Monday, February 26, 2007

Retail Therapy

I'm feeling overwhelmed with everything that I need to do for my business. I'd been so focused on getting everything ready for sale in the store - jewelry, displays, packaging, pricing, etc - that I hadn't even thought about a pricing model for taking custom orders. SOO much to think about.

I've also been so focused on jewelry that I haven't had a chance to shop for anything really fun for me at all in the last few months. All of my "discretionary" expenditures have been business-related and the need for some retail therapy has been growing stronger in the last couple weeks.

To backtrack a bit, I spent last Monday afternoon setting up the display - it looks great - and had good news to go with it: I've been asked to provide jewelry for a fashion show that will be taped for a Chinese talk show to air nationally(!) So I've spent the last week thinking up designs to match some of the dresses...and I'm still thinking and dreaming. I skipped my mandarin class Saturday afternoon and spent it shopping for beads and worked on a couple designs yesterday.

I took the day off today to work some more and also dropped in to visit with my friend E, who's store my jewelry is selling in. She was consulting with a customer, so I played dress-up and tried on a bunch of gowns, this lovely goddess-style gown in a deep coral colour above among them.

I've had my eye on it since E first laid it out last Monday and now that I've tried it on, I simply MUST have it. I have nowhere to wear it as of yet, but once something comes up, I'll be ready with a gown. It's going to be used in the fashion show in a couple weeks so I couldn't take it home with me today, but I will....soon. :)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Happy birthday, Sis!

It's my lil' sister's birthday today and we only just put her birthday package together last night and posted it today. My gift to her was a gift card to Chapters-Indigo and this necklace, which I had actually started last week(!):

I wired Swarovski crystals and keshi pearls to a sterling silver chain. The colours include tanzanite, fuchsia, montana, amethyst, lilac and black diamond - not my original intention. I started off with a bluer palette and a mix of pearls and stones as you can see below, but things changed as I started working.

I spent a couple hours on it that first night last week, and ignored it the rest of the weekend to focus on getting my jewelry ready for the store (20 pieces were put on display and available for sale Monday!) and of course, there were the lunar new year festivities.

I spent a couple hours on it Monday night and packed it up yesterday with the gifts and goodies from the rest of the family. Hopefully she'll like it...I suspect it may be a little too girly and pretty for her, but who knows? It actually might be a little too girly and pretty for me...but she's way cuter than I am. ; )

Happy Birthday, T!!!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Year of the Golden Pig

Despite the fact that this exceedingly tacky gold pig offends my decor sensibilities, it's beneficent smile never fails to elicit a smile of my own when I lay eyes on it - it actually reminds me of a happy Chinese buddha. Anyway, it showed up a couple weeks ago in pride of place on our front hall table - a symbol of the new year to come - the year of the Golden Pig, an occurence that happens once every 60 years considering that there are 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac and 5 elements. This little piggy comes with a surprise inside:

We celebrated the new year with my extended family at a local Chinese restaurant. For various reasons, we're not particularly tight-knit, so seeing all my paternal cousins and my aunts and uncles together is a treat. Also, given that most of them are older than me and married, I was able to reap the benefit of collecting lucky hong bao money. :)

There was the expected crazy amount of food. By the end of it, I think there were 13 courses, lobster among them. Luckily for me, most of my cousins were like my brother - too lazy to work for the sweet goodness of lobster. There were two lobsters served up in that course and I must have had at least half a lobster all on my own. I had to remember to pace myself or I wouldn't make it to dessert.

I'm going to surrender to my food coma now.

Gung Hey Fat Choy or Gong Xi Fa Cai if that's your preference.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

100 Titles

I came across this meme over at Bookmark My Heart and despite being sleepy, I'm a sucker for these things and couldn't help myself.

I'd like to preface this by saying that it may be rather harsh to say I wouldn't touch the stricken titles with a 10 foot pole...I'm just less indifferent towards them then I am with the titles I've ignored.

Look at the list of books below. Bold the ones you’ve read, italicize the ones you want to read, cross out the ones you won’t touch with a 10 foot pole, put a cross (+) in front of the ones on your book shelf, and asterisk (*) the ones you’ve never heard of.

