Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Gifts galore

We're getting close to the new year and there are still about 700 houses in Toronto out of power from that terrible ice storm last week. Workers are still out there plugging away at the one-off disconnections, but most intersections have been restored. 

If you're in the Toronto area, please donate to the local food banks, like our North York Harvest Food Bank, which is low on it's donations this year due to the fact that so many homes in the area were out of electricity and donating food was probably the last thing on people's minds. 

Now on to some happy stuff!

For Christmas, my sister got me these cute socks with polar bears on them. Only downside is that they won't possibly fit into shoes, so I can't wear them out.

 Then, today, I got the a gift in the mail even more awesome than cute socks:

My new physiology text book!! Woo hoo!! I've signed up for a course at the online university, Athabasca University, starting January. Eventually, I want to enroll in a physiotherapy program somewhere, but I've got a whole staircase of baby steps before I get there. 

Wish me luck! 

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Iced in

We were hit with a terrible storm a few days ago here in Toronto, and our public systems are still struggling to restore power and hence, heat, to thousands of homes.

For my humble little home in North Toronto, we were cut out of electricity in the early hours of the 21st. When we got up in the morning, the floors were freezing cold and the dog was shivering. It was pitch black out, but the blue flashes of light in the distance reminded me that we were only one house out of hundreds of thousands out of power and heat.

It was like we were suddenly transported north of the Wall.... without even a stop at Winterfell....

Once the sun came up, I took the dog out. I was surprised to find so much damage even in our neighbourhood.

Also, Two-Two's leash froze solid in the 15 minutes we were outside.

By late afternoon, we knew we needed provisions for dinner... for us and our neighbours. We found a restaurant open quite far north of the city, and ventured out to pick it up. Nearly every single traffic light was out, but we made it there and back.

At home, we had a few families in our neighbourhood come over to our house to eat hot food. We lit candles and kept each other warm. During dinner, the lights did a quick flash, and then the sky struck blue again and power went out. This happened 2 or 3 times, until we stopped cheering and just silently hoped that this time the fix would stick.

Eventually, we got too cold just sitting around the house, so we ventured out again for a hot drink.

By the time we got home, lights were on! We went to bed in the warmth and woke up in the warmth! It was marvelous, but plenty of our friends had to sleep through the night in the cold. So we're currently playing warming shelter and charging station to a bunch of friends until they can get power restored.

What an ordeal. Driving is still a headache as so many intersections are out of power, trees are blocking lanes, and some people are being aggressive assholes. I'm not looking forward to driving to work later today, but I know I'll be glad to be there when I finally get there.

About an hour ago, we got TV and internet back, so now I finally feel like we're back in civilization.

Hoping all of you Torontonians out there are keeping warm!

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Winter is here...

Winter is here, and I'm pretty sure I only like it because the cold only makes my daily Starbucks caramel brulee lattee taste SO much better.

Otherwise, my back and arms are getting the workout of a lifetime clearing the snow off my driveway. Snow is FREAKING heavy, people. HEAVY.

At least Two-Two is loving the weather. She jumps through the snow like a little rabbit. I guess that's what you gotta do when there's snow going up higher than you have leg for.

Because of the snow, I joined the rest of North Toronto at Canadian Tire to buy some salt for my walkway and winter windshield wipers so that I can drive and see at the same time. Look at me being all winter safe and responsible!

I saw this sign on the side of the salt tub and literally LOL'd.

I don't have any babies (just the canine one, whom I'm sure can manage to maneuver herself away from a bucket of salt), so I'm sorry for being insensitive, if this comes off as such. But this bucket came up to my KNEE. HOW CAN A BABY FALL INTO A KNEE-HIGH BUCKET?! If the baby is tall enough to climb up the bucket (and not tip it over), fall INTO the bucket (which is conveniently filled with salty drowny liquid), then it should have the capacity to either call for help or muscle itself out.

You've got to admit, the warning sign on the bucket is really REALLY funny. That baby just looks like it's grabbing salt to eat...


Green smoothie update?

Still rockin' the smoothe-a-day routine. Sometimes it's breakfast, sometimes it's lunch, and sometimes it's 1/3 of a dinner. But it always, ALWAYS still leaves me hungry about half an hour later.

