Saturday, May 31, 2008

Craigslist Virgin No-More

Ever since I read Kim's blog about her redux of a couple of bamboo/cane chairs at Desire to Inspire over the Easter weekend, I've been trawling Craigslist in the hopes of finding my own chairs(s) to re-furnish. And I finally scored with this lovely armchair which cost me a grand total of $30!! It was manufactured by DR Kincaid in North Carolina and they've got some pretty nice chairs - this one is a favourite.

I bought it from a student who will be returning to Japan after graduation this August and it is really comfortable. The wood is scratched in several places and the finish on the cane is worn but I can fix that easily with a few coats of paint...I'm thinking a black-brown because the wood finish looks rather granny-ish.

As for the fabric! Well....this is where I plan to have lots of fun because I'd like to find a really bright and fun print. The hunt begins!

Peony in Love II

So, I decided to finish Peony in Love afterall, and I'm really glad I did.

I learned a lot about Chinese cultural traditions around death and the after world...we observe many of the practices in our family but I had never really understood why and now I why, when we go to my father's grave site we always bring food and burn incense and million dollar "Hell Notes", and the belief that the soul is made up of 3 parts - one which stays with the body, one which travels to the after world, and one which resides in one's ancestor tablet so they may watch over the generations to come.

I was impressed again with how well-researched this novel was - See's Snow Flower and the Secret Fan which I had read back in February was detailed in its description of the footbinding process, so much so that I cringed when reading it.

I'm now very much looking forward to her next book which is tentatively called Shanghai Girls and set in 1937 Shanghai and Los Angeles.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

To think...

...that I almost didn't buy any tickets!!

We had a raffle at work to raise money for Special Olympics and the grand prize was round trip airfare to Europe...and I won!

I've checked my ticket a dozen times and still can not believe that I won. :)

Monday, May 26, 2008

Peony in Love

I'm in the middle of reading Lisa See's Peony in Love and I'm not sure that I want to finish the book anymore given the latest plot almost feels like a trainwreck...or maybe I'm overreacting.

That's all.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Living/Dining III

Since I went chocolate with the sofa, my last scheme with the grey velvet Lucille chairs and the Tulip in the dining area doesn't really work's too cool for the warm brown of the living area I envision:

So here's the latest and greatest for the dining area:

I imagine the Tulip with 4 Eames-style molded plywood chairs and a couple of Yanagi Butterfly stools pulled up for additional seating when necessary. I'll have my series of 4 Muchas flowers prints plaqued and hung on the wall opposite the line of Billys which will hold my ever-growing collection of books. I am really liking this one...but will it be the last?? Now that is the question...

I finally committed!

After months of searching and nth-guessing myself on the colour (gray? cream? brown?) and style (scooped arm? no arm? tuxedo frame? sleeper? button-tufted? blind-tufted?) I finally committed and bought myself a sofa yesterday!

I price-shopped, stopping first at GH Johnson Friday afternoon where I took another look and sit on this style here by Toronto-based Brentwood Classics:

I like the clean lines and deep seats, which definitely passed my butt test*. I then spent at least an hour flipping through all the fabric options before falling for this rich brown cotton velvet, which, incidentally, is called Toblerone (yum!) I, of course, had to pick the highest grade fabric to love:

I was treated to very indifferent service at GH Johnson despite it being not very busy that afternoon so after getting the sofa priced for my fabric, I dropped Direct Interiors a line and asked to speak to G, the saleslady I met in February on my first visit to their showroom. I'd been in touch with her throughout my search and she'd been very helpful in pricing things for me by phone. She quoted me a slightly better price so I made my second visit to their showroom out in the west end of the city with the intention of finally making a purchase.

There was a floor model sale on this weekend so I took a look around. I was tempted by a few things, including a pair of gorgeous occasional chairs in a flocked floral pattern that were on hold and this sofa by Bernhardt with its Charles of London-style arms which I've always liked:

The heavy white cotton of the floor model would not do so I flipped through more fabric and after finding out that this option would cost more, I decided to stick with my initial choice, which I think was the right choice: the clean lines lend the sofa a more casual air but the velvet makes it more comfy and, I like that it's manufactured in Toronto - it has a shorter distance to travel and will therefore have less of an impact on the environment.

I also showed G a picture of the Tulip table I'd taken on my phone and asked her if they carried it as well. After a check, it turns out they do, plus the price for the marble-top was very competitive compared to the going rate of other Saarinen-inspired pedestal tables on the street! Oh, and they also have the Eames-style molded plywood dining chairs too! So maybe this vision could become a reality, sooner rather than later(!):

* How to perform a butt test: Stand in front of a sofa with the back of your shins just touching the sofa, when ready, fall back, butt-first into the seat. Take note of your reaction to the drop: was the cushion too firm? was there just enough cushiony-give to be comfortable for you? was the back of the sofa too far back? etc.