1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. +Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. +A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. +Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. +Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. +Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. +Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (J.K. Rowling)
17. +Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. +Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. +The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. *The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. +I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. +The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. *The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. +The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. Bible
46. +Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. +She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. +A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. *Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. +Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. +The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. *Shogun (James Clavell)
74. +The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. *The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. *A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According To Garp (John Irving)
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)
81. *Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. *Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. +Emma (Jane Austen)
86. *Watership Down (Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. +The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. *Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. +In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

Friday, February 16, 2007

Condo this week

There's a new show on HGTV Canada called Big City Broker airing on "Real Estate Wednesdays." It's billed as a "docu-soap series" starring Brad J. Lamb, the "condo king" of Toronto and members of his team. I'm not usually interested in the real estate themed shows - Design Tuesdays is more to my taste, but I've tuned in since the show debuted last week because my condo is one of his developments. It's funny how a pseudo-connection can draw one in, isn't it?
Looking at the images from this week, it doesn't seem like there's been much progress, if any:

February 12 @ 1:16pm

February 13 @ 9:19am

February 14 @ 3:26pm

February 15 @ 4:18pm

February 16 @ 1:18pm

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Sweep it all away!

Pastries filled with various sweet pastes. Pretty and yummy!

I got a call this afternoon from my mother to say that I have to dust when I get home tonight since it's the 28th day of the last month of the lunar year. According to Chinese tradition, the house has to be cleaned from top to bottom to symbolize a fresh start for the new year. It must be done by New Year's Eve which is this Saturday, otherwise you risk sweeping away any New Year's luck.

I dillydallied for most of the night and only just got around to dusting at 10pm. She arrived home soon after from her dinner party and started doing the laundry. If I had known that dirty laundry was included in the no-no list, I would have done it earlier and saved myself a shower with low water pressure.

My mother also bought fresh flowers - which she's never done before - for the front hall table. Since CNY is close to spring on the lunar calendar, fresh flowers signify the hope a new year and season will bring.

I'm rather looking forward to the good eats and of course, the lycee, or red envelopes stuffed with lucky money - Christians have Christmas, the Chinese have the lunar new year!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Snow Days

When I went to bed last night, I was hoping for a snow day since we'd all gotten a voicemail from HR asking us to call in to check our messages to see if the office would be open. The forecasters had been calling for 10-20cm of snow in Toronto. In actuality? Not so much. Regions west of Toronto got upwards of 70cm. Here? With all the blowing, we might have had 5cm on our driveway this morning, if that.

I had a grand plan to stay at home in my PJs all day. I was going to watch daytime TV and eat chocolate. But my plan was thwarted by Old Man Winter and I had to make my way into work instead.

The drive this morning took me thrice as long so I didn't get into the office until about 9:30. I don't mind driving, but stop and go traffic is the worst because I get BORED. There's nothing to do! If I was on the subway and it took extra long, I wouldn't care, because that just meant more time for me to read my paper or book...but in the car? Being stuck in the car is the worst.

I had back to back meetings over a 4 hour span, the second of which was a lunch meeting that lasted 3 hours. At least the food was good.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Oh, the guilt!

I've been feeling like a complete sloth the last week having made up any number of excuses for not hauling my butt out and into the gym to work out - chief among them being that it's just too darn cold to make the brief walk out from house to car to gym. Lame, I know.

I was undecided about whether or not I was going to run tonight. I finished dinner around 7 and then sat around for a couple hours doing not very much. 9 o' clock rolled around and it was do or die time - so I decided to haul ass. I figured since we're supposedly going to be hit by a snowstorm tomorrow, I better go now while I can, because there's no way I'm going to go tomorrow. And besides, a week is about as long as I'll allow myself for a break from the gym - any longer might result in a deeper slide and we just can't have that.

Tonight's distance? Just over 5.3K...not bad considering I probably could have run longer if it wasn't coming up to 10pm. I think I'm plateauing - I've upped the intensity but there's only so much my poor feet and shins can take, so I think my next goal now that I've hit 5K fairly consistently is to work towards doubling my distance. I know there's a 10K race sometime in the year...or am I talking crazy? Hmm....

