Saturday, July 31, 2010

Sleek & Cozy

I love the look of Danish designer Finn Juhl's Poet Sofa - it's sleek and cozy at the same time with it's clean, spare lines and arms that seem to hug you:

Bright Chair Company's Lorae sofa seems to have been inspired by a similar aesthetic:
Both make me want to curl up with a book and a throw, if only it wasn't so warm out!

Friday, July 30, 2010


I worked out at the gym this morning with my trainer who told me about one of his male clients who cried - cried! - at the end of their session yesterday.

Said client's been lazy with the cardio which K makes all his clients do on their own after the 1-hr session.  I don't think 20 minutes is much to ask post-session, even though I skip it sometimes when I've got a pile of work waiting for me at home.  Back to sissy-boy though - K cut their regular session short by 15 minutes and walked him over to the treadmill for some cardio and sissy-boy came up with every excuse in the book, finally resorting to tears.  TEARS!  Seriously?!?

I'd get mad first before I cried at the gym, but that's just me.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


I was scanning the headlines when this one caught my eye: Reference books slowly being phased out of libraries, and this makes me sad. 

I realize that times, they are a'changin', and electronic copies are more cost-effective and a greener alternative to printed copies and maybe I'm a bit of a luddite having written papers in university using hard copies of, among other references, the Canadian Periodical Index but it's just not the same - at least not for me.  (How's that for a run-on sentence?)

See, the thing about reference books I like is that the information is there to be found all in one place and it's not going to change - or at least it'll be the same until the next edition comes out.  And let's not forget easy cross-referencing.  On the internet though, you take your chances that your search will serve up just the right results. Information is pushed out rather than pulled by you and maybe, at the end of the day, I'm just old.  Or tired. 

So, good night.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


My sister arrived late yesterday afternoon with my Piglet.  As usual, Piglet was shy when I first arrived home today but she warmed up to me as the night wore on.  My sister spent the evening out with her girlfriends so I was head babysitter, which made me a little nervous since my brother was up until 1:30 this morning watching a Dora marathon because Piglet wouldn't go to bed until her mom came home.

I'm happy to report that taking care of her was a breeze.  Granted, there was a lot of Dora and dinner was a little later than normal but she still ate, we had fun at bath time and though she's a bit of a Goldilocks when it comes to her bedtime bottle - my brother's first try was too cold, my redux was too hot and finally, it was just right - she settled into bed with no crying for her mommy. I turned the light off, closed the door and the only sound from the baby monitor minutes later is deep breathing.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

About Alice

I picked up About Alice by Calvin Trillin on sale.  I had a $50 gift card from Chapters that I wanted to use online and was searching for sale books at the right price to make up the transaction balance.

Anyway, I had never heard of Calvin Trillin having never read The New Yorker where he's a staff writer.  About Alice is a short volume that reads like a funny, anecdotal love letter he wrote in memory of his wife Alice, who he adored.  She died in 2001 waiting for a heart transplant after 25 years of battling lung cancer.

This is a lovely story that can be read in one sitting.  I was so inspired by how Trillin recounts their relationship that I'm rather curious to search out some of his previous efforts to learn more, including Alice, Let's Eat.

The photo to the left of Alice and Calvin Trillin is from the book's back cover.  From the dust jacket:

In Calvin Trillin's antic tales of family life, Alice was portrayed as the wife who had "a weird predilection for limiting our family to three meals a day" and the mother who thought that if you didn't go to every performance of your child's school play, "the county will come and take the child." Now, five years after her death, her husband offers this loving portrait of Alice Trillin off the page - an educator who was equally at home teaching at a university or a drug treatment center, a gifted writer, a stunningly beautiful and thoroughly engaged woman who, in the words of a friend, managed to "navigate the tricky waters between living a life you could be proud of and sill delighting in the many things there are to take pleasure in."
Though it deals with devestating loss, About Alice is a love story, chronicaling a romance that began at a Manhattan party when Calvin Trillin desperately tried to impress a young woman who "seemed to glow."
"You have never again been as funny as you were that night," Alice would say, twenty or thirty years later.
"You mean I picked in December of 1963?"
"I'm afraid so."

Monday, July 12, 2010

Kitchen Chinese

I picked up Ann Mah's Kitchen Chinese over the long weekend and read it in a day - mostly on my balcony yesterday while I was giving my pasty legs some sun.

It was an easy read with a main character that, in hindsight, I completely identified with because she was so very insecure about herself when it came to her professional life.  The romantic ending was a bit of a stretch for me but it was nevertheless good.

I read the interview with the author at the end of the book, and that's when I learned that Ann Mah is the daughter of Adeline Yen Mah, who's autobiography, Falling Leaves, I first read in university.  Her story, along with Wild Swans by Jung Chang, which I read for a History class, was what got me hooked into non/fiction about the Chinese experience. On the one hand, I want to learn about my cultural history, but on the other, I really appreciate reading stories about characters that I can relate to and even identify with on a very personal level.  A quick check of my bookcase for Falling Leaves reminds me that I lent it out to I don't remember who, who never returned it!  Grrr!  Same thing happened with Accidental Asian, which I lent to my friend WL, who had it forever, and possibly gave it to SA who was waiting to read it, and that's when I lost track of it. So annoying!  