Plus, that waking up with more energy in the morning thing? Gone.

I'm back to sleepy, reluctant, sore and lazy. Welcome back, my true self.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Will green smoothies help?

Happy December everyone! 

Snow is on the ground and the sun is setting by 5:00! Woohooo Nothing like wearing 3 layers of pants and 5 layers of sweaters to take your dog for a walk....WINTER IS HERE FOLKS! 

So I've noticed in recent days that some of my sweaters no longer fit. I'm 100% positive this has something to do with my increased intake of cookies, cakes, and cupcakes, and my decreased desire to do anything outside of my house (it's cold out there people). 

I've heard a lot about the wonders of green smoothies decreasing appetite because you've got your fill of vitamins and stuff, and hence weight loss. Since I'm not big on taking things out of my diet (just makes me want it more), I thought it wouldn't hurt me to add something healthy and filling instead! 

Here's the first few days...

Day 1. 
Avocado, cucumber, Silk soy milk, kale

As a first green smoothie, I decided to be conservative with my serving size. I didn't want to hate it and have this all fail. 

Luckily, this was DELICIOUS! Unluckily, I was starving about 30 minutes after I had the smoothie, and absolutely needed to inhale some real food.

Day 2. 

Apple, avocado, water, lemon, kale. 

Woke up with lots of energy today! I made a bigger smoothie this time to see if I could fill up for longer...nope... hungry again in 30-40 minutes. 

Day 3. 

Still waking up with lots of energy. 

I made the same recipe as yesterday to simplify things. I think I could really start to like this drink. It's definitely not a meal replacement yet for me, but I could try adding some higher protein things...

Day 4. 

I was nearly late for work, so I had no time to sit and enjoy this smoothie (it was more of a gulp and go kind of morning). 

Again, still waking with lots of energy. I may have to start changing up my ingredients soon. I'm getting tired of this apple-y taste.

Anyone out there tried green smoothies? What's your verdict?

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Tacos at Grand Electric

Despite the dark, dank picture (it was a rainy day in Pizzaville), Grand Electric is a lighthearted, laid-back, easy-going kind of place. No uniforms, no (purposefully) dimmed lighting, no fancy table stuff, just friendly service and good food. Because we were a party of three, we even got to share our table with another couple. And I say "got to" because I love this kind of dining--unpretentious, no-nonsense, straight to the point. We've got eating to do, people.

My friends and I were around the corner for some shopping, so we stopped here for some lunch afterwards.

With our small, simple order, food came lightning fast (OK, maybe I'm exaggerating. It came within 10 minutes, which is good for a place as busy as this was).

We split the guac and chips (deep fried chips omgomgomgomgomg). The salsa that came with it was also AMAZING; perfect amount of tomato-y-ness and spicy!

My friends split the fish tacos, which they said were very good (we'll all have to take their word on it).

I had the cauliflower tacos. Now, when I ordered these, we made sure to ask if they were fully vegetarian, and they are not. The sauce has some sort of seafood in it, and they don't have anything vegetarian to replace it with. But I wasn't about to go sauceless with my tacos. No sir, not I.

So I said, "Eh, I'm hungry, whatever." And ordered them.

I'm not exactly a fan of tacos (never really had good ones). But I am a fan of eating with my hands, licking saucy cauliflower bits off my palms, and jalapeno slices. These were very good. The saurkraut-y stuff they top it with is wonderfully sour, which cuts into the heavy deep-fry of the cauliflower. Jalapenos, a warm taco shell, onions and lime...really good flavour combos.

However, would I come here again? Probably not.

The tacos were good, but they were still just tacos. Something about the texture of corn-y taco shells bug me. Sorry Grand Electric (and taco shells in general).

Grand Electric on Urbanspoon

Monday, 4 November 2013

My November so far

November so far has been wonderful (yes, it's only been 3 days). 

The weather is turning cooler, which means mashed potatoes and hot tea and blankets and movies and cuddling. Plus, with all the leaves changing colours, its one of the prettiest seasons in Toronto!

I've fallen in love with this wine (and the dog is awesome too... but not with wine...): 

It needs to breathe before it gets awesomely awesome, so let it sit for a bit. It's delicious (I'm no wine connoisseur so "delicious" is all I can say to describe things) just on it's own while watching Vampire Diaries. Yes, yes it is.

