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.

food + friends = goooooood times

If you’ve been reading my tweets or status updates, you’d know that I’m in the midst of a pretty busy week. Looks like I’ll have 3 days off in a 22-day period. That itself is energy draining enough. To top it off, I’ve been stressing because of things I have to deal with at home for the upcoming month. I guess with everything going on, my mind & body got so tired that it decided to shut down on me. Between Friday and Sunday night, I slept a total of 30 hours this weekend. So besides working, commuting to and from work, and showering, I pretty much spent more than one full day in bed. Crazy, eh?!

Besides working all weekend (and sleeping, of course), I did manage to get in some time with friends. I know it’s been a while since I last posted pictures from my outings, so here they are.

[ Thursday, February 3, 2011 ]

To celebrate my buddy John’s birthday, a few of us got together for a small dinner at Genghis Khan Mongolian Grill. I had been to the Markham location a few times years and years ago (come to think of it, I had my 18th birthday there lol) but it was my first time at the Don Mills location so I didn’t know what to expect. Thankfully, it turned out to be pretty good. It had a nice atmosphere and it was fairly clean. I would probably go back there again.

It was nice seeing my friends from Bayview, and we had a great time like we always do. We almost couldn’t stop laughing when Anna asked, “Do you guys eat your kiwis hairy or shaved?” Yahhhhhh, I have funny friends… hahaha

[ Saturday, February 5, 2011 ]

I only had plans for one Winterlicious dinner this year due to everyone’s busy schedules so I was really hoping this dinner wouldn’t disappoint, and luckily it didn’t. We had a bigger group than usual because Adrienne & Robin invited their friend Ella, who also invited two of her friends.

It was my first time at Marquis Lounge & Bistro, located on the 2nd floor of the Hilton Garden Inn. Unlike the more popular restaurants, this one wasn’t on the radar for many people. Making reservations with them was almost painless and we were able to take our time without feeling rushed. It was a nice cozy restaurant with great service (until they got really busy at the bar towards the end of the night and we had to wait half an hour to get our bills).

Before we even ordered our dinners, I had already fallen in love with their bread. Then I started with the potato soup, which was particularly good with garlic croutons. My love for lamb can not be put into words, so seeing lamb on the menu made it easy for me to choose my entree. I had the Ontario Lamb Osso Buco with barley, braised baby carrots and cipolini onions. Delicious! Lamb tends to be made with a hint of mint at most restaurants, and although I love mint, I hate it in my lamb. That’s why I was quite happy to know there were no traces of mint that night.

My favourite part of the meal had to be the dessert. I loooooooooooved the Pistachio Chocolate Crunch Cake with berry coulis, mainly because of the crunchy bits of chocolate or rice crispy thingys on top of the cake. So yum!

After dinner, we decided to hit up this local hot spot called Snakes & Lattes for some drinks and board games. It’s a great little place to just hang out and play games. You pay $5 on your way in and you can spend as much time as you want there playing any of the 1500 different board games they have there. I like that you’re not obligated to buy drinks or food from them, although I did end up getting a hazelnut hot chocolate. My milk came with a hazelnut flavoured chocolate on a stick for me to dip into my milk. That was kind of cool.

We started with a simple game…Jenga!

Then we played this game called Would You Rather…? I remember watching this episode of Wong Fu Weekends where the guys played a similar game called “You Gotta Be Kidding!” and thought it was pretty funny, so I suggested we try this game. Some of those “would you rather…” questions were pretty sick but hilarious at the same time. I mean, c’mon…who would’ve ever thought to ask, “Would you rather crap out of your mouth OR eat through your ass?”

Robin was the first to get a “challenge!” card and he was required to do one of the 6 things listed on it. They were all pretty ridiculous and embarrassing things. He ended up choosing to “smell the armpit of another player for 30 seconds.” We volunteered Danny’s armpit for Robin to smell. We all couldn’t stop laughing, and I’m pretty sure everyone else in the room thought we were crazy. Danny also later got a challenge card where he had to do a strip tease for 30 seconds. Although it wasn’t quite a strip tease and was more like he simply took his shirt off, we let that one go because we didn’t think it could ever be funnier than smelling armpits. haha The game kept us entertained for a good 2 hours. I would highly recommend the game just to look at all the “would you rather…” questions. Some of them are just SO funny! Check it out if you get the chance :)

the best (and worst) of 2010

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

I don’t know about you but I am SO excited that 2011 is here! 2010 was such a crappy year for me that I couldn’t wait for it to be over. And when I say crappy, I MEAN crappy! Lest we forget those two months I spent at home in bed with a left eye that suddenly stopped moving. Becoming extremely unhappy with work forced me to make changes. Then just as I was getting all excited for my first trip to California, the plans tanked because of passport issues. It was supposed to happen later this month, and would have saw me visiting places like San Jose, San Francisco, the Grand Canyon, Vegas, and LA. To end my year on an even crappier note, my parents were in a car accident 2 days before Christmas and our car was totaled (damn that b!tch for running a red). But I probably took the greatest hit when I lost two very important friendships that left me distraught for a while. In hindsight it did make me realize who my true friends are.

