February 19, 2008

Here Comes the Sun!

Back in Canada I had never felt so sun-deprived as I did here in Sweden this winter. During the darkest of days the sun would rise at 9am and set at 2:30pm but that wasn't even the worst part. You can go on for days or weeks without seeing the sun because it's always cloudy or rainy during the daytime, and when the sun finally peeps through for a glorious moment one day, it's the most miraculous feeling. I didn't realize how much the lack of sunlight would affect me but it took a big toll on me, so much so that I really don't know if I can endure another winter this far up north.

It was quite a drab winter since this was the mildest winter they've had here in 250 years. Snow would have definitely helped to brighten up the sky, but all I saw was rain. Incidentally, the only days where the temperature dipped below -5C was last weekend, during which I found myself lining up for 1 hour to attend Lykke Li's concert, only to be rejected so close to the entrance because the venue had filled up. Frost-bitten toes did nothing to ease my disappointment :(

However, I'm in high spirits now that the worst is behind me. I've been so obsessed with daylight that I've been counting the amount of extra sunlight we're gaining every week (almost 30 min!), and apparently most people here do so as well. In the city centre there's an area with rows upon rows of benches installed all facing one direction but I was quite confused when I couldn't find a stage. I just learned last week that these benches are facing the direction of the sun - in the spring and summer people just sit on the benches, close their eyes and just let the sun shine on their faces.

I'm just absolutely ecstatic for 20 hour daylight in the summer... but by then I'll probably be complaining about how much I miss dark nights!

Posted by mich at 9:29 AM | return | dreams [0]

January 3, 2008

Gott Nytt År!

That's happy new year in Swedish. I hope everyone had a great holiday. Although I went through some tough moments experiencing my first Christmas far away from my family and friends, spending it with a close family friend on the other side of Sweden made all the difference. New Years in Gothenburg was a bit unusual though, as the main fireworks show went off at 5pm (spectacular though), and the "countdown" to new years involved counting up to 12... ?!?! It was quite anti-climactic as Paul and I were watching the event on TV because the counting totally threw us off and then we couldn't figure out whether midnight had already struck. That night we were housesitting the most fabulous apartment for Paul's friends — they're a gay couple and they have the such great style and taste! I loved it, it looked like those places that would be featured in Wallpaper* or something. So Paul and I made the most of our night there and prepared ourselves a delicious homecooked meal, enjoyed dessert of ostkaka with jam (literally translates to cheesecake but unlike typical cheesecake it feels more custardy), and drank some glögg, while watching a Sex and the City marathon. Ahh, what a wonderful evening it was.

Reading back on last year's year in review I realize I finally achieved what I had dreamed of doing for so many years: living in Europe. Even though it's what I've always wanted, the reality is that it hasn't been a magical ride as I had though. It was a bit of a struggle to adjust but now as I'm slowly meeting people, learning to accept the lifestyle differences, and traveling as much as I can, I'm looking forward to see where this adventure takes me this year. I've learned from my past mistakes of letting opportunities pass me by, and although I might question some decisions I've made over others to get to where I am now, there's no point in looking back or having regrets. I'm a true believer that everything happens reason.

Once again, here's a list of the things that stood out most for me for 2007:

Showed my photography at the You Are Here exhibit · my first opera Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk · finally figuring out how to do an S-curve in snowboarding · Nuit Blanche in Montreal Christian, Vanessa and Jeremy and getting into a random snowball fight with hooligans · being the proud owner of my very own Hasselblad · shopping frenzy in HK · visiting mainland China for the first time with Christian, but ending up in the hospital · my first photography showing at the CONTACT festival · photographing Siren Sounds benefit concert featuring local bands, Melissa O'Neil, and Fefe Dobson · family road trip to New England and Montreal · watching the live match of the final Argentina vs Czech Republic FIFA U-20 game · getting my first pair of rollerblades and bladed 3 hours along the lakeshore from the west end to the east and all the way back (and nearly collapsing in the end) · attending the awesome Daft Punk concert · watching a hilarious yet brilliant interpretation of A Midsummer Night's Dream in High Park · going to the CNE for the first time in over a decade and having a blast · racing and winning medals with Banana Boat dragonboat team · Eyal and Julie's wedding · road trip to Bruce Peninsula · staying out until sunrise for Toronto's Nuit Blanche · watching Cirque du Soleil's Kooza from the front row · making a fabulous Thanksgiving meal completely on my own · 1500km 3-day road trip (I drove the entire way!) to Pennsylvania, seeing Fallingwater House and doing mad shopping in Grove City (and randomly bumping into 3 groups of friends we knew all in the same store) · kicking butt in floor hockey with my beloved team · ate my way through all my favourite restaurants in Toronto for the last time · starting a new life on my own in Stockholm · reuniting with Jason for a weekend in Paris · seeing the amazing Christmas market in Frankfurt · experiencing Swedish Christmas · spending Christmas and New Years with Paul in Gothenburg

I hope you all can look back on the past year with wonderful memories and that any not-so-good experiences has made you a stronger person. I wish everyone all the best for an exciting, happy, and prosperous new year!

