Thursday, 31 December 2009

New Year... New You

So it's official - this is definitely the most depressing New Year's Eve late afternoon/early evening ever.

I'm in the office, all alone, it's about 4:30 pm and all of the three colleagues who turned up today have left to start their festivities. Since I've been on vacation for the last 10 days, and still left early yesterday, I'm staying til the end to man the silent phones for another hour.

Anyway, all is not lost - I have the trusty internet to keep me entertained for a whole 60 minutes before I attempt to lock up the office and set the alarm.

Since my brother and his lovely fiance are finally getting married this April - I've been searching for the perfect bridesmaid dress... which of course let me to NY Mag's shop-o-matic website, which then led me to what I call Irene's holy grail of wedding dresses.

Just like people believe in love at first sight with their partners, I feel this way about this dress...

You see, I'm not going to lie to you and say that I'm not interested in having a massive wedding with the whole nine yards. I WANT the massive wedding and the cake and flowers and live band, and yes, I'm probably going to be a total bridezilla. But if I ever do meet the right guy and have the money to spend on this dress, you can betcha I'll be running over to stateside to buy this.... (I've only been hankering over it for the last year and a half when it premiered in the Fall 2008 collection)

I love the detailing of the antique crystal broach and the oragami, japanese-influenced style of the bodice...

...but then the silouhette is simple and flattering on the figure at the same time... no poufy gowns, just elegant lines with a drop waist that elongates the torso.

anyway, tonight's festivities include the last meal of 2009 with a group of swedes and then a house party with strangers and friends and lots of bubbly!

thanks to my jet lag, I'll be wide awake well after midnight

Happy New Year kids - looking forward to seeing what adventures and surprises 2010 brings...

xoxo irene

Friday, 25 December 2009

Irene's knocked up again but...

Dear reader...

You know when you would sometimes get those letters around Christmas time from family friends or relatives? They would come in the mail, accompanied by the obligatory family portrait, where everyone's wearing matching t-shirts and toothpaste smiles. It didn't matter who the family was, the letters would always have the similar tone of smugness. Everyone was doing exceptionally well, and things were going swimmingly.

My brothers and I used to always joke that we'd send out spoof letters of our own to those families, but instead of boasting about someone's recent softball trophy or science fair award, we'd make comments like 'Irene's knocked up again, but we're happy to announce that she knows who the father is this time..."

Of course we never actually composed and sent out these letters; they never really got further than laughing about them in the kitchen, while my mother would scold us in mock despair and horror. (or maybe that was true horror...)

Anyway, apologies for the severe lack in updating. It's been a whirlwind of holiday stuff and while it's been nice being in my childhood home, surrounded by my entire family, I'm looking forward to going back to London. I actually can't believe my visit is over already, it feels like just yesterday I was getting onto the Heathrow Express and tucking in an overpriced breakfast at the Gordon Ramsay restaurant in Terminal 5.

I would make some sort of New Year's resolution that I'll try to update more regularly, but we both know I'm total rubbish at those. I will however try my best to stay not knocked up (for my mother's sake) and to have as many interesting adventures as possible when I get back to London so that i can share it all with you, my dear reader.

Until then, hope everyone's had a joyful, happy and relaxing holidays.


Wednesday, 16 December 2009

a little break

Ok so I know I said I would update with photos from the hip concert and the xmas party, but everything is still on my camera. I really hope that I'll have more time to blog in the New Year, as well more to write about. To be honest, life has been pretty ho hum, with work, hanging out with friends... there's nothing really exciting to report on at the moment.

But I will leave you with this - Glee is one of my favourite new shows out there, every thursday night I race home from work (if I'm not hitting up the pub first...) to watch the newest episode!

As they say over here, I'm absolutely gutted now that there won't be any new episodes until April. How unfair!

Came across this little tribute video from one of the main characters Puck - just loved it

Saturday, 12 December 2009

christmas tunes

I've just downloaded a mix of Christmas music to get me into the mood.

Tonight is the Wendover crew's christmas party and together with the viking and E. we packed one massive grocery cart with food. We have decorations (funny snowflakes made from magazine pages courtesy of yours truly), a fake christmas tree (or three!), a fridge bursting of food and a secret santa (of which I have the best gift ever)

Photos to come...