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Carpal tunnel from a spray paint can?

I spent the day attending to business: I re-shot Sheila modelling my jewelry for my portfolio this morning and then hauled my butt out into the cold after lunch to pick up some more cans of spray paint (a brown colour, primer & matte spray).

This afternoon was spent with can in hand, painting my white pillow pouch boxes brown. I think I might have given myself temporary carpal tunnel from depressing the spray button for a prolonged period of time - it's still feeling weak 3 hours later.

Mais la voila:

This is how my jewelry will be packaged for the will be wrapped in a pink kerchief first, which is next on my to-do list, and then placed in the box.

Looking at it makes me want to eat chocolate...which is what I've been doing off and on all day. BAD! But the extra dark chocolate is soo good.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The hunt for Tim's and playing hooky

I went to the funeral of my best friend WL's grandmother this morning. I had made plans with our friend S to pick her up from Warden subway station about an hour earlier in order to stop for a bite to eat before going to the service at 11am.

I figured we'd stop at a Tim Horton's, which is pretty ubiquitous - who knew that we would drive by 3(!) that were drive-thru only before finally finding one that was sit-down? We were ready to settle for a McDonald's when we came across a billboard for the golden arches only to find that it was a phantom McD's because the actual restaurant was nowhere in sight.

We made it to the service with about 5 minutes to spare and slipped into the last row where our two friends were seated with the other pallbearers. It was a nice service done mostly in Cantonese. When the minister spoke about Grandma L at length, I tried to translate to S who isn't Chinese, but much of the religious symbolism got lost in translation since I'm not familiar with the vocabulary in Chinese. I cried during the eulogy, and I had never met Grandma L in life. I suppose it just reminded me of my own grandmother's death. The burial, thankfully, was short, since it was REALLY cold this morning.

The cemetery happened to be the same one in which my father is buried, so I stopped by for a visit with my dad. By this time it was 12:30. Too late for me to make it to my mandarin class on time, so I played hooky today and went for lunch with S&WC instead. Given the cold, we opted for the warm comfort of congee. I had never been to Congee Star at Don Mills/Eglinton, but it's funny how it looked and felt like Congee Wong. If it weren't for the sign outside, I wouldn't have known the difference.

Afterwards, I dropped S&WC off at the subway and went about my errands: I picked up a new beadmat at beadFX since I had spilt nail polish on my last one and stopped at FabricLand in the hopes of finding some nice fabric to line the display case with. I've settled on chocolate brown and pink for my colours and came across this great bolt of flocked taffeta. I also found some lovely pink satin for the DIY display mats for the trays I picked up at Lacy & Company.

Just as I was pulling out of the parking lot into traffic, it occurred to me that I needed some fabric to use as a backdrop for my silly me, I drove to another FabricLand about 20 minutes away. Why didn't I do the easier thing of turning back? Because it wasn't easier - there's only one entrance into the lot I had just exited and to turn back would require a couple illegal U-turns given the stupid island that separated traffic...and I couldn't be bothered.

I was glad I decided to go to the other FabricLand though because I found this great flocked fabric on sale for $5/metre:

I have no use for it right now, but I think they'd make great accent pillows. I love the bird motif - and the brilliant fuschia and turquoise colours. (The picture doesn't do it justice at all.)

I spent the rest of the afternoon taking pictures of my dummy - christened Sheila by WC - modelling my jewelry, but after downloading them to my laptop, it occurred to me that they're too dark. I'll have to try again tomorrow earlier in the day for better natural light. Here she is though, doing her thing:

Condo Update

More progress on the construction front - there are a few more load-bearing walls up now on what is likely P1:

January 30 @ 9:17am

January 31 @ 9:23am

February 1 @ 10:00am

February 2 @ 10:02am

February 3 @ 5:35pm

February 5 @ 10:55am

February 6 @ 9:51am

February 7 @ 1:17pm

February 8 @ 10:36am

February 9 @ 9:42am

Friday, February 09, 2007

My dummy's here!

