Saturday I woke up early from a late night at an old coworker's birthday party to do dim sum in Mississauga, watched 300 on IMAX, which I thought was so awesome (since I can deal with stylized gore!), dinner at Fred's Not Here, where I had some an amazing plate of marinated grilled ostrich steak with apple, cranberry chutney/pecan drizzle and celeriac mash, and dancing at Montana, where the music was a little less than stellar. Sunday I had a little Wii party in the afternoon and my parents held a nice little dinner for me and my "almost twin brother by two days", Jon.

All in all, a fun-filled weekend, but my actual birthday was a dud — zombied through the workday then just crashed on my bed once I got home.

Posted by mich at 6:51 PM | return | dreams [0]

March 8, 2007

Nuit Blanche Montreal

Aaargh, I posted this entry up, but somehow it didn't get saved so I had to re-type it. *sigh*

CN DerailementI'm back from my Nuit Blanche weekend in Montreal. We were fortunate enough to have fantastic weather the entire weekend— tons of snow and mild temperatures. Because of the snowstorm last Thursday, the huge CN derailment in Pickering hadn't cleared yet by Friday so there were concerns of the Via Rail trains being delayed at least 2 hours. Christian and I were really lucky in not having to bus it up to Oshawa to catch the train from there, and only ended up being delayed 25 minutes. (As we found out later, the next train after us at 6:30 wasn't so lucky; passengers had to take the bus and then transfer to the train, which ended up getting into Montreal at 2am. Yikes.) We got in at 10pm, dropped off everything at Vanessa's place, then headed out to Rockaberry's to indulge in some massive apple and strawberry/peach crumble pies with huge heapings of ice cream. Needless to say, I had no appetite the next morning for breakfast or lunch... whoops.

Snowed InOn our walk through McGill towards the Eaton Centre, we randomly bumped into Karman, who was just visiting for the weekend as well. We decided to meet up again later that night for the evening's festivities and went our own separate ways. I only had one destination that afternoon, and it was Simons of course! This occasion was quite record-breaking... normally I spend at least 2 hours in the store, but this time I was in and out within 30 min (so unheard of, eh?!) I wasn't too wowed by the collection this season, and I also felt really reserved in spending money on clothes, knowing that I'd be going shopping crazy in HK soon. I just ended up getting a turquoise knit sweater with nice big buttons that was on sale :) We killed the rest of the afternoon walking up St-Denis, strolling around the plateau and picking up our mandatory bagels from St-Viateur. For dinner we went out with Vanessa and Jeremy to Chinatown to try Restaurant Uyghur, which features cuisine from China's Xianjian Uyghur Autonomous Region, a remote, Muslim region in Western China. The food's an interesting blend of Chinese, Russian, Pakistani, Afghani, and Turkish cuisine. We had fresh hand-made noodles served with stir-fried lamb and vegetables called Laghman, fried meat dumplings (a little on the cold side though), stir-fried green onions and beef and a hot pan of curry chicken with veggies. Overall the food was pretty good, and nothing close to the typical Chinese food I'm used to.

Boingy BoingyDinner went on a bit later than we wanted so we missed the 8pm fireworks at Vieux Port. Our group made our way to Vieux Port where we met up again with Karman and Rick at the Montreal Science Centre, then walked around checking out a fresco on ice decorated by public participation, a silent disco dome and buskers at Place Jacques Cartier while eating our freshly rolled tire sure neige. We waited in line to get into City Hall where we watched some professional ballroom dancers strut their stuff, and later on, watched the public learn some moves.

Jérôme Fortin's Paper SculptureThe highlight of the evening was definitely the Museum of Contemporary Art, which was free all throughout the evening. The lobby was host to Les Imprudanses, an improvisational dance match between two professional dance teams, while the upper level showcased a set of 3 exhibits entitled Ingenious3 featuring Jean-Pierre Gauthier, Jérôme Fortin, Guy Ben-Ner. We saw some amazing kinetic, sonic and visual installations by Gauthier, massive wall pieces by Fortin that were constructed using rows upon rows of tediously folded printed material like mangas and maps, and a humourous instructional video by Ben-Ner that complemented his treehouse sculpture made with IKEA furniture pieces.

DovesAfter a good two hours at the museum we walked along Ste-Catherine to St. James United Church for The Organ Ogres performances. Not being a huge organ music fan, I thought it was just so-so. At 3am we went across the street to Édifice Belgo, an old building full of small gallery spaces, which really reminded me of U of T's art building on Spadina Circle. The best exhibit was the fantastical Foulard en Cou, where walking through a set of pink gauzy curtains revealed dreamy paradise filled with a raining cloud fountain, a swing set hanging from the ceiling, a video projection of a woman in a peacock headdress playing the harp, a fluffy cave, and white doves freely roaming around. I held a dove and it liked me so much that it wouldn't let go for the longest time, so I ended up walking around with a bird on my hand.

FloatingOn our way back to Place des Arts we happened upon an impromptu snowball fight between us pedestrians on the sidewalk and some strangers atop the balcony. I was doing well avoiding the snowballs, and even ducked a huge slab of snow coming towards me. Jeremy, however, decided he wanted to "protect" us from the slab and punched it, which flew towards my face. That was swell, thanks buddy! :P Finally, we checked out a small music performance and grabbed some greasy fries from La Belle Province before calling it a night at 4:30am.

We slept in until noon the next day, bought our stash of smoked meat from Schwartz across the street, and brunched at an great place Jeremy discovered called Caffè ArtJava on Mont-Royal. They're really well-known for their coffees, but their breakfast plates are absolutely fabulous. We tried each others different dishes and each was such a unique take on traditional breakfast fare. I must say that the french toast I ordered stuffed with cinnamon apples was the best french toast I've ever had. I must go back next time!


Posted by mich at 4:30 PM | return | dreams [0]

February 21, 2007

Oink Oink

Happy Chinese new year! I checked out my horoscope (rooster) for this year of the pig and it's quite funny how accurately it describes my current situation and the plans I have for this year.

In 2007 your energy levels rise. Roosters spend less time at work, yet remain very productive. If you have been considering a change of career or company, this year will be favorable to make the move. Remember to balance your words and frank observations with diplomacy and tact to avoid hurt feelings. Changes will take place in your life during 2007 that will set the stage for future progress. Free yourself of anything that slows your progress or hinders your joy. "Remember to forget" - your happiness is before you, not behind you. A favorable year for reunions, family matters, surprise gatherings and even some intercontinental travel.

On new year's eve I was supposed to have a big feast with my family and relatives, but skipped that for Christan's office Festivus party. "Festivus for the rest of us" as they say, but it's basically their Christmas party in February. The food was fabulous- we had leek & potato pure, roast prime rib of beef (the second best steak I've ever had), and vanilla crme brul. The party ended at 1am but there was an after party up in the hotel room so we stuck around there for a couple more hours hanging out and pigging out on junk food. I ended up getting home at 4am (I had been hoping to be in bed by 1), so the next morning when I had to wake up early to head to the temple for new year, it was a massive struggle. Gone are the days when I could handle 4-5 hours of sleep each night and still be alert the rest of the day... I'm totally slipping >_<

Last week Christian and I finally got to try out the Brazilian restaurant Caj on West Queen West and it was quite delicious. For appetizer we had camarao, which was shrimp sauted in garlic with a passion fruit & red pepper sauce. Christian had a great traditional entre called moqueca, which was a traditional Bahia stew, with tomato and coconut milk broth, sweet peppers, onions and ginger, served with Basmati rice, shrimp and fish. I, on the other hand, had a cashew marinated chicken with ginger and garlic paste. Definitely worth another visit!


Posted by mich at 10:49 PM | return | dreams [0]

February 2, 2007

WinterCity

It's been a long while since I last wrote a post- I've barely been home this entire week >_< Now for a little recap.

AppetizerLast Friday was the start of the WinterCity festival so I had a Winterlicious lunch with Sandra and Christina at Vertical. My 3-course meal consisted of seared & cured scallops with fregola & sweet peppers for the appetizer (which turned out to be one gigantic scallop), then butternut squash gnocchi with oyster mushrooms, toasted hazelnuts and brown butter, and finished off with a chocolate & expresso mousse cake. Overall the food was quite good. My gnocchi tasted great, but it just became too cheesy and oily for me near the end. I also wish I had gotten the passion fruit gelato that San and Kris ordered because it was fantastic... my cake was just a bit too heavy for me, especially after all that pasta.