Just wanted to say it's beautiful out and Merry Christmas!!!

Going out to enjoy the sun now


Sunday, 6 December 2009

A Canadian loving the American Life

I woke up this morning with no voice - guess the Dutch Christmas party last night took a bit out of me.

So i spent the morning curled up in my duvet listening to the latest episode of This American Life. I think we're so busy in our lives these days, and have so much going on at once that entertainment ends up getting totally inflated to hold our attention. We have massive 3D movies in huge amphitheatres, huge singing competitions with interactive and cult-like followings, it's no wonder we have such short attention spans.

Having recently discovered This American Life, I forgot how nice it is just to sit and listen to someone talk. No television screen, no projectors and fancy special effects, just a voice telling you a good story.

i download new episodes and listen to it on my way into work. People probably wonder why I start laughing to myself, then again it being London, they probably just assume that I'm crazy.

Go and download the newest episode of This American Life. Curl up in bed or on a comfy couch and just sit and listen. It's like story time in grade school but so much more fun, and without the prickly 'magic carpet' to sit on.

Friday, 4 December 2009

this made me smile through tears

A big thank you to Cz for sending this through to me. His email was titled: Makes you smile... and in the email he wrote:

Thought these songs would cheer everyone up a bit :)

I've been so busy at work, and socializing afterwards that I didn't actually get a chance to open the two web links he had attached until tonight.

Playing for Change is a worldwide multimedia movement that tries to inspire, connect and bring joy through music around the world. They travel the globe and record artists playing and singing the same song, then mix it together to become what you see above. The idea is that music has the ability to break down borders, boundaries and distances. You have a singer standing on the rooftop in Israel, essentially singing along with someone on the back streets of Italy, or in a village in Africa. It's an amazing concept and put together is absolutely beautiful.

There's always these stories about how music has the ability to transcend anything. There's the story of soldiers in World War Two in their opposing trenches on Christmas Eve. The German side started to sing Silent Night and soon they heard the Allies join them in carol.

Or there's the more contemporary example of the West-Eastern Divan (orchestra). Founded by Daniel Barenboim (renowned conductor and pianist) and the late Edward Said (the great academic on Orientalism and who once wrote a personal email to my best friend R.) this orchestra brought together young musicians from countries in the Middle East, with the aim to promote understanding between Israelis and Palestinians.

I found this quote on wikipedia from one of the young musicians who sums it up perfectly...

Barenboim is always saying his project is not political. But one of the really great things is that this is a political statement by both sides.

It is more important not for people like myself, but for people to see that it is possible to sit down with Arab people and play.

The orchestra is a human laboratory that can express to the whole world how to cope with the other

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

reason #2396 why I need to move

The shower has been leaking for months now, actually it's never quite shut off since I moved in 6 months ago, but I never bothered to ask the landlord to fix it because:

a. He wouldn't
b. It was just a slight drip so not worth emailing him just to be ignored in the end

Fast forward 6 months and my shower is now like a mini niagara falls. For some reason, no matter which way you turn the tap and no matter how much you fiddle with it, the water just doesn't stop.

Not only is this horrible for the environment, but it also happens to be the hot water tap that leaks, so we're paying through the roof in heating.

Add that onto the fact that the bathroom light is still busted and you wonder why i showered at the gym this morning like a homeless person...

I REALLY need to move.

Monday, 30 November 2009

the hip are sooo hip

Concert was amazing, my photos are not - I need to figure out how to get photos at concerts that aren't blurry because shouting at Gord Downie to hold still while he was on stage just didn't cut it

Anyway, I have some photos and videos that I'll upload later.. in the meantime, check out this professional shot of their previous concert - obviously not taken by me, but by this person at the National Post.

Highlights of the night were when they played the popular songs - Courage, New Orleans is Sinking, Fiddlers Green, At the hundredth Meridien, Ahead by a Century, Poets,... then again it was just fun to see this band in an intimate setting. The theatre is maybe the size of small clubs back at home, definitely beats lawn seats at a packed molson amphitheatre

Plus, I haven't seen so many hockey jerseys in one place since, well, since I was home. It made me miss good ol' Canada. Home in a few short weeks!

