Sunday, October 16, 2011

Material Girl Once More

Remember my post on how I was a changed person after living in Europe twice?  About how I realized how wasteful my lifestyle is in North America, how little I realized I could happily survive on, how I realized how much more satisfied I was with life even though I had no extras in my life at all in Europe, compared to now in Toronto, where I have a (very) modest income and could afford to buy some things for fun?

Well, I had an "I'm Back!" moment the other day at a jewellery store.

Thursday, October 13, 2011



I know, you guys, I know I'm slacking this week.  But I have a legitimate excuse, I promise!  I just started a second job and I have not gotten used to the heavier work schedule yet.  As such, I need a bit of a reprieve this week, but on Sunday, I will be back, with bells on! :)

Why am I taking a second job?  Well, the opportunity kind of dropped into my lap, to be honest.  I wasn't thinking of doing two jobs but I was approached and I thought, hey, this could be fun!  And it also goes towards supplementing my entry-level income, which is very needed and appreciated.  So on the days when my two jobs overlap, I have 15 hour days.  I also work every weekend now, so on average I work about 10 days before I get a day off.  But it's okay, because happiness is being busy with things you enjoy!

And what, precisely, are my jobs?  I'm obviously not going to go into identifiable details, but if you've glanced at my About Me panel to the right, I do marketing for a living.  That's my bread.  My butter, now, is beauty.  That's right, I've been initiated into the beauty biz!  Which I'm thrilled and excited about because, as you all probably know, beauty products are, like, my life.  Plus I will have TOOONS to share about with you here.  So keep an eye out for lots of product reviews and recommendations in the future!

Hope you all are doing wonderfully.  Talk to you Sunday!


Monday, October 10, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hi everyone!

As you may have noticed, there was no article yesterday - it's Canadian Thanksgiving!  A Very, Very Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, no matter where you're from.  One of the things I am most thankful for in my life are you guys, my readers, who actually care about what I have to say, who give my work value, and who are the reason why I do this.

Here's to another year full of things to be thankful for!


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Basic French Manicure #2

My basic French mani v2.0!
Much better than last time, right?

This might just be my favourite French polish combination yet.  Here, I'm wearing

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: Bar Central (La Boquería)

Bar Central at La Boqueria, Barcelona
A few weeks ago I alluded to a food-induced out-of-body experience that I had in La Boquería.  You know that feeling, when you

Sunday, October 2, 2011

What's Wrong with My Face

A photo of me, warts and all - but this was on a good day. You wouldn't think someone as vain as I am would put a truly hideous picture of myself on my blog, would you?
“What’s wrong with your face?” a middle-aged, rotund, rough-looking server asked me at a restaurant – the kind that’s sort of the Chinese version of a greasy spoon diner. “Do you have allergies? What have you been eating? My God, it is serious. You must

Thursday, September 29, 2011

My Go-To Red: OPI O'Hare & Nails Look Great!

OPI O'Hare & Nails Look Great
While I love pink (as longtime readers will know - remember my old blog and Twitter layouts?), I don't look that great in it.  My power colour is red.  My philosophy is to

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: Pret A Manger Chocolate Chip Cookie

Famous chocolate chip cookie from Pret-A-Manger
Doesn't that look sinfully delicious?  But first, some housekeeping.

From the messages I keep getting from everyone, it's clear that a lot of people have not caught onto the new posting schedule yet!  So to explain it once and for all, on Sundays I post essays about all kinds of things and issues that matter to me, on Tuesdays I post about food, and on Thursdays I post about beauty products, although so far I've focused only on nail polish.  And then occasionally there will be a non-scheduled post here or there.

Back to that beautiful chocolate chip cookie.  Now that I'm

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Tale of Two Gyms

Dear friends,

I just survived one of my most humiliating experiences in recent memory, and I tell you this with pride, because I got through it, and also with a great deal of embarrassment, because I am still mortified.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Happy Birthday, Stacey!

My stylish lawyer-to-be!
A HUGE Happy Birthday to one of my favourites, to my lovely and brainy and supersweet friend/confidante, my dearest, darlingest Stacey!  Here's to another year of adventures and learning and laughter and love and happiness and good health and good grades!  23 was so jam-packed; 24 will be even better.  I'm so proud of you for all your accomplishments, and for rocking out in law school, and being a leader!
Us livin' it up in Monaco :)
As always, I love and adore and miss you TONS but I love knowing you're always just an e-mail away.  I appreciate how you always make time for me, even when you're totally swamped, and I know that you're always on my side.  It makes me feel better when Superwoman is being nasty and crows, "Stacey's not going to (have time to) play with you anymore after she graduates, when she's a big, important attorney!" :P

