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!

happy new year everyone!

I know this post is a little late since we’re already into our second week of 2012, but I was really busy over the holiday season and have been sick since the new year, so please forgive me.

For me, this past holiday consisted of working, cooking and cleaning, all of which are things I enjoy doing. Unfortunately, they are also very tiring tasks. I didn’t end up with a lot of energy for anything else, besides taking my cousin to see Disney on Ice on Christmas Eve. It was her first Christmas in Canada so I thought it would be a fun outing for us. At least we got to spend Christmas with Mickey and the Disney gang :p

Since I was sick in bed recently, I used that time to catch up on some reading and to simply allow my body to relax after a very hectic December. While playing with my iPad, I decided to download Fruit Ninja after my friend Anna told me about it. It’s simple; all you do is slash as many fruits as you can when they pop up on the screen while avoiding the bombs. Mannnnn, am I ever hooked! I know it sounds really silly but seriously, it is such an addictive game. For anyone who’s looking for a fun app to pass the time, I’d recommend this one :)

On the topic of fun and silly things, I’m sure some of you have already seen this stop motion short on the secret lives of books. If you haven’t yet then you need to check it out now. It’s really quite cute. (And it’s a little freaky how many books I recognize in that video simply by their spines.)

Another stop motion video I’ve been wanting to share is this music video for Kina Grannis’ single, “In Your Arms”. The video was made using my favourite candy…288,000 Jelly Belly jelly beans! Be sure to check out this video as well.

time to catch up

I’m back!

First and foremost, thank you everyone for your birthday wishes. As you may have noticed, I’ve been on a blog hiatus for nearly 3 months. Been working like a mad woman while riding a crazy emotional roller coaster all summer. What I’ve been dealing with has inspired me to write about some things that come from a deeper, and possibly darker, part of me. You can expect to see some of that in the upcoming months. For now I’m just going to do a quick photo blog of the past 3 months and share a few songs that I’ve been bumpin’ recently.

I remember when I was young, we used to have a lot of family get togethers. As I got older and my extended family grew bigger, it seemed like those get togethers became more of a rarity; we would see each other either at a cousin’s wedding or a funeral of a family member.

Going along with that trend, our family came together for the first time this year at my cousin Jennifer’s wedding. It was a really beautiful wedding. That’s some of the family (from my mom’s side) in the above picture. Most of the kids are missing from it, but I’m sure you can already tell how big the family is. I had a lot of fun dancing with the whole family at the end of the night, especially when “Like a G6” came on and everyone on the dance floor was singing to it :)

Click here for the full album from the wedding.

Later in July, my uncle from Hong Kong came to visit for a few days. While he was in town, I took the family to Big Daddy’s Crab Shack & Oyster Bar. It was my first time there, but I’d heard great feedback about the place and have wanted to try them out for a long time. Now that I’ve been there, I can HIGHLY recommend Big Daddy’s both for its food and service.

We all ordered from the 3-course prix-fixe menu and were quite satisfied with our selections. I had the Seafood Gumbo to start and the Seafood Fettuccine. Both were pretty good. I think it was my parents’ Big Daddy Seafood Salad that stole the show though. It not only looked good but tasted good too. I think I’ll be trying that next time I’m there.

My uncle loves oysters so we had two orders of them. They were also really good, and I absolutely LOVED having the tray of 6 different house-made sauces to choose from.

While my friend Charmaine was back in town from Vancouver, we managed to make time for a nice dinner on the patio of Joey Grill & Lounge. We had wanted to go there last year when she was here visiting, but Joey’s was pretty new at the time and the wait was an hour long. Thus, we ended up at Glow instead. Since we were there this time on a weeknight, we didn’t have to wait at all. It was really nice catching up with Charmaine and my brother, Edison.

As for the food…the set of Sushi Cones were filled with tempura prawn, avocado, spicy mayo and cucumber.

The Beach Salad consists of mixed greens, quinoa, fresh strawberries, avocado, candied pecans, goat cheese & lemon poppyseed dressing with grilled chicken breast. I HIGHLY recommend this salad because it is tasty, healthy and refreshing. It might actually top my favourite salad in Toronto, which is the Grilled Tiger Shrimp Salad at Joe Mama’s.

This was Chinese dessert night with Adrienne and Robin. We had driven around uptown looking for a place for a durian shake (which we eventually did find at First Markham Place), and then came here for dessert. Mmmm…black sesame paste dessert :)

I talked a bit about seeing family at the beginning of this post. Well, I guess we did pretty good this year because we actually had a gathering outside of a wedding/funeral. It was a good turn out for a BBQ at my cousin Louis’ place. There was plenty of food and definitely good times spent with family.

My cousin Lisa brought her dog, Milton, which everyone absolutely adores.

Tropical fruit platters to top it off!