Swaminarayan Mandir

I made it out to Swaminarayan Mandir yesterday afternoon and am so glad I did because it is an extraordinary feat of architecture.

Photos were prohibited inside the temple but check out the amazing detail of the carved teak outside the main entrance below:

The great hall beyond the entrance doors featured the same intricately carved teak details. It was awesome.

The Mandir is open to the general public for meditation and prayer, so if you have the chance, do head on out to the 427/Finch for a visit. You won't be disappointed.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Doors Open Toronto: Swaminarayan Mandir

handout photo via Toronto Star

I blogged about Swaminarayan Mandir last July before it officially opened and this weekend I have the chance to see it since it is one of the buildings that will be featured in Doors Open Toronto this year. Click here for a listing of all the participating locations and click here for a video tour of Swaminarayan Mandir with Christopher Hume, the Toronto Star's architecture critic.

Billy Wilder

I found this over at Kimbooktu and love how fun it is - the shape reminds me of a tree branch and the bright green makes me smile like a VW Beetle. :) It's an accessory for Ikea's ubiquitous Billy bookcases and from a quick read of the FAQs on design3000's site, it looks like they only deliver to EC countries. :(

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Bookseller of Kabul

I finished The Bookseller of Kabul on my subway ride in this morning and...not sure how I feel about it...I didn't hate it, but I also didn't love it.

From the back cover:

This mesmerizing portrait of a proud man who, through three decades and successive repressive regimes, heroically braved persecution to bring books to the people of Kabul has elicited extraordinary praise throughout the world and become a phenomenal international bestseller. The Bookseller of Kabul is startling in its intimacy and details - a revelation of the plight of the Afghan women and window into the surprising realities of daily life in today's Afghanistan.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Print mad am I

I was wondering about what to get S&W for a wedding gift...and stumbled upon this print by Douglas Wilson over at Keep Calm Gallery: I like that this series is printed on vintage maps of the United Kingdom - appropriate since both S&W are anglophiles at heart - W having lived and worked their for 4 years before S joined him there for his 5th before returning to Toronto. Besides, I think they'd appreciate the irony.

Oh, and I'm thinking of this one for me, printed on a map of Toronto, if it's available:

I've been corresponding with Hayley over at Keep Calm for the last week in trying to find the appropriate background map for the 2 prints and she's been super-helpful and patient. I also like this and this but I must pace myself...for a limited time only there's a surprise bonus print with every purchase of a Douglas Wilson print so I wonder what they will be...?

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Best of Susur

When I heard that Susur Lee was closing his eponymous restaurant, Susur, to set-up shop in NYC, I figured it was about time that I went to his dining room to see what all the fuss was about. I'd been to his establishment next door, Lee, but Susur is another experience entirely, with the tasting menu his specialty.

The philosophy for his tasting menu is to begin with the heavier courses first and work towards successively lighter courses as the meal progressed. Ours was a party of 4 and as with most tastings, we were served alternated offerings so, allergies and food preferences allowing, there were 2 of us with the same course at a time.

(Forgive me if I don't remember all the ingredients in the's been over 3 weeks and I didn't take notes. You'd think I'd remember a great meal like this but I'm really bad with details when it comes to food. I remember things on a very, very high-level.)

While a few weeks late in posting, here's a photo essay of the 6-course "Best of Susur" tasting that's currently on until May 31st, when his restaurant closes its doors.

The amuse-bouche, a fresh oyster and a fish cake:

The first course - Cornish Hen with layered eggplant on the side for me (sooo yummy) and Squab (below) for the other half of my party:

The second course was a butter poached lobster tail and a perfectly rare piece of kobe beef:

The third course as outlined in the tasting menu involved white asparagus and I am not a fan - never have been. I've given it chances time and again in the past to turn me around but it always disappoints. So in place of the asaparagus, I got gnocchi served in this adorable little wok:

This was our palette cleansing strawberry sorbet served with an ice cold strawberry and balsamic vinegar - the clear wisps of smoke you see wafting up are from the dry ice - A+ for presentation:

The fourth course was fish - I can't remember what kind it was but it was good:

Diver scallops were on for the fifth - the one served in the shell below is the alternative my friend enjoyed, while I had the tasty goodness served below:

And the best for last was dessert, which was 10, yes TEN, different miniature offerings served on a layered tray:

My favourites were the chocolate crumbly dessert topped with icing sugar in the little pedestal plate on the bottom, the lemon mousse, and the panna cotta - I think it was served in the eggshell above.

Blockbuster Summer

I just came back from watching Ironman tonight and it was amazing! Especially the 3-D special effects!