Our travel pact is still on, right?  A food-centric trip as soon as we both can afford it?  Is it still Bologna or should we do Portugal?  I hear Lisbon and Porto are great places to eat.  In that case, can we make a pit stop in Seville? :D  Or should we do Tokyo?  Best place to eat EVER.  Or Taiwan? I guess we have time to decide. :P


Stargazing & getting photographed at the Cannes Film Festival :D

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: The Burgers Priest

The Priest at The Burgers Priest

When I am feeling particularly carnivorous (probably due to Hot-Blooded Canadian Girl Cravings), nothing can satisfy me more than a big, juicy burger, seasoned and grilled to perfection, on a lightly toasted bun, garnished with my favourite sweet, tangy, spicy, and crispy condiments.  *Homer Simpson drool*

So when I heard through the grapevine a while back that

Sunday, September 18, 2011

How to Live Abroad (Where to Start & A Shameless Plug)

Chilling at the famous pebble beaches of Nice in April 2009
If you've been reading me for a while (bless you! :D), you probably know that

Friday, September 16, 2011


28 wheels of parmiggiano-reggiano on display at Bayview Village Pusateri - my idea of heaven!  I spent a good 10 minutes standing there admiring the cheese, fantasizing about how it'd taste alone and in other many possibilities!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Estee Lauder Warehouse Sale Haul!

My Estee Lauder Warehouse Sale Haul! :D
I live for weekends these days.  And most weekends, nothing can come between me and my sleep - except

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: La Boquería

Colourful spice stand with sundried tomatoes!

Do you guys know how many times you’ve saved me?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Never Forget

This day ten years ago I was just beginning my high school career.  I was revelling in being in a new environment, high school was fun, I was making lots of new friends and I was loving my electives.  Life was good.

It was second period drama class with Mr. Scott (or Robbie Scotty, as we later dubbed him) in the second week of school when all of a sudden, the staticky PA flickered on.  Our principal, Ms. Dasko, who naturally had a slow, calm, and morbid funeral director voice,

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Basic French Manicure #1

Orly Bare Rose as a base, Orly Soft White on the tips and Orly Fifty Four on top
French manicures – pornstar or posh?

Um, I have a bit of a confession.  I used to be

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tasty Tuesday/Cupcake Chronicles: Magnolia Bakery

excited to taste my purchases! :D

1.) Happy Back to School to all of you who are still in school!  Here's to a year of good grades, lots of fun extracurrics, minimal stress and sufficient sleep! :D
2.) I love cupcakes and I love Sex & the City (the TV show, not the movie).  Thus, it was only logical and right for me to visit Magnolia Bakery, the cupcake shop in SATC.  I thought that there was only one shop in Manhattan in Chelsea (or was it the West Village?), but one day on our way to 30 Rock, we saw a line wrapped around the corner of a building under the sign, Magnolia Bakery!  Naturally,

Monday, September 5, 2011

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Quality Threshold

My Pawpaw (maternal grandmother) is a Chinese Dragon Lady. She takes no prisoners and she doesn’t suffer fools gladly. She has infinite opinions, which are all Absolutely True and Correct and she will tell you ALL about them whether you like it or not.

Hence I found myself in the middle of a lecture one Saturday afternoon when all I wanted was just

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Another (Not Really) Chanel Dupe - Essie Sew Psyched

Essie Sew Psyched
I am hating so hard on this polish right now!

I first started hankering for an army green polish after hearing about the one from H&M from my friends in Europe.  Such a creative, chic colour, and the olive tone reminds me of living on the Mediterranean!  Sadly,

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: Hae/Hwe Dup Bap at H-Mart

Hae dup bap at H-Mart
Hi, guys!

Summer’s winding to an end now and while most people would be bummed, I’m really enjoying the cooler weather (no more 40 degree temperature! yay!). And as always, I’m really looking forward to getting to rock some fall steeze – fall has always been the most exciting time of the year for fashion.

What does make me sad, however, is

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Art & Travel

I put me in one of my all-time favourite pieces of art - Edvard Munch's The Scream :P
“Why do I have to go to the Louvre? What’s so important about the Mona Lisa, anyway?” a friend asked me a month or so ago, when she was planning her big post-graduation Euro-Tour trip.

I couldn’t answer her beyond vague mutterings about

Friday, August 26, 2011

Food Fail: Ciao Wine Bar

Pizza Capricciosa @ Ciao Wine Bar

I try to avoid writing negative reviews for things I don't like because, as they say, if you have nothing nice to say, you shouldn't say anything.  And goodness knows there are plenty of kickass things out there I can rave about.

But occasionally, it's so bad that I think the word needs to get out there, especially if the products are on the pricey side.  As I've written before,

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Say NO to Cheap Mani-Pedis!

OPI's Do You Lilac It?
At the seediest, skeeviest, grossest nail bars in downtown Toronto, you can probably get a mani-pedi for $30CAD, tax included (provided you pay cash).  In the lower-mid-range level, several steps up from those, at the still-affordable but clean places (like the one I go to), a mani-pedi costs $35.  Prices can go up from there, all the way to $100 or so.