Sunday, 29 November 2009

you are ahead by a century

tomorrow night I'm going to see The Tragically Hip!

My brother said that the only time you ever really get to see the Hip is if you go to a show outside of Canada. This band is massive back at home, but outside of the true north strong and free, no one seems to know who they are.

Tickets are still available (which is a rarity for the hip) and the venue is pretty small - which means I'll be close enough to see the beads of sweat from Gord's forehead as he belts out 'new orleans is sinking'

I really hope they play some of their greatest hits - this is music I grew up to. I'm also looking forward to being in a room full of fellow Canadians!

Full report on the concert to come :)

reason #2394 why I want to move

I'm horribly hungover right now and a phone call from my favourite Viking tells me that the whole gang is over at their place and they're about to make a massive Sunday brunch of eggs, pancakes, sausages, and probably one of DA's famous bacon sandwiches..

but because I live on the stupid tube line that never runs, the thought of getting out of bed and taking the hour long bus ride down to join them right now just doesn't work...

PS. DA gets his first mention in my blog - are you happy now? xo

PSS. reason # 2395 the bathroom light blew therefore I now get to shower in the dark...

Friday, 27 November 2009

maybe I'm just on crack...

But I really thought it was snowing today on my way into work!

It was sort of a cross between flurries and light rain. But when I walked into the office and exclaimed excitedly to the office - 'Oh my god, it's snowing outside!'

All I got were funny looks

Pfftt.. damn brits.

PS. Can't wait for mother nature to 'dump' another two inches of snow down on London, thus shutting down the city entirely for a snow day

Thursday, 26 November 2009

kids these days...

Just got back from babysitting my neighbour's two children... I got a text from the mother J. this afternoon asking if I could come babysit tonight as she had an art class that she had to get to and her husband was out of town. As my plans for tonight had been cancelled, I said yes.

J and her family live in the flat below me, but unlike my old British flat with dodgy carpets, theirs is totally refurbished with a large open plan kitchen and living room area, wooden floors and massive floor to ceiling windows that back into their private yard. It's a totally different place, and to be honest, I've missed being in a family home.

J's children are adorable... L is 9 and the sweetest thing while M is 12, a bit mischievous with a little attitude, but still a good kid. We ate supper together, then M. raided the pantry for some chocolate, which we all shared and then I sat at the kitchen table helping L with her maths homework.

It was an idyllic scene of Martha Stewart-like serenity... the babysitter helping the little girl with her math homework, as she reads each question aloud and works out the answer on a piece of graph paper.

The only difference here is that the babysitter is frantically working out the answers on her blackberry because she can't do simple arithmetic in her head anymore, and the little boy isn't quietly reading a book, but is rather playing a video game which involves getting points for vandalism, beating up other kids and stealing panties from girls... did I mention that he's 12??

Amid cries of M going 'yah, take that' while his character smashes a cricket bat over another player's head, L is sweetly asking me how to solve a math problem that should be simple, but I have no idea how to do...

i feel old.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

goodbye my love...

It's with a heavy heart that I finally bid farewell to the love of my life, my new york boots.

These boots were bought on my first trip to New York - I took a few days off work a few weeks before Christmas to visit my friend K. who was living down there, working about three different jobs but living in the glamourous Soho district.

Your first time in New York is better than all the firsts in your life, and that's including sex. The sights and sounds that surround you, walking down busy streets, passing those iconic buildings, stopping in for a Magnolia cupcake then browsing the nearby used biography bookstore - I loved it.

I found these boots at a flea market in Hell's Kitchen. K. had already secured a pair of her own a few weeks earlier, and I was determined to find a pair for myself.

The first few stalls didn't have much in stock, most boots there were old cowboy boots, not was I had in mind. Then the next stall had a pair of vintage Cole Haans! But of course, they were about 2 sizes too small and no amount of forcing my feet in, gritting my teeth and saying 'they'll stretch' would make them fit my feet.

And then I spotted the boots. Dark caramel brown with a gold buckle on the side, the quintessential riding boots, in mint condition and fit my feet like a glove. Oh, how I loved you at first sight.

The boots and I have enjoyed a long and loving relationship looked upon many with envy. I've enjoyed the admiring stares we've gotten while out together on the town, and when someone inquired after them, I'd breezily say, 'oh these? I got them at a flea market in New York.'

