Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Wishing lots of love to all those near and far...and in our hearts. 
Merry Christmas! xo

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy Winter Solstice!

Wishing you all things happy this season!

Monday, December 20, 2010

A little taste of Japan

Have you been to Sanko yet?  As you know, it's one of my favorite places to pick up munchies and groceries in Toronto.  They have the best selection of chocolates and sweets from Japan, not to mention sauces, noodles, tea, cold beverages, fresh produce, earthenware, biscuits, nori, specialty foods and seasonings (like furikake).

I love how colorful and cute the packaging can be!  This is just a sneak peek of what you might see at a combini (Japanese convenience store) or grocery if (when?) you visit Japan:

The Mother of all craft events

I love going to City of Craft.  It's always really inspiring and I love meeting the artists.  This year H and I bought some really lovely goodies including a cute pin of a monster named Janice by Denture Thief, a mini chalkboard necklace by Killside Krafts, really awesome ceramic pins of people's faces by Julie Moon (I loved her display which encouraged visitors to "find your doppleganger") and a beautiful card by Genevieve Jodouin.  I was also excited to see Bunners Bake Shop there - a new vegan and gluten-free bakery - which had the most delicious creamies (similar to whoopie cakes but filled with luscious vanilla bean frosting).  I swear each creamie weighed a good pound or two each so you can imagine how decadent and scrumptious each one was!

Another event that I went to recently was the Annual OCAD Book Arts Fair which showcases the work of book artists, printmakers, small publishing companies, zinesters, letterpress printers, cooperative print shops, paper and printmaking suppliers, and (of course) the students of OCAD. It's also very inspiring and filled with all kinds of beautiful works of art to purchase and behold.

One of my favorite artists on hand was Eunice Luk of Fantasy Camp.  She was so sweet and cute - just like her art! - and she even gave me some sheets of her lovely handprinted papers for free!  H and I bought some of her hot foil hand stamped pins and several packages of her stickers.  We also picked up some really cool prints, a few fun zines and some copper stamped pendants.

I really enjoy attending events like these for inspiration but I especially love the opportunity to share them with H.  It's great exposure for her to see the range of amazing artists and their work.  It's also a way to show our support for the community and pick up some treasures along the way!

Hope you're feeling inspired this season!  Talk soon.  xo

Sunday, December 12, 2010

What I was up to

Just in case you were wondering what I was up to during those long silences this fall...

[I swear I did more than just eat.]

Ole Christmas Tea

I went to a Christmas Tea at Toronto's First Post Office yesterday (put on by a tea group that I belong to).  It was quite intimate with just two tables and very cozy as we nibbled our treats by the fire.  The host of the tea had a nice spread set out of homemade scones with butter and strawberry jam, gingerbread cookies, butter tarts, shortbread and mini sandwiches.  There was a lovely selection of loose teas including Coco Chai Rooibos, Organic Silk Dragon Jasmine and Margaret's Hope Darjeeling.  I opted for the Coco Chai which was really delicious.

In addition to tea time, there was also an informal program in which the host led us through some Victorian Christmas traditions.  Here are a couple of interesting tidbits:

Sir Henry Cole invented the Christmas card in 1843 by printing a thousand cards and selling them in his print shop in London at a cost of one shilling each.

The Christmas cracker was invented in 1848 by Tom Smith, a London candy maker.

[Ah, London...]

It was a really lovely little gathering and a nice experience.  Tea at the post office...what a perfect combination!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Don't worry

They sang this song at H's recent Christmas concert:

I really love the sentiment and the message behind this song.  It's so simple and yet so powerful.  I think they should sing this every morning instead of the National Anthem at school.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


I love this quote (though, secretly, I don't know why one couldn't have both):

"It is perhaps a more fortunate destiny to have a taste for collecting shells than to be born a millionaire."

(Robert Louis Stevenson)


Last night I performed in my first sketch comedy show and I even did a little stand-up routine!  The venue was at a teeny cafe in the neighborhood that has a makeshift stage in the back.  We were joined by a group of young adults that my teacher recently instructed through a film and television acting program.  One of our "troupe" members is a professional musician so there was also live music during the show and funny sound effects added to the acts. 

I was nervous at first but the intimate and cozy crowd was very generous with their applause and laughter which was very encouraging.  It felt good to be up in front of people telling silly stories and acting goofy, though I really do need to develop my characters a bit more next time.  Still, it was a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to the next show (yes, that's right...I'm planning to do another!) which will likely be in the New Year.

In the meantime, I've started another class - this time through a school - where I can learn more about the craft.  There won't be a show when the course ends but it'll be fun just meeting new people and stretching my boundaries even more.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Lights! Camera! Action!