Last night, Steven and I saw a much-anticipated movie:

I read the book a couple of years ago and LOVED it.

I was very happy with the interpretation of the themes in the book. And the actor that portrayed Ender, Asa Butterfield, was excellent. And Harrison Ford. And Ben Kinglsey. And the effects. And basically everything in the movie. WOW.

We waited until the end to see if there would be one of those Marvel movie extra scenes, but there wasn't.

Walking out of the theatre, we kept saying how good the movie was. Then, Steven said, "So much better than stupid Gravity," and the guy behind us snickers in aggreement.

In conclusion, people that stay to the very end of movies like Ender's Game also have a disdain for slow, boring movies like Gravity.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Missed Mysore this morning...Oops

Goblins attacked me on the road this morning, so I didn't make it to Mysore.

I had a dream the yoga gods wanted me to sleep instead of Mysore, so I had no choice but to obey their commands.

My dog ate my alarm clock...and cell phone.

I tripped and fell...back into bed.

Ok, truth is, I turned off the alarm (omg 5:30 AM omgomgomgomg) and went back to sleep. And that is why I have time to show you this picture of my dog in a jacket!


All right, I promise I'll actually get out of bed tomorrow.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Back on the Ashtanga bandwagon

I didn't know if I would...

But I did.

I'm back at the Ashtanga Yoga Centre of Toronto.

We will see how this goes.


Thursday, 17 October 2013

Les Miserables was Awesome Sauce x a Million

After work last night, Steven and I (and a bunch of friends) had tickets!! 


To that thing, that I LOVE! 

Les Mis has been my favourite musical for a very long time. Basically, reading the libretto and listening to the CD on repeat was the highlight of my tweens. I even made Steven watch the movie ("Is it ALL singing?" "Yes") when it came out last year.

It was a 7:30 start, so we had a bite to eat at the Tim Horton's next door like real classy folk. (For you non-Canadians, Tim Hortons is our local cheap, quick coffee shop. There's one at nearly every street corner.)

Because of it's location next to the theatre, this Tim Hortons sold Les Mis donuts!!!! DONUTS!!!

I was sooo happy with the cast and staging. It was a really wonderful first-time Les Mis experience for all of us. If you're in Toronto, I'd definitely recommend putting aside some time to see this musical. 

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

No news is good news?

Sorry for the radio silence on the blog lately. I've been busy catching up to Breaking Bad (still on Season 2). Otherwise nothing very exciting has been happening lately... just a lot of sitting on floors and lounging with dogs...

We had a few "family"/ "neighbourhood" dinners during Thanksgiving weekend, which were nice. Plus, the awesome weather meant lots of romping around outside.

I've been considering signing up for the Toronto Women's 5K or 8K, as it's been nearly a year since I've run a race of any sort. Maybe this would light the fire under my butt and get me off the couch.

Anyways, I've got work later, then we go directly to see Les Miserables! It will be my first time seeing Les Mis on stage despite memorizing the soundtrack and reading the libretto on the internet when I was 12. It will be awesomesauce, I'm sure.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

My first run with Bumi, the dog that never pants

I think I've found my new favourite running partner!

His name is Bumi, and he's a friend's very athletic pup. Barely a year old, he has the sweetest disposition and strangest pooping habits (I think he's afraid to go in public...which makes things difficult to say the least). He kept up with me very well, and when he realized how much fun this whole jogging thing is, he basically insisted that we keep going.

Our stats weren't spectacular, but I'm hoping we can drum up some spectacular next week. If my friend doesn't mind (and I'm pretty sure she doesn't), I would love to run with Bumi every week! New running partner + new running parks = awesome sauce!

In other news, I think I've gotten discovered a limit to my sociability. For example, Steven and his friends went to catch up over bubble tea and I opted out. My excuse? I spent all day chatting and gabbing at work, at dinner, and dessert. All I wanted to do was clean the kitchen (ooohhhh yeah feels so good when it's sparkling!) and watch TV. Or, I'm just antisocial and OCD about my kitchen.

Is it weird that I like cleaning so much?