I was never into comics so was not familiar with the character and therefore had no expectations. All I knew of the movie was that it was based on a comic book, Robert Downey, Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow were in it and he had gotten really good reviews for his portrayal. That was it.

For 2 hours of good fun, go see Ironman.

On a related note - it looks like a really good summer for action movies with the latest installment of Indiana Jones kicking off the season with it's debut this upcoming Memorial Day weekend in the U.S.; and The Incredible Hulk with Edward Norton and Liv Tyler and The Dark Knight starring Christian Bale and the late Heath Ledger in freaky make-up as The Joker coming up in June. Oh, and Kung Fu Panda! I am really really looking forward to this latest animated picture by Dreamworks!

Back to Indian Jones though. I wasn't particularly interested in seeing it, but after reading this article about Karen Allen, the original love interest for Indy in Raiders of the Lost Ark, I decided it would be fun to hold a movie night and watch the first 3 films in succession before going to see The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Word Choice

Clearly I'm procrastinating going to bed even though I'm really tired. Why else would I be browsing Etsy at this late hour?

I found this letter press print by bluevalentinepress and I want it. I think it'd look stunning with a crimson matte and a black frame. You?

Thursday, May 15, 2008


I've been asked about my orthodontist twice in the last 2 days: the first time was yesterday, when I met with our VP Finance. She noticed that I had braces and asked if I'd recommend mine since she's thinking about getting her teeth corrected again (like me), and just now, via email, one of my mandarin classmates asked if I'd recommend my orthodontist. Quel coinkydink.

That's all.

City Prints Pink

I stumbled upon this pretty print while browsing at A Cup of Jo who in turn found it through another blog...ah...the power of word of blog!

I liked the primary colours of the first print I saw, but upon seeing that it's available in shades of purple and pink - well, duh! - how could I resist?! Actually, I tried. I added the seller to my etsy favourites, went up to shower and wash my hair, and decided that it was futile...besides. I needed some retail, I've been to every city in the it's a done deal. :)

Yay for pretty prints!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Picador Book of Contemporary Chinese Fiction

I finished this last night on my subway ride home and was almost glad it was over. This is a collection of short fiction by Chinese writers...and I've never really been a fan of short stories. I think the reason why is that I prefer the development of plot and characters over time...I find short stories abrupt and dissatisfying.

All in all, the collection was good - my favourite was probably "Cherry" by Su Tong.

Monday, May 12, 2008

How could I say No?

As I had complained last Friday - this is an ugly week for me. The business owners for 2 of my big projects are away all week on course so I've got to work on the models I'm building without their input and have them ready for review first thing after the long weekend next week; I also have 2 deliverables due this Friday, both of which require inputs from others and I am still waiting; and my manager just happens to be away on vacation so I'm without him for support.

Then today, my VP stops by my desk and asks me to join him and a few other senior executives on a meeting with management from one of companies we're targeting and one which I've been providing research and analytical support. It's not every day that I'm asked to sit in as "a pair of extra ears" so how could I say no, even though it's going to suck up my whole afternoon tomorrow - an afternoon that could be spent working on stuff with deadlines?? AGH!!!

I'll just have to work longer hours to make up for the time lost.

Then I come home to a sad sight: my sister and piglet left today for Vancouver and my mother for Europe. The house was left in a bit of a mess in their rush to pack up and leave so there's a great assortment of baby stuff all about the house, along with a few random articles of clothing my sister forgot to pack. It's so sad.

Whitney Smith: Ceramic Artist

I stumbled upon the ceramic art of Whitney Smith while browsing today and was taken by how pretty her work is - dogwood blooms and little birds - what's not to love? Visit sfgirlbybay for her interview with the talented Ms. Smith.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

One more day

My sister and piglet were supposed to fly back West today but she was flying standby and the flights suddenly booked up so now she's leaving tomorrow. So we had one more day with the piglet.

It's been great fun to have them her this last week. Piglet has grown so much since I last saw her in February. She wasn't nearly as giggly and chatty 2 months ago but, especially in the morning when she's just woken and after a long nap, she's so much fun. She coos and smiles and is all wiggly-piggly.

We weighed her today and she's gained 2 lbs since her last weigh-in about 2 weeks ago - we got ourselves a 20 lbs chubster and she's adorable...even when she's fussing and grumpy. And I'm going to miss her lots when she's gone.

Friday, May 09, 2008


It has been a freakin' long week and next week is looking pretty damn ugly right now but it's FRIDAY! And I'm finishing the bottle of red wine left over from our early celebration of Mother's Day Wednesday night with West Wing playing in the background. My sister and piglet are out with her in-laws for the evening so I'm just chillin' until they get back so I can play with piglet before she goes to bed.


