Sunday, November 06, 2011

Gone to Pot

Have I ever mentioned how much I love orchids?  They're beautiful to look at, are fairly easy to maintain but most importantly for me, they provide the best value if you want fresh flowers in your home because their blooms last for a few months at a time. 

I've purchased 7 orchids in the 3+ years I've lived in my condo - when the blooms of the first one dropped, I bought my second, and when the blooms of the second faded, I picked up my third because the first one was still dormant.  I've had to get rid of one because the leaves were looking rather sickly and of the 6 that remain, some of which have re-bloomed, I haven't yet figured out how to get more than 4 or 5 buds to flower on a stem like these crazy-gorgeous specimens at Bangkok International Airport:

Nor have they synched up to bloom consecutively for me.  One's currently in bloom and 5 are sleeping so I decided now was the time to give the latter some new "bedding" if you will - time to re-pot! Da-da-dum!!

I googled "re-potting orchids" and found a ton of tutorials on what to do, including this one featuring Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" as background music.  For reals!  Talk about blast from the past! 

Anyway, here's my attempt below - this particular pot had moss as its growing medium, and can I just say it was kinda gross removing it all?  I had to trim some of the roots that were "mushy" and then returned them to the pot using the "exotic potting medium."
Fingers crossed that I did it right!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Chocolate Cravings

So. For some strange reason, I've been craving baked goods - chocolaty cookies specifically - for the last, oh, 2 or 3 weeks.  I don't know why because I'm not one to usually crave chocolate but there you have it.  Problem is, cookies don't really fit into my clean eating diet so I've been trying to fight it, but I'm done fighting.  I resorted to a healthy-ish recipe for "Best-ever Chocolate Cookies" from a hospital calendar my mom requested a little while back with a number of substitutions and tweaks because a) I was out of a few ingredients (namely brown sugar and oat bran) and b) I wanted to try baking with spelt flour, which aside from being a rich source of niacin and other minerals, also has fewer calories than whole wheat flour.

Anyway, they taste AWESOME! They don't taste "healthy" at all!  Here's the original recipe which is credited to The Dieticians of Canada with notes on my substitutions:

Best-Ever Chocolate Cookies
Makes: ~42 cookies (1 per serving)
Preheat Oven: 350F (180C)
1 cup all purpose flour (I used the aforementioned spelt this time but whole wheat the last time)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt (I used all natural sea salt - I know, la-di-da)
2 eggs
1 cup margarine or butter, softened (I used butter this time around - I went half-butter, half-organic applesauce last time but I was all out of the latter tonight)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar (no brown sugar but found this tip on a substitution)
1 1/2 cup quick cooking rolled oats
1 cup bran cereal, not flakes (I was short a full cup but had wheatgerm and flaxseed meal so went 1/3 each)
3/4 cup white chocolate chips (not a fan of white chocolate so used semi-sweet)
optional: ~3/4 cup chopped walnuts*

1. In a small bowl, sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. (I didn't sift - I actually don't own a sifter - and they turned out just fine) 
2. In a large bowl, beat eggs, margarine and brown sugar. Fold in flour mixture. Stir in oats, bran cereal and chocolate chips.
3. Drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls (15mL) about 2 inches (5 cm) apart, onto ungreased baking sheets.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 7 to 9 minutes or until just crisp.  Let cool on baking sheets on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then remove to rack to cool completely. 

* I like the texture of nuts in my cookies and chocolate and walnuts are a great combo in my book  

Per Serving:
94 Calories
2.1 g Fat
0.3 g Saturated Fat
44mg Sodium
18g Carbohydrates
3g Fiber
2g Protein

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Making the Classic Sexy

I haven't always been a fan of Burberry. When I was younger, I found their check pattern "old lady" but I've since come around and can count 2 pieces in my collection, both classics: the quilted jacket and more recently, their 3/4 trench I love it so much!

Anyway, I signed up for their email list with my first purchase at their outlet in PA a few years ago and their latest campaign touting their "nude" collection landed in my inbox:

Granted, there are some pretty fantastic re-imaginings of their trench, in particular this gorgeous lace version.  I mean, HELLO! Will you please come home with me?

Seriously though, Nude = Beige.  I get it, Burberry, you want to make it sexy! and young! and appealing!  But really. I thought you were better than that.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


My kid brother bought a resale condo last month 2 weeks into my vacation in Thailand.  This is crazy for 2 reasons: first because he only just started talking about getting a place of his own maybe 2 weeks before and second, he's my kid brother and OMG he's all grown up!

Anyway, we spent the early part of the afternoon at Direct Interiors looking at couches, broke up the day with my mom's singing recital - oh ya, you read that right! - and hit up a HomeSense 30 minutes before closing where we found the awesome lamps at right.

To be specific, I found a pair of the shades at left first.  Totally awesome graphic, right??  Guess how much they were?  You'll never guess.......are you guessing???.......Go on....Guess...You'll never guess...They were a total steal..........Did you guess yet???