So imagine my surprise when I found,

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: Halal Guys Chicken & Rice

Halal Guys Chicken and Rice
In my food travels (so, in pretty much all my travel experience) six seems to be a magic number. I’ve found that I can always

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Buying Tiffany and Label Whoredom

I did it!!! :D  When I was in Manhattan.  I bought my first Tiffany.  And I bought one for my mum.  Nothing elaborate, just simple, elegant silver rings that we can wear all the time.  I've gotta start somewhere and work my way up, you know?

It was the most lovely shopping experience.  When I asked to try something on,

Thursday, August 18, 2011

China Glaze Re-Fresh Mint

China Glaze Re-Fresh Mint in sunlight
A perfect, summery mint green that reminds me of...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: Totto Ramen

Not to belabour the point, but like I've said to my brother before - ramen, is, like, my life.  I lovelovelove ramen - the real stuff, not that instant crap - and I eat it every opportunity I get.

So after tackling the #1 Best Ramen in NYC according to Serious Eats NY, Superwoman and I were very, very pleased and absolutely ready for more.  The original plan was

Sunday, August 14, 2011

My First Manolo Experience

By that I mean I tried them, of course, not that I bought them. It'll happen one day, but just not now! :P

So I was at Bayview Village the other day...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Essie Ballet Slipper

Please file this one under "Cult Favourites I Don't Get" because I don't get it.  Why it's so popular, I mean.

The colour is typical, Upper East Side Rich Girl Pale Pink, but the formulation is...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: Hide-Chan Ramen

Hakata Tonkotsu Ramen
I recently had another one of those life-changing moments where I put something in my mouth and almost fainted from the deliciousness (the last time this happened was at La Boquería in Barcelona - I know, I still have to write about that, I'm so behind!). I kept sighing, "Oh, my God..." and my eyes rolled back in my head and thankfully I wasn't there on a date or else I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have gotten asked out again.

Superwoman and I were in Manhattan...

Monday, August 8, 2011

Welcome to!

I know, I know, I've been MIA a lot and  I've thrown a lot of changes at you guys lately but I've settled down now - you must believe me, because I forked over money to buy this domain! ;P

I've always wanted to have my domain but I didn't actually take the plunge until now - it was super easy and I wish I'd done it sooner!

Thank you for reading me, following me to Wordpress and all the way here.  I decided Wordpress wasn't for me because it just wasn't compatible with the tools I wanted to use, and it's not as customizable as I'd like.  I'm a slave to Google products, it turns out.

Anyway, I carried the new look over - I hope you like the changes and I can't wait to hang out with you guys here from now on!


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bitch Nail Polish

Baby Smiley says “You gotta make sure that your ah-browns scream, ‘BITCH!’”

Similarly, I sometimes turn to cosmetics to imbue power in me when I feel like I need a little lift. My favourite is using dark, dark nail polish – not black, because that’s too emo, but black-red, because I once read that powerful women in history liked to paint their nails dark red. I’m not sure if it’s true, but I like to do it anyway.

Enter Chanel.

In ’94, a makeup artist coloured models’ nails with black marker before a photo shoot, and then created an almost black polish for that season’s runway. After that Chanel show, there was a huge frenzy for that nail polish and it quickly became a cult favourite. Originally named Vamp and later re-named Rouge Noir, it was designed to look like dried blood. See? That’s the power thing. It tells the world – Don’t f*ck with me. I paint my nails with dried blood. It’s sexiness, aggression and sophistication in a bottle.

However, Chanel USA “re-released” a nail polish called Vamp some years later, but it’s not the same. The new Vamp has a shimmer finish to it and doesn’t hold a candle to the original Vamp/now Rouge Noir, in my opinion. So caveat emptor: The colour I’m referring to is Rouge Noir today – look for the bottles that say Made in France on the back.

My Aunt K has a bottle and was kind enough to share with me once, but I can’t keep mooching off her because she’s usually countries away from me. It applied just a little bit streaky, but I have a feeling it’s because her bottle’s ancient. She didn’t know that it was such an iconic polish until I told her, apparently.

At about $30-40 a pop, it qualifies as an “affordable luxury” but I really can’t justify spending that much on nail polish, so I’ve set about looking for a substitute, and luckily, there are many dupes out there.

My personal favourite at the moment is Essie’s Wicked (pictured above). It’s a bit darker than the original Vamp but it comes very close and I like how it’s just a shade away from black. It’s sort of a cross between a creme and a gel. It applies slightly streaky but many dark colours are difficult to apply, and this one isn’t as bad as some others I’ve come across. It dries to a beautiful, glossy finish, but I always use top coat with it, so that’s a moot point. And at $11 a bottle ($9 at Wal-Mart) – or less when there’s a sale – the price is right!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Great Equalizer

Remember my epically amazing job interview? (If you haven't read that entry before, I highly encourage you to do so - it was like an out of body experience for me!) An article I read on HuffPo recently reminded me of my own, very humbling job hunt experience.