That evening was the opening celebration at Nathan Phillips where the Italian group Kitonb performed Carillon, a theatrical piece involving dance and acrobatics. The performance was so-so; I now tend to compare all the public performances to Malaya, which was so spectacular- I haven't seen anything like that since. Later in the evening, the Philosopher Kings came on for a great show. Even though it was freezing out they managed to draw in a huge crowd and got everyone in a dancing mood. Unfortunately for me, after having stood outside for 2 hours in snow and slush, my toes completely froze over and I was left limping to a warm retreat.

WallpaperThe next day I had my second Winterlicious lunch at Drake Hotel with Christina, Jon and Faye. I've been to the Drake a few times for some lounging and art happenings, but this was my first time eating there. I must say, the food was amazing: I had mixed green salad with toasted pumpkin seeds, pecorino & pears for the appetizer, then red wine braised beef with soft polenta & fennel roasted carrots, and for dessert, milk chocolate & lemon pot de crme with whipped cream and pumpkin seed gingersnaps. I was pleasantly surprised the food was actually that good- I'll definitely be eating there again.

Posted by mich at 5:15 PM | return | dreams [0]

January 17, 2007

My First Shiner

Yesterday was our team's first benchball game of the season. I fared pretty well in the beginning and even scored a goal, woo! But in the middle of the game while I was sitting out on the gymnasium stage, the other team had kicked the ball real high. I was watching the ball coming towards me in slo-mo, but I couldn't move. I received a nice slam in the face by the ball, knocking off my glasses and giving me a couple of throbbing cuts and a nasty bruise. My first thought after the initial "OWWWWIE!!!!!!!" was that my mom was gonna kill me. One reason being that I thought my glasses were completely busted, but luckily I was able to bend it back into a decent shape. But after I took a look at myself in the mirror, I knew I was in trouble. She hates it when I play sports; she even scolds Christian for playing too whenever he gets injured. So once I got home I stayed away from my mom and iced myself in my room. It still hurts when I squeeze my eyes together >_<

In other bad news... Hosu is on my list of banned restaurants. As I had posted back in December, I encountered a cockroach incident at the Queen Street West location. Well, two weeks ago, Christian and hit up the Yonge/Eglington location when our first restaurant choice was closed for renovation. I had ordered a bowl of udon noodles and was eating it contently, when near the end I saw a bunch of black dots floating about in the soup. Most of them were specks of pepper, but one of them looked a bit funny. Upon closer inspection, the pepper bit actually had legs and a head. Ew ew ew! It was a tiny cockroach. Seriously, 2 incidents in my last 2 visits at different locations?? We brought it up with the management and they were really apologetic, but after seeing my pouting face the rest of the evening they offered ice cream (um, no thanks) and no charge for the food. I loved you Hosu, but this is goodbye.

Posted by mich at 5:40 PM | return | dreams [1]

December 29, 2006

Happy Holidays

Christmas Sugar CookiesHappy holidays everyone! This past week has been full of hectic baking, shopping and LOTS of eating. On Christmas Eve, I was invited to Christian's house mates' dinner gathering, where I experienced my first western-styled homemade feast complete with lit candles and the fun toy crackers. I couldn't believe how much food there was; apparently it took 2 days to cook it all, from the turkey and roast to the mashed/baked potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing and an abundance of vegetables and salads (and there was even a bit of rice made for me)! I brought my yummy Candy Cane Cake, which was a great hit again, and some Christmas sugar cookies using a new recipe that turned out pretty good as well. (Continue reading for the sugar cookie recipe.)

Among some of the Christmas gifts I received were Designing Interactions (yes, I'm a geek), Cook This: Recipes for the Goodtime Girl, Quick & Easy: Meals in Minutes (hmm, am I supposed to take a hint?), super duper soft bathrobe and socks, and a cute Eeyore plush toy.

On Boxing Day instead of heading down to the Eaton Centre as I usually do each year, I headed to Yorkdale, and what a pain it was. The traffic was bumper to bumper on the highway just heading over to the mall, and parking was another story all on its own. After all that trouble I didn't come out with anything but a calendar. I really just had 3 specific things I was looking for that I had problems finding even before Christmas: the brown Aline Aldo bag, a brown RW&Co sweater in small, and the new wave of Disney Treasures DVDs. None of them were even sale items and yet they were all sold out. I did manage to find my bag the next day at the Aldo underground by my workplace- I was so lucky to have snatched the last one there :)

Coming to the close of the week, I'm so terribly exhausted. I really think it's all the food I've been eating that's making me feel sleepy all day, yet I still go to bed late. Eating out every day can really take a toll on a person, especially if there's 2 buffets in the week. I definitely need to go to the gym tomorrow!

Hope you all have a safe and happy new year!

Sugar Cookies

2/3 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour

1. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg, milk, and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with mixer. Stir in any remaining flour. Divide dough in half. If necessary, cover and chill dough 30 minutes or until easy to handle. If using margarine instead of butter, quick chill in the freezer for 10 minutes.

2. On a lightly floured surface, roll half the dough at a time until 1/8 inch thick. Using a cookie cutter, cut dough into desired shapes. Place 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

3. Bake in a 375 F oven for 7 to 8 minutes or until edges are firm and bottoms are very lightly browned. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool. If desired, frost with icing sugar.

Posted by mich at 4:41 PM | return | dreams [0]

December 21, 2006

Cockroach Spotting = Free Ice Cream

Last Friday Lilly, Christian and I had dinner at Hosu on Queen. Lilly had spotted a cockroach skittering by our table, which was really gross. None of the servers noticed us paying attention to the floor so I told Lilly, who was the closest to the bug, to point to it. That seemed to work since one of the waitresses freaked out when she saw it and smashed her foot on it. YUCK! She apologized to us and we thought that was that, but after our dinner she came back with green tea ice cream for us and a discount on our bill. She was so sweet about the whole thing, apologizing for the embarrassing display. Awww... apology accepted! :P That evening we had planned to the Harbourfront Centre for their DJ skating night. We left the restaurant at 10pm, but unfortunately the skating was only until 11. So we thought we'd be able to squeeze in more skate time if we headed to Nathan Phillips Square, which was much closer, however, the lights shut off at that rink at 10 :(

Since Friday night skating was a bust, I dragged Christian out with me on Saturday night for the skating party at Nathan Phillips. Before hitting the ice though we stopped at Butler's Pantry for dinner (they have the best salad dressing!) and we ended up missing the Stabilo performance. We were able to catch the fireworks performance, which was pretty neat. There was also a interesting 15-minute projection piece using the old city hall faade as the canvas.

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This week I finally got my Christmas butt in gear. The tree is all decorated at last and even though I no longer have school exams as an excuse for starting my shopping this late, I think my Christmas procrastination is just innate. I don't think I've ever finished my Christmas shopping before Christmas Eve. 3 days left! Let the frenzy begin.

Posted by mich at 11:37 PM | return | dreams [1]

November 20, 2006

Dance, Food, and Santa

Friday evening was a girl's night out. Christina and I met up after work to have a scrumptious dinner at Il Fornello, where we split a pizza with caramelized onions,smoked chicken, spinach and roasted pine nuts, a pear and strawberry salad, and tiramisu. Although we were pretty full already, the tiramisu was so delicious that we just had to order a second one, haha, oy! After dinner we went to the opera house to watch The Sleeping Beauty ballet. The performance was so beautiful and the costumes were absolutely stunning. The dancer in the role of Aurora was spectacular, having done a really difficult feat of both strength and balance (as was explained to the audience in an informative lecture before the show). Apparently the principal dancer goes through 2 or 3 pointe shoes every show; just goes to show you how much stress and pressure their feet must endure. The most surprising thing was that I didn't realize the Disney movie used variations of the music from the ballet, so I could recognize a lot of different parts the orchestra was playing. It was really quite interesting to see how the music was interpreted so differently in the ballet and movie: most notably, a piece that was played with a really sensual, playful and jazzy tone during a cat dance was the same piece used by Disney that became evil and menacing during a witch scene. I was kind of expecting a big dramatic climax when the witch dies, but all it took for her defeat was a simple cut of her string from the spinning wheel- like, where was the part when she's supposed to turn into a dragon?! Haha, j/k j/k... but still, that "climax" was kinda cheesy. Aside from that, I had a wonderful time and the 3 hours just flew right by.