To be honest, I didn’t have very much time to spend catching up with friends this summer due to the amount of time I was scheduled to work. Perhaps the only time I did get to kick back and chill was in mid August, when Anna and I went over to Kat’s after work one day to catch up and celebrate her birthday. Girl’s night began with cheese…

…then steak with veggies…

…and a yummy Dufflet Hazelnut Cakelet to finish the night. If you’re into cakes, definitely give this a try. We picked this one up from Loblaws, but I’m sure you can find them at other supermarkets as well. Dufflet does not disappoint.

So you all know I love Far East Movement. Obviously I knew they were in town opening for Lil Wayne’s concert back in August. I also made sure to catch their performance on Much Music’s New Music Live, which saw them doing awesome reflips. Since I was in the middle of a crazy work week at the time, I knew I wasn’t going to make it to the show to physically see them perform. I was all set on NOT seeing them while they were in town this time when a funny thing happened.

I was at work the afternoon before their show when I happened to look out our store window just as the guys of Far East Movement were getting into their ride outside our hotel! I literally jumped up from my seat and ran to the window when I saw them. What were the chances that they’d be staying in our hotel of all places?! And what were the chances I’d happen to look out the window just in time to see them?! Crazy.

I later heard from a bellman that he was there when the guys and their entourage checked in the night before. He said he wasn’t sure if they were FM, but knew they were artists because a photographer was taking pictures of a guy who was leaning against the wall texting. Normal people don’t have pictures of them taken while they’re texting, right? lol I giggled when Kev Nish later uploaded the above picture onto his Facebook :D

Alright, enough typing for one night. On to the music…

fm x cooking x bm

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about Far East Movement (or blogged in general) so I’m going to start off with them. They were in town for a few days prior to their gig on Tuesday, which I thought was interesting that they happen to be playing at Kool Haus. When I met them last June during their first visit to Toronto, we were chatting with Kev after their show at Tattoo and he had asked if artists usually play at clubs like that one. We told him some artists play at clubs; those who’ve gained more popularity will hit up Kool Haus. At the time, not too many people in Toronto had heard about FM yet. In fact, I think it was shortly after that night when “Like a G6” blew up on the radio and everyone here started bumpin’ their music.

It’s evident how far they’ve gotten since my conversation with them 10 months ago. They were guests on MuchMusic’s New.Music.Live (formerly known as Much On Demand) yesterday. It’s funny ‘cuz I remember my one and only time on that show was during the summer of ’09. It was Keri Hilson’s first visit to MuchMusic, so of course I wanted to be there. I actually remember sitting in the audience and thinking…”Far East Movement’s going to be here getting interviewed one day. I can feel it. It’s just a matter of time.” And now look! I really regret not being able to be on the show to witness that moment in history, especially considering I worked literally half a block away from the building just hours ago. But there wasn’t much I could do about being 2 years over the age limit to be in the audience of NML. Boooooo to that! Seeing FM’s success with their Free Wired album, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they return to Toronto again in a few weeks for the 2011 MMVA. Hopefully I’ll catch them next time they’re in town.

Be sure to check out FM’s video to their new single. I would, if I was you…O.M.G.

So how did everyone enjoy their long weekend? I had a full 4 days off which is practically unheard of in my world. After working 40 hours in 4 days last week, I really needed some time to catch up on some sleep and rest. However, I did spend my Saturday afternoon grocery shopping and cooking for my family. Even though it’s rare to see me cooking up a storm in the kitchen, I actually quite enjoy cooking when I get the chance to. It’d been over a year since I last cooked so I was feeling a bit rusty. Besides accidentally pouring in too much basil into the pasta, I think my rather simple meal turned out okay.

I used a recipe that my co-worker gave me to make a Pasta with Sun-dried Tomatoes, and I used another recipe from another co-worker for my favourite Cranberry BBQ Sauce Meatballs. Of course we had to have some veggies, so I steamed up some broccoli and carrots. Voila!

For dessert, my cousin and I enjoyed one of my favourite Italian desserts: tartufo. Although it was store-bought, it was still quite heavenly.

I’ll admit most of my long weekend was spent sleeping and lazing around. I truly believe those lazy days are (sometimes) necessary. And the perfect song to play on one of those days is… lol

*Beauty product review post will be coming soon. I’m sorry for the delay!

time to catch up

As you’ve probably noticed, I’ve been on a blog hiatus for the past month and a half. A lot has been going on for me during this time, both in and out of work, so I haven’t had much spare time for anything besides rest.

I had mentioned in my last post that March would be a pretty crazy month for me, and sure enough it was. At the beginning of the month, I was stressed over my dad’s surgery. When that was done and things turned out fine for him, I found myself even more stressed over having to clean our house in preparation for the new addition to our family. For a week and a half, I was only doing 4 things every day: work, clean, shower, sleep…repeat. Believe me, it was intense!