I left work early today and stopped in to visit a couple wholesalers. I've been looking for earring display stands and found the perfect ones for $2 each - so I bought 4 of each size. Here's the sketchy thing though: It's one of those Chinese places where if you pay cash, there's no tax. So I paid $24 for the 12 stands I bought...and when I asked for a receipt, I was told that they don't give receipts. When I asked for one, the saleswoman picked up a random piece of scarp paper and wrote $24 and the date on it - as if I couldn't do that on my own! When I asked for a card because I needed a receipt to claim the expenses, she said she'd write the details on the card, and to "validate" my sale, she signed it. Weird, non?? I think she was just too lazy to write up a receipt for me given the small volume.

The good news? I arrived home today around 5:30 to find that the dummy I had ordered off EBay to model my jewelry had come! Now I can start photographing my jewelry for my portfolio.

I've been procrastinating the last week in regards to the administrative stuff - while I've priced everything, I haven't actually put pen to paper to label the pieces...and I still have to finish painting my boxes brown and attaching the ribbons to them....the list is long....and I better get my ass in gear because next weekend's Chinese New Year...and what better time to make my debut then when the ladies will be shopping for new accessories to dress up the new year?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Retail Therapy....sort of

I track my expenses on a regular basis and was udpating the "books" the other night when it occurred to me that the bulk of the "discretionary" charges to my Visa have been related to my business. If I didn't have that on the go, I would have made good on my goal of saving more this year. But you've gotta spend money to make money, right?

Anyway, I treated myself today. It's Clinique Bonus Time at The Bay and the timing couldn't have been better because my liquid soap is good for another day or two and I've been meaning to pick up some scrub.

The impulse buy was Norah Jones' Not Too Late, which was on sale for $11.99! Actually, it's not really an impulse because I'd been thinking of getting it since I heard she was coming out with a new just seemed like an impulse to my friend because I walked in looking for him, saw the disc and walked to the check-out right away.

I haven't listened to all of it yet but so far, it's sounding pretty good. I was told at the check-out that there's a free bonus track available for download but the website in the CD had changed so I was given a flyer with the new address. Problem? Well, there was no insert included in my CD with the pin number needed to download the track. So no bonus for me. :(

Wednesday, February 07, 2007's only a rehearsal

I signed up for the Harbourfront Centre's e-Newsletter awhile back and the latest arrived in my inbox today. Attached was this promotional image of the Norwegian dance company, zero visibility corp:

Photo by Erik Berg

My first thought was, "Damn! she must have rock-hard abs to hold that pose!" Then I thought, "her arms are so nice and toned!" It's a strong, super-sexy pose. Almost enough to get me to lift a weight again...almost.

From the Harbourfront Centre website:’s only a rehearsal is choreographer Ina Christel Johannessen’s powerful and physical duet for a man and a woman. Based on Ovid’s myth of Actaeon and Artemis, the couple’s relationship is revealed to us through their raw physical expression. The dynamic shifts between them as they rub and press, push and pull, back and forth—as the physical tension mounts in overtly sexual and sensual ways.
An intimate story of reward and punishment, the audience becomes the voyeur in this incredibly sexy, potentially risky, sometimes funny love story about the inherent connection between the watcher and the watched, and the fine line between desire and obsession.

It premieres tonight and is on stage until Saturday.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Top 5 New-ish Buildings

Yesterday's post got me thinking about my favourite buildings and what they would be if I had to come up with a top 5. If I restrict the list to new-ish buildings, in no particular order:

1. The Gherkin in London
2. The Seattle Central Public Library in Seattle (duh)
3. The Four Seasons Centre in Toronto
4. The Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles
5. The Dancing Building in Prague

I've experienced all of these buildings up close and personal in some way:

The Gherkin, as previously mentioned, I saw while riding on the bus. I remember spending an afternoon along the Thames and watching it amongst the London skyline, and wishing that it wasn't so cloudy so that I could take a good picture of it. I also remember kicking myself for not pulling my camera out while I had the chance on the bus - but I was too busy taking it all in to even think about taking a picture.