Thursday, May 08, 2008


My sister and piglet are in town until Sunday so I've spent what time I have in the evenings playing with her when I'm not working on the files I've brought home. Work has been very busy this week and it promises to carry through to after the Victoria Day long weekend because I've got a couple of financial models to work through while the business owners are away on course for the next week.

There are not enough hours in the week! I went to McMaster University in Hamilton yesterday to interview a few MBA students for the current summer term and not one was a satisfactory choice. I can say that it's definitely better being on the other side of the interview table, although it has its own pressures because you have to actively listen to make sure your question has been answered...that was the hard part...because people can ramble. I think we may be back for a second round...we shall see.

Otherwise, I've also been meaning to post the pics I took of my dinner at Susur last Saturday but just have not gotten around to it...will try this weekend after my sister and the piglet leave.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Toronto Style

The Toronto Star published a story in its Ideas section today about a distinct Toronto architectural style, or school, as noticed by Architecture professor Rodolphe el-Khoury who is Canada Research Chair in architecture and urban design at the University of Toronto.

In his own words, he describes it thusly:

If I were to be very general, it is a particular way, particular manner in the use of materials, for instance a predilection for very tactile materials, for rough stone, textured stone, rich woods and natural materials. What's interesting is the combination of this very rustic palette with a very modern, clean, formal language. So you get the sharp geometry and outlines of modern architecture, but you get the more traditional rustic materials blended with it, and it makes for a very particular flavour.

Click here to read more.

Now, if you had asked me even 3 months ago if I could imagine myself living in a modern home such as artist Charlie Patcher's home studio below, I would have said no way! I would have said my ideal home is something more traditional...maybe English or French in style...something you'd see in the Annex or Hogg's Hollow neighbourhood, but there's something about the square-shaped glass facade that reminds me of framed shadow boxes which I love.

Image by David Cooper via Toronto Star

My first 10K!

I woke up bright and early this morning around 6:20 after a light sleep on S' couch. We had a quick breakfast of toasted raisin and muesli bread (probably very healthy for us, but low on the taste scale) and caught a cab to make it to the start of our 10K run.

It was COLD. Really COLD. But it was fine once we started our run. I had originally set a goal time of 90 minutes since I hadn't run in awhile and didn't know what to expect of a 10K, but I'm proud to say that I finished in about 65 minutes and ran the entire course straight - no walking! - which was my ultimate goal.

I was worried that I'd be hampered by stitches but I was able to run through them and kept a fairly steady pace. Our race kit included pamphlets for other runs...and having successfully completed this 10K, I'm beginning to think that perhaps a half marathon may not be so impossible a goal...There's a 10 mile run at the Distillery District in July that would be the next logical progression training and goal-setting-wise. If I manage to complete that run in a satisfactory manner, the Waterfront Half could be I crazy??

Let's step at a time...

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Busy weekend...

My sister is flying back tomorrow from Vancouver for Little Miss Fire Piglet's first trip to Toronto and I'm very excited to see her again. We've been video-calling on Skype almost every day and it's amazing to see how she is developing - she's ticklish now! - but it's not quite the same as interacting with her in person. I wonder if she'll recognize me?

T was supposed to fly back today and had planned to spend tomorrow with a girlfriend so I'd made plans to do the same, but she's not after all. I'm a little torn because I haven't seen N since I don't know when but I am also anxious to play with the piglet...maybe she'll still be awake when I get home for dinner...I wonder if babies suffer from jetlag??

My mandarin class start up again Saturday morning - Level 6! - and then it's dim sum with my extended family who've not yet met the piglet. I follow that up with a hair appointment and then dinner at Susur, which is closing since Lee's setting up shop in NYC.

Finally, Sunday. My 10K run. I haven't trained at ALL this week - it's been too cold and too wet and I don't do cold and wet - never mind the fact that things are heating up at work. Back to the weather though - the weather forecast is calling for 70% chance of showers on Sunday. I hope and pray that the rain will hold off until after my run, which starts at 8am(!!!) Keepin' my fingers crossed....

Managing through the summer

My manager called a meeting with me and AL just before the work day ended. It was out of the ordinary and when we were behind closed doors, he told us that we were getting a summer MBA student.

Then he told AL that he needed to talk to me alone and this is when I found out that I was going to be managing our summer hire! I didn't know what to was completey unexpected, and when he asked if I was shocked or surprised, I said both...and that I needed time to process because I'm slow that way.

I haven't completely taken it in, but I really appreciate the chance that I've been given...and I wonder why this opportunity was given to me rather than someone else. Interviews will be held next Wednesday and I'll be taking part in them...and never having gone through the process before, at least on the other side, I'm feeling overwhelmed.

As with most things, I want to prepare for this but this just makes my next week busier than it already is - which I mentioned...but it's OK. I just need to chill...Keep calm and carry on - the more I think about this message, the more I want this print. But what colour? And where to hang it? Hmmm...
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