Posted by mich at 12:32 PM | return | dreams [0]

December 24, 2007

One Confused Canadian

One of the ways that Canadians differentiate ourselves from Americans is our use of the metric system. But after living in Europe for a couple of months I've realized how much we still depend on the Imperial system. For example, even though we use Celsius for weather temperature, ovens use Fahrenheit. So when I used the oven here in Sweden for the first time I was scratching my head over how anything could bake properly if the dial only went up to 250°... it hit me later on that it was in Celsius, durrr! When I go grocery shopping all the prices are by kilos instead of pounds, and when people talk about their flat sizes in square metres, their heights in centimetres and weight in kilos I feel completely lost because I have no frame of reference those measurements. Even for shoes, girls talk about their 15cm heels. It feels like a whole different world out here, haha.

A friend gave me a great recipe for Mjuk Pepparkaka (soft gingerbread), but since it came from a Swedish recipe book the measurements use decilitres instead of cups. I bought measuring cups here (in metric of course) so now if I want to use my own recipes from home I'll need to convert everything to dL.

Anyway I tried out the recipe with Sandra and Fernanda and although it was a bit dense instead of fluffy (probably from over mixing) it tasted fabulous. The lingonberry inside added a really nice surprise to the gingerbread taste.

Mjuk Pepparkaka

100 g butter
2 dL sugar
2 eggs
1.5 dL sour creak
1.5 spoons gingerbread spice
1 tsp baking soda
3 dL flour
1 dL lingonberry jam

1. Preheat oven 175° C
2. Combine butter, sugar and eggs in one bowl.
3. Combine spice, flour and bicorbanate in seperate bowl.
4. Mix dry ingredients into the egg mixture and add in sour cream.
5. Mix in lingonberry jam.
7. Pour batter into a greased pan and bake 40-45 minutes.

Posted by mich at 12:06 PM | return | dreams [0]

January 2, 2007

Happy New Year

Compared to the tumultuous year back in 2005, this past year felt like the sky finally opening up after the storm. Things started to finally fall into place for me as I settled into working at a neat little animation studio and I started coming to terms with the mistakes I've made. There's always the lingering regret of not taking an opportunity I had, and now I've learned to not let myself be pulled into different directions by other people. I guess the biggest blow to my plans on hold was waiting for an event in the summer that ended up crumbling to pieces. Yet, life goes on... I feel that the buildup of all the past experiences and this desire of mine that I've been harbouring for the past 3 years will finally culminate in achieving my big plan - and I'm not letting anyone get in my way! I won't reveal what it is yet for fear of jinxing myself but it's in the works.

Last year I've had to say goodbye to friends who've moved away. I've also unfortunately made emotional cut-offs from friends from whom I've grown apart, as hard as it was. Not caring anymore equates to less emotional stress and more happiness. Yes, this girl is moving on. On the flip side, I got to meet a whole bunch of fantabulous TNA people dodging balls, paddling dragonboats, and incurring ball hockey injuries.

And now for my yearly tradition of listing my memorable (and not so memorable) things from 2006:

All my baking/cooking hits & misses · Winterlude in Ottawa with Christian, which was cancelled due to the super warm weather · the Philosopher King's performance at First Canadian Place · getting published in a photography magazine · Filogix's Festivus party at Crowne Plaza Hotel · my 25th birthday >_< · Coldplay concert with Kris · Montreal during Easter with Christian, Sunnie and Vanessa · highlighting my hair for the first (and last) time · climbing the CN Tower for WWF with Kris and Cat · becoming a converted steak lover at David Duncan House · 2 food poisonings (one of them from East- never eat there!) · TSO concerts with Kris · family trip to Montreal in May · going to my first baseball game (aka snoozefest) · having my cousins from Boston visit · biking along the Gardiner/DVP for the Ride for Heart · learning to play Squash · last get together with Cass at the Royal York · crazy hardcore shopping in Grove City, PA during Canada Day weekend · winning bronze in both of our dragonboat festivals · exhibiting my button design at the One Inch Punch show · trip to Quebec City with Christian and trying rabbit at Le Lapin Saut� · Taste of the Danforth with family and Lilly · cottaging for the first time (never again- I'd rather go camping) · going to Sudbury for the first time (again, never again) · a day riding kiddie rides at Centreville with Christian · volunteering at the Film Fest and seeing Brad Pitt up close *sigh* · playing Waking City · exhibiting at the Red Head Gallery for Nuit Blanche · staying out all night (almost) for Nuit Blanche · taking Kris to the Sleeping Beauty ballet · volunteering at the Santa Clause Parade · selling my work at OCAD's Whodunit exhibit · watching the Chicago musical starring BSB's Kevin Richardson (and was he ever fantastic!) · discovering my inner ball hockey killah · exhibiting at Toronto Pearson Airport until June