Saturday night was Tony's birthday dinner so we went to the new Wasabi Japanese buffet that just opened in Richmond Hill. The place was so jam-packed that it was a struggle to get around the food area. But the selection was quite impressive- they even had a chocolate fondue fountain! I ate too much though (especially desserts :X) After dinner I made Christmas sugar cookies from scratch, which turned out surprisingly okay, considering how disastrous the dough was turning out. The dough was so dry and crumbly that I had to add in an extra egg and water to bind everything together. In the end only half the batch was successful, as I had turned the other half into rock-hard discs. What a terrible recipe; I'm not even going to bother posting it up this time.

The Santa Clause parade was yesterday and I with some fellow dodgeballers volunteered to help Sick Kids sell necklaces and toques to the crowds. The weather was so cold out that day, and after walking around from 10:30am to 2pm yelling out to the crowds, my feet were so frozen that I was limping and my throat was so sore. I think overall we were able to raise a lot of money for the hospital so that all made up for it :)

Posted by mich at 9:30 PM | return | dreams [0]

November 8, 2006

Rockin' It Like Noooobody

During our lunch break today Christian and I went over to Active Surplus to to find some headphone extensions. Instead, we found two massive buckets of Personally Yours wallets, each sporting a killer combination of flashy fluorescent colours and your own name! So we spent the next half hour digging through the buckets of electric orange, lime green and hot pink searching for specific names for our friends. I found one for myself- misspelled and everything. Now we can all be tacky wallet buddies!

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I tried a muffin recipe I found in the newspaper. It asks for blueberries but since those are like 5 bucks for an itty bitty box, I replaced them with apples. I'm not sure whether you can actually call them "muffins" since they don't even have flour, sugar or butter. More like... baked oatmeal patties? They didn't turn out very sweet, but they're actually pretty nice to snack on, and they're super healthy! Continue reading for the recipe.

Apple Banana Muffins

3 bananas
1/2 cup canned pears
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp vanilla
1/2 cup apples (e.g macintosh)
1 1/2 cups uncooked oatmeal

Mash 3 bananas with the canned pears in a large bowl. Add cinnamon and vanilla and mix well. Fold in apples and oatmeal. Thinly coat muffin pan with olive oil.

Pour batter in muffin pan and bake at 450F for 30 to 45 minutes.

Yields 6 muffins.

Posted by mich at 8:14 PM | return | dreams [0]

August 25, 2006

Back To Cleanliness

This past weekend I went up to a rented cottage on Lake Simcoe with a bunch of friends. It wasn't really what I expected- the place was very musty and dingy and furnished with the tackiest sofas and trinkets left over from the 70s. Camping would have been nicer; at least I would have been in a clean tent rather than sleeping on on sketchy mattress (thank goodness for my sleeping bag!) Both nights were a bit rainy, but on our second night we were so set on roasting marshmellows over campfire that we had a campfire regardless of the weather. Mmm, yummy marshies. Overall the weekend was pretty relaxing... actually a bit boring, considering there was nothing really to do at Sibbald Point Provincial Park besides a 30 minute hiking trail and canoe/kayak rentals were unavailable across the island. We amused ourselves with football by the beach and a frisbee game called Cups. The rest of the time was occupied by watching videos on the laptop, a long game of Trivial Pursuit, Poker, and cooking. And no, I didn't poison anyone with my french toast or omelettes!

Here are other events that happened since my last post:

Taste of the Danforth - I went down to the Harbourfront with my family and Lilly for a free boat tour on the Kajama ship, but it was all booked up for the rest of the day :( So we headed up to the Danforth for a late lunch and stuffed ourselves with chicken pita, pork skewers, watermelon, and ice cream crpes. I don't think I've ever eaten so much on the Danforth, or had such good food (thanks to Lilly, who knew all the good food stands)! We later went to the Eaton Centre where Lilly and I teared up the stores... we make good shopping buddies: we go fast! The evening invovled more eating; this time at New Sky restaurant in Chinatown (one of the only downtown restaurants that can rival uptown), where my parents treated Christian to a birthday dinner. What a day of WAY too much food!

Birthday party at Raq 'n Waq - The evening started off great; I was having a fun time seeing friends I haven't seen in a while and having JT played (just for Mike) :P ... until someone started having a little too much fun and I played babysitter for the rest of the night and the next day. *hai* No more birthday parties for him!

Oakville Dragonboat Festival - My team won another medal! This time we got gold in Division C. In our last race we shaved off a whopping 10 seconds from our first 2 races. We even beat the time of the winners in Division B! The most classic part of it was having our whole team go up and perform the Carlton Dance when we accepted our medals.

Visitor from California - Jason was in town last week so we got together and chatted over iced capps. I hadn't seen him in 2 years since my trip to California, so it was great to catch up. He told me he got a job in Hawaii (!!!!) that he'll be starting soon. I'm so happy for him! And now I have a place to stay in Honolulu :P

And finally, after having spent the enire summer looking for it, my mom's friend found my LeSportsac fanny pack at an outlet store in the states, and for less than half the retail price! It will be perfect for when I volunteer at the Film Fest. I'm ecstatic!

Posted by mich at 9:30 AM | return | dreams [0]

August 10, 2006

Salut!

I'm back from a long weekend in Quebec City. Aside from the 45 minute walk from the train station to our B&B with heavy bags through the rain, it was a nice and relaxing trip of exploring, shopping, and eating.

Upon arrival we walked straight into a big crowd of costumed people and massive 15-foot giants being prepared for that evening's parade. Apparently, we had stumbled upon Les Ftes de la Nouvelle France, and sure enough, walking all through Vieux Qubec, streets were closed off just for pedestrians and mini villages were set up at various venues. At Place Royale we tried a caribou and duck pt, which turned out to be surprisingly good. We caught some action happening at an open-air auction where people could bid on prizes using their "card money" they earned during the festival. That evening we had dinner at Caf Times, where we tried an amazing seafood linguine. The decor was very bold and mod, but their soundtrack and video screens were playing Cline Dion the entire time, which was a bit on the weird side.

The next day we had a poutine lunch at Chez Ashton - mmm big chunks of cheese curds! The rest of the afternoon was spent walking all around Vieux Qubec, visiting festival venues, walking around the Citadel, and watching the big parade. Early evening we took a shuttle bus to Montmorency Falls to watch Spain's performance in the fireworks competition. Although we waited for 3 hours in the freezing cold, the spectacular show was worth the wait. Upon arriving back in the city, we headed to Le Bel Gauffre for something nice and warm - an amazing pizza on gauffre with herbed mayo for dipping.

On Sunday morning Christian found us a great place for brunch hidden off the main touristy streets with the cutest address: 8 1/2 Ste-Ursule (and just across the street was the street number 9 3/4!) Anyway, at this caf we tried the best omelette ever, and struck up a conversation with a middle-aged couple from Calgary who had driven 5 days to get to Quebec... wow, hardcore. In the afternoon we took a 45 minute bus ride out to Les Galeries de la Capitale solely for the purpose of getting our Simons fix (and omg, they *finally* have a website). It's one-third the size of the Montreal one, but at least it was much bigger than the one in Old Quebec. I still managed to shop there for 1.5 hours (and scored a cheap OBEY tank too!) After busing it back into the city, we walked around the Citadel and along the Plains of Abraham. For our last dinner, we ate at Le Lapin Saut, a cute traditional french country restaurant on Petit-Champlain, where we ate... bunnies :X Sounds horrible and cruel, but was it ever delicious :P We started off with les rillettes de lapin, which was a spread for bread, then I had a rabbit in two sauces: two mustards and maple. The meat was so tender and the sauces were amazing. We finished dinner by pigging out on strawberry cheesecake.

