i’m gonna live my life…

website metricsI know we’ve got a lot of catching up to do since I’ve neglected this blog for a while. I’ve been working a ridiculous amount this month and have been getting sick a lot. Had I not been sick for a few days, I would have only had 3 days off in the month of February. Besides work and being sick, I’ve also been focusing on writing for my new blog. Here is the link to Her Story if you are interested.

So February is what I call Winterlicious month. This year, I was only able to make it to two restaurants. My first Winterlicious dinner was at a restaurant in Yorkville called Crème Brasserie. The food was good, but the service we had could have been better. There were 5 of us and they pretty much mixed up what each of us were having every single time our food arrived at the table. Considering it wasn’t very busy at the time, I didn’t think that was acceptable. With that said, I wouldn’t mind going back there some day simply for their food so long as the service improves.

I had the Roast Cornish Hen with confit pork belly, caramelized onion, fennel, spaghetti squash, walnut and cranberry wine jus. Not the best cornish hen I’ve had, but it wasn’t bad. For dessert, I went with the Chocolate Crepe filled with strawberries, bannanas, and caramel. It’s rare to see crepes on the dessert menu for Winterlicious, so I had to try it.

My second Winterlicious restaurant this year was one that I had been to many times before. Jump, located at Commerce Court, is actually one of my favourite restaurants in the city. I love the atmosphere there and the service is very consistent.

Due to my love for crab cakes, I had to have the Canadian Rock Crab Cake as my appetizer. Served with fennel & watercress slaw, honey mustard dressing & chipotle remoulade, it did not disappoint.

As for entree, I had the Ontario Lamb Cacciatore with cipollini onions, tomato, butter beans & Parmigiano-Reggiano crusted polenta. It wasn’t amazing, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

My friend, Tommy, had the Grilled True North Atlantic Salmon with warm spinach, organic sprouted grains & mushroom salad, potato crisps & lemon aioli. Upon trying a piece of that salmon, I would have to say it was better than my lamb.

Another highlight of February was cooking pho with my friends Adrienne & Robin, as well as their friends Andrew & Vince. I’ve always known how to make pho but never actually took part in making it. This was my first time. After hours and hours of cooking and waiting for the broth to be ready, we were finally able to sit down for dinner at half past midnight. Considering pho is not easy to make, I think we still have a lot of room for improvement, and it will probably take a few more tries to perfect. However, our combined efforts definitely deserves extra points :)

While we waited for the broth to cook, we watched a movie to kill time. I was quite pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the movie “50/50″. Initially, I thought a movie about a guy getting cancer would be a bit depressing to watch, but it turned out to be quite a comedy. The fact that Seth Rogan is in the movie should have given that away. I liked the fact that the movie moved at a quick pace and there was rarely a dull moment. There were a few scenes where it reminded me very much of how I felt when I had a tumor scare two years ago. I recall what it felt like going for my MRI and waiting to get results. Even the doctor in the movie was very much like my neurologist; he also spoke very quickly into a recorder at the beginning of my session. Anyway, I would definitely recommend this movie if you haven’t yet seen it.

Last but not least, I want to share this new Far East Movement song with you all. Released today on iTunes, “Live My Life” is an up-beat track that saw my favourite music group, Far East Movement, collaborating with the infamous Justin Bieber. I don’t particularly care for Bieber’s vocals on this track, but I must admit that this is possibly the best collaboration that FM has done if looked at from a marketing standpoint. Check it out and see what you think!

let me relax for one day

I must admit I had a lovely and enjoyable weekend, even if it was only for one day on Saturday. My friend Adrienne and I met up for lunch at a very cute café called Crêpes à GoGo. We had stumbled upon this gem online as it was known for good crepes. With only about six tables for two each, it’s a pretty tiny place. We were lucky to get a table as soon as we arrived since there was constantly a line up after we settled down. The café is nicely decorated with European accents and photographs on its walls, and the waiter/waitresses all speak with a heavy French accent. What I absolutely loved was the fact that there was a guy who played the accordion and, later, another guy who played the clarinet joined in as well. It makes for a really nice atmosphere and totally makes you feel as though you are in Paris.

As for the crepes, they were DELICIOUS! I started with the Rive Droite which consisted of scrambled egg, sour cream, baby spinach & smoked salmon. Adrienne and I also got a dessert crepe with strawberries, bananas and their version of Nutella. Also worth mentioning is that no plates are used here; the crepes come in paper bags. It’s a very unique experience that I would highly recommend.