To be fair though, there were some pretty great times too. A quick look back at the highlights of 2010 for me:

Being invited to my first basketball game ever by Pacers’ head coach, Jim O’Brien, was probably a sign that I would meet a series of interesting and inspiring people in 2010.

I had only met him once when he came into my store. We’d had a great conversation about China and exchanged a few emails after that. What a pleasant surprise it was when Nicholas Cords (violist of Brooklyn Rider & member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble) emailed me a year later to invite me to a Brooklyn Rider show at the Glenn Gould studio. I was surprised that he remembered me at all and was thankful that he gave me the chance to attend my first classical music event.

After two months of being forced to stay home to deal with my eye crisis, I managed to plan and pull off an awesome baby shower for my dearest Anasha. That’s with the help of the greatest hostess on earth, Kat, of course ;)

Then on June 5th, 2010, my god daughter Kalani was born!! :D

In that same week, I also saw the birth of Mr. McGuinty’s book, Trashed.

While Toronto witnessed the smashing of store windows and the burning of cop cars during the G20, I experienced something totally different inside Fortress Toronto. In the most calm and contained environment, I saw the Presidents of China & South Korea, as well as the Prime Minister of Britain.

Despite all the riots and chaos caused by the G20, my home boy Danny and I made it out to see Far East Movement at their first show ever in Toronto. It was a HUGE day for me because I’ve been a fan of theirs for so long and had waited years for them to do a show in my city. I don’t think I’ve ever been or ever will be THAT excited about seeing a musical act again.

It was the absolute perfect night because it was just before their hit “Like a G6″ blew up on the radio, so it was a small intimate show that wasn’t overcrowded with people. It felt unreal being able to stand inches away from the stage where my favourite group was bouncin’ to my favourite songs with super high energy. I had watched many Youtube videos on FM and had loved them for not only their music but also their humbleness and sincerity to give back to the community. Meeting them in person proved that they were genuinely nice people.

The single best moment of 2010 for me happened that night when I got to meet and talk to my long-time idol, Kev Nish. I have always really liked his rhymes and tone of voice in their songs, as well as his use of words and sense of humour during interviews. To be able to meet and converse with the person I admired was a total dream come true. If there was only thing I could be happy about in 2010, that would have been it.

A nice late summer dinner at Glow with the lovely Charmaine whom I hadn’t seen since she moved to Vancouver. And of course, the god brother Edison.

Victoria’s Secret opened in Toronto!!! That was HUGE to me…HUGE!! lol I heart VS :)

Leaving Chapters Bayview and transferring to John & Richmond was the biggest change for me this year (and perhaps the best decision I’d made all year). It took a lot for me to take that step to leave the place I’d been working at for the past 8 years. Not being able to see my friends everyday at work felt odd at first, but the new people I met made the transition extremely easily and I am thankful for that. Not only do I still make plans to see my old co-workers regularly, I’ve made new friends at the new store and I’m learning a lot from them.

Aside from Far East Movement, I got to see another California-reppin’ musician this year – David Choi. Seeing DC live was fulfilling. He is such a talented musician (he’s up there with Bruno Mars on my charts). Got to meet him after the show and he was very nice.

October 12th, 2010 was a big day. It was the day that Far East Movement’s debut album was released. I remember running down the street to HMV during my break at work just to get my hands on copies of Free Wired at 10am when the store opened. Knowing that the guys I’ve been listening to and have believed in over the past years is finally getting their start at where they want to go, it’s a lot like witnessing a dream come true. Their hard work and perseverance has become such a big inspiration to me.

Literally 3 days later, FM was in town opening for Mike Posner’s “Up in the Air Tour”.

Met them after the show and was surprised that Kev Nish recognized me; he remembered I had picked up 10 copies of their album, as well as my blogging about them. Unexpected and impressive!

Totally unplanned, it was definitely quite the experience meeting Russell Peters. He came to our store for a book signing and my boss managed to get me into the green room to meet the comedian. His last words to me? Stay Brown. LOL

Just 3 years late but I made sure to go see Wicked the Musical when it came back to Toronto (I didn’t get to see it on Broadway 3 years ago due to the screen writers’ strike).