I think I always gain weight after vacations... hm, I wonder whyyyy!

Posted by mich at 11:34 PM | return | dreams [0]

July 20, 2006

Summerlicious 2006

This year's Summerlicious is winding down to a close and I had the chance to visit 3 places for dinner: Urban Restaurant, Monsoon, and North 44.

Here's a breakdown of what I had:

Urban Restaurant


  • Summerberry & mint soup [chilled and refreshing]

  • Grilled St. Louis cut baby back ribs with crown royal molasses sauce, toasted pinenut and parsley rice with house baked beans [a disappointing entree of ribs that were too dry, beans that tasted funky, rice that too hard]

  • Mixed berry and apple crumble, devonshire custard [delish!]

Monsoon


  • Roasted tomato salad with thai basil and chilled tofu [meh- I can buy my own tomato and stuff tofu in its slits]

  • Roasted muscovy duck breast with gingered peaches and green tea soba noodles [best duck I've ever had- sweet and succulent, although the soba noodles were soaked in way too much salty soy sauce]

  • Osaka tiramisu, green tea chantilly cream, sweet azuki red bean paste and chocolate shavings [the word tiramisu was a bit deceiving since there was no expresso flavour, but the green tea flavour was very nice and subtle]

North 44


  • Golden potato gnocchi with woodland mushrooms, sweet peas, cream and white wine sauce [came in a HUGE bowl, but the actual food only filled 10% of it... it was excellent, nonetheless]

  • Roasted beef tenderloin with leek onion and beef cheek ravioli, shallot merlot sauce and seasonal vegetables [really tender and nice, but the portion was ridiculously skimpy]

  • Raspberry clafouti with warm vanilla sauce [finally, a decent portion of food... and it was scrumptious!]

All in all, I found the most satisfying restaurant to be Monsoon, where the presentation of the food was not only delightful but delicious (and well portioned!) I can't deny that the food at North 44 surpassed the other restaurants, but with portions that're just enough for a toddler, it just leaves you longing for more. Thank goodness for all the free loaves of bread.

Posted by mich at 10:47 PM | return | dreams [0]

June 25, 2006

Batch Update

It's been a busy week leaving me with no time to write. So here it is.

Last Saturday I watched 2 World Cup games during the day before heading downt to Little Italy for the Taste of Little Italy. It was pretty fun walking down the street becuase of all the flags being waved by the football fans. Many of the Italian restaurants were jam packed with long wait times so Chris and I had dinner at Utopia for sandwiches and burgers. In the evening I skipped out on my dragonboat team's fundraiser event at Touch Lounge for Sam's farewell party at Up Lounge for one last get together before he left for Dallas.

Sunday morning Chris and I went to Little Italy for brunch at Sicilian Sidewalk Caf in Little Italy and to watch the match between Brazil and Australia. The game was good, but the service at the cafe was absolutely lousy: our waitress never brought the ketchup we ask for, she didn't bring the bill until 30 min after we had asked for it, she insisted that my hot water should be charged as tea, and then wouldn't give me back the proper change because she didn't have enough money on her. What is that?? Afterwards I went into a gelato shop for some tiramisu gelato- my first taste of frozen dessert goodness in over a month! It was heaven. That evening I took my parents and relatives for Father's Day dinner at Pacific mall, where we saw our old family friends from Ottawa for like the third time in a row. What crazy coincidences- that's the only place we ever see bump into them.

Monday night was my dodgeball team's last playoff game where we completely creamed our opponent. In the end we finished 3rd out of 11... not too shabby. After that I rushed home to watch the taped Spain game, which was absolutlely thrilling. Behind a goal in the first half, then a total comeback with 3 goals!

Tuesday after work I met up with Kris to go to Sandra's convocation. Afterwards we tried out the new Tibetan/Indian restaurant on Queen called Everest. We shared samosas, a Tibetan dish of tofu, mushrooms and other veggies, and a dish of butter chicken. We met up with Janine later for the TSO performance Last Night of the Proms. It was, without a doubt, the most fun and lively evening I've ever had at the symphony. The first piece was Mavis in Las Vegas, which was full of so many different styles, from big band jazz to wedding chapel music, as it took you on a journey through the many parts of Vegas. Happy Birthday was played in different variations of styles like Hadyn, Mozard, Beethoven, Wagner, 30s film, and Hungarian folk dance. Then came the ever popular Rule Britannia, which got everyone waving their British and Canadian flags, and even doing the wave around the whole auditorium. During Fantasia on British Sea Songs, one cellist used his bow to play a saw, which sounded like music being played underwater. It was so amazing to watch him play the saw so beautifully and be able to hit all the notes with such precision. Then came Pomp and Circumstance, which had the starting brass section playing so aloof, out of sync and somewhat off-key as if they were in a high school band. Sitting above them was the choir acting as bored graduates fanning themselves and throwing pieces of crumpled paper down into the orchestra. Then came the showoff solo clarinetist who got exasperated sighs from the band members before the orchestra finally went full force into the piece. It was such an unforgettable experience.

After work on Friday I learned how to play sqaush at Goodlife. It took me a while to get the hang of the non-bouncy ball, but in no time, I was a killah! Chris and I walked over to Caf Cinquecento for Cass' farewell dinner before she headed off to HK. Afterwards I dragged Chris and Cass to walk me to Union to catch the GO bus before they would head off to the Drinks Show with the rest of the party. But the walk was so long that they didn't want to walk all the way to the CNE, so we decided to hang out at the Royal York's Epic restaurant for drinks and dessert. Cass and I both ordered virgin strawberry cocktails, and the three of us shared a cake dish with 3 tiny portions of cute miniature cakes. One was this brownie tower that oozed out fudge when you pierce it, another was a vanilla mousse on caramelized waffle, and the third was a hollow timbit-like sugared pastry with chocolate coated on the inside. They were all so delectable!

Last night I went to the TSO concert with Kris and her friend Jonathan to see Shakespeare in Love. After that I met up with Chris to go to May's birthday party at Up Lounge, which was a pretty fun time. The DJ played too much hip-hop and reggae though and not enough house. Bah! Woke up early this morning and went to the Canadian Opera Company's open house event. I went on a guided tour that took us onstage and backstage to see the rich people lounge, costume rooms and ballet studio. The ballet company is performing Sleeping Beauty in November and we got to see the costumes- they're 34 years old and they still look impecable (and the dress for Aurora was worn by Karen Kain when she performed in the production way back when). Pictures coming soon!

I went home in the afternoon to catch the Portugal vs Netherlands game. Is anyone as shocked as I was with the events that unfolded? You thought the Italy vs US game was bad, this game was nasty. One player injured twice, 2 fight break-outs, a head butt, 12 people booked, 4 red cards, and a captain that may very well have to deal with FIFA sanctions after the game. Oy. Hopefully Portugal still has enough in them to send England packing.

Posted by mich at 10:12 PM | return | dreams [0]

May 17, 2006

Hardcore Dodgeballer

On Monday our dodgeball team had a 9:30pm game all the way over by Yorkdale Mall. We usually play at Bloor/Dufferin in a nice big gymnasium. This time however, our gym was about half the length of our normal one. Balls were crashing against the walls at a million miles per hour. Needless to say, I was quite scared when watching the other teams play before us. Since only 2 girls on our team showed up that night, both of us had to play every single game (at least 2 girls have to play a game). Couldn't even break for more than 5 minutes... boy, was I exhausted. >_< Now I have some scrapes and bruises on my knees to tend to, waaah.

Last night I went to the ROM for a lecture titled "In the Skin of a Building" that discusses the importance of a building's envelope to the overall design and how it supports the architecture's programme. They had representatives from 3 architectural firms taking about their designs for the ROM Crystal, U of T's Pharmacy Building, and U of T's Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research. It was a pretty enlightening presentation from the U of T building designers, but the lifeless ROM guys almost put me to sleep talking about construction building materials and showing pictures of freakin' steel rods and bolts being installed.