From the back cover:
Isabelle Lee thinks she knows everything about Chinese cuisine.  After all, during her Chinese-American childhood, she ate it every day.  Isabelle ma speak only "kitchen Chinese" - the familial chatter learned at her mother's knee - but she understands the language of food.  Now, in the wake of a career-ending catastrophe, she's ready for a change - so she takes off for Beijing to stay with her older sister, Claire, whom she's never really known, and finds a job writing restaurant reviews for an expat magazine.  In the midst of her extreme culture shock, and the more she comes to learn about her sister's own secrets, Isabelle can't help but wonder whether coming to China was a mistake...or an extraordinary chance to find out who she really is.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Perfect Weekend

After the steamy discomfort of the past week, this weekend has been perfect - sunny, warm and relaxing.

I haven't been up to much beyond reading, eating, sleeping and a couple loads of laundry.  I had S&W over for dinner last night after failing to get last-minute Summerlicious reservations at Celestin (scallop ceviche and lobster lemon risotto?  C'MON!) I had loads of limes left over from the caipirsakes I made last Saturday and my basil plant looked ripe for some harvesting so I browsed Epicurious - my go-to website for some refreshing summer recipes.

Our al fresco evening started with glasses of Stonechurch Vineyard's Syrah Rose and my new favourite salad, mango-radicchio caprese salad with basil vinaigrette.  The sweetness of the mangoes and white balsamic vinegar tempered the slight bitterness of the radicchio, nevermind how colourful it is!  (I had it again for lunch today, which is what you see below)

For mains, I grilled up some salmon steaks which I topped with lime butter sauce and paired with another past favourite, arugula salad with lemon-parm vinaigrette.  This we had with another bottle I picked up from Stonechurch last weekend - their 2008 Riesling.  I wish I had gotten more than one, but fingers crossed, I'll see it at the LCBO soon.

I woke up a little earlier than I would have liked this morning before 10 and lazed about before making myself a stack of pancakes spiked with vanilla protein.  As an added treat, I added some frozen mixed berries to a pot of simmering maple syrup and soaked in some sun out on my balcony. 

The fragrant yumminess of steaks grilled by my neighbours permeated the air yesterday, and even W, a long-time pescaterian was tempted so I'm due at their place later for a BBQ.  More eating!  And no working!  A girl can get used to not working on weekends!

Sunday, July 04, 2010

R & R

It was a 4-day weekend for me and I did not ONCE check my work email.  The thought had crossed my mind a few times, like every time my cursor hovers over the link to webmail which is in my bookmarks toolbar.  But I resisted. So proud of myself. :)

The last couple days have been pretty stress-free - I had the tasting menu for lunch at La Cachette, the restaurant at Strewn Winery, and even managed to squeeze in a few tastings at Stonechurch and Palatine Hills.

Clockwise from top left: Baby Spinach with Bacon, Benedictin Bleu & Croutons; Saute of Shrimp with Pernod Cream & Pink Peppercorns; Brome Lake Duck Confit with Molasses & Chili Pepper Gastrique and Orange Lavender Creme Brulee

I didn't think there would be time for tastings since I was due back in Toronto for a Chinese family association dinner with my mother but the sign here says it all:
All told, I came home this weekend with 14 bottles - 9 of which I picked up at the vineyards and the others at the LCBO.  The cross-border shopping coupled with my booze binge made for a a very, very expensive weekend.
My last work-free day started with a bit of a hangover after last night's condo crawl.  I managed to make it back into my place after 4am, guzzled some Gatordade, showered and fell into bed, waking up too early this morning around 10.  I suppose the upside to waking up at that hour is that Mickey D's was still serving breakfast so my post-drink-up cure of a sausage'n'egg mcmuffin was readily available. And was it ever good in all its greasy glory! 

I wish this break could be a couple days longer but such is life.  I'm well-rested and chilled out and (mostly) ready to take on Monday now.  Bring it on!

Friday, July 02, 2010

Retail Therapy

I've been working my ass off the last few weeks - so much so that I got sick and had to see a physiotherapist because I strained right wrist with too much mouse-work.  Lame, right?  Anyway, I drove across the Peace Bridget to Buffalo for a day of shopping at the Walden Galleria and Target.  There was a great sale at Loft - 40% off all regular priced items and an additional 50% off sale items so I picked up a couple dresses including the one-shouldered number below which I'm going to wear to my sister's wedding.  The rest of my big haul included 2 pairs of pants, a skirt, 3 tops including J. Crew's sequin necklace tank below and a silk-flower embellished cardi, a scarf, a couple pairs of shoes and miscellaneous stuff like pretty picture frames.

I had some time to kill while N was at rowing practice so I hung out at Chapters and caught up on the latest fashion mags.  A browse through the sales stacks unearthed a couple Penguin clothbound Classics that are no longer available online on Chapters including Tess of the D'Urbervilles and Cranford, so I snapped them up.

All in all, it was a very satisfying day.  Now I'm off for dinner at Treadwell's which I'm super-excited about! :)
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