As a recent grad just breaking into the work force, my heart sinks a little every time I read an article like this. According to the girl in the article, it's been increasingly difficult for young people to find work (even seasonal positions) because many employers are demanding experience. To me, that just means there's a lot of competition - a lot of people are looking for work because the job market is bad, so the bar is raised higher. Last year I had a temporary telemarketing gig that required three interviews!

When I was looking for my Big Girl Job earlier this year, I remember the helplessness I felt every time I was told that I didn't have enough experience for a position. How was I to acquire any if I couldn't get started anywhere? I wondered. No one cared that I speak five languages and my international experience seemed to count for nothing. If only someone would just give me a chance, I thought.

Eventually someone did, thank goodness, and right in the nick of time too, because it was right before my student loan payments were to start. And fortunately, it was also in one of my chosen fields. Many of my postgrad classmates ended up doing generic administrative ot reception jobs because they couldn't break into the industry. I even know some people with degrees doing retail and restaurant jobs.

I've also come across several articles about Ivy League graduates who have been paying off their loans forever and can't see a light at the end of the tunnel - many of whom are graduates of professional programs like law and medicine.

It's so ironic because many (if not most) people go to school to get that piece of paper that will enable them to find a job and make money later on in life. But that piece of paper can become an enormous and often lifelong burden.

And that's when I realized how lucky and grateful I am to be Canadian, because in Canada, postsecondary education is The Great Equalizer. Unlike the States and many European countries, there are no private universities in Canada. I went to public elementary and high schools and then I attended university with both people like me as well as people who went to the most expensive, exclusive private schools in the country. We all end up in the same place.

I have a cousin my age in the States who went to Boston University, which is a decent school, but not really an Ivy League - it's not some of the first schools that pop in mind when people talk about The Best American Universities, you know? But a year of undergraduate tuition at her school costs more than all the money I had to borrow from the government to finance my undergraduate degree (so the price of my education minus my scholarships, grants, bursaries and RESPs). In other words, a year of tuition for her costs almost as much as three years of all my university expenses put together. If I grew up in the States, I wouldn't be able to afford to go to a top tier school, and I'd hate to feel like I couldn't have the same opportunities as other people because of my family's financial situation.

So while Canada's education system isn't perfect (especially since it's so expensive to go to university!) I'll take what I have.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: Mofo-Delish Ramen?

Red-Blooded Canadian Girl Ethnic Food Cravings, as I've established, can be rather aggressive sometimes (see Exhibit A and Exhibit B), and a while ago I found myself desperately craving ramen, a Japanese noodle dish that's served in luscious, savoury broth. So I did my research on Yelp, CHOW and Google and came up with a To Eat List of eateries to try (story of my life).

Since I was heading downtown that weekend, like I usually am, I decided to hit up the place that was in that general area - Kenzo. It's not really known as THE best ramen joint in Toronto, but it has a solid reputation and a lot of people have said that the quality is decent. Plus one of their locations was on my way to Kensington Market, which was perfect.

It was the first nice day after about a week of rain, and I was happy to be able to rock a sundress for the first time this season - this dress, by the way, earned me a honk when I was walking in the Yonge & Eglinton area earlier that day, which reminded me of when I used to go to school in Nowheresville, Ontario ('cause it was something of a party school) and made me wonder if I was looking like a prostitute...

But I digress.

So the sun was beating down quite relentlessly and I was very relieved to finally find the restaurant, which had a very narrow front and was basically a hole in the wall (but there's a lot of depth inside). I was the second party in line, which meant that the people behind me had to wait outside the doors and couldn't bask in the air conditioning. I wasn't surprised to see that nearly everyone inside was Asian and about my age. :P

The party in front of me consisted of a Cantonese-speaking couple and a Mandarin-speaking couple. They ended up sitting next to me and my keen, professional eavesdropping skills let me know that the jagged-haired, toothpick-thin Cantonese boy was the one referring his friends to the place. He was going on about how amazing that restaurant was, how it was on a par with the ramen places in Japan, how no one can say they've lived until they've tried I was giddy with anticipation!

Their food came and upon arrival, Canto Boy announced that he was going to take a sip of the broth first. That experience was apparently so world-rocking that he shouted something kind of rude in Cantonese that roughly translates to, "HOLY SH*T, THIS IS SO MOTHERF*CKING DELICIOUS!" He then proceeded to inhale his meal like a tornado.