Posted by mich at 6:55 PM | return | dreams [0]

November 21, 2006

Life List

According to this article I read last week, Ellen DeGeneres is all about the life list this year. Basically, it's a list of things that you want to accomplish in your life.

So here's mine so far:

  • design my own house
  • go whale watching
  • get my Masters of Fine Art or Design
  • live in Stockholm
  • cruise to Antarctica
  • tour around all of China
  • open up my own cupcake bakery
  • ride a gondola
  • learn to surf
  • have my own solo exhibit
  • be represented by a gallery
  • publish my work in a book
  • road trip to southwest US
  • raise a shih tzu dog
  • volunteer for the Beijing 2008/Vancouver 2010 Olympics
  • get my software idea off the ground
  • improve my Cantonese and French
  • see the Aurora Borealis
  • go up in a hot balloon
  • travel the world
Posted by mich at 10:46 PM | return | dreams [0]

April 4, 2006

Need A Companion? Get A Dog!

While walking down the street last week I made an interesting observation: dogs are really great tools/accessories for hooking up with someone of the non-canine variety. Let's face it- dogs like to sniff each other out. So when they encounter another of their own kind, it's the perfect opportunity for their owners to check each other out too. So this guy was walking his dog in front of me when his dog passed by another dog being walked by his male owner. They stopped and sniffed each other but both owners immedieately pulled them apart and continued on their own seperate paths. Further down the road the dog met another dog- this time with a female owner. Both owners ended up stopping while the dogs stared at each other and eventually pulled in closer, bringing in their owners too (and it looked like they had no inclination of leaving any time soon). Awwww. It was quite the 101 Dalmations moment.

Posted by mich at 7:06 PM | return | dreams [1]

January 4, 2006

Happy 2006

It was a festive and, for a few people, a wild new year's eve party at Christian's. Let's just say that the few us that stayed overnight were up until 4am... the photos that will never see the light of day tell the story. However, I *will* put up pics of my oh so yummy Candy Cane Cake! It's actually an upside down angel cake because when I tried to flip it right side up, the whole cake cracked >_< Luckily my dad was around to help me flip it back without completely destroying it to pieces :) As per usual, continue reading for the recipe!

New Year's day was spent doing some cleaning up at Christian's before heading up to Pacific Mall to meet with my family and relatives for dinner. The rest of the evening was spent at my place playing mah jong and poker until 3am.

Reflecting back on 2005, this year turned out to be a huge emotional roller-coaster for me. A bit of it was of course school related, having been stressed with not only school work but with creating the CSSU yearbook. But those were just peanuts compared to having to come to terms with the fact that I was entering a new phase in my life and was forever leaving my student life behind me. Immediately following my convocation it all hit me- hard, and I fell into a sort of depression that I hadn't experienced since my high school days. It was a variety of different things that kept putting me in slumps. I had all these plans of things that I wanted to do after graduating, yet I didn't know exactly when I wanted to do each thing... it felt like I was being pulled in all sorts of directions and I couldn't focus on one thing. Even now I get anxious thinking about what path I should follow. I gave up the photography job on the cruise ship in the fall (and instead, landed a job from hell) and I don't know whether I should still go for it come summertime or just give up on it and move on. During my last year I never worried about going to those career fairs or applying to companies to get a job right after school. That wasn't my goal- I didn't want to feel stuck in a job so early on before I got a chance to do something adventurous and exciting. I figured doing my own thing would be satisfying and fulfilling, but in the end it was frustrating and I feel like it didn't amount to much. I hate to say it, but sometimes I regretted not getting a stable and boring computer job... at least I wouldn't feel useless and demoralized. Through it all, sweet BFF helped put things in perspective for me and lifted me up during my lowest lows, and for that I am so thankful ^_^