I seriously considered buying them for myself even though I don't have a need for them right now and storing them at my mom's until there is a need but my brother actually liked them, which was a surprise.  Anyway, they were $16.99 each.  Yah.  That's right.  $16.99 each!!!!  And then we got the pair of lamps with the funky geometric-patterned teal base that came with the rectangular shade which was perfectly fine, but don't they look so much more interesting with the graphic print?  Super-mod, non?  I LOVE them so much and wish I was decorating a place of my own...this is the next best thing though.  :)

Monday, September 05, 2011

Bachelor Pad

Initial thoughts for my kid brother's bachelor pad...

Monday, August 08, 2011

Plus 10

Holy crap it's ridiculously humid here in Siem Reap.

We arrived in a propeller plane from Bangkok this afternoon to cloudy skies and by the time we cleared passport control and collected our bags it was pouring rain outside.

I checked the forecast for the next few days as we'll be touring Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples and the temps are in the low 30s but with 90+% humidity it feels 10 degrees hotter. I'm not sure I can handle it...I mean, it's so humid in our room that paper is soft. Like, for reals. And my skin! The humidity is making me breakout. Not. Cool. So glad I packed my mud mask!

There is a silver lining though - our hotel has happy hour between 5 and 7 so drinks that range from US$1.50 for Asian draught beer to US$3.55 for a cocktail are half price...needless to say, we indulged. Good times just chilling and taking advantage of free wifi. We actually had a skype chat with my cousin A. How wonderful is that? :)

Off now to catch up on a week's worth of gossip over at LaineyGossip before calling it a night!


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, August 01, 2011

20 hrs and counting...

I'm tapping out this particular post from Beijing International where I'm waiting at gate E12 for my 5:05pm flight to Bangkok.* I've been up now for over 20 hours and am definitely feeling it - i.e. I'm cranky and impatient.
Despite the grumps, Chingrish never fails to make me smile.
My plan to stay up the 12hr flight from Toronto worked as planned - I watched Morning Glory, Temple Grandin, Just Go With It, and the documentary about NYT style photographer Bill Cunningham which I highly recommend if you come across it.

I was rather hungry and in my sleep-deprived, cranky state, I was craving the familiar like McDonald's or Starbucks, neither of which I was able to find. How is that possible?? You've got the high-brow designer names like Burberry, Chopard and Ferragamo but tall-non-fat-no-foam-extra-hot-lattes are MIA? Instead of settling for fast food Chinese and Beijing sushi, I opted to mix one of my protein meal replacement shakes. Not what I wanted but really the path of least resistance.

Flight is supposed to start boarding in 4 mins...can't wait to finally get to Bangkok where I can meet my friend, have a late din and get some real sleep! Fingers crossed for no jetlag!!

* Don't have the brain power to figure out whether there's free wifi here...can't seem to get it to work if it is so when this actually posted I'll be in Bangkok where my hotel has free wifi.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, July 31, 2011


After much planning on my part, I'm pretty much packed and ready to go tomorrow for my 3 week jaunt to Thailand/Cambodia.

And for the first time ever, I feel like I've packed fairly light: 4 tank tops, 3 t-shirts, 2 dresses, a skirt, 3 scarves, 3 pairs of pants in varied lengths, a cardi and 4 pairs of shoes/sandals.  OK, so maybe I'll buy some clothes there - they'll be more appropriate for the weather anyway.  (I'm still surprised by how much I've come to like orange of late -  see how much it figures in my wardrobe to the right) - when I've never really liked it before and have been meaning to write a blog about it but have obviously been lazy on that score.)

I'm super-excited!  There will be scads of temples and buddhas to ooh and aah over in the next few weeks.  I've plans for a cycling tour, as well as a cooking class in Chiang Mai; a fish pedicure in Bangkok; maybe learning to snorkel around Koh Samui; 3 days touring Angkor Wat with a private guide; maybe an elephant ride; and if at all possible, a massage every day.

There will be free wifi in all my hotels (that was actually a pre-requisite) so I'll try to blog while I'm gone but I shan't make any promises.

Until then, จะดูแลและจะปลอดภัย!*

* Take care and be safe in Thai.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Feeling HOT HOT HOT!

This is seriously bananas: Toronto is officially in the midst of a heat wave which I can not be happier about because the last few summers have been so crap.  LOOK AT THE FORECAST FOR TOMORROW!  38C but feels like 48C?!  It's hotter in Toronto than it is in Thailand (eeeeee!!!) where I will be in 12 more sleeps!  I must admit, the fantastic weather here makes me feel a teeny-tiny bit regretful that I'll be leaving on vacation soon and missing out on the rest of the summer here. 

And despite the heat, I haven't yet turned on my A/C, which surprises me a little given that I'm south-facing.  I reckon having the lake nearby makes a difference since there is a nice breeze coming off it and keeping my shades down all day helps too.  Feeling rather virtuous and green, never mind how happy my checkbook is for not having to spend the funds to cool down. :)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Weekend Update

How's your summer?  The weather in Toronto has been fantastic and planner that I am, based on how the last couple weekends have unfolded I'm learning that sometimes it's best to let things evolve organically.