I ordered a tonkotsu miso ramen (noodles in pork bone and miso broth) and...well, I didn't think it was mofo-delish, exactly, but it was good. Decent and solid, just like the reviews said, but nothing east of Vancouver is on a par with actual restaurants in Japan, in my opinion. The broth was super rich and flavourful, although I think there was a fair bit of MSG in it (but not, thankfully, nearly as much as Ajisen, which my family and friends affectionately call "MSG ramen" - 味精拉麵, a play on their real name, 味千拉麵).

The serving was decent - I was reasonably full afterwards - and the noodles were fairly good quality, cooked al dente just like it's supposed to be. The broth was very rich, a delicious, heavy punch to the tastebuds, if a little salty. The tonkotsu soup tasted like it was actually simmered for hours, which was good, because nothing's worse than ramen soup base that's from concentrate/originally powder. And the soup to miso ratio was most satisfactory.

The egg was cooked just right, with a medium-boiled yolk and all complementary ingredients were standard - green onions, bean sprouts and kamaboko. The chashu - the rolled pork - wasn't rolled, so the presentation was a little lacking, but they used a nice cut of pork belly that wasn't too fat or too lean, and the flavour was done well. It was also sliced paper thin, which is how it's supposed to be.

Many reviewers have complained about the service but I didn't find it to be that bad. Like I've said before, there's a general understanding that less-than-stellar service is tolerable in certain (usually inexpensive) restaurants if the food is really good. The food at Kenzo was slightly above average and the service slightly below. But there were only two servers working the entire restaurant, so I chose to be understanding. Besides, the male waiter was kind of cute. :P

This cost me about $9.95, I think, before tax, so it was not bad at all, and it did satisfy my craving. But was is really mofo-delish? I wouldn't say so.

The location I went to was:
138 Dundas Street West
Toronto, ON
M5G 1C3

Monday, June 6, 2011

Summer Nails & Giant Marshmallows

L-R: China Glaze Rich & Famous, OPI A Grape Fit, CG For Audrey, CG Re-Fresh Mint, CG Lemon Fizz
When I was archiving the posts of my old blog onto this new blog, I realized all of a sudden that The Soap Heiress used to be a fashion/beauty blog! Somewhere along the way it morphed into more of a travel/living abroad/culture blog and now it's very food-oriented, in addition to all of the above. It's funny how things change and take on a life of its own, right?

So yesterday I was doing my nails and I decided to show all of you my picks for the best nail polish shades for Summer 2011, since they look so great together. As pictured above, they are:

(thumb) China Glaze Rich & Famous: A bright, hot pink cream. This shade, as with many CG polishes, looks way more subdued in the bottle and much brighter on. It takes 3 coats to be opaque but is easy enough to work with.

(index) OPI A Grape Fit: I am so in love with this lavender cream! As with most OPI colours, this self-levels beautifully and is a dream to apply. The colour is also super pretty - fun and feminine but not too wild.

(middle) China Glaze For Audrey: Tiffany blue! They've captured the colour perfectly. I recently brought a friend to Sally Beauty Supply to buy this colour because she's been looking for it forever and she's very happy with it. This cream also applies very well and self-levels.

(ring) China Glaze Re-Fresh Mint: I had to pick up a mint green because this colour's so hot this season. This one, also a cream, is a bit streaky to apply, like many pastel colours, but after 3 coats it was perfectly opaque and even.

(pinky) China Glaze Lemon Fizz: I was looking for a pale yellow colour originally after hearing about Illamasqua's Load (gross name but such a cool colour). This was the closest I could find that wouldn't break the bank and I didn't have to have it shipped to me, which was great. It's such a gorgeous colour and it's ideal for the summer! It's sort of a butter yellow cream - well, maybe slightly brighter than butter yellow. Yellows are notoriously streaky and this one is no exception, but it looks acceptable after 3 coats, I think. I'd suggest waiting for it to dry completely before applying top coat or else it'll be even streakier.

Bonus shot - I was at a summer barbecue yesterday and I brought over the biggest marshmallows I have ever seen. They were literally a handful each, see (below)? Eating and roasting them was lots of fun, but I think I'll stick to the regular jumbo marshmallows because this product wasn't engineered very well. Our marshmallows would melt and get all goopy before the outside had a chance to brown, you see, so these are more for novelty.

*Huge thanks to Karl for the pictures! :D

Saturday, June 4, 2011

This is Courage

Every time I think of and see this image, I ask myself if I’d be brave enough and strong enough to die for something I really believe in; I’m not sure I would be.

On this day (it says June 5th in the video but I think it’s North American time – it was June 4th in China) 22 years ago, a large group of university students and intellectuals held a protest in Tiananmen Square, because they were pissed off about the bullshit the government was pulling, because they wanted democracy, because they wanted a better future for themselves and for future generations.