Sadly, after 3 years of wear and tear, not to mention walking on the salt-encrusted streets of Toronto, the boots have finally met their end. A hole started to appear at the end of last winter, and not even my trusted shoe repairman could fix it. Today, while walking down Regents Street in the rain, my foot started to feel a bit wet, and when i looked down, a large hole on the side of my right boot was staring up at me.

So after a long reign, the new york boots are destined for the bin.

I think part of the reason i've held onto them so long and loved them so much is that they always remind me of those few short days I had in New York. That was a time just before my life started to get very complicated, and back then, I had no idea the kind of messy emotional roller coaster I'd be throwing myself into. When I first got those boots, my life was simpler and I hadn't made so many mistakes. Now that I'm throwing them out, I find myself shaking my head and wishing I could go back and redo so much.

Regret is such a bitch.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

A rainy sunday

I woke up this morning full of energy and drive to get things done.

I threw a load of laundry into the washer then went outside with the aim of doing a good 8 km run up to Hampstead Heath - one of my favourite spots in London. For those readers, it's a bit like High Park - you have hilly roads with expensive Victorian-style homes leading the way up to a rambling forest of paths and open green spaces, not to mention great views, ponds AND a petting zoo.

Coming back I stopped by the grocery store to get some provisions for the week. As I was paying, I looked outside and BAM just like that the skies had opened up and flooded. It was piss-pouring rain out and I had no umbrella and three bags of groceries to carry back to my flat (about a 10 minute walk away).

No matter, I threw on my headphones, put on a good song and ran like hell through the rain, bright orange Sainsbury bags bouncing off my legs as I splashed through puddles and slid on wet leaves, finally making my way home, soaked to the bone, exhausted and so happy to be back.

After showering and putting on some dry clothes, I set about making my typical Sunday meal. Because I often work quite late during the week, I like to make massive meals on the weekend that I can freeze and defrost during the week. I've done soups, casseroles and hearty meaty chili, but in light of the upcoming week of dreary cold rainy weather, I currently have a rich beef stew simmering on the stove.

My favourite source for recipes is Michael Smith. Yes, he might have this ingratiating, slightly patronizing way of speaking to the camera, but I absolutely adore his method of cooking and his recipes. I'm not a fancy cook, I like comfort food and Chef Michael encourages you you experiment with what you have in your kitchen, trusting your instincts and own ideas of what flavours go well together.

The recipe is perfect for a lazy, rainy Sunday afternoon.

Michael Smith's Classic Beef Stew (adapted by yours truly...)

* Pack of stewing beef
* A bunch of root veggies (carrots, onion, celery, parsnips, etc)
* Handful of small potatoes
* garlic
* one OXO beef bouillon cube
* some red wine
* olive oil
* some flour
* salt / pepper and whatever spices in your pantry you think work... I'm currently adding to my collection as spices are surprisingly expensive)

1. Roughly chop your veggies and set aside
2. Dust the beef in flour and toss with salt and pepper
3. Heat large pot with olive oil...if you live in a flat like mine with a scary gas stove, try not to singe the ends of your hair when lighting the stove
4. VERY IMPORTANT - brown the meat, that means laying each piece down and leaving it to brown before turning each piece over to brown the other sides... warning, you will probably get a little burnt with the splashes of hot olive oil, or you can be a wimp and wear a dish washing glove
5. Remove browned meat and set aside, then add the veggies (except for the potatoes) and some smashed cloves of garlic into the pot... let them brown up and soften (takes about 5-7 minutes)
6. Add a splash of red wine and stir that around, dislodging the brown bits at the bottom (that gives your stew flavour)
7. Add the beef and potatoes and top up the pot with boiled water so that it covers everything, throw in that bouillon cube too and swish that around
8. Put the lid on and let that simmer... go write a blog post about your cooking adventures, check facebook, curl up in bed with a good book and occasionally go and check on the stew to make sure the kitchen hasn't burnt down

Oh and a good tip from Chef Michael is to leave some chopped veggies to throw into the pot near the end of the cook time so that you have a nice mix of textures (soft and still crunchy) in the stew... I happened to forget this time around

Once it's done, enjoy some with a slice of crusty bread and let the rest cool down before bringing out the tupperware (some for the fridge, some for the freezer)

I also like to dole out smaller portions for the freezer, that way I can de-frost individual portions more easily, it just means that my freezer gets a little full of tupperware containers, but I'm sure my flatmates don't mind so much

Saturday, 21 November 2009

this disturbs me on so many levels

I came across this YouTube video of a fish kept alive after being deep fried, then eaten while its gills are still moving.