Last weekend, I saw Hugh Jackman live in concert - he is amazing amazing amazing! - with WL and this was the only thing we had planned.  But afterwards, we browsed bicycle shops, had dinner at Jules and ended up watching Bridesmaids which was hilarious!

This weekend, WL and I had plans to watch Harry Potter 7B.  The End.  Such bittersweet feelings for the end of an era...I almost wish I had taken the time to re-read the series from The Beginning, but at the very least, we saw HP7A again the night before, which was a good thing because there was so much I had forgotten.  It did NOT disappoint and I cried, although not as much as I thought I would.

Over lunch at Khao San Road afterwards we talked about the movies and how, while HP7B was wonderful, it wasn't as wonder-ful as the first, because it was in the first that we were introduced to the magical world of Hogwarts personified.  Sigh.

Anyway, we walked through the U of T campus on our way to Yorkville to do some shopping and met up with our friends S&W at Anthropologie.  While WL already had dinner plans, S&W and I made our way to Fanny Chadwick's and then I walked home.  All in all, I walked the distance of a 1/2 marathon yesterday...which, considering that I'm contemplating training for an actual half, wasn't all that bad.  I opted out of a run this morning though and just went to hot yoga which was just what my tight body needed.  I felt amazingly loose and chilled chilled out that after lunch, I took a nap out on my balcony.  Every weekend should be like this... :)

I hope you're enjoying our perfect summer!

Friday, July 08, 2011

One last hurrah

I'm headed to Thailand in about 3 weeks for 3 weeks - 5 days of which will be spent on the beach.  So, in order to get bikini-ready, I told my trainer, K that we needed to cut short our build phase to get into burn, which is all well and good.  Burn means sets in the 16+ rep range and lighter weights and protein days that involve a limited carbs and no fruit because of the fructose, which the body immediately converts into fat

I've gotten the protein days down and I've cut fruit before and gotten great results but it's summer now.  And that means lychee are in season - a short season but still.  So I'm being REALLY bad.  I picked up a bag of lychee Tuesday night from my local Chinese grocer that was on special for $0.99/lbs. They were sooo sweet and juicy, with small seeds and lots of meat. 

I have fond memories of eating lychee as a kid.  My parents used to own a Chinese grocery themselves and I remember sitting with my family outside, eating them from the case. Those were the days...

I went back to my grocer after work today to check if the lychee were still on special and picked up 4lbs.  These will be the last of the season for me.  I promise - never mind the 2 pints of strawberries I picked up for $3.50.  I think I'll freeze most of them to bake more scones since my mom really enjoyed the coconut berry ones I made last.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Baked goodies for my Piglet

I'm spending this Canada Day long weekend in Vancouver.  My flight leaves Thursday afternoon and I'll arrive in time for a late dinner with my family - which includes our newest addition, GMC, aka Baby Boy.

My Piglet was apparently having some trouble adjusting to not being the centre of attention anymore, which I could sympathize with as the eldest child, if only I remembered what it felt like at 17 months when my sister was first born. 

I've spent the last couple nights baking - chewy oatmeal chocolate chip cookies favoured by my Piglet and coconut berry scones for my sister.  I used frozen blueberries and strawberries in the latter which melted as they were mixed in my food processor, resulting in a rather wet dough.  The star- and heart-shaped scones were rather goo-y (left) but turned out reasonably well once baked (right).  I like to serve them with Devonshire cream and jam (mmmmmm) but my taste-test suggests that they're also fine as-is.

Soooo looking forward to cuddles with my Piglet and eskimo kisses with Baby Boy!

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Best Laid Plans...

I finished Terry Fallis' The Best Laid Plans this morning, which turned out to be the perfect literary palate cleanser after reading Sarah Blake's The Postmistress and Peter Cameron's Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You.

As is usually the case, I always feel the need for something light after reading a novel set in WWII - the third section of The Postmistress, Spring 1941, was particularly hard to read at some points as Frankie Bard, the intrepid radio broadcaster rode the trains through Nazi-occupied Europe to get the real truth about what was happening to the Jews. 

Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You was a recommendation by Lainey.  The writing is smart and funny and it's set in Manhattan 2003 which was different enough for me but I still felt a little unsettled by the wasn't the "happy ending" I was looking I browsed my bookcase and settled on The Best Laid Plans. Perfeito!

The Best Laid Plans had an unconventional start as a free weekly podcast by its author, Terry Fallis.  It's a book about, of all things, Canadian Federal politics and it's FUNNY!  SO FUNNY!  I's totally weird for me to see politics and funny in the same sentence but it's true! Read it for yourself, or listen to the podcast here

From the back covers:
Terry Fallis got tired of waiting for a literary agent or a publisher to decide to take on his book.  So he recorded a reading of his novel, and released it, chapter by chapter, as a podcast.  People really liked it.  Encouraged by that reaction, he published the book on his own.  Again, people really liked it.