So to relieve some of that stress, I decided to spend a bit of time the other day doing something that didn’t involve cleaning or physical labour. After work, a bunch of my co-workers and I hopped over to the Corned Beef House for our first knitting club meet. My mom taught me to knit when I was in elementary school and I’ve made a scarf, but I haven’t knitted since then. I’m glad that we have a knitting club now at work so I can get back into the knitting thing and learn some new skills from others. Hopefully, I’ll have a scarf made by next winter.

Speaking of the Corned Beef House, I must tell you how great this place is. It’s a small cozy restaurant/bar with amazing food. Their plates are SO BIG it’s ridiculous! Sadly, I haven’t tried their corned beef sandwiches yet. Instead, my co-worker, Iman, got me into their Smoked Meat Poutine. It is SO GOOD! Definitely two thumbs up from me. The owner of the place is a cool guy so you always get great service. Check out the Corned Beef House at the corner of John & Adelaide.

For my next post, I’ll be reviewing some products that I recently purchased and are really enjoying. For example, featured in the picture above are my new make-up brushes from Sigma. Will write more about them in my next post. Most of the reviews will be on beauty products so girls, stay tuned.

And before I go, I’ll leave you all with this video. I’m lovin’ the beat to this track. Awesome collabo…Jin x Dumbfounded x Traphik. (By the way, I’ve got Jin following me on Twitter!!)

“free wired” album review

It’s been a very long time since I last wrote up any sort of review. What used to be a staple of my blogs back in the AsianAvenue, Xanga and Livejournal eras slowly faded out since I moved my blog here. To re-introduce it, I thought it only made sense to set it off with Far East Movement’s new album, “Free Wired”.

Now before I begin, let me just make it clear that I acknowledge everyone is entitled to their own opinions, so this review is strictly my personal opinion. Before you agree or disagree with me, drop by your local record store to pick up your copy of “Free Wired” and have a good listen…then we’ll talk ;)

Overview A lot of people only recognize FM by their success of “Like a G6” and don’t realize they’ve been around for a long time. Unless you’re familiar with their previous work, it’s natural to expect Free Wired to be an album full of dance tracks that have the same kind of impact as G6. You’d be surprised to learn that isn’t the case. Free Wired offers quite a variety of teasers for your ears. It’s feel good music that just…well, makes you feel good.

[1] Girls On the Dance Floor I’m glad they put this track on the album because it’s a song that’s extremely significant to their success. It’s been around for a while already so I’m not going to spend too much time talking about it.

[2] Like a G6 Another song that’s been around; it’s one I’ve listened to repeatedly for almost a year now. What can I say…it’s only gone platinum and #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100! If you haven’t heard it yet, you must be living in a cave.

[3] Rocketeer I had seen a small clip of them recording this song in the studio earlier in the year, and just from hearing “up up here we go” I said I had to hear this song. Sure enough, it’s become one of my favourite songs on the album. Different from your typical uptempo FM style, it’s a nice “love song” that’s a bit out of the norm. I like the fact that the lyrics are well written and easy to understand.

[4] If I Was You (OMG) When I first heard the name of this song, I was worried that it was going to be somewhat of a knock off of Usher’s “OMG” (I was never crazy about it). Once I heard it, I breathed a sigh of relief. The beat was definitely more FM style. And the wonderful thing about this track is not only did they get Snoop Dogg on it, but they actually have him singing!

[5] She Owns the Night I quite like this song. For once I just can’t seem to put my finger on why I like it though.

[6] So What? To be honest, I didn’t like this song during my first listen. When I failed to skip it while playing the whole album a few times over, it started to grow on me. The beat is catchy, though not quite the same way as G6.

[7] Don’t Look Now I LOVE this song! I can literally play it repeatedly for hours and still not get sick of it. When I first heard about a collabo with Keri Hilson, I was skeptical. I’ve been a fan of Keri’s and the music on her album was great. But all the collaborations that weren’t on her album led to disappointment (at least for me) so I was fairly worried that this one wasn’t going to work out either. Luckily it turned out nicely and, judging by the feedback, it looks like a lot of people are bumpin’ this track. I really like FM’s playful lyrics and I think Keri’s voice worked perfectly on this easy-going tune.

[8] Fighting for Air A mellow track, but it just has this way of capturing your attention. It has more of a melody compared to the other tracks. The only thing that bothers me a bit is the panning at the beginning of the song (where the sound is juggled between the left and right speakers). I like how the idea was used, but the execution of it just feels a tiny bit off to me. Unless you’re listening to it with headphones though, it’s barely noticeable.

[9] White Flag This song didn’t do much for me at first, but again it grew on me with time. For some strange reason, it reminds me of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream”. I’m not too crazy about it, but it’s easy listening.

[10] 2gether I prefer to hear this song performed on stage with all the high energy and excitement, as opposed to through my headphones.