First of all, I'm not some insane animal activist. I love my steak and red meat, and I'm normally quite good with strange and exotic foods. I'm asian so I was brought up on chickens feet and tripe. But this video is just sickening. The camera pans on the fish, gills still moving, as chopsticks prod at it, tease and 'playfully' poke it, then finally start to rip pieces of flesh from the body, while the background is laughter and some woman saying 'I'm so scared' in an annoying cloying voice.

Although I felt nauseous after seeing this video (which is thankfully quite short), what disturbed me even more was reading some of the comments left behind.

I think growing up in Canada, in a place where multiculturalism is embraced, I tend to forget how much ignorance and stupidity is out there.

Yes, the Chinese cook who prepared that dish and the table of Chinese diners who feasted on this incredibly wrong dish aren't exactly a shining example of humanity. And yes, watching the video does make me angry and a little ashamed at my own culture for finding pleasure in this.

But reading comments on how Chinese people are all dirty c*nts and need to be exterminated... not just one, but many hateful comments...something's just not quite right in this world when people think like that

Thursday, 19 November 2009

the weather outside is frightful...

...but the fire is so delightful, and since we've got no place to go, let it snow! let it snow! let it snow!

If you've had the wonderful fortune of spending any time with me in the last few days, you'll recognize the above as something I've been humming and singing under my breath.

I love Christmas.

You know how everyone complains about how stores put out their christmas decorations right after Thanksgiving, and carols start getting played in stores... pretty soon it looks like Santa vomited everywhere from all of the Christmas cheer and merriment that gets strewn all over any available surface.

well. I love it.

I can't wait to do some early Christmas shopping with my wonderful Viking. I normally avoid Oxford Street on weekends like the plague, too many tourists and pushy shoppers running around, but with the lights lit up and a new Anthropologie store to explore, what's there not to love?

I think part of my Christmas cheery mood is also because i just watched 'A Christmas Carol' with T. tonight. The movie surprised me, not only because it turned out to be in 3D so we got to wear really cool shades, but it was a lot darker than I thought it'd be. I think I have a new favourite Christmas movie to add to my ever growing pile of movies to watch in the xmas season...

they include (in no particular order)

1. Love Actually (which will be made even better this year because I actually live in I only need to find a cute Brit who'll serenade me with flash cards at my front door)

2. Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer (but the freaky claymation one from the 80s)

3. All I want for Christmas

4. Elf - who doesn't want to put maple syrup on everything?

5. It's a Wonderful Life (this year I want someone to lasso the moon for me)

6. Christmas with the Kranks

always second guessing

So I just booked a trip to Barcelona with my cousin in April. We were emailing back and forth, trying to decide on the best place to go... Sardinia, Portugal, the Amalfi Coast... the list went on, but sadly our budgets weren't getting any bigger and flights were getting more and more expensive as we deliberated.

Finally we decided on Barcelona, thinking that it would be the perfect mix of beach and city.

I jumped on booking my tickets with EasyJet as the price had already gone up about £20 in the last week.

Now I'm second guessing this decision... apparently Barcelona isn't really that warm in April, so sun bathing on the beach is out.

Damn...we'll just have to settle for some amazing architecture, yummy tapas bars and pitchers of sangria.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

things that make you go hmm...

I was going through my music library the other night to put together a mix cd for melon who's FINALLY investing in an ipod. While sifting through all of the music I've acquired completely legally, I came across some really old stuff that I haven't listened to in ages.

Have you ever listened to a song and been taken right back to a certain moment in your life or been reminded about a certain person? Music does that me all the time, a song comes on and memories just flood.