Then it won the Stephen Leacock Award for Humour, beating out major authors published by the big houses.  And people really liked that.
It's a satire on Canadian politics, especially the modern Ottawa version, and it's full of unforgettable characters and a story that will sweep you along.  Sex in the hallowed halls of Parliament, caucus manipulation, melon-throwing violence, culturally stunted engineers, chessboard battles, and even a personal hovercraft all feature in this plot.  Not to mention true love, and good guys winning.

In 1940, Iris James is the postmistress in coastal Franklin, Massachusetts.  Iris knows more about the townspeople than she will ever say - for example, that Emma Trask has come to marry the town's doctor, and that Harry Vale watches the ocean for U-boats.  Iris believes her job is to deliver secrets.  Yet one day she does the unthinkable: slips a letter into her pocket, reads it, and doesn't deliver it.

Meanwhile, Frankie Bard broadcasts from overseas with Edward R. Murrow.  Her dispatches beg listeners to pay heed as the Nazis bomb London nightly.  Most of the townspeople of Franklin think the war can't touch them.  But Iris and Emma and Frankie know better...

The Postmistress is a tale of tow worlds - one shattered by violence, the other willfully naive - and of two women whose jobs are to deliver the news, yet who find themselves unable to do so.  Through their eyes, and the eyes of everyday people caught in history's tide, it examines how we tell each other stories, and how we bear the fact of war as we live ordinary lives.

Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You is the story of James Sveck, a sophisticated, vulnerable young man with a deep appreciation for the world and no idea how to live in it.  James is eighteen, the child of divorced parents living in Manhattan.  Articulate, sensitive, and cynical, he rejects all of the assumptions that govern the adult world around him - including the expectation that he will go to college in the fall.  He would prefer to move to an old house in a small town somewhere in the Midwest.  Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You takes place over a few broiling days in the summer of 2003 as James confides in his sympathetic grandmother, stymies his canny therapist, deplores his pretentious sister, and devises a fake online identity in order to pursue his crush on a much older coworker.  Nothing turns out how he'd expected.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Hot and cold

So, I've been into hot yoga in a big way the last couple months and today was the first class I took that wasn't hot and let me tell you: what a difference in my flexibility and practice!

I checked out The Yoga Sanctuary on The Danforth this morning with my Passport to Prana and they have a beautiful corner studio to practice in with the exposed brick, and warm hardwood floors.  Back to practice though - my body felt pretty tight to start which wasn't surprising first thing in the morning but even when I was "warmed up" I still felt tighter than I've normally been of late practicing in a hot studio.  Now, I'm not crazy about literally sweating buckets in practice and leaving the studio in clothes that are soaked through but I do love how amazingly chilled out and relaxed I feel after practice. 

Perhaps it's still early to say, but I'm beginning to think that once you go hot, you can't go back...

Perfect Saturday

How was your Saturday? I hope it was a good one as the weather was perfect.

I got up at 9am and was out the door an hour later for a good run through Harbourfront. The sun was shining and there was a lovely breeze off the lake, and given my fair-weather tendencies, I could not have asked for better weather. 

My plan for the afternoon was to check out a class at Downward Dog with my Passport to Prana but my neighbour invited me out for ice cream at Cool Hand Luc so ix-nay the yoga and yay for ice cream and what turned out to be a perfect Saturday because we just wandered through our neighbourhood:  We met up in the lobby at 1pm and headed out for ice cream.  Afterwards, we wandered down to Kensington Market for papusas at Emporium Latino - yes, that's right, dessert before lunch! - and then browsed in Good Egg for a bit and sighed over the beautifully designed cookbooks.  Then it was back to Queen West where we stopped in Jacob & Sebastian for some goodies en route to Dark Horse for lemonade (me) and coffee (neighbour).  While this is my 3rd full summer in the 'hood, I'd never stepped into either The Healthy Butcher or The Leslieville Cheese Market.  K had to pick up a few things for a BBQ later tonight so in we went and I ended up picking up a bottle of David's Special Steak Rub at the former which I plan to use on chicken breasts and a small block of Raspberry Bella Vitano, a firm almost parmesan-like cheese that was rubbed in raspberry ale at the latter.  Final stop of the day brought us nearly full-circle back on King West at Soma.  I really do love my neighbourhood and its fantastic food and retail options. :)  

Anyway, I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening indoors.  I was feeling lazy about dinner so had a bagel with cream cheese and whipped up some scrambled eggs with chives and cheese.  Mmm.  Chives and cheese.  Now, I'm not usually one to have dessert at home on my own but I had a pint of strawberries in the fridge from last weekend that I'd forgotten about during the week and my all-time favourite yogurt, Liberte's Mediterranee Lemon (OMG SO GOOD!) so I thought, why not put them together?  The combo was freakin' awesome!  So easy and so tasty!