Today J begins shooting the low-budget crime film that he wrote!  (Isn't that exciting?!)  I can't even imagine how amazing it must feel for him to be on set and in his element.  I'm so very happy for him and of course (cheesy as it is to say, albeit true), proud!  He truly deserves this!  I've never met anyone so passionate and dedicated to his craft.  His work ethic is really inspiring (as well as exhausting...heh heh).

I can't wait to hear all about his experience later this evening.  Hope all is going well!  :)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Going postal

Lately, I've been operating in a world within about a four-mile radius.  This wouldn't be much of a problem if the radius included even a block of downtown (e.g. the area near St. Lawrence Market or Queen & Spadina) but it doesn't.  As a result, I've felt very restless these days and thought this would be my day to venture out into the "real world".

In hindsight, my plan was flawed from the beginning.  Let's just say that having any sort of expectations that a stamp show would "deliver" the kind of excitement I was longing for was so very wrong...on many levels.  For starters, this isn't exactly the venue that attracts really dynamic or energetic types (not to generalize but I call it as I see it).   Furthermore, if you're hoping to see any sort of diversity that Toronto is famous for, you would have to do so by fingering through the stamp collections because the crowd certainly did not provide this.

I was excited to see the children's corner - it had some really fun activities and goodies - but I was told that it was reserved strictly for children.  And no...showing i.d. to prove that I had a child would do no good here to obtain any of the materials.  (Sigh)

The highlight of my adventure was looking through covers (used envelopes) - some of which had handwritten letters and old documents tucked inside.  Oh yes, and picking up paraphernalia related to mail and stamps that I plan to share with my fellow swappers and penpals.

I left feeling even more lethargic and restless but happy that I might have more material to use during my sketch and improv class.

(Or not...)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Like a support group

Tonight I attended a drop-in session for improv and sketch comedy. It's something that I've always been secretly curious about but too shy to try so it seemed like the perfect chance to see what it was all about. Also, I've been feeling pretty restless lately and in need of something new that might expand my boundaries so I was excited to see what the session would bring.

It was a small gathering, a handful of people (a tiny hand), and I felt like a sore thumb sticking out. As I walked in, the teacher was in the middle of sharing an anecdote and I suddenly felt like someone who had just crashed an intimate party. As it turned out, the other participants had already been to several sessions with the same teacher so everyone knew each other.

The mood changed quickly, however, as the group welcomed me and personal stories were exchanged. We then jumped right in by doing two improv exercises which left me feeling absolutely exhilarated! Seriously, it was such a very liberating experience, not to mention so much fun! Finally, a forum to tap into all of my nonsensical thoughts and a place to share my insane scenarios and ideas!  (Why on earth hadn't I tried this sooner?!)  It almost felt like a support group - very therapeutic, I must say.

On a practical level, this session offered me both professional and personal applications. There were ideas discussed that could be helpful for clients I work with, for example those preparing for interviews who struggle with answering questions or presenting their personal stories or narratives in ways that are both relevant and entertaining to prospective audiences or in this case, employers. For me, it was all about getting a glimpse at being able to manage the spontaneity of conversation and formulate responses to either sustain or engage dialogue. (Imagine?!) I loved it all and was sad when the session ended.

I can't wait to go again next week and see what we'll do next! (I'm actually giddy thinking about it! Heh heh.)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

No trouble

There is no trouble so great or grave that cannot be much diminished by a nice cup of tea.

~Bernard-Paul Heroux

Friday, September 24, 2010

Must be

This must be what it feels like getting punched in the stomach...

This is what we like to do

Eat lil' chocolate chip cookies, munch on popcorn, sip tea, watch a scary movie and squeeze onto a couch together... ♥

Thursday, September 23, 2010

It was only time

The "tea" shirt is amazing, isn't it? I'm not sure how the whole tea cup thing works or how I feel about it yet. Still, I had to share it with you.

[Still on the radar...]

Just in case you were wondering, I've had two cups of Cinnamon Heart (my favorite morning tea right now!) and a White Malibu iced tea latte today, so far. (I ♥ tea!) xo

The power to evoke...

"Photographs get at the essence of things. They have the power to evoke, inform, and inspire. Photography is a democratic medium- global, inexpensive, and accessible. We like the immediacy and clarity of photography: we read photographs quickly, if not instantly, and know straight away whether we like or dislike them. Photographs are seductive, they feed our imagination about what we want to look like and how we want to live. They fire our aspirations. Photographers bear witness to events for us; they inform and educate us through their eyes. The camera preserves things that are now past, allowing us to see things that would otherwise be unseeable".

- Susan Sontag

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

First day of Autumn

The weather today was so strange - it was a mixed bag of humidity, overcast skies, refreshing breezes and sun. It was kind of like Summer trying to hang on as Autumn was trying to move in.