Thursday, 3 October 2013

New work clothes

I am so lucky to live in a place where I can run along this little river every morning if I choose: 

I had a text talk today with a friend that just recently adopted a dog. He's a huge mixed breed with the longest legs ever. I've already got a run date with him possibly probably for Saturday. I can't wait! It's going to be a dog-love-sweat fest. :)

I'm totally not being negligent about my own dog though. I'm still chasing her around parks and fields, and bringing her home tired. See?

Can't even lift her head....

In other news, I recently started a new reception/office management job that I'm really excited about. Of course, a new job always means new work attire:

From Dynamite.

And cheap 2 for $20 flats at Ardenes.

Somehow, dressing well for work makes work so much more enjoyable. Agree, disagree?

Thursday, 26 September 2013

There's a deer in there!

Coming back to Toronto from nearly a year spent abroad, the jet lag has hit me hard this week. I've been waking up constantly at 4AM, wide awake, unable to fall back asleep.

Luckily, exercise is supposed to help with jet lag, so I went for a run this morning.

I didn't bring this little girl, though. It was still dark outside when I left, and she showed no interest leaving her warm bed.

I'm glad I didn't end up bringing her because I saw two deer on my run (she would've scared them away)! 

It doesn't look like it, but I swear there are deer in these pictures!!!

This one was a young male. I could see the beginning of antlers.

This was a female deer. She's quite deep among the trees, but she's there!
My stats: 

Sunday, 22 September 2013

We're coming home, Toronto!

I cannot believe it's been 10 months since we've left home!

And I cannot believe it's time to go back! This last month around Asia has been an absolute whirlwind.

Our paws feet have been all over Asia; Taiwan, Japan, Korea, and Hong Kong. And within each of those places, we've truly done our duty as good tourists and took massive amounts of transport/patience/lining up to get that perfect tourist picture. I'm officially DONE with living out of a backpack! DONE!!

I'm looking forward to driving a car again, walking on real sidewalks, practicing yoga daily in a real yoga space (basically, anywhere except a hotel room) and having some good vegetarian home cooked meals.

I'm also beyond excited to see this little lady:

Remember that face? Yup! She'll soon be back regularly on the blog!

Also, running! I can't wait to begin running regularly, along my favourite paths and trails. Add in Two-Two and running all together and I'm probably going to explode with happiness!

See you soon, Toronto!

Sunday, 15 September 2013

The Korean DMZ

Last week, Steven and I arrived in Seoul as the last stop to our Asian adventure. Steven has a bunch of friends in Korea that we've been and will be visiting. But I really wanted to come to Korea to see the DMZ, the demilitarized zone, the only border in the world that is heavily patrolled by the military... on both sides! 

It's a fascinating, scary, and sad place. This border separates families--they have absolutely no way to reach their ancestral homes, or contact any surviving members on the other side. Only 4 km wide, but spanning over 200 km in length, the border cuts Korea right in half. For a country that has been through so much war, defended itself in history against Japan, China, Mongols, etc., it's a shame for it to still be fighting itself.

This statue from the War Memorial in Seoul really says it all; Brothers meeting each other on the battlefield and embracing.One is from South Korea, one from North.
You can't really take many photos in the real and proper DMZ, so I don't have much to post about here. But the tour is definitely worth your time if you are ever in the neighbourhood. Even though it's PACKED with tourists from all ends of the world, the infiltration tunnels, the info centres, the observatory, the train station...these are all fascinating to see and learn about. 

Just a note: the DMZ isn't something you can see on your own as a civilian. If you're driving, guards will turn you back far before you get anywhere close to the DMZ. So everyone must sign up for a tour. REMEMBER TO BRING YOUR PASSPORT!!!! I was amazed that so many people would actually forget! Sure, they've made it all nice and easy and pretty for tourists to see, but IT'S A FRIGGIN' MILITARY ZONE. Bring that identification shizzle yo, and keep it on you!

Toeing the "No Photo Line" at the Doresan Observatory. 

Though I'm talking non-stop about the DMZ in this post, the main attraction is really Panmunjom, the Joint Security Area, where guards stand face-to-face like in all those famous photos. Panmunjom is where heads of state gathered to discuss peace, so it is an important location in history. It's also smack dab on the border, where one step either way means you've crossed over to the other jurisdiction (but I doubt they'd allow tourists to even get within stepping distance). 