Perfect end to a perfect day!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Going to Pot

I spent all afternoon gardening on my balcony - or, as my new English friend JD says, re-potting my new plants into larger/decorative containers.  I'd thought about not doing anything out there this year since it's basically a dustbowl thanks to the construction site I currently overlook, but the sight on the other side of my glass wall was just too depressing:

So I'm bringing in some old and new - I grew grape tomatoes and basil last year which made for yummy salads all summer long so they're back, but instead of grape tomatoes, I went with Romas.  And for flowers, I've gone with hydrangeas - "The Original" Endless Summer Bloom to be specific - just thinking about the gorgeous blowsy blooms to come makes me happy!

It took twice as long and as much soil as I thought it would to re-pot everything - in addition to the 2 hydrangeas, the tomato and basil, I also had to re-pot a newly-purchased jade plant and the money tree I got from Ikea a couple years ago, never mind the post-planting clean-up of debris, soil and dirt - oh the dirt!  I shudder at the memory of the thick layer of construction dust that had settled on the cover of my patio furniture.  Ewww.

Anyway, back to happy thoughts.  Here's what my balcony looks like now:
Left to right: sweet basil, roma tomato, hydrangea, and behind the glass, jade plant and money tree.

I'm not sure how acidic the soil is since that's what determines the colour of the hydrangeas - acidic soil yields blue blooms and alkaline yields pink.  I'm hoping for something in-between like these gorgeous purple ones, so will have to do a little research to figure out how to make it happen. So excited though!! :) 

Wednesday, June 08, 2011


It's been awhile since I blogged but things have been crazy but not if that makes any sense.

Nothing earth-shattering to report here...taking a break from a problem in my financial model that I need to solve at work while Excel continues to vex me - I have a love/hate thing for Excel and right now the switch is flipped to hate.

Anyway, just realized that there's this one guy at work who 2x now in as many weeks has matched the colour of my dress with his polo shirt -completely coincidental. Silly observation, I know, but last week it was a deep lavender and today it's a dark taupe. That's all.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, May 08, 2011


WC shared this with me last night so I'm sharing it with you.


Flights are BOOKED!

Well, it's done.  The flights for my trip to and from South East Asia are now booked!  I was a little anxious to check this to-do off my list because I'm flying on points and if you've flown on points, you'll know that availability can be what did I do but book my return flight back from Bangkok using my British Airways Executive Club points first to make sure I could secure the last First Class seat back. 

Here's the scoop on how I had enough points for First Class: I have friends who are rather keen on loyalty programs and they were the ones who told me about this opportunistic redemption offer for flights to Asia from North America on the best airline I've ever flown - Cathay Pacific.

The facts:
- if you have an RBC Avion Visa, you can transfer your points over to Executive Club about twice a year at 1.5x the points, i.e. if you have 30,000 Avion points, you'll get 45,000 Executive Club points upon conversion
- Cathay is a partner airline to British Airways through OneWorld
- an economy flight redeemed through Aeroplan from North America to Asia is 75000 points, as is an economy flight on British Airways through Executive Club
- an economy flight redeemed through Executive Club for the same trip on a partner airline is only 50000 points
- recall that Cathay Pacific is a partner airline

So you could save 25000 points on your flight redemption flying on a superior airline. No-brainer, right?? First Class might seem rather decadent, but I figured, why the hell not?  I had the points and I'm going back to work the next day so maybe I'll be able to get some shut-eye.

My flight to Bangkok is in economy and I used my Aeroplan points because I didn't want to pay cash to top-up for Business and as I'll be arriving in the evening, I'll just check-in to the hotel, go to sleep and wake up refreshed and free of jetlag.  That's the plan anyway.

I can't remember when I decided that I wanted to go to Thailand - for the longest time I've been Euro-centric with my travel preferences but I suppose it probably started with a Summerlicious work lunch to Bangkok Garden a couple years ago.  I loved the look of the carved wood decor so it's been in the back of my mind.  And when I had high tea with A late last November in London, and we were talking about vacation plans, we both mused about how we wanted to go to Thailand and that's when we decided that we 2 single chicks should go together.

Fast forward 4 months and we're talking dates and I'm researching places to go, things to see and do and organizing all the data points in my handy-dandy spreadsheet. Current itinerary includes Bangkok, Chiang Mai, various beaches, a hop over to Siem Reap, Cambodia to take in the wonder of Angkor Wat with perhaps a swing through the capital, Phnom Penh, and finally a few days in Hong Kong before returning to Toronto.  So much to plan!  So excited!

Saturday, May 07, 2011

(Quinoa) Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

It's 12:30am and I'm hungry and I know it's not the best choice for me to make to sate that hunger but I'm weak and have been wanting to try baking with quinoa flour and because I have all the ingredients in my pantry, I decided to try the recipe for oatmeal raisin cookies in my Quinoa 365 cookbook.*

The recipe says you can freeze the dough for up to 4 weeks so that's what you see to the right - the dough, rolled up into balls to freeze before I store them in a ziplock bag.