I'm sure I've mentioned this before but this is really my favorite time of year. To me, it feels like more of a new beginning now than in January. It just doesn't feel right to start something new when people are hibernating indoors all bundled up, waiting for the snow to melt (or maybe that's just me?). Anyway, this season feels like the start of something new and exciting. I hope yours is, too. xo

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Beef Bourguignon

As many of you know, I am very fortunate to have a husband who not only enjoys cooking but is also very good at it. Lately, however, J has been busy working on a number of different film projects and no longer has the time. Normally, the thought of being in charge of feeding the family would be quite scary but thanks to a number of inspiring blogs (especially this one), I have been really intrigued and excited about the whole idea.

I've been fixated on the idea of making a pot roast - the kind I used to make many moons ago. So, I began scanning the web for new variations of the recipe when I came across a very fool-proof method that I just had to try only it wasn't for pot roast but for Beef Bourguignon (did I spell it right?).

I ran around buying the ingredients - cuts of beef, a bottle of red wine, broth, pearl onions - and also made pit-stops along the way. I went to David's Tea (sadly, their Pumpkin Spice blend was sold out), Cobs (they have a delicious sesame bread that J loves), Max's Deli (their homemade salsa is amazing and they also have Cape Vessey cheese) and a health food store to buy nutritional yeast flakes and veggie sausages for J. It was so nice to be out and about today with the sun shining. It was also quite warm (26 degrees).

The recipe, while quite easy in its execution, took 2 1/2 hours to cook. The kitchen smelled amazing but the dish was even more spectacular. Here is the recipe I used (courtesy of

1/2 lb. mushrooms, sliced
1/4 c. butter
5 slices bacon, diced
2 lbs. beef (boneless), cut into 2-inch cubes
2 tbsp. flour
1 tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. thyme
1 bay leaf
1 peppercorn
3/4 c. beef stock
1 1/2 c. red cooking wine
1/2 lb. whole sm. white onions

In a large pot, saute mushrooms in butter. Remove mushrooms and liquid, and set aside. Fry bacon until crisp. Remove bacon and set aside. Add beef to bacon drippings. Brown it well. Blend in flour. Then add sugar, salt, thyme, bay leaf and peppercorn. Add beef stock and wine. Cover and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add onions, mushrooms and bacon. Simmer 1 1/2 hours longer. Add more cooking wine if liquid evaporates.

Serve over rice. Serves 4.

I was getting quite impatient at about the 2 hour mark but honestly, if you're able to wait an extra 30 minutes (or even longer) then you will end up with beef that is more tender and dare I say, more dang delicious. Trust me - wait. (The beef was tender enough to slice with a butter knife!)

So that was my little adventure today. I thought it was a good way to celebrate the coming of Autumn. I have a little feast planned for Thursday which will be all vegan so the three of us can enjoy it together.

Hope you're having a good month. And in case I don't talk to you, Happy Autumn Solstice to you! xo

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

First day of school

I still can't believe it's already the first day of school! I'm really going to miss spending time with H during the day. We've been having lots of fun watching movies, baking, playing Boggle, laughing together, having lazy days and just being in each other's company. I hope we'll always be this close. ♥

Corndogs and other surprises

To celebrate the last day of summer holidays, I took H on a mystery outing. I gave her a few hints about where we were going which included 1) there would be a little bit of everything that she liked there, 2) we would probably eat, at some point and 3) she wouldn't be disappointed. She then asked, "Does it have anything to do with cheese?"

We took the subway and then a streetcar which I was sure would give away the final destination but luckily didn't. H mentioned during the ride that this streetcar passed by Ontario Place and the CNE but I guess didn't think I would actually take her to either of these places. When it was getting pretty obvious that we weren't getting off until the last stop, I tried to make up some excuse saying that I had missed the right stop. I even went so far as to start back-tracking by walking away from the CNE but finally let out the surprise. H was so happy and excited and she squeezed my arm several times as she thanked me.

We didn't actually go on any rides but just wandered around the grounds and to Exhibition Hall. We ate corn dogs and fries, bought cotton candy and the "ice-cream of the future" (Dip'n'Dots, I think they're called). We spent the most time at the games trying to win prizes. I was both annoyed and intrigued by the carnies as they tried to manipulate us to spend more money and make us forget that we required change back through their obvious distractions. They're a skilled breed and I was mesmerized by their fast talking.

One of the highlights of the excursion was finding wooden spoons. I'm not talking about those huge spoons that come in salad sets but the size of teaspoons and tiny dessert spoons or the kind used for eating chestnuts. I first saw them on the site of one of my favorite bloggers and have become obsessed with them since. It was a very happy day for both H and I. :)

J missed out on all the fun since he had to work but was nice enough to pick us up to go to H's next surprise - dinner at The Real Jerk. H told J all about our day and then gave one of her prizes to him (a stuffie of one of the South Park kids) which was very sweet and touching.