Hm, how was my weekend? Saturday night I went to Sam's birthday party at his condo, then headed downtown at 10:30 pm for Christian's friends' Jack & Jill party. I tried my hand at blackjack and won a bunch of hands, wooo! Much better luck here than in Las Vegas, haha. On Sunday I built my IKEA Malm Drawer all by myself!!! I also wielded a hammer without any supervision, yup yup! I'm so proud of myself! *beams* But I just realized last night as I was trying to fit in my top drawer that they gave me wrong screws for that one drawer and now it won't fit into the drawer opening. Now I have to go back to IKEA to get the proper ones from them. Oh well, now I can also pick up a Benno CD Tower and some more Lant chips (yum). That night for Mother's Day I took out my whole family for dinner at Restoran Malaysia, where we had an appetizer platter, golden chicken curry, roti, beef rendang, and pad thai. And O.M.G. my dad actually said the food was "okay la!"... no complaints, it's a miracle!

Posted by mich at 10:55 PM | return | dreams [0]

April 30, 2006

I Climbed the CN Tower!

Yesterday was the CN Tower Climb for the WWF. I went downtown with Christina, Hershey, and Cathy at 7am. It was such a zoo down there with so many different lineups that we didn't get to start climbing until 9:15. My final time was 22:28... better than what I expected :) Although, I felt my lungs were going to burst afterwards. I ended up raising $150, so a big thanks to everyone who sponsored me!

After the climb I had lunch with Christian in Chinatown, then went to see the Frank Gehry: Art + Architecture exhibit at the AGO. It was a fabulous showcase of Gehry's latest projects: Walt Disney Concert Hall in LA, DZ Bank in Berlin, MIT's Stata Center (who wouldn't mind coding 24/7 in this playground of a site?!) in Cambridge, Millennium Park, in Chicago, and our own Art Gallery of Ontario. The large models of the exterior and interior designs are truly spectacular in their detailing and expression of Gehry's ideas (and reminded why I hated model construction so much because of the tediousness). There were also walls of Gehry's sketches that were just simple scribbles and lines but were so expressive and informative all at once. I even saw a huge photograph of Frank Gehry with my first-year architecture prof (also the dean of U of T's school of architecture), which was pretty neat. During our visit at the gallery though, I was really starting to feel the effects of the climb taking a toll: I was struggling to keep my eyes open during the videos and I developed quite a nasty headache. After the gallery Chris and I walked back along Queen Street W. and stopped at a vacant residential apartment just west of Ossington to check out an exhibition called Generated Habitats created by A Collection of Foreign Objects, a Canadian collective of artists that was founded in Japan. The idea of displaying their art responding to a residential environment is pretty interesting, but while I was doing a walkthrough of the space, I couldn't ignore the dinginess and dirtieness of the place (Christian apparently saw piles of rat poop all over the place).

When we finally returned to Christian's place I had to crash for 1.5 hours before heading out again for dinner. We chose a trendy Malaysian restaurant/lounge that was at the corner of Queen and Shaw. Since I wasn't that hungry we decided to split an appetizer platter of veggie puffs, tuna rolls, taro frites, and pork belly, plus a beef and shrimp rendang entre. For an appetizer that costs $20, you'd have expected something substantial, but there were only 2 or 3 things of each item. The rendang was delicious, but again the portion was so miniscule. I don't think I've ever paid so much for Asian food, omg. Especially after having tried Malaysian food at Restoran Malaysia, where the food is amazing and so cheap, I think I'll just stick with uptown restaurants for my Asian fix.

:::

I'll just do a small recap of other recent events of my past week... last Saturday I went to the David Duncan House for Cass and Vanessa's birthday dinner. The restaurant is in a gorgoues Victorian-styled mansion and they serve up some amazing steak. Normally I don't like steak unless it's cooked by my dad, but this place has me converted. If anyone goes, they need to try out the peppercorn steak (yummmmy). The tiramisu I ordered for dessert was a bit disappointing however since it was mostly cream and barely had any taste of expresso. I should have gotten Sam's "award winning" chocolate raspberry mousse cake- that was some amazing cake!

Yes, after all that eating, a girl's gotta work out. I joined a dodge ball league with Christian that plays every week. Last Monday was our very first game, and we kicked butt (12-2, baby)! It turns out that there's a guy from my OAC chem class who's on my team, but he thought my name was Michelle Kwan, haaaar. I also bumped into one of my old high school friends outside the gym, who turned out to be on another dodge ball team playing in the gym next door. Small world!

Posted by mich at 11:37 AM | return | dreams [0]

April 18, 2006

Easter Weekend In Montral

It was a chilly and windy weekend in Montreal and now I'm getting sick *cough cough*. I had a fun time, although my sore legs are still trying to recuperate from all the walking we did. And after my legs get better I need to hit the gym to undo all the eating we did >.<

On Thursday Christian and I took the 5pm express train where it turned out that we had business class seats. So there were plugs and tables for us to watch videos on the laptop and for me to do some Flash work. We got into the city at 9:30 and cabbed it to my sister's place on St. Laurent. The three of us then went to Santropol, a really cute restaurant that has a really unique selection of sandwiches (minted ham sandwich anyone?). I wanted to try the Sweet Root sandwich, which consisted of nuts, raisins, apples and carrots, but they were completely out :( So I opted for a yummy Millet Pie that was very wheat-y and came with some sort of sweet and spicy ketchup. After our filling dinner we walked back to Vanessa's place and watched a couple of episodes of How I Met Your Mother.

Friday morning I woke up early to squeeze in some Flash work before everyone else woke up. At noon the three of us walked over to St. Denis for brunch at Caf Fruits Folies, where we all ordered different variations of french toast dishes. After eating, Vanessa went to the McGill to do work, while Chris and I walked up St. Denis towards Mont-Royal. We stopped into a cute boutique called Nahika and I found a cute tennis-style Groggy tank (I think this is the third time in a row where I went to Montreal and bought a Groggy item, haha... why don't Toronto stores carry them?!). Afterwards we turned onto Mont-Royal to check out used CD stores, walked about 20 minutes down the avenue, doubled back to St. Denis, then walked back down towards downtown. Once we made it down to Square St-Louis, we veered off the main road and found ourselves on Prince Arthur, a quaint pedestrian road dotted with restaurants and cafs. We made it across to St. Laurent, down to Sherbrooke then back across to St. Denis to continue down to St. Catherine. We walked on St. Catherine towards Place-des-Arts to meet with Sunnie, but on the trek there Chris had to have his mandatory fill of poutine at La Belle Province ("the working man's fries" says he!). After meeting with Sunnie we walked to Les Ailes de la Mode to pick up Chris' friend Thuy from work, then went back to Place-des-Arts to meet with my sister at 7. Vanessa suggested a Spanish tapas place that all her friends recommended, so we decided to eat there for dinner. The only problem was that she wasn't exactly sure where it was on St. Laurent, only that it was "north of her place". Ok fine... a bit of a hike, but no one was really that hungry yet. By 8:15 we were still walking up St. Laurent looking for the place, legs sore, bones chilled, and tummies growling. We gave up shortly after that (it turns out we turned back less than a block away!), and walked another 20 mintues to St. Denis to a Caribbean restaurant called Kalalu. It probably took another hour or so before we could eat because the service was pretty slow. We had Creole cigars (spicy seasoned beef, pork, crabmeat, scallions, and pollock in a spring roll wrap)and Accra (cod fish cakes fried and served with a lime pepper mayo and a mango dipping sauce) as appetizers, which turned out to be pretty good. However, the pork of my Griot dish was too dry, so it was kinda hard to eat.