Anyway, fast forward an hour and the 6 small cookies I baked are out of the oven and I've gotta say....I'm not sure I like the taste of these cookies.  I LOVE oatmeal raisin cookies but these ones have this nutty, almost bitter(?) taste of quinoa that I've decided I'm not particularly keen on.  Ah well.

* How's that for a stream-of-consciousness-run-on-sentence?

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Breakfast duty

Every Friday we take turns bringing in breakfast for the team. It's my turn tomorrow and normally, I take the easy way out and pick up pastries or whatever from the grocer but my new team - there's a lot of extra effort put in with homemade baked goods like scrumptious home-made scones (specifically coconut-blueberry which sparked my latest obsession with baking with coconut if only I wasn't on burn and had to eat super clean!), pancakes on a portable griddle, made-to-order omelets and fruit smoothies, so obviously I had to kick it up a notch, even though I trained tonight and couldn't start baking until after 9.

I browsed my recipe box and settled on these 2 quick and easy loaves: nutella coconut quick bread and super easy oatmeal raisin breakfast loaf. Both were indeed as advertised, although the time to bake was off. I had to tack on an extra 15 for the former and an additional 8 fir the latter.

One risk is that this is my first time using these recipes so fingers crossed they taste good.  We're expecting 25-30 people tomorrow do I'll also be picking up bagels on the way in to work.

The nutella loaf turned out quite well but I'm a bit concerned by how flat the oatmeal loaf looks in comparison. I'm sure it'll fine...

Update: I left the loaves out overnight and when I woke up, the nutella loaf was HARD.  So I got worried and cut one end off to try it...and it was fine.  In fact, that loaf was quite the hit and I was asked for the recipe.  So, yay!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Karen O'Leary's City Prints

I can't remember how or where I first stumbled upon Karen O'Leary's gorgeous paper cuts and city prints but ever since, I've been waiting for a Toronto print to appear in her Etsy shop, studiokmo.  She had Vancouver and Montreal but no Toronto. 

But guess what?  I signed into Facebook today and in my newsfeed was her announcement that the Toronto print is now available!!  So YAY!!!

And since the CAD is doing so darn well, I'm going to get not 1, not 2 but 3 city prints for my own little series (even though I technically don't have the wall space.) 

It was tough to decide because they're all so fantastic but I'm going with my hometown, Amsterdam and Barcelona (below). 

Which cities would you get?

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Angel's Game

I took the day off today and had planned on sleeping in but the construction outside my window that typically starts around 7am makes it impossible to do so.  Instead, I slept until just before 8 this morning and spent my first hour finishing Carlos Ruiz Zafon's prequel to Shadow of The Wind, The Angel's Game, which was actually written 5 years after.

As this was a prequel, we're taken back to Barcelona, the Cemetery of Forgotten Books and the Sempere & Sons bookshop - the descriptions of which, real and imagined, made me wish I could return again for a visit. 

On the story though - this effort felt more gothic and sinister and there was a twist near the end which was unexpected - and I like to think that I'm a pretty smart reader.  There were definitely shades of Dorian Grey here, too, as Daniel seizes to age as the years go on, and while I've never actually read Wilde's novel, I do know that this detail figures hugely in the plot. 

The end seemed rather hurried and maybe a bit ambiguous...and that's all I'll say without giving away the ending.

From the dust jacket:

'The whole of Barcelona stretched out at my feet and I wanted to believe that, when I opened those windows, its streets would whisper stories to me, secrets I could capture on paper and narrate to whoever cared to listen.'

In an abandoned mansion at the heart of Barcelona, a young man, David MartÌn, makes his living by writing sensationalist novels under a pseudonym. The survivor of a troubled childhood, he has taken refuge in the world of books, and spends his nights spinning baroque tales about the city's underworld. But perhaps his dark imaginings are not as strange as they seem, for in a locked room deep within the house lie photographs and letters hinting at the mysterious death of the previous owner.

Like a slow poison, the history of the place seeps into his bones as he struggles with an impossible love. Close to despair, David receives a letter from a reclusive French editor, Andreas Corelli, who makes him the offer of a lifetime. He is to write a book unlike anything that has existed - a book with the power to change hearts and minds. In return, he will receive a fortune, perhaps more. But as David begins the work, he realises that there is a connection between this haunting book and the shadows that surround his home.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


What do allergies feel like?  I've never had them before but am wondering if that's what's wrong with me now because I haven't been able to stop sneezing since just before I got on the elevator to leave the gym about 2.5 hrs ago. And I rarely sneeze.  Like, for reals.

My eyes are mildly itchy - my right one anyway - and my nose is runny, again, mostly my right nostril (TMI?) and I'm a regular Sneezy dwarf. 


This is NOT COOL.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Swan Thieves

I finally finished the doorstopper that is Elizabeth Kostova's The Swan Thieves early this morning. I stayed over night at my mother's and was woken up by her alarm clock just before 7 this morning.

Anyway - I had never read her debut, The Historian, but was impressed by all the critical acclaim so picked this one up because the story sounded interested.