So the Chinese government sent in armed troops in tanks to get rid of them. Many civilians were killed and imprisoned because they dared to have a mind, to think, to demand better from their government.

Some journalists staying at the Beijing Hotel managed to capture footage and photos of this man, who faced off with four tanks and exercised unviolent protest by blocking their way, even when they tried to drive around him. A name for this civilian was circulated in the press, but nobody knows if that was his true identity. The Chinese government has never been able to present this man to the public, so no one knows what happened to him after he got dragged away from these tanks – some say he was dragged away by comrades, some say he was imprisoned, and others maintain that he was executed by the government, along with many others.

I can’t tell you how much this famous image touches me. I didn’t discover the video until a few years ago, which had an even larger impact on me because I didn’t know that he kept stepping in the way of the tanks as they tried to steer around him and that he eventually climbed onto the tank to reason with the soldiers.

Many young people in China grew up having never seen this image image before because of censorship, but there are still tombstones as well as many disabled survivors around to prove it happened. A man who had both his legs crushed by a tank recently appeared in a memorial event in Vancouver and held a talk about it.

This is courage. This is strength. And this piece of modern history makes me proud to be Chinese.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Tasty Tuesday/Food Fail: Cafe Maxim's Patisserie

Dearest readers,

I hope you all had a fantastic weekend!  This is the first Mother's Day where I have a steady income and can actually afford to hold something of a celebration with Superwoman, so I asked her early on where she'd like to eat.

"Oh! I haven't actually thought about Mother's Day!" She said with an innocent flutter of her eyelashes before producing three Mother's Day special restaurant ads and asking me which one sounded good to me. :P  So we picked Cafe Maxim, because we were craving good desserts and they're known for their cakes.

When we told some family friends about our reservation, they groaned and berated us because, they said, for $38 a head before tax, there were much better choices in the city.  But we were really intrigued by the seafood pasta option, the all-you-can-eat desserts and the lobster bisque, so we went ahead with it anyway...

Thursday, May 5, 2011

You have a song in your head & it's driving you nuts. What do you do?

If it's in my head & driving me nuts because it's so awesome, I'll play it a million times, go online to look up the lyrics if I don't already know them, and sing it until everyone around me gets really annoyed.

If it's in my head because I can't figure out the name of the song, I will ask around or Google whatever lyrics I can remember.

Funny but true: I had the melody of a song stuck in my head for a decade - I'd heard it on a variety show & loved it, but no one I knew could figure out what it was (I swear I'm not tone deaf!). It was SO frustrating. Then finally one day I managed to find (through Wikipedia) the exact episode of the show I heard it in, I found that episode on TuDou (Chinese YouTube), saw that segment, heard the song again, typed out a line of the lyrics and I found out the name of the song! After that I was able to find the music video on YouTube and a friend who I haven't kept in touch with even sent the mp3 to me because it turned out that she had it all along. :)

Ask me anything

Would you rather be the best player on a losing team or the worst player on a winning team?

Worst player on a winning team because then I can learn through osmosis. :)

Ask me anything

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tasty Tuesday/Cupcake Chronicles: Cosmen y Keiless

Early on in my stint in Madrid, I was desperately craving cupcakes, so I did an exhaustive Google search of cupcakeries in the city and Cosmen y Keiless turned up. There were a ton of gorgeous pictures of this quaint, little bakery (little did I know that it's actually a chain), where France seemed to meet the States, so I made the pilgrimmage to the location near Salamanca district on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: M Thompson Chocolates

Hi, guys!

In this week’s edition of Tasty Tuesday, I’m taking you all back to Canada. I still have a lot of material to write about on Madrid and Barcelona, but I very recently had this experience, and my eyes quite literally rolled back in my head from the overwhelming deliciousness, so I had to tell you all about it right away.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Don't Sh*t On Canadians!

“Did you know that in Canada they’re so ugly they don’t have mirrors in their elevators?”

“Did you know that the word ‘HUMILITY’ doesn’t exist in Canadian English? They should include it!”

Who wrote these things on his Facebook status?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Epic Interview

I’ve been to an interview where the owner of the company had nothing to ask me and the associate spent the whole time doodling flowers, hearts and small animals on my resume. I’ve also shown up to an interview once where they completely forgot that I was going in, had hired already, and sent me on my way. But neither of those two could rival the second interview I had on Friday afternoon.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Giving Back

Thank you, thank you, thank you for the sweet e-mails and messages for my birthday! You guys are the best, and I had a lovely, productive, grown-up-feeling day. :)

So there was a mild freakout among all my friends when I cancelled my birthday party, and I thought that I should explain the decision with a little more detail, because clearly, my last explanation wasn't enough for many.

See, two weeks before my birthday I had a This Is Your Life Moment.