While we were there, a somewhat bizarre thing happened. We were seated right in front of the cash counter chatting away when we noticed a man was hovering next to our table. At first we thought he was just waiting for a table. As we continued to chat, Adrienne noticed that the guy made a very quick move at the counter and dashed out the door. It turns out the guy swiped the tip jar that was on the counter right next to me. By the time Adrienne and the accordion guy realized what had happened, it was already way too late. The guy had already disappeared down the street. Obviously he knew the place would get busy and picked the right time to grab & go. Adrienne and I were just glad he didn’t hold up the place or anything.

After lunch, Adrienne and I decided to see a movie. We’d been friends for 7 years and have had numerous outings – shopping, dinners, clubbing, going to see musicals and cd releases, random walks around the city, even road trips. It was kind of surprising and ridiculous that we had never seen a movie together. So to break that non-movie streak, we went to see Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Now I’m not usually into dramas and thrillers simply because I like to relax to chick flicks and comedies, but this one really impressed me. I thought everything from the story line to the acting and cinematography was really well executed. Even at two and a half hours, there was not a single moment where I felt bored. In fact, there were times when I thought the movie was going more quickly than it really was and I was eager to find out what was going to happen next. I think I’m going to watch the Swedish version as well just to see how the two compare.

Later that night, we met up with Adrienne’s boyfriend for dinner at Mezza Notte Trattoria, one of our favourite Italian restaurants. We usually go to the location in North York, but for this time we decided to try the location in Thornhill. I still think the North York location is better simply because they serve specialty breads there, but overall it was a good meal. We ordered two appetizers: Cozze Alla Marinara (mussels sautéed with white wine and garlic in tomato sauce) and Lumache Alla Francese (escargot with grilled portobello mushrooms sautéed in a cognac sauce). As you can see from the picture, I had the Penne Al Salmone (penne with Norwegian smoked salmon and vodka in a pink sauce). Every plate was tasty. This is another restaurant I would HIGHLY recommend.

So that was pretty much my weekend before starting another 7-day work week. I hope everyone also enjoyed relaxing weekends and is having a good week :)

yeah, i’m still alive

Anger and frustration. Those are perhaps the two emotions I’ve experienced the most over these past two weeks. It’s been a while since I’ve had a good night’s rest where my mind isn’t tormenting me. I feel like this overwhelming amount of stress is killing me an inch at a time, and I have to keep fighting back to prevent it from killing me entirely.

I know for most of the time, my life is an open book; I reveal a lot of personal things in this blog as it is my mission to encourage open thought and the sharing of life experiences. But for once, I can’t openly share what is stressing me. I can’t do anything about it, nor can I change the situation. All I can do is reframe my thoughts and try to get through each day as best I can. With all different kinds of thoughts in my head right now, you can expect there to be some thought-provoking posts in the next few weeks.

Amidst the stress, I was able to catch up with two good friends this weekend. It’d been quite some time since I last saw my bro Edison and our friend Kevin, who’s been working in New York and was back for the week. With all the stress I’d been dealing with lately, catching up with some good friends really helped calm my soul. We had lunch at Wonderpho, which is owned by Kevin’s family and managed by his brother who took good care of us while we were there. The food was good and the service was superb. It’s a cozy spot that gets two thumbs up from me :)

After lunch, we decided to go see a movie. It was a debate between Bridesmaids and Hangover 2. We ended up seeing Bridesmaids simply because of better timing, but I think it would’ve been the better one to see anyway. Like Kevin said, you know it’s going to be funny when you start off with a sex scene haha The movie was super hilarious, even during those few disgusting moments. I highly HIGHLY recommend this movie!

making history…free wired

What a week it has been for Asian-Americans to be on television! Earlier in the week, Kev Jumba (YouTube comedian/celebrity) was seen competing on The Amazing Race. Then last night, Far East Movement made their tv debut on the late-night talk show, Lopez Tonight. They were the first ever Asian-American group to perform on a talk show. That’s history right there.

But that’s not all. They’re making history left right and center now. I woke up early Wednesday morning to news that Far East Movement had hit #1 on US iTunes with their single “Like a G6″. They are the first Asian-American group to ever make it on the Billboard Hot 100; Like a G6 is currently peaking at #6. That’s an amazing achievement and I’m so happy for them!