The novel was s-l-o-w to start for me and continued to plod along jumping from the present to the past and back again as the parallel stories unfolded.  The ending came together well enough, although it felt hasty - almost like Kostova had decided about 500 pages in that it was time to wrap things up.    I'm glad I finished it but am doubtful that I'll be reading any more of her titles in the future.

From the back cover:
This richly told, beautifully imagined novel takes us on a journey into the lives of the women left behind by the renowned painter Robert Oliver.

After attacking a canvas in the National Gallery of Art, Oliver maintains a stubborn silence, prompting his psychiatrist, Andrew Marlow, to embark on an unconventional pursuit of the answers his patient won't provide.  As Marlow is pulled deeper within Oliver's troubled mind, he uncovers a tale of love, betrayal, and artistic obsession, and finds surprising possibilities in a package of nineteenth-century love letters.  Does the key to unlocking Robert Oliver's mystery lie in a tragedy at the heart of French Impressionism?

Across centuries and continents, from young love to last love, Elizabeth Kostova deftly explores the painter's universe - passion, creativity, secrets, madness - and conjures a world that lingers long after the final page has turned.


I don't usually dream, or at least, I don't remember my dreams when I wake up. But a few weeks ago, I had a dream that I remembered and it was so weird because I dreamed about a good friend at work.  We worked closely together on a project for over a year - it was a crazy-intense period - and then she moved on to another department and we were separated by a few floors.

In my dream, I was looking for her on her floor but I couldn't find her anywhere, and when I woke up, I remembered that she was on temporary assignment to another team and had actually re-located to my floor.  I bumped into her the next day - this was 3 Fridays ago and told her about it that morning, and she laughed and said, "We have to catch up next week over coffee.  I have to tell you something."  OK...

So I booked us a coffee date for the following Tuesday because I had already booked the Monday off to go to the spa and have afternoon tea with S.  So Tuesday comes around and she tells me that she'd resigned!  Which makes my dream rather psychic because she wasn't there when I was looking for her.  Spooky, right?

Friday, March 25, 2011

So Romantic!

Finally got around to browsing BHLDN's website and can I tell you how much I LOVE this gown?  It's called Ethereal Monarch.  Indeed.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Form or Function, that is the question.

Stumbled upon this adorable video shared by Chapters Indigo Books on Facebook. I love the attention to detail in this stop-action video - check out the stalking dragon on the table to the left!

Now, I've always admired the aesthetics of bookshelves organized by colour - doesn't that image below look so pretty?? - but realistically, I don't have a visual recall of all my book covers and it just wouldn't be functional for me.

Because I tend to remember my books by genre, my shelves are sort of organized in that fashion first, e.g. fiction vs. non-fiction, Asian Studies (fiction & non), Literary Travel, Cookbooks, Interior Design; I then sub-categorize by hardback vs. softback; and then by author. It doesn't adhere to any strictly conventional method of organization but it works for me:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lobsterlicious 2011!

It's one of my favourite times of year* - it's Lobsterlicious at Scaramouche!  Here's the current menu, which has been revised to exclude their yummy Lobster Ravioli since I first saw it last month and when a friend went a couple weeks ago with his family.  I won't complain though because everything was pretty damn awesome - including the service, which was impeccably attentive yet unobtrusive. 

As usual, each prix fixe includes 1.5lbs of lobster spread across 2 courses.  My dinner started with an amuse-bouche of 1/2 a quail egg with beurre blanc, crisp bacon pieces and deep fried onions and holy moly did this little bite pack a tasty punch!  I can still taste the smooth egg and butter sauce juxtaposed with the savory crisp texture of the bacon and onions.  Mmmm....

I started with the Lobster and Celery Root "Lasagna" - so-called because in place of the pasta noodle, the chef used shaved celery root.  Ingenious because the texture was rather similar to a pasta noodle - maybe more tender, and super-mild which allowed the sweetness of the lobster to shine through.
My second course was the Butter Poached Lobster because I like artichokes and king oyster mushrooms and I had the risotto last time.  There is something super-decadent about having so much lobster served up out of the shell and done so well! 
Finally, dessert...ah dessert...what we have here is their famous Coconut Cream Pie, which, as you'll see from the menu, did not come with the prix fixe.  I had to have another taste of this pie though - and since I was being bad anyway, I figured I'd go all the way - and paid the extra $3 for it and OMG it was as good as I remembered it to be - so light and just the right amount of sweetness.
 The Lobsterlicious Menu is available Monday through Thursday through March 31st so if you're feeling indulgent or in need of a place to celebrate a special occasion between now and then, check them out!  I promise you won't be disappointed! 

* The last time I indulged at Scaramouche was in the summer of '09 - so...leads me to wonder if there will be a Lobsterlicious - Redux come the summer...!!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

DwellStudio for Japan Disaster Relief

I've had my eye on DwellStudio's Hedgerow Persimmon Duvet Set for ages now and when I read on Twitter that they were donating 20% of their sales for the next 48 hrs beginning 6pm today to Unicef I thought I'd take a look....