I was comparing last year with this year (a self-destructive habit I know I'll have to break soon or it'll make for a very depressing year!); last year I had 30+ friends at my birthday party at this really cute venue that served fantastic food, where a really handsome DJ hugged me, bought me a drink and got the whole restaurant to toast me, where the really handsome DJ's handsome friend tried to impress me, and most importantly, I announced to everyone that I was moving to Spain. I was working three jobs while finishing school at the time and it was very, very difficult, but it was for something wonderful that I was really looking forward to.

This year, many of my best friends weren't even in Toronto for my birthday and I just felt like I had nothing to look forward to. All of a sudden, the next few years of my life stretched out before me. I could see myself slogging through the daily grind (provided I can find a hopefully decent job soon, that is!), trying to pay off my student loans and my car, not travelling anywhere, spending as little as I can... It was such a depressing thought. I didn't have a Next Big Thing to look forward to. I felt - and still feel, truthfully - trapped in my hometown when all I want is to be somewhere else. All the time.

So I cancelled my birthday party because I wasn't in the mood to celebrate and instead just set out to make it as much like any other day in the year.

I had two work interviews scheduled and although they turned out to be a bit of a waste of time, at least I was being productive. I realized at 12:00am on my birthday that I still hadn't donated money to Japan yet, my favourite place in the world, so I did that. Which, by the way, don't even get me started about how impressed I am that there's no riot there, that people are behaving so peacefully, and especially how in awe I am of the courage of the people who take turns going into the nuclear plant to try to fix things, putting their own lives on the line for the greater good.  (To make donations - please do if you can afford to and haven't yet! - please visit here or here.)

And I booked an appointment to give blood for the first time.  All throughout university I wanted to give blood, because I used to walk by the clinic at our University Community Centre all the time.  However, I chickened out twice because I was (and am!) terrified of needles, which earned me a very cold, verbal slap in the face from my aunt, who told me that my split second of pain could save someone's life.

So this year, I decided to bite the bullet and do it (after I got bailed on twice by people who were to accompany me).  No more waiting.  I was ready.  And what better day to do it than on my birthday?

It was actually much less traumatizing than I'd thought.  Canada Blood Services has a really helpful hotline staffed by very nice people who will schedule you at a time convenient for you at your nearest clinic.  The nurses at the clinic I went to were absolute angels.

I was really afraid of getting my finger poked, but that happened right off the bat and wasn't too bad because it was done with this little mechanism that pokes you when it senses pressure.  It didn't hurt THAT much on contact, but my finger throbbed for a bit afterwards, and then I realized that I couldn't get the manicure I scheduled for later, but that was okay. :P

Then they had me answer a really lengthy questionnaire.  You have to answer the first 13 questions outside, and then the next series of (quite invasive) questions are answered one-on-one with a nurse in a private room, after she takes your blood pressure and makes sure that you're an eligible donor.  They ask you things like whether you've paid to have sex before, whether you've had sex with someone who could possbily have had sex with another man, whether you've taken illegal drugs, etc, and the magic year seems to be 1977 - they want to know if you done any of these and other things since 1977, which I guess was when AIDS really broke out in a massive way.

And I must say, answering the first set of questions really drove home how fortunate I am that I could be in a position to give blood.  They ask if you have or have ever had all kinds of scary illnesses, and being able to check off No in every category made me feel really blessed. 

Then it was showtime.  I must have been very obviously nervous because the nurses kept checking up on me and reminding me to breathe. :P I was especially apprehensive because two of my best friends, who are nurses, told me that my left arm was a good arm to use, but I ended up getting stuck on my right one.  I also made the mistake of looking at the blood dripping into the bag, but a few moments after I averted my eyes, I was fine again.

It didn't take long at all - 15 minutes for the gory part, but about an hour for the entire process of a first appointment.  And I am really, really, REALLY glad I finally did it.  It wasn't that bad at all, I really hope my blood will help someone, and I feel really lucky to be able to do this.  I will definitely be donating again and I'd encourage everyone who reads this to donate blood, too!

Thursday, March 17, 2011


I’ve always felt like St. Patrick’s Day is kind of, sort of my birthday, too, because I was born in Hong Kong but grew up in Canada…

This day last year I bought myself a plane ticket to Madrid, and that is, to date, the best and most expensive birthday present I've ever given myself.

23 was an unbelievable year. Absolutely incredible, with enormous challenges and equally enormous rewards.  24 is uncertain, but whatever happens, I will make the best of it.

So I'm kicking off 24 with two job interviews, a blood donation session (my first!), and perhaps a big meal or two, with really, really good cake (Superwoman and I decided to finally make the pilgrimmage to the Dufflet bakery together at Yonge & Eg) – a good beginning, I think. And because I’m giving blood, it also means that I won’t be intoxicating myself today – but all of you should most definitely go out and have a good time!