Now that I’m done recapping 2010, I can get my new year started! :)

>> Next post: My New Year’s Resolutions for 2011

no bruno, but i got the warriors

I can not hide my sorrow. It breaks my heart every time I think about it. What could have been and should have been…

You see, I haven’t quite gotten over the fact that I wasn’t able to see Bruno Mars at the Kiss 92.5 Haus Party. For weeks I was super stoked about it and had planned to go with Danny and his girlfriend. But when we tried to get tickets a few weeks before the show, we found out it was SOLD OUT! I was heartbroken. Okay so maybe I’m exaggerating a little there, but it was sad nonetheless. Bruno Mars is one of the most talented musicians around right now, and hearing his music live would have been amazing. But I guess I’ll just have to get over it :(

To kind of make up for not seeing Bruno, I decided to go check out one of the places I’ve been wanting to go to for years…the ROM! I know it’s not half as exciting as seeing Bruno Mars live, but at least it’s another thing off the to-do list. Plus, my boss was raving about the Terracotta Warriors exhibit and told me to check it out, so I rung up my buddy Aaron after work on Friday and off we went to the museum.

As soon as we got there, we went straight to the Terracotta exhibit. I didn’t expect a lot out of it because I figured it wasn’t going to be quite as impressive as seeing the army at the pit in X’ian, China. However, I did enjoy the idea of being able to see the artifacts (that are well over a 1000 years old) so close to home. Many wine vessels were on display and 10 terracotta figures were showcased. I was particularly surprised to see that there was an archer in a display case that still had some paint on it, although I think my biggest surprise was seeing a display of ancient Chinese “erotic objects”. (I’m not kidding!) The exhibit didn’t allow any photography so unfortunately I couldn’t get any pictures. Sorry!

My first and last time at the ROM was back in 1991, so we used the remainder of our time to wander through the entire museum. We saw everything from the animals, dinosaurs to the gems & jewels to the treasures of the world. It was definitely a Night at the Museum.

Oh yes, may I introduce you to the fat-o-saurous?

On a completely different note, I just want to express my newfound love for this fine pub fare. I tried the Irish Nachos at the Firkin on King the other day and it was SO GOOD! So unhealthy, but SO good. A must try if you haven’t already.

i met russell peters!!!

It’s that time of the year again, when the leaves turn red and start falling to the ground. It’s inevitable. Thus, I’ve been keeping myself busy to fend off what will likely become the winter blues. The past two weeks can be summed up by this simple equation: Russell Peters + Wicked + food + music = JOY!

I’ve got quite a bit to get through, so let’s start with the recap:

[ Tuesday, October 26, 2010 ] My co-worker, Shila, invited me over for dinner and she made me this Mediterranean dish called Dajaj Salona. Her husband didn’t like it because it was spicy, but I thought it was great. Her little pomeranian was SO CUTE! While we were working on the computer, he kept putting his paw on my arm to get my attention. So cute! Makes me want a puppy too.

[ Wednesday, October 27, 2010 ] I had been craving wings for a while and my co-worker had recommended this place called Puck ‘N Wings, so I met up with Aaron before the Russell Peters event to try it out. I got a pound of their Creamy Parm Wings and it was absolutely DELISH! The wings were big and the flavour was extremely rich. I felt sinful after devouring them all. Will definitely want to go back to try out some of their other flavours.

After a very satisfying meal, Aaron and I went over to Chapters to check out the book signing. I had only wanted to go catch a glimpse of Russell Peters and had no intentions of actually meeting him. But when I ran into my manager, Geoffrey, outside the store and he asked if I wanted to meet the man, I thought…why not! The awesome G man pulled a few strings and next thing I knew, I was in the tiny “green room”.

Geoffrey walked through the gathering of people (which included managers, 2 cops, a cameraman, some bodyguards, PR reps and a family of 4) and said with a smile on his face, “Russell, I’d like you to meet this wonderful young lady. She works with us at this store.” Russell Peters then walked over to me, shook my hand, and said…”What are you?” lol Half shocked and half star-struck, I kind of stared blankly at him as he said, “That guy’s Korean. This guy’s Chinese but looks Japanese. So what are you?” At that point I giggled a little and responded with “Why don’t you tell me what I am.”

I had no doubt that the infamous comedian would instantly guess that I’m Chinese. What I didn’t expect was when I asked him why, he said it was because I’m pale. haha Jokes aside, Russell Peters was a wonderful guy. I thought he was going to be a dick, but he turned out to be quite nice. He took the time to exchange a few words with me and then he offered to sign his book to my name (which Geoffrey spelled for him). And before I left the room, he told me to “stay brown”. lol Yup, that’s Russell Peters for you!

[ Sunday, October 31, 2010 ] I didn’t really do much for Halloween. After work, I went over to Kat’s place for a small get together with some old old old co-workers. While we waited for people to arrive, I helped Kat in the kitchen. The cutting and chopping is my favourite part of cooking, so I dealt with that while Kat made the meatballs. MY GOD…those meatballs were SO GOOD! It was a lovely evening spent chatting about old times and as usual, Kat was a great hostess.