On Saturday Christian, Vanessa and I headed to St-Viateur Bagel for a bagel sandwich brunch. It was pretty cool to see how they make bagels in the wood burning ovens; and of course I had to get a dozen Montreal style bagels to take home (but apparently you can order them online too!). Afterwards, as my sister headed home to study some more, Chris and I took the metro downtown to shop at Simons. He actually thought I was joking when I said I needed 2 hours in the store. But we really stayed there from 2-4:00 while I scoured the whole store and came out with 4 finds :) Next stop was the Museum of Contemporary Art to check out the Anselm Kiefer exhibit. For dinner that evening, we decided to give the Spanish restaurant another chance. This time, my sister had looked up the exact address and intersection of La Sala Rosa. It was only a 20 minute walk but we ended up having to wait an hour for a table >.< In the end, the wait was definitely worth it; ordered fried squid, garlic shrimp, fried goat cheese, potato and onion omelette with spanish sausage tortilla, sauted zuccuni, peppers and tomatoes on a nest of potatoes, and finally a chicken paella with vegetables. The food was absolutely scrumptious, but the fried cheese was definitely... interesting, to say the least. Later in the evening Christian and I headed to his friend's birthday party at a club called System. I didn't realize how smoky the club would be (they still allow smoking in bars/clubs) so I had to leave after half an hour because I was seriously suffocating. Yes I'm a big party pooper. So we headed back to my sister's area and met up with my sister and her friend at Frites Alors! for greasy snack at 1:30.

The next morning Chris and I walked over to Rockaberry's for drinks/lunch/dessert. My sister wasn't exaggerating when she said the pies there were amazing. I couldn't believe the selection they had, and it took us a while to finally decide on the apple crumble pie (warmed up, of course!) with a big hunk of ice cream. Christian's friends from the previous night dropped by to hang out for a bit. Afterwards, we went over to Schwartz's deli to endure the 20 minute lineup to get a piece of their famous smoked meat. Our final destination was a walk around Vieux Montreal before going to the train station to head back home.

Posted by mich at 5:44 PM | return | dreams [0]

February 8, 2006

Curse You Global Warming!

This past weekend Christian took me on a trip to Ottawa for Winterlude... but since it was so unbelievably warm and rainy, it might as well as been called Waterlude! :( It looked promising as we rode the train up Friday morning and saw snow out the window, but once we arrived in Ottawa we were greeted by rain. Because of the terrible weather, most events and activities were cancelled. In sum, most of the weekend was spent indoors eating (much to the chagrin of my waistline).

On Friday we had taken the early train at 7am and got into Ottawa at 11:30. We located our bed & breakfast in ByWard Market, and my goodness, the place was absolutely stunning! It was the kind of decor I admire in those architecture mags: stylish, minimalist, European with funky accents and colours. It was a 3-story place where our bedroom was on the first floor, kitchen, dining and living room on the second, and 2 other bedrooms on the third. I spent the next little while taking pictures of the house. Oh and I must talk about the towels. So thick and soft, you can't even keep them tied around your body because they're SO thick! And the blankets... soooo soft! Haha ok I'm finished. We had lunch at Blue Cactus in the market and had the worst waiter who kept ignoring us. Then we walked around Chteau Laurier and neared Parliament Hill, but the weather was dreary and rainy that we headed into the Rideau Centre for some shopping. Afterwards, we chilled in our room while pigging out on poutine and watching TV. Tom Cochrane was performing at the Snowbowl stage on the canal in the evening so we checked that out for a bit, but we didn't know any of his songs. The canal had been opened that day just for Winterlude, but it was only safe to walk across rather than to skate. So then we walked down to Confederation Park to check out the ice lounge and ice carving competition that had started that day and was to continue until Sunday at noon. For dinner neither of us were that hungry so we decided to have some small apetizer dishes at Milestone's. For over 30 minutes our blind waitress didn't even acknowledge us so we were just sitting there starving away (what's with all these bad waiters?). Finally the host that had seated us realized we had been ignored and got another waiter to serve us. The only upside was that everything we ordered was on the house as an apology. Sweeeet. That evening I tried ice wine for the first time, and it was surprisingly bearable- doesn't burn like the normal wines! I managed a whole half glass worth and I didn't even end up with a pulsing headache... miraculous!

Saturday morning we woke up at 8:15 for breakfast upstairs. Our innkeeper, Anthony from New Zealand, turned out to be an amazing chef and had made us yummy orange strawberry smoothies, and a plate of fruit florally arranged and eggs benedict with creamy hollondaise sauce. *smacks lips* We had been exhausted from the day before and I had problems sleeping with my really puffy pillow, so we just crashed for another couple of hours after breakfast. In the afternoon we took the Sno-Bus to Jacques-Cartier Park in Gatineau, where they have Snowflake Kingdom, North America's largest snow playground. But once we arrived, all we saw was mud, melting mounds of snow, and people standing at the closed entrace letting everyone know that everything was cancelled. How sucky is that? We considered stealing a Bloc Qubecois sign (unfortunately they were secured too well to the lamp posts) before heading back across the river. There was no point in travelling to Dow's Lake either since everything was cancelled there too. We had lunch in the market again at Zak's Diner, where their meals are really fit for two people. We had a yummy strawberry milkshake (dessert #1) and each ordered a sandwhich but we could only manage to eat half: that's how big the meals are o_O. We hung out for a while at the Rideau Centre, then went back to our B&B, where the sleepy head crashed for another 2 hours while I surfed the internet looking up Shih Tzu dogs that I want. His name will be either Puppy or Guiseppe, but Christian suggested Max()... LOL, nerd much? :P I had my hopes up that perhaps later in the evening the canal would be fit for skating, but because of all the rain it was completely closed >_< We walked back to Confederation Park to check out the progress of the ice sculptures. Some were turning out great, but everything was slowly melting. You could see everything dripping; I felt so bad for the sculptors working so hard when their pieces probably wouldn't even see the light of the next day. We saw a CTV reporter commenting on the Winterlude activities, declaring that the only thing you can do this weekend is to see the ice sculptures... for now. We walked up and down Elgin, back up to the Snowbowl and caught a bit of a fire busker performance, then took pictures of the cute Ice Hog mascots running around amongst the crowd. We headed back into the market where we stopped into Oh So Good!, where they have a craaazy assortment of interesting cheesecakes. *droooool* So many to choose from! I decided on a mango raspberry cheesecake (dessert #2) and had a nice peach black tea to warm me up from the cold. We went back to our B&B (I love how it's in such an amazing location!!) where we rested a bit before heading back outside to get Beaver Tails (dessert #3). This time, however, it ended up pouring rain and we had to run back home protecting our poor beaver tails from getting soaked. I enjoyed my scrumptious apple cinnamon tail while we watched a funny chinese movie called Kung-Fu Mahjong.

The next morning for breakfast Anthony had made us berry smoothies and AMAZING custard french toast using thick french bread. [Aside: I tried out the recipe on my own when I got home, but the egg mixture didn't end up soaking all the way through the bread :( Continue reading down below for the recipe.] In the morning the weather was 6 degress so there was no way anything would be going on for Winterlude. After eating, we packed up our bags then took the bus to the Canada Science and Technology Museum. The place looked a lot smaller than what I remember 12 years ago, but inside was totally renovated. Although the Ontario Science Centre here is a lot bigger, all the exhibits are old and grungy that I remember being scared to touch something so dirty and germ-infested. The museum turned out to be so much fun and I actually learned some really neat things (like what the heck Sanford Fleming is famous for, haha... omg I'm such a nerd). We stayed there for 4 hours and took the bus back downtown. By this time it was 3pm and we were starving, but all the restaurants in the market were closed in the afternoon between lunch and dinner. After walking around the whole market trying all the restuarants, we finally went back to Zak's again (it's open 24 hours on the weekend, y'know!), where I had a Chicken Fajita wrap with onion rings (<--- sooo gooood!). Again, the wrap was so massive that I ended up saving half of it for the train ride home. Aftewards we went into Zone, a house and home store that carried some amazingly designed kitchen ware and home decor. I bought myself a mug with an infuser, the first time I've seen one since I bought one for my dad 5 years ago. We picked up our bags from the B&B and walked to the bus stop. We were so close to Confederation Park so we decided to go down and check out the finished ice sculptures. Poor sculptures!! So many of them were destroyed, and a few sculptors had given up on their works. By the time we finished circling the park and headed back up to the street I finally saw a taffy stall, but we had no time to make any! :( We took the 6:15 train back home and arrived to Union at 10:30; then I travelled another hour back home and got in at 11:30.