I went to Seattle over the Labour Day long weekend with my ex 2 years ago when I was out on the west coast for a visit. We drove to Seattle partly so I could check out the library (below), which I had first read about in an article possibly by the Toronto Star's architecture critic, in person. We took the elevator up to the top floor and walked our way down the ramps, browsing the stacks as we went - it was a great, albeit geeky, way to spend a morning.


The Four Seasons Centre makes me look forward to going to the opera - which I've still yet to do there. I did go see The Nutcracker this past Christmas and it's just a beautiful building inside. The glass box design really does bring the city in and makes the audience part of the spectacle to those without. Even within the building, the heavy use of glass gives this sense of amazing space - we could see from the top level down to the bar in the main lobby, and the wide steps allow for seating and lounging during intermissions. It's certainly not the typical night at the opera one would expect to experience, that's for sure.

It's interesting to me that the last 2 buildings on my list are Frank Gehry designs. I took the picture below of the Walt Disney Concert Hall back in June of 2004 when I was out there to visit one of my oldest friends. We waited in line in the bright sun to get rush seats to a piano recital by a Japanese pianist who my friend's husband was a fan of. This was soon after I had chopped off about a foot of hair (I was bored) to boy-short and I remember getting a sun burn on the back of my neck that day - it hadn't occurred to me to use sunscreen since the back of my neck was usually covered by my hair.

Anyway, we got some pretty great seats about a dozen rows from the stage and the cool thing was that the pianist ended up sitting a seat away from us after the intermission. We asked her for her autograph, even though we weren't really fans because we thought it'd be fun.

Finally, I was in Prague last April with another one of my best friends, S. Prague is a great city to wander around in. We spent an afternoon walking about with the aim of hitting some of the architectural highlights - Gehry's "Fred and Ginger" building below among them. The approach we made to the building was perfect because it sits on a corner and it just so happened that we came towards it from the front. We tried to get inside but the cafe that was on the main level appeared to be closed and it looked like a pass was needed to get into the building so we just admired it from without.


I've always found Top lists hard to compile, but this was fun. Based on the international flavour of my list, I've been very fortunate to travel and experience the architecture first-hand....and now that I'm done my list, it's suddenly occurred to me that I've completely forgotten the Sydney Opera House, which I toured in 2002 while there for my cousin's wedding! Drat!

Monday, February 05, 2007

600m pounds!

My friend W sent me this news story today about my favourite new building in London, the Gherkin, or, as I like to call it, the Christmas Lightbulb, because that's what it reminds me of. It was sold for GBP 600 million, the equivalent of about US$1 billion.

I saw it for the first time while on the bus last spring. I think it was the day that S and I had spent the day shopping. If I recall correctly, that was the day I bought not one, but two(!) pairs of suede boots (they were on sale!) and my 30th birthday gift to me, the LV Sonatine handbag which I had been eyeing for a few years - who would have thought that LV would be cheaper in London even with foreign exchange factored in? Anyway, we were on our way to meet W and friends for dinner at an Indian restaurant and the bus drove by this building and I was immediately struck by how cool it was.

It's featured quite prominently in Woody Allen's Match Point. Jonathan Rhys Meyers' character works in the building and the view from within looking out is quite spectacular. The picture below is W's favourite. It's a fantastic addition to London's skyline. All in all, a beautiful, modern building.

Photographs by Dan Chung

Friday, February 02, 2007

Stretch to 150%!!

My company announced its Q4 results yesterday and because we exceeded our targets for 2006 by a substantial margin, our bonus payout will be stretched to the maximum 150%!! So, if I get a "perfect" rating on my performance for last year, I'll get 100% of my bonus, plus an additional 50% "stretch."

Now that the initial excitement has faded, I'm thinking about how much of that lovely bonus will be clawed back in the way of income taxes. Granted, I can roll all, or part of my bonus into my RRSP so that it's sheltered, but I kinda want the money now...I've got at least another week to fill out the necessary paperwork for HR so I'm going to mull it over a bit.
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