Overall I give it 8.5/10. Anyone who is newly introduced to FM should be able to easily enjoy it. I think the eclectic mix of sounds on the album allows everyone to find at least one song that they like. As for those who have been following FM over the years like myself, you’ll like it regardless. I loved their “Animal” album (it’s still my ALL-TIME favourite cd) because I liked every single track on there, so that’s pretty hard to top. But once I learned to approach Free Wired with an open mind, everything was A-OK.

There’s nothing I really dislike about the album, but I will admit that I do kinda miss the old FM sound. Songs like Get That Money, Fetish, and Lowridin’ were among my ultimate favourites from their “Animal” album. And if we go further back, I’m still listening to songs like Knock Knock, Boomshake, For the City, and Sapphire Blue. I’ve included them on the playlist below if you want to check them out.

mid way through an epic week

This has been a crazy EPIC week. Let’s see…in the past 5 days I’ve been to 2 live music shows, helped bail someone out of jail for domestic assault, loaded up on the newly released Far East Movement album, and enjoyed two lunches with two of my friends. That’s all mixed among work. But we’re not done yet. I’ve still got Mike Posner’s gig tomorrow night (with Far East Movement opening for Posner), as well as my friend’s birthday dinner on Saturday. Eventful week indeed.

On Monday night, my homie Danny and I went to see David Choi at the El Mocambo. We’d been waiting for this show for months so we were pretty stoked about it. We didn’t get there super early to line up like some of the other kids did, but I wasn’t going to sweat it. Usually I like to be early in order to get a good spot at the front near the stage. This time though, it wasn’t about the pictures. I just wanted to enjoy David Choi’s live performance because he is such a great musician. There was a lot of tip-toeing involved where random Asians in the crowd who were particularly tall would get in the way of my view. But aside from that, I had a really good time just letting my soul drift away with David’s voice and guitar for a full 2 hours. I LOVE his music and his sense of humour.

He ended his set with my two favourite songs. The whole crowd was singing along with him to “That Girl”. Then he got a bit emotional mid way into singing “By My Side” and couldn’t finish the song, so the crowd sang it to him. It was one of those moments where you just want to run up to him and give him a big hug. But like he said, “Men don’t cry…unless you’re alone…or your dog dies.”

After the show, we waited in line for close to an hour and were one of the last ones to meet David Choi. I shook his hand, told him he was awesome, asked him to sign my cd to my name, and then took a picture with him. The woman who took the picture for us snapped it super close. Even David said, “WOW, that was REALLY close!” haha But we were only allowed one picture each so I couldn’t re-take it. Oh well. It was good times nonetheless, and he seems happy in the picture :)

Tuesday was a VERY BIG day. It was the day of Far East Movements “Free Wired” album release. I popped over to HMV during my break in the morning to grab myself two copies. Even though I had heard most of the songs before and had already been playing them for a while, I had to show some physical support by picking up a few copies of the disc. I’ve already picked up 10 copies as of this afternoon. The tracks on the album are pretty [damn] good. I’ll do a review next week when I have more time.

sometimes i like to feel pretty

My body is thoroughly exhausted and every single inch of me is aching. But besides that, I’m feeling GREAT! It’s unusual for me to be saying that; I’m almost always stressed or worrying. This week has been really good though. I think it has something to do with the change in work environment. I’ve very quickly adapted to the new store and I’m enjoying it a lot. Perhaps I should give credit to a book I read and highly recommended years ago called Who Moved My Cheese.

Or maybe it’s the big windows and the high ceilings. I find that watching the sun light up the city right in the core of downtown Toronto gives me a really nice feeling inside and it starts my day off right. I’m eating a bit more regularly now too! Even though my days at work are often physically draining, I find that I always leave work feeling happy. And that’s exactly how I like it.

It seems I’ve been spending my days either working or sleeping at home. Occasionally I’ll meet up with a friend or two, but squeezing in that “me” time is also really important. I like to pamper myself to relax, so I usually do my nails with a cup of tea next to me. Recently, my friend Anna recommended this nail polish to me and ever since I tried it I’ve been IN LOVE with it. It’s the Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure collection. The brush is wonderful and helps the polish glide on smoothly. It dries quickly and has a nice shiny finish. At $8.99, it’s a bit cheaper than some of the other ones I’ve used in the past (i.e. OPI, Chanel, MAC, essie). Shoppers had them on sale this week for $4.99 so I picked up the 3 shown in the picture below. From left to right: Raisin the Bar (320), Shell We Dance? (160), and Purple Pulse (470).

So my eventful week of MUSIC is arriving very soon. It kicks off on Saturday with my friend’s gig at the Hard Rock Cafe. You may remember him from a previous post of mine. Paul goes by the alias, The Identity Crisis. If any of you are going to be downtown on Saturday night, swing by and check him out! He’s quite the entertainer! hahaha