And boy am I glad I did because it's on sale for 65% off!  So, win-win!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Girls' Day Off

I took today off to spend with S who's on March Break.  We scheduled massages and mani/pedis at Vika Spa which were just OK.  My massage was actually very disappointing as the masseuse I had kinda sucked - it felt like she was just moving the massage oil around (and there was A LOT of it) and asking for more pressure resulted in more of the same. 

Our spa appointments were followed up by full afternoon tea at the Windsor Arms - which was again, OK.  They tout themselves as a luxury hotel catering to stars and other dignitaries and for that, I would have expected better service overall.  The staff weren't rude or anything, it just wasn't as polished as I would have expected.

The tea was came with 3 different finger sandwiches, 4 pieces each, and 4 gigantic scones - literally the size of my fist.  They looked dry but were surprisingly tender and dear I say fluffy.  If I had the appetite, I would probably have eaten the 2nd but there were still petit fours and berries with whipped cream (which I'd totally forgotten about!) to eat.

As to the pretty petit fours - clockwise from the top we have a lemon meringue, a rich chocolate torte, an almond-y present and a coffee-flavoured cake suped-up with what had to be liquer, it was so strong!  

Finally, what's a girls day without shopping?  Among others, we hit MO851 to check out their leather jackets.  With this visit and the stop at Rudsack recently, I feel I've done sufficient due diligence to determine that Mackage's Ming jacket is the one I want.  Now if only it'd just go on sale already!!

Oh, and what's a visit to Yorkville without a stop at Anthropologie?  I don't usually look at belts but this sparkly gem, aka the Enchanting Eyes Belt caught my eye so it came home with me:
What burns is that it's $14 more in Canada then it is in the US.  CAD is above par right now.  Granted it's a more recent event but our dollar has been flirting with parity for quite some time now so why this ridiculous discrepancy?  I may just return it to buy it again online, ship it to Buffalo and have my brother go pick it up on one of his cross-the-border jaunts!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Weekend Update

My weekend got off to a bit of a rocky start since I was forced to go to bed Thursday night at 11:30 because my power went out. I didn't worry too much about the outage because I figured it was temporary - but alas, not so much. I woke up Friday morning - thanks to my iphone alarm which I had set after the power went out - to grey skies, darkness and cold water, which wasn't too big a deal since I prefer showering at night. Turns out a contractor for Rogers and/or Bell was digging holes outside our building and managed to cut the electrical conduit or tube running into our building. The rain of the last few days flowed into this tube, into our electrical room located on P1 and blew our building's transformer - thank goodness it didn't cause a fire!

There was no word on when we'd get power back so when I got home after work, I tossed out some perishables in my fridge, packed up my freezer, and decamped to my mom's at least for the night. And thank goodness for my mom! One of my neighbour's spent an hour calling around trying to find a hotel that would take kids - with 3 conferences going on in the city, supply was apparently tight. Big bonus? Lobster was on sale for $5.99/lbs and my mom served up lobster not one, not two but THREE ways! SO YUMMY! (And yes, I know I'm spoiled.)

Incidentally, it was a big food weekend for me. But first, can I tell you about my bag score? With my spending fast over, I decided it was safe to head on over to the Shops on Don Mills to see what was on sale at Anthropologie. I tried on a bunch of different things but ended up leaving with just one top. My best score though was the gorgeous red Village Satchel from Roots to the left. I mis-read the sales tag as $119 when it actually read $149. When the cashier rang it in, it was $139, but with the current promo, spend $100+ and get $25 off, it ended up being $115 - cheaper than I had anticipated! Sweet!

Back to the food though, I dined on lobster and E-Fu noodles before heading back downtown to my place because we got power back around noon. I stayed long enough to re-pack my freezer and headed out again to see Yellow Face at the Hart House Theatre. The anger I felt while watching the play has since faded and I don't want to get into it because I don't want to focus on the negative. So I'm going to go back to food because it makes me happy.

I slept in until 11am this morning, which, because of Daylight Savings, was actually 10am and made myself a pile of yummy pancakes. I spiked the mix with a scoop of chocolate whey protein and added some chopped walnuts too and spread Nutella between each one. SO GOOD! I'm going to come absolutely clean and tell you today wasn't the first time I had them this weekend. I made them last night after I got back from the play too. There. Now you know my shame. I feel mildly better having shared that.

My regular Sunday trek out to Chinatown put me in the way of BBQ pork on rice so I had that for a late lunch and dinner tonight was a salmon steak paired with mushroom & broccoli quisotto - imagine risotto with quinoa instead of arborio rice - a recipe from my now favourite cookbook.  I'm going to have to do better with my portion sizes - dinner tonight was rather large but damn was it ever good!

I'm chilling out now with Season 1 of The West Wing on in the background and am thinking of giving this Hatha Yoga for Better Sleep video a go.  G'night!
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