Happy St. Patty’s Day! :)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: Pita & Company

In this week's edition of Tasty Tuesday, I'm going to introduce you to the only eatery in Madrid that I've been to more than five times, besides La Mallorquina.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Haves, The Have-Nots and The Have-Not-Muches

Since coming home I've been swamped with lust for material things.  I don't know if it's the much more prevalent product placement, the fact that I watch (a little bit of) TV again or masterful marketing aimed at my demographic, but I find myself suddenly wanting everything, like this, this and this.  And, oh Cosmos, especially this!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

what is it that you love so much about spain?

I love it for many reasons - the culture, the people, the food, the language, the architecture, etc. But mostly, I love it because living there is one of my proudest achievements to date. I really wanted to live there, it seemed nearly impossible, then I made it happen through determination and hard work - and with considerable intervention from my guardian angel. :)

I will admit that I probably do idealize Spain. It's not a perfect country and it's not The Best Place to Live Ever, but it symbolizes the incredible results of my dedication and will, and that's what makes it so special to me.

Ask me anything

Why do you hate being in Canada so much?

I don't hate it here; it's my hometown! I just really, really want to be somewhere else. All the time. It's just good, old-fashioned wanderlust, plain and simple.

I'm not even sure where I want to go next. It doesn't even necessarily have to be back to Spain, although that would be nice, because actually, I was quite lonely there at times. I enjoy being by myself a lot, but I remember walking around alone at night in downtown Madrid when it was packed and musing at how ironic it was that I could feel so lonely when there were so, so many people around...

I just want to be somewhere else, and I don't know where. I feel this urge to keep on running and I have no idea what I'm looking for, what it is that will make me want to settle down in one place.

The problem, though, is that I can't satisfy my wanderlust, because I have a ton of student loans as well as my car to pay for, so I'm feeling kind of trapped right now. I had a really disheartening This Is Your Life Moment the other day. But that's another story. :P

Ask me anything


No; I haven't changed my current city (here, on Facebook, Twitter, Skype, etc.) because I'm just in denial. :P

Ask me anything

y did u cancel ur birthday party? whats wrong???

Because I'm not in the mood to celebrate this year - but really, what is the big deal?. Everyone is freaking out about this and it's really not such a huge issue!

In the grand scheme of things, one birthday is just one day. It's not like I'm saying I'll never celebrate my birthday again. It's not like I'm never going to another party again. I just don't feel like celebrating this year.

And actually, if you think about it, it's all just hype. Without all of it, you'll see that all "special days" - birthdays, public holidays, anniversaries - they're really no different from any other day of the year.

Ask me anything

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: Curry's

Tasty Tuesday is back, featuring my favourite restaurant in Madrid!  Ironically, it doesn't serve Spanish food, but Indian.

Like any red-blooded Canadian girl, I have regular cravings for all kinds of ethnic foods - Indian, Levantine-based (I prefer the Lebanese interpretation), Japanese, Italian (if that counts - it's pretty mainstream in Canada), Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai, Malaysian, Greek...

Monday, March 7, 2011

I've Got Me

The problem with having a very repetitive job is that my mind goes numb after the first few minutes of working and then it just wanders randomly everywhere...leaving me free to remember and relive things I'd rather forget.

But that's my own punishment for making poor choices, so I kind of deserve it. Now that the conventional gatekeepers and guards in my life aren't always witness or privy to my mistakes and therefore there to berate me until shame/irritation mentally beats me into submission (i.e. never doing the same thing[s]again) my own mind is stepping up to the plate admirably. I suppose that's part of growing up.

So with unfortunate recent situations in mind, I've decided to add the following things to my 2011 Goals list:

7.) Break the habit of asking questions whose answers I already have an inkling/know outright I won't like.
8.) Stop poisoning my body - not that I ever did that often or even regularly, but I'm coming to realize that even once in a while is too much.
9.) Stop seeking trouble. Must be my bleeding heart. I need to trust my instincts - like, if being in a certain environment makes me feel like the inherent happiness in me is being leeched out, I need to stop putting myself in that situation.
10.) Keep in mind that mistakes ≠ the end of the world

My friends would also suggest that I stop thinking and overanalysing as much as I do, but that's a very deeply-entrenched characteristic of mine, and it's not always bad. Sure, I drive myself nuts, but I also enjoy my own company immensely. In fact, I'm one of my favourite people to spend time with.

And at the end of the day, I think that's what's most important. No matter what happens, I've got my own back.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I Still Exist!

I promise!

So again, I apologize for severe blog neglect.  Since coming home in early January, my life has been a whirlwind of intense reverse culture-shock, job-hunting stress, Chinese New Year festivities, hanging out with my girl Stace in Ottawa, eating all my favourite foods, requisite home weight gain, efforts to undo the aforementioned weight gain, reacquainting myself with everyone and everything here...but I'm back!  And I have lots to tell you, naturally.