[ Wednesday, November 3, 2010 ] It’s not often that I do things on a whim, but I’ve waited so long for Wicked the Musical to come back to Toronto that I decided to go by myself to see a matinee show. Given the short notice, I figured it would be easier to find a single seat AND I wouldn’t have to deal with working out schedules or anything. I bought my ticket on Monday and went all out by getting a premium seat (Orchestra A Seat #31). It came up to $135, but I figured it would’ve cost me more if I had seen the show on Broadway 3 years ago, so I was able to justify it. (I had tickets to see Wicked on Broadway right after my cruise 3 years ago, but the screenwriters went on strike that very morning so our tickets were refunded.) I was quite happy with my seat. I was about the 9th row from the stage and just barely off center, so I was the perfect distance away from the orchestra but close enough to see the expressions on the actors/actresses faces.

The show was amazing. I LOVED IT! The story, the costumes, the music…it was just great. Even though one of the main characters (Elphaba) was substituted by an understudy, I think she did a fantastic job (maybe even better than the actress who played the other main character). I would’ve really liked to have seen the show with the original cast, because I think Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth were so perfect for their roles. But obviously that could never happen again so I tried not to compare it too much. I would highly recommend this musical AND I would recommend getting tickets soon. It seems the prices have gone up. I don’t know if it’s due to demand. I wouldn’t be surprised.

Last but not least, Far East Movement was on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno last night. These guys were fly! I totally loved the colour coordination of their outfits. Notice how Kev is completely decked out in my colours? And by MY colours, I mean…well, look at the colours of the font on this page. lol Do you see it now? :)

quick update with exciting news

Exciting news #1: Far East Movement has officially hit #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 with their single Like a G6!! Not to mention the single also went platinum the day their album was released. Huge congratulations to FM! Extremely proud to be reppin’ them :)

Exciting news #2: For all you Russell Peters fans, he will be at our store for a book signing and to promote his soon-to-be-released book, Call me Russell.

Wednesday, October 27th @ 7pm Chapters John & Richmond…see you there!

far east movement touch down in tdot

The later half of my crazy week wasn’t quite as eventful as the first half – I didn’t exactly have to bail anyone out of jail again or anything. BUT there was ONE exciting event that tops everything else, and that was seeing FAR EAST MOVEMENT!!!

I think I was just as excited about seeing them live this time as I was the first time they came to Toronto. It’s just too bad that I was in the midst of crazy busy weeks both times I went to see them perform. First it was having to work through the G20, and this time it’s just a long restless week that spans 14 days. Although my memory of that night is a bit hazy, I do remember having an amazing time. FM killed it on stage (like always) and had everyone screaming. I took close to 300 pictures, but the majority of them turned out blurry. One of these days I will learn to enjoy the show instead of focusing on taking pictures. …Nah, that’s never going to happen lol

Late into Posner’s set, the home boy Danny and I went over to meet FM hoping to get our cds signed. I hadn’t been feeling well that day, and with everything that had gone on all week I just had a bad feeling that things weren’t going to work out. I guess that’s why I was extremely surprised when Kev Nish spotted me and recognized me while I was standing ’round waiting for everyone else to be done with them. I assume he recognized me from Facebook? lol

Funny thing is my intention on tagging the FM guys in pictures on Facebook had always been to let the people looking at the pictures know who these awesome guys were by linking to them. They’re busy people and, with thousands of fans, I just didn’t expect them to ever remember me. Thus, you can imagine how completely surprised I was when Kev Nish not only recognized me but also brought up the fact that I had picked up 10 cds and thanked me for it. By the time he mentioned my blogging about them, I was thoroughly impressed.

The fact that it was Kev who remembered me made it even more special because he has always been my favourite; for years I have always thought he had a natural talent for writing rhymes (he’s got the creative hands). I also think he has a unique voice that suits the stereo well. And from the many videos of FM I have watched on YouTube, he seems extremely passionate about his music which is something I really admire.

To my surprise he autographed my cd to my alias “Franny”, when not once had I mentioned my name in our brief exchange of words. It was nice that he actually remembered me…well, maybe the online me. But anyway, all 4 of them are cool. They took the time to sign a couple cds for me, which I was very thankful for. It was one of those moments in life where you can catch yourself smiling inside and just think WOW, this can’t be for real! That was definitely the highlight of my long and tiring week.

Things are finally starting to slow down a bit so I can catch my breath. I’ll be running on low battery until my day off on Thursday, which will be used entirely to recharge. And when I say low battery, I mean “with the red light flashing” type of low battery. I know I’m coming down with something, but I must say my body’s pretty good at suppressing colds until I actually have the time to be sick. Here’s hoping I make it through the next two days at work.

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.