On a happier note, 2005 also had its memorable moments:
Bus driver losing bus keys during the CSSU ski trip and waiting a few hours for another bus to drive us home reading week trip to Montreal with Christian dogde ball games at Hart House salsa dancing for the first time experiementing with a Hasselblad seeing the CS gang all dressed up for the CSSU formal having my photographs published and exhibited completing a decent application for Capstone waiting 7 hours in line to see Coldplay at The Edge only to be completely shafted 24 marathons biking 50 km along the Gardiner and DVP camping trip at Algonquin Canada Day in Ottawa with Christian discovering the amazing gym classes at Hart House taking a fashion photography course leading to fashion shoots with models watching Kid Koala perform at the Harbourfront's Dim Sum festival seeing Nel on his summer visit back from HK spending a day at Centreville with Christian and winning stuffed toys for the both of us beach volleyball at Ashbridges Bay getting creamed with bananas sitting front row centre at the Blue Man Group show tennis nights with Dennis & co. seeing big stars while volunteering at the film festival hiking in the Cheltenham Badlands 6 days of Disneyworld "boot camp" dining at Canoe and Rosewater Supper Club having had the best Christmas holiday to date

Candy Cane Cake

Cake
1 box Betty Crocker SuperMoist white cake mix
1 1/4 cups water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon red food color
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

White Icing
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk or water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla, if desired

Decoration
Crushed candy canes or crushed hard peppermint candies, if desired

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

1. Heat oven to 350F. Generously grease and flour 12-cup fluted tube (bundt cake) pan.

2. In large bowl, beat cake mix, water, oil and egg whites with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds; beat on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally.

3. Pour about 2 cups batter into pan. Pour about 3/4 cup batter into small bowl; stir in food color and peppermint extract. Carefully pour pink batter over white batter in pan. Carefully pour remaining white batter over pink batter.

4. Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Turn pan upside down onto wire rack or heatproof serving plate; remove pan. Cool cake completely, about 1 hour.

5. In small bowl, mix all icing ingredients. Stir in additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until smooth and spreadable. Spread icing over cake. Sprinkle top with crushed candy.

Makes 12 servings.

Posted by mich at 7:36 PM | return | dreams [0]

January 27, 2005

Sweet Childhood Days

This quote is so true: "When you finally go back to your old hometown, you find it wasn't the old home you missed but your childhood". I remember visits back to my old house in Kanata and being so struck by how tiny it looked. As a kid, it seemed like this huge place with an infinite of places to hide. All growed up, it looks like a doll house. Curious how childhood memories are so whimsical... I want my childhood back!

My first section I created for my Exquisite Corpse assignment:

Posted by mich at 11:58 AM | return | dreams [0]

December 31, 2004

Happy 2005!

Another year's gone by so quickly! I can't believe it's already 2005. It was only back in 1995 when I moved to Toronto- a whole decade has passed me by!

This year has been a year of travelling and exploring. Visited Japan and California... and throughout the summer I felt like a tourist in Toronto exploring so many places for the first time! Here are some memorable events of this past year (good and bad) that I can recall with my failing memory:

Snowboarding for the first time (and killing my body) · trying Ethiopian food for the first time with Vanessa in Montreal · pulling an all-nighter for csc 369 then breathing in darkroom fumes for 3 hours standing having had no food for 12+ hours · csc 309 assignment 2 (waaah) · got my very first cell phone · travelling to Japan with Cass, Chris and Kris · disc golfing at Toronto Island · going to the Pride Parade with Cass, Tony, Chris and Jon · the Beaches JazzFest with Chris · camping trip for the first time since grade 10 at Samuel de Champlain · pigging out at the Taste of the Danforth where Chris ditched me and my friends · Dennis and I bopping to John Mayer in concert · watching Shakespeare's As You Like It in High Park · hosted a BBQ where me and the girls ended up working the BBQ while all the guys stayed inside the house chatting! · travelling on my own for the first time to California · volunteering at the Toronto Film Fest with Cass and Jen · seeing Metric in concert where the venue was dripping sweat from the ceiling · carving our cute pumpkin Winnie · attending my first Santa Clause parade · cooking dinner with Chris for my family that ended up being an hour behind schedule · Sandra teaching me some useful tips, haha! · and of course, meeting my special boy :P

Happy new year everyone! Party hard, but not too hard! :)

Posted by mich at 1:33 PM | return | dreams [0]

July 29, 2004

Qualms of Travelling Alone

Earlier today after talking with a co-worker, I was convinced that I should go on a trip to California alone. I was going to be adventurous and brave. I told my mom about my plan and she was fine with it, and I even came thisclose to booking a ticket. But then, nervousness struck as I thought about walking the streets of LA at night by myself... and I chickened out. Time to reconsider the solo travel idea again.

Pros: totally new and different experience, become more independent and rely soley on myself, learn more about myself, push myself further and test my limits, forces me to be more outgoing

Cons: just considering a trip alone makes me nervous, it'll be quite lonely at times, a girl travelling alone can be unsafe, don't get to share my experiences with anyone

Tomorow I'll try to muster up some more courage.

Posted by mich at 12:41 AM | return | dreams [0]