I still remember when Like a G6 was first released on a mixtape back in November. It was busy times at work with all the craziness prepping for Xmas, and the only thing that kept me going in those early hours was FM’s super-packed-with-energy music. I was bumpin’ Like a G6 every morning while working at 6am, wondering why these guys haven’t had their big break yet. And now, nearly a year later, their song is playing everywhere! Not just in the States, but even here in Canada. That’s pretty awesome. Even though I don’t know them personally and they don’t know me, it’s still a nice feeling to know that the guys you’ve been supporting for years is finally making it. *Always repping with 3 fingers up!

meet me half way

I can’t believe half the summer is over already! In a blink of an eye, we’re already nearing the end of July. I feel like I haven’t really done anything yet to enjoy this summer. The last exciting thing I remember doing was meeting Far East Movement, and that was already a month ago. Since then, I’ve just been working. Although half the time I’m only working 4.5 hour days, my days are actually longer because I wake up at 4:30am for work at 6am and I don’t end up sleeping until midnight. I really should start sleeping earlier.

Finally saw Despicable Me last week with my friends from work. It was AWESOME! No wonder Anna decided to see it AGAIN lol I can’t decide which movie I like more: Despicable Me or Toy Story 3. They’re both up there for me. There were a lot of parts in Despicable Me that were really cute and funny. I also loved the minions! “IT’S SO FLUFFFFFFFFFFY!!!”

Usually for Summerlicious and Winterlicious, I try to hit three different restaurants. With conflicting schedules and everyone being busy, I only managed to hit one restaurant for Summerlicious this year. My friend Tommy had made reservations for this restaurant called Trevor Kitchen and Bar. It was a small but cozy place underground. The service and atmosphere was great. I wasn’t too crazy about the food though. The lamb pastrami appetizer was pretty good, but I was mostly looking forward to the cookies & cream tiramisu (which in my opinion would’ve been much better without the raspberry sauce drizzled on it). Overall, I had a good time. It was nice catching up with Tommy since I hadn’t seen him in a while and our last Summerlicious dinner was 4 years ago.

Yesterday was a special day. Aaron, Anna, Raquel and I made plans to visit Anasha and baby Kalani after work. I can’t believe my goddaughter is almost 2 months old! Anna and Raquel had fun holding Kalani and playing with her, while I had fun taking pictures of the precious little one. We took a nice walk to the mall (Kalani’s first shopping trip!) since Anasha hasn’t really had the chance to get out much. It was really good seeing Anasha, who’s doing well and looking great. I took some nice pictures of mommy and baby after we got back from the mall. Will post them soon.

Last but not least, Far East Movement is back in town this Friday. They’re here on the All Hearts Tour with label mate, Robyn, and will be partying at Wetbar/Suite 106 after the show. So if any of you are partying this Friday, you know where the party’s at. Unfortunately, I think I’m going to pass on this event to catch up on some rest time. Been working ALMOST everyday since July 12th because my boss at the store was in NY for a buying trip. With a 13-hour workday coming up this Sunday, I’ll probably need all the rest I can get before I spend this weekend working. On the up side, I can look forward to things getting back to normal next week :)

movie time!

It had been a while since I was last at the movies. For months I was waiting eagerly for Shrek Forever After and Sex & the City 2 to come out, but for one reason or another I didn’t end up seeing either of them. The one movie I actually saw turned out to be one that I didn’t plan on seeing at all, and let me tell you…it did not disappoint.

If you haven’t gone to see Toy Story 3 yet, you MUST go see it NOW. I saw it on opening day with my friends from work and was extremely surprised by how great it was. Most movies suck by the time its third installment comes out. Even with Shrek’s success, I’d have to say that its 2nd & 3rd installments weren’t nearly as good as the first Shrek movie. I probably wouldn’t even want to see it if it wasn’t for its sentimental value. So with Toy Story 3, I wasn’t excited about it at all. But wow, what a surprise! I found myself laughing through most of the 2 hours, and although I didn’t actually cry at the end of the movie, I’ll admit it sure hit a soft spot. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but I have to say that the Mr. Tortilla part was HILARIOUS! Do not miss it lol

Another computer-animated movie that I’m really looking forward to is Despicable Me. Anna was telling me about it after she saw an advance screening of the movie and she says it’s really good. Its trailers look promising too. Check them out if you haven’t already. “IT’S SO FLUFFY I’M GONNA DIE!!!” lol

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’tis the season for awful back pains

You know (well…I know) Christmas is quickly approaching when I get incredibly painful backaches. I suppose it’s kind of like those people who can sense the rain is coming when their knees hurt :p I’ve been MIA for most of the last two weeks because of how exhausted I’ve been. It’s that time of the year when rest is priority, especially now that I start work at the ungodly hour of 6am. I’ll save you all from my rant about my stresses and worries. A quick post before I gotta hit the sack.

i’m graduating…again!