 
Snow sculpture on Friday night
(man's right hand already broken)
  Snow sculpture on Saturday morning
Custard French Toast

5 eggs
2 cups of milk (whole or 1/2 & 1/2)
1/2 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon nutmeg
French bread cut into 1-1/2 inch slices


1. Combine eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla & Nutmeg
2. Place sliced bread in a glass cassarole pan.
3. Pour egg mixture over bread - spinkle with additional nutmeg. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
5. Cook in greased pan until golden brown on both sides. Top with powdered sugar, fresh berries and a dallop of whipped cream.

Posted by mich at 9:11 PM | return | dreams [1]

January 23, 2006

Put On A Happy Face

According to British psychologist Cliff Arnall, today is considered the unhappiest day of the year when you take into account the weather, debts from holiday shopping, the time since Christmas, and abandoned New Year's resolutions (and maybe since it's a Monday too). Throw in the federal elections into the mix and you might get a very unhappy Paul Martin by the end of the evening (but let's try to be optimistic, folks!) :)

I must tell you all about this new snack I'm obsessed about now: Terra Chips. I tried the Mediterranean flavoured exotic chips that uses a variety of vegetables like taro, ruby taro, sweet potato, yuca, batata, and parsnip. Mmmm, yummy and colourful! They have them at Loblaws, but when I saw them in Kensington Market for half the price I was all over them like a fat kid on a Smartie! We also dropped into Moonbeam Caf while strolling around the market and I saw Sook-Yin Lee at one of the tables. I'm pretty sure she lives in the neighbourhood, so it would make sense. But Christian doesn't think it was her. I just think he's blind. :P

I just found out today that Carl Zeiss is coming out with lenses for Nikon SLRs!! I am absolutely ecstatic. I'm a huge fan of Zeiss lenses; although I can't afford the Contax 645 and I can't mount my Zeiss lens from my Contax RTS onto my digital, this is the happiest news ever!

Posted by mich at 5:56 PM | return | dreams [1]

January 8, 2006

Helloooo Nurse!

I made a pretty darned good chicken noodle soup the other day for my poor sick baby. It turned out a bit too thyme-y but we'll just overlook that!

Last night Chris, Sandra and I had dinner with Kris, whom we haven't seen in ages! As always, upon seeing her she bursted into laughter within the first couple of seconds. We had dinner at a sushi place, during which Chris^2 unwittingly ingested balls of wasabi tucked into their sushi pieces, resulting in flaming red faces and tears. Value entertainment that can be replayed on captured video :P Good times, hehe! Later on we trekked up to Williams for yummy waffle desserts. There goes my one dessert for this week >_<

This afternoon Michelle hosted a lovely latke lunch for a small bunch of us. Her potato pancakes were delicious and she also filled us up with salad, cheese & crackers, sandwiches, and veggies & dip. After getting all stuffed, she hauled out a fruit platter and apple pie, omg! It was a great lunch and a fun afternoon, but now I don't think I have space for dinner :P

Hearty Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

2 cans undiluted chicken broth
2 large celery sticks
1 onion
1-1.5 tsp dried thyme leaves
2 skinless, boneless chicken breats
1 cup broad egg noodles or 1/2-in. bundle spaghetti
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsely or coriander

1. Pour chicken broth and 2 cans of water into a large saucepan or pasta pot and set over medium-high heat. Slice carrots into thin rounds, then add. Thinly slice celery. Finely chop onion. Add celery and onion to broth along with thyme. Stir. Cut chicken into 1-in. cubes, then stir into broth. Bring to a boil. If using egg noodles, stir in. Then cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. If using spaghetti, break into thirds, then stir in and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 10 min.

2. While noodles are cooking, chop parsley. Remove soup from heat and stir in parsley. Ladle into warm bowls. Great with pieces of french bread for dipping. Soup will keep well, covered and refrigerated, up to 4 days or freeze up to 2 months. Noodles will absorb liquid, so you will need to add more broth or water when reheating.

Makes 7.5 cups.

Posted by mich at 6:05 PM | return | 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 | return | dreams [0]

July 18, 2005

Buzz Buzz I Wunder Why She Duzz?

Time for another batch blog!

Wednesday I went down to Roy Thompson Hall with Cass and Kim to sign up for shifts for the Toronto Film Festival. This year, instead of working at the Isabel Bader Theatre, I'll be at Roy Thompson (for the opening gala!) and the AGO. I'm looking forward to it... I had so much fun last year :) Later in the evening Christian and I had a summerlicious dinner at Canoe that consisted of Citrus Cured Mahone Bay Scallops Sweet Shrimp, Honey Mushrooms, Tarragon & Truffle Oil for the appetizer, Roasted Tenderloin of Pork Parsnip, Granny Smith & Maple Black Pepper Jus for the entre, and Wild Blueberry Cheesecake that was to die for. Mmmmmmm.

On Friday afternoon I went to see a Fringe Festival play called Boygroove with Vanessa. It's part play, part musical that basically spoofs the whole idea of boy bands. It was soooo hilarious: the music, the characters and the storyline! While waiting in line for tickets, I bumped into Jen who was volunteering at the festival and gave her a spot in the line (shhh!).

In the evening Christian and I biked to the Distillery District for the PartiGras that kicks off the annual Toronto Beaches Jazz Festival. It was my first time in the area and I really liked the quaint atmosphere, which was nicely complemented by all the great jazz performances. I got home a lot later than I had wanted. I was so tired and I had to wake up at 7am the next morning for my second fashion shoot, but I wanted to discharge my camera batteries in order to have a fully charged battery to use. I should have just left it as it was because there was enough juice in it to last me the day- I was just really unsure how long it would last because the first 2 charges didn't give me a lot of battery life. By 1:30 am I was so ready to hit the sack and I was uploading and re-uploading pictures onto my computer to use up the batteries, but it didn't seem like it was doing much good. So for the next TWO hours I sat there shooting off my camera with the flash. Click. Click. Click. I was absolutely dying from tiredness but I had to keep going... and finally it was done!

Unfortunately, I ended up sleeping in until 8am the next morning when I had to actually be downtown at 8:30 :O Whoooops. Made a mad dash out the door and when I arrived at the studio, I found out I was switched to another team, where my partner had arrived as late as I (at 9am), and we were frantically trying to put our sets together in time for the shoot. However, it turned out that our model still hadn't arrived yet and we had no idea when she was going to be in. So we ended up shooting one of the model's sister, who was just there to watch everything. We actually had a pretty good shoot with her and I finished off a 1 GB card (and even had to delete some bad pics to shoot some more). Before lunchtime while my partner was shooting I went to Future Shop nearby to buy another memory card, but they were out since it was on sale for a really good price. I had no idea where else to get a cheap memory card, so I ended up TTC'ing all the way back up to North York Center to meet with my parents who would help me buy one at the Future Shop there. And thennnn, TTC back down to Ryerson to immediately start setting up my set for the next model (I had completely missed lunch). The next model was really pretty but she needed a lot of direction ("raise your right arm- no that's your left arm!"); it got to the point where I had to go in and move her body parts. Overall though, I had a lot more fun during this shoot than last week's. I felt a lot more comfortable, and I actually got to shoot for more than 30 min! I'm in the process of reviewing all the shots for my critique tomorrow, so I'll post them up when I get them all together :)

Posted by mich at 4:53 PM | return | dreams [1]

May 17, 2005

Bumming Around

Life as an unemployed bum is hard. Too much to do... I've become a busy busy bee. Aside from a full-time "job" of building my online art/design/photography portfolio and applying for jobs, a girl's got to have some fun too!

Last Tuesday was the CSSU handover dinner at The Keg, where I learned the hard way that prime rib is really steak instead of a rack of ribs (disappointment #1). The mashed potatoes were fabulous, but halfway through I decided to add butter. However, I had mistaken my small cup of horseradish for butter in the dim light. I mixed around the horseradish and practically choked on my first bite- it was utterly disgusting. I had completely ruined the rest of my scrumptious mashed potatoes (disappointment #2). After dinner a handful of us went to Dmitre's on Eglington for dessert. I was so tempted to get the strawberry milkshake, but learning from my lesson at the Keg for not diversifying from Chris' choice, I decided to try the strawberry smoothie. It was the WORST smoothie I ever had in my entire life. It was tasteless and SOUR. Should not have diversified (disapointment #3).