To book this tour, you will need to reserve a spot 3 days ahead. They require a passport check and have quite a strict dress code. Unluckily for us, the tour was already full so we couldn't go even though we were ready and willing!

Anyway, it's definitely a wake-up-call kind of place. You realize how lucky we are to be safe and happy back in North America, no mandatory military service, no unfriendly neighbour to the North... kind of important, eh?

Monday, 9 September 2013

A Tsurumi River Run

Living outside of Tokyo for these few days have been a breath of fresh air (literally) compared to the hustle and bustle of Tokyo.

For the past few days, Steven and I have been meeting friends and touring around Tokyo - Shibuya, Harajuku, Asakusa, etc. It's a lot of effort, fighting HORDES of people through subway and train stations, streets, markets, etc. By the end of the day, we are always exhausted.

This morning, we decided to have a glorious sleep in, as our only plan was to hit up Studio Ghibli later in the day (I'M SO EXCITED I CANNOT WAIIITT!!).

I got out of the house around 9:30 AM for a really hot, sweaty run by the neighbourhood river. As I had no idea where I was going, I had to count the number of bridges I passed so that I knew which bridge took me home when I turned around.

By the end of it, I was drenched in sweat and hotter than a furnace! Even 10:00 AM in early September is seriously hot in Tokyo! I'm actually looking forward to having a cool fall when we return to Toronto.

My stats:
2.30 miles
33 minutes
9.03 mins / km

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Hitting the shrines in Kyoto, Japan

An ancient capital of Japan, Kyoto is still filled with shrines, temples and castles that date back hundreds of years. With only 2 and a half days in the city, Steven and I had to do a quick highlights-of-Kyoto tour. Add in the constant rain, wet feet, crowded, humid, sweaty buses, it was seriously a journey to get to some of these places.

OK. My absolute favourite temple in Kyoto (given that I didn't have time to see them all) was the Fushimi Inari Shrine (the entrance of which is pictured above).

We didn't actually visit the ancient shrine because the Japanese were kind enough to put it on top of Mount Inari. Steven and I were not keen on battling mosquitoes and slippery footwear up a friggin MOUNTAIN. The there-and-back journey is supposed to take 2 hours, and that would have cut into my lunch time.

Still, it's my favourite temple because of all the beautiful scenery along the way. The pathway is lined with torii (gates) that are engraved with names and dates of the donors. The donors are often major companies wanting to be blessed with financial success, as Inari is associated with wealth.

Although not pictured, all along the torii pathway are little shrines, made of wood and stone, most often with foxes guarding the inner shrine. Kitsune (foxes) are associated with the Inari deity, serving as their messengers, and so they guard this shrine. They are, btw, the most badass foxes in the world.

My next favourite is Sanjusangendo, the 750 year-old temple with a thousand golden Buddhist Kannon inside.

Though you can't tell from this picture, the hall is super duper long. In fact, it's so long that it's length is used as a challenge to archers in a yearly archery contest. Like many Japanese things, they took an archery contest and turned it into a 24-hour archery marathon, the winner of which gets his or her name inscribed on a plaque in the hall. The old wooden structural posts even have marks and notches where archers strung their bows, where arrows mistakenly landed, etc. Today, they still hold an archery contest, but I don't believe anyone is interested in the 24-hour archery marathon.

You can't take pictures inside because many of the deities are still being worshipped. With my Buddhist Chinese background, and then my yoga training on top of that, it was fascinating to see all the similarities between Hindu and Buddhist deities, and how they transformed over time.

If you're ever in Kyoto, I definitely recommend these 2 historical spots. While the bigger attractions like Kiyomizu-desu, the Golden Pavillion, and the Heian shrine are all very cool, these 2 were my definite favourites.

For dinner, Steven and I wandered the traditional (read: pricey) area of Gion. Tucked away in an alley was the Udon Museum, which served some seriously yummy noodles.

They had an English menu, were happy to explain anything to the best of their abilities, made concessions for my vegetarianism, and were reasonably priced! Best way to end a hard day exploring.