I finally submitted my request for graduation last week, which means I will officially be graduating from the Travel & Tourism certificate program in the Winter semester. I missed the deadline for Fall convocation because I was waiting for a request for advance standing to go through for a one-day course that was completely pointless for me to take. On one hand, I’m glad to know it’s finally over. But on the other hand, I guess it’s time to consider what my next step will be.

battle of the blades

Who’s been watching Battle of the Blades?! Ever since I heard about the idea of the show, I thought it was a great idea to pair figures skaters with hockey players to compete in figure skating. I’ve been following the show for 7 weeks and has been cheering for Shae-Lynn Bourne and Claude Lemieux. The season wrapped up Monday night to my disappointment when Jamie Salé and Craig Simpson won. I truly believe Shae and Claude’s overall performance was much better, but I must admit Jamie and Craig’s last performance was slightly more captivating. Oh well, I look forward to next season. Wonder if Doug Gilmour will participate…heheh

this is it

I ended up watching This Is It the other night purely out of curiosity. Perhaps it was because I didn’t have any expectations at all, I found the movie interesting enough to get me through to the end. I’ve always had an interest in ‘behind the scenes’ stuff, so this movie gave me plenty of that. Obviously the music was good (c’mon, it’s MJ), but the one thing I liked most was the dancing. The choreography was amazing. I think it really would have been a great show. It’s sad that it couldn’t have happened.

can you feel the heat?

So two weeks ago, we had the Orlando Magic staying at our hotel. This week, take a guess at who’s checking-in to our hotel tonight. Those of you who follow basketball will know that the Toronto Raptors are playing against the Miami Heat this Friday. Yup, you guessed it! The Miami Heat. Hmmm…I wonder if I’ll catch a couple of them before their game.

i pick kleenex over puffs

Sorry for not having been very active online these days. Between my many days of work and being sick, I’ve been spending every bit of free time resting. I made a real effort to discipline myself in taking medication so that helped a lot. Ended up only being really sick for 3 days with the sniffles. There was no coughing, just a constant runny nose. So don’t worry, I don’t have the swine flu :p

While I was sick, I made an amazing discovery. Neocitran is a surprisingly good remedy! Have some of that and keep a box of Kleenex® Lotion Tissue at your side. You’ll be well prepared to fight that runny nose. I pick Kleenex over Puffs because I think Kleenex is slightly softer than Puffs. Believe me, using soft tissues make a HUGE difference on your nose!

Kevin and Winnie came back from New York for a few days this week and I managed to catch them during their short stay. The fam went out for dinner on Monday night at an authentic Japanese restaurant in the Yonge & Eglinton area called Fin Izakaya. Jacky’s Japanese girlfriend, Mika, recommended the place and it did not disappoint. Besides the ‘sperm’ looking/tasting dish (more commonly known as Nattō), everything else was good. The pork belly, the chicken skewers, the horse mackerel, the clams, and of course the Unagi. I would highly recommend the restaurant, but definitely wouldn’t recommend trying the Nattō.

After dinner, Mika suggested we try this little dessert house up by Yonge & Finch. It was called Yogoberri and they served yogurt, cakes and waffles. A rather homely place owned by Koreans. We had a good time just catching up. It’s been a while since we last had the whole family together.

So while I’ve been patiently waiting for my two favourite tv shows to return with new seasons (that would be Ugly Betty and Desperate Housewives), I caught up with some TVB dramas. First on my list was Emergency Unit (學警狙擊), mainly because I was curious what caused the whole hype about the character, Laughing 哥. I remember being in Hong Kong at the time and EVERYONE was talking about him. Now I know why.

The story line was quite captivating (an undercover cop trying to turn over a drug business). It reminded me of the Young and Dangerous days. I particularly enjoyed watching the Laughing 哥 character. I think the character was exceptionally well portrayed by Michael Tse, considering I actually felt heartbroken when his character died. Throughout most of the show, you’re led to believe he’s a gang leader. You only find out his real identity as an undercover cop shortly before his death so it really has an impact on you. The interesting thing is they never really confirmed his death, so it’s quite possible that Laughing 哥 didn’t die and the character will return in the next installment of the show. At least that’s what I believe :p

On the topic of entertainment, can someone tell me why there are so many movies this year with the number 9 in their titles? Following District 9 (which I thought was a great movie even though I rarely ever watch sci-fi) was 9. I went to see it last week and was quite disappointed with it. Besides the visuals, I didn’t think there was a lot of depth to the story. But to be fair, I did fall asleep for a good 15 minutes through the movie (just like I did while watching District 9) so I probably shouldn’t be too harsh with my comment. I can’t seem to stay awake at the theaters if I go after work because I’m always so tired. Gotta fix that!

Tomorrow after work, I’m going to see Zombieland. Will let you all know how that one is…that is, if I don’t fall asleep again. lol