Wednesday, Christian came uptown to hang out for the day. We lunched with Chris, Tony and Sandra at Ding Tai Fong Shanghai restaurant at First Markham. Watched a few episodes of 24 in the afternoon and then made dinner for my family at night. This dinner was much more successful than our first attempt as we got no complaints from anyone (and had enough food for everyone)! The night's meal consisted of rice, roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, BBQ spare ribs, and baked chicken breast. The rosated veggies and mashed potatoes were delish! Gotta love my Betty Crocker cookbook :) [continue reading for recipes]

Friday is known as couch potato day... really! I swear, Christian and I left permanent bum marks on the couch from sitting in front of the TV ALL day watching 24. Ok I exaggerate. We got up to make salad and perogies with onions for lunch. Then we plopped back down. 11 episodes in a day. 6 more to go!

On Sunday I was accomplice to a shopaholic spree at the Eaton Centre. I got to take Christian shopping for grownup clothes! He cleans up pretty nicely... from a bum to a lang jai all in one afternoon :P

'Twas a pretty long day today. Transported my bike downtown in the morning, grocery shopped in Kensignton with Christian for picnic lunch things, then prepared lunch. Early afternoon we went out with Joseph for a light lunch at a Tibetan restaurant where I tried some Momos (dumplings). On our walk back to Chris' place, a pigeon pooped on Chris' shoulder... yucky! (proof #1 that bad things happen to bad people). We took out our bikes and biked down Bathurst Street to Queen's Quay then along the lakeshore all the way to High Park. We biked around the park and in some forested areas then lunched on our yummy yummy sandwiches (I love that creamy Havarti cheese!). After that we visited Christian's best friend's family and socialized until the evening. During dinner, Chris sat on a stool that broke right when he sat down (proof #2 that bad things happen to bad people). Hm, I think I'm onto something.

Back to portfolio-ing.


Mashed Potatoes

6 medium potatoes (about 2 pounds)
1/4 cup margarine or butter
1/4 teaspoon salt, if desired
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
Dash of pepper

1. Wash and peel the potatoes, and cut into large pieces. Remove the margarine from the refrigerator so it can soften while the potatoes cook.

2. Add 1 inch of water (and the 1/4 teaspoon salt if desired) to the saucepan. Cover and heat the boiling over high heat. Add potato pieces. Cover and heat to boiling, reduce heat just enough so water bubbles gently.

3. Cook covered 20 to 25 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork. The cooking time will vary, depending on the size of the potato pieces and the type of potato used. Drain potatoes in a strainer.

4. Return the drained potatoes to the saucepan, and cook over low heat about 1 minute to dry them. While cooking, shake the pan often to keep the potatoes from burning, which can happen very easily once the water has been drained off.

5. Place the potatoes in a medium bowl to be mashed. You can mash them in the same saucepan they were cooked in if the saucepan will not be damaged by the potato masher or electric mixer.

6. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher or electric mixer until no lumps remain. Add the milk in small amounts, beating after each addition. You may not use all the milk because the amount needed to make potatoes smooth and fluffy depends on the type of potato used. Add the margarine, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the pepper. Beat vigourously until potatoes are light and fluffy.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.



Roasted Vegetables

1 medium red or green bell pepper
1 medium onion
1 medium zucchini
1/4 pound mushrooms
Olive oil-flavoured or regular cooking spray
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh or 2 teaspoons dried basil leaves, if desired

1. Cut the bell pepper lengthwise in half, and cut out seeds and membrane. Cut each half lengthwise into 4 strips.

2. Peel the onion, and cut in half. Wrap on half of onion, and refrigerate for another use. Cut remaining half into 4 wedges, then separate into pieces.

3. Cut the zucchini crosswise into 1-inch pieces. Cut off and discard the end of each mushroom stem, and leave the mushrooms whole.

4. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Spray the bottom of the pan with cooking spray. Arrange the vegetables in a single layer in the sprayed pan. Spray the vegetables with cooking spray until lightly coated. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and basil.

5. Bake uncovered 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven. Turn vegetables over. Bake uncovered about 10 minutes longer or until vegetables are crisp-tender when pierced with a fork.

Makes 4 servings.

Posted by mich at 11:18 PM | return | dreams [1]

May 4, 2005

Back to Kitchen Madness

Now that school's out, that leaves some time for some cooking craziness :) So Christian and I made Chunky Broccoli Soup for lunch yesterday and it was marvelous! I've never had such yummy soup (except for New England clam chowder) :P

Continue reading for the recipe...

Yup I was a rabbit yesterday. The soup was so filling that I could only have a garden salad for dinner. We went out to dinner at Milestone's and bubble tea at Ten Ren's with Justine, Brad, Jon and David. Unfortunately, I almost killed someone with the pecans in my salad. Poor baby :( And all I can say about Jon and David is that... they're craaaaazy! :P

This week I'm gonna get so fat. I'm going out to eat practically every single night o_O I also found out that we have family friends from Ottawa coming in tomorrow evening to stay with us until Sunday for Jon's (not JD) graduation. So tomorrow we're going out to dinner for Mother's Day, since Vanessa is going back to Montreal on Sat., then dessert at Dmetre's with Darryl and Co., Friday is the CS grad BBQ (which means I miss out on dinner with our guests), Saturday is dinner with the CS gang, and Sunday is Mother's Day dinner with grandma. OK, I'm off to go jogging now... better start burning the calories off before they even arrive right?

Chunky Broccoli Soup

1 large or 2 small stalks of broccoli (about 3/4 pound)
1 small carrot
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) ready-to-serve chicken broth
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cold water
1 cup half-and-half

1. Trim the large leaves from the broccoli and cut off any tough ends of lower stems. Rinse broccoli with cool water. Cut flower end from stalk, and cut flowerets into bite-size pieces. Cut the stalk into small pieces, about 1/4- to 1/2-inch cubes. You should have about 3 cups of broccoli, including the flowerets, but having a little more or less is fine.

2. Peel and shred the carrot. Any size shreds is fine.

3. Heat the broccoli, shredded carrot, salt, pepper and chicken broth to boiling in the saucepan over high heat. Once the mixture is boiling, reduce the heat just enough so mixture bubbles gently. Cover and cook 6 to 8 minutes or until broccoli is tender when pierced with a fork.

4. Mix the flour and water in a small bowl or measuring cup with a fort or wire whisk until the flour is dissolved. Pour this mixture gradually into the broccoli mixture, stirring broccoli mixture constantly while pouring.

5. Heat to boiling over high heat, stirring constantly. Continue boiling 1 mintue, stirring constantly.

6. Stir in the half-and-half. Cook, stirring occasionally, until hot. The Soup should look hot and steamy, but do not let it boil.

Makes 4 servings.

Posted by mich at 9:27 AM | return | dreams [2]

October 23, 2004

Trigger-Happy Shutter-Fingers

The Shift Gallery is showing an exhibition entitled Trigger Happy Shutter Fingers featuring artists' photographic works using different LOMO cameras.

Each artist will be working with a different LOMO camera, all concentrating on distinctive themes to accentuate their respective cameras strengths. Erin Seaman turns dreams into reality with the Holga, Fotongrapler challenges the XYZ axis with the SuperSampler, Liz Cowie shall repaint the world with the Colorsplash while Fauxreel will play with your perception of perspective with the Pop 9. Originating in St. Petersburg, Russia, the Leningradskoje Optiko Mechanitschskoje Objedinnie (LOMO) company has been manufacturing single-lense cameras for over twenty years, with a lean towards multi-lense cameras since 1998. During the exhibition, The Lomographic Society of Canada will be accepting images for an on-site LOMO wall, as well as having cameras available for loan and for sale.
Runs until October 31, so I must must must check it out sometime this week... I love lomography! ;)

Last night went to Sandra's b-day dinner at Le March at BCE Place. I've always thought the food there was so-so, but the stuff I ate last night was super yummy. Had chicken fajita, BBQ chicken pizza, a bit of apple cinnamon waffle with *real* maple syrup, and of course, some b-day cake :P Gotta love those chinese fruit cakes, where every bite contains a delightful surprise!!

Posted by mich at 4:27 PM | return | dreams [0]