For instance:

- Keane's 'somewhere only we know' reminds me of trekking to the bar in Guyana in the pitch black, with only our headlights to guide our way down the dusty red dirt road, slight drunk off of rum and cokes, we would stumble down the road towards the dance music booming in the distance - and for some reason, at one point I remember singing this song

- David Gray's This year's love, when we were driving on the highway one night, he wordlessly reached over and took my hand in his and held it so tight, I thought it meant something

- Hawksley Workman 'Don't be crushed' - standing right at the front and watching Hawksley put a cough drop in his mouth every so often because he had a cold, then watching him belt out those notes, thinking that his vocal cords might break from the strain of it all

- David Usher 'black black heart' - singing along with the cd in my car, driving to timmies with R. and laughing so hard I wanted to cry when he would imitate the falsetto background vocals

- Fiona Apple 'never is a promise' - having my heart broken for the first time in high school, listening to this during my self-indulgent, angst-filled walks down to the lake and thinking, as I gazed poetically down at the crashing waves, that I would never get over him. (I did)

Sunday, 15 November 2009

New object of desire

This is why I need a digital SLR

My good friend Fraulein came to visit this weekend, so we did the obligatory London sightseeing, despite the severe wind and rain (typical London weather really).

One of the many places we hit up was the stunning St Paul's Cathedral. Ever since I stumbled upon the choir rehearsing one sunday evening, it's become one of my favourite spots in London. Whenever I look at it in the skyline, I always think that it's a backdrop to a movie set - it's just unreal.

You're not supposed to take photos inside, but everyone does. Every so often one of the security guards will admonish you for using a camera. Like a guilty child stuck with their hand in the cookie jar, you apologize and lower your camera, then quickly take another photo when they look away.

I have my lovely point and shoot Sony camera that my parents bought me a few years ago. The great thing about this camera is that it's pink and small, so it easily fits into any evening bag, or in my pocket. But when taking any photo when the lighting is crap, like let's say...the inside of a church, the camera fails miserably. Just compare the below...

Here's my sad attempt...

And now Fraulein's with her fancy SLR...(note this was taken at the exact same time, and relatively at the same location in the cathedral)

Poor Sony camera, you may be pink and cute, but that SLR totally just kicked your ass

Sunday, 8 November 2009

D-Day tomorrow

Tomorrow is the start of World Travel Market - the biggest tourism/travel trade show in the UK. Four days which I have heard dubbed as the 'anti-Christmas', 'hell on earth', 'exciting', 'the reason I started drinking', just to name a few.

Pretty well all of the clients I work on will be there, so it'll also be the first time I get to meet them. If I wasn't so tired from the long hours at work, I'm sure I'd be a lot more nervous. I always feel self-conscious when I meet clients for the first time. No matter how professional I try to appear, I always end up feeling like they aren't going to take me seriously based on how young I look. To make matters worse, I'll be running around the convention centre like a mad woman, so heels are out of the question.

I heard once that the most successful men in business tend to be at least 6 feet and caucasian. Does that mean that being asian and 5'1 I'm just screwed?

Wearing a pair of kick ass black heels into any meeting or function does wonders for my confidence. I mean, just look at these...

When I wear shoes like that, it doesn't matter how young I look, how short I am, how little experience I have... with shoes like that I can conquer the world and the tall people who rule it.

PS. Huge points for whoever can correctly name the designer of the above pumps!

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Happy Guy Fawkes!

Leave it to the brits to celebrate some guy who failed in trying to blow up the House of Parliaments. I'm sitting in bed, toasty warm under my covers right now and I can hear the sounds of fireworks going off outside.

It's been manic at work lately as we all frantically prep for this massive trade show next week. I haven't been home before 10 every night and actually would still be at the office now had my manager not ordered me home at around 7pm, with the words

'Poppet, you'll be here late tomorrow night anyways, so go home'

I love that she calls me Poppet

I hate that I'll be a the office late on a Friday night.

Anyway, time for some down time.... had a yummy pizza dinner, red wine supplied by my kiwi flatmate S. and now episodes of Mad Men await.

Happy Bonfire night all

Monday, 2 November 2009

with glowing hearts...

Melon came back (finally) from her travels, which included hopping from Taiwan to Houston and a short stop in her hometown of Vancouver. I was so excited to see her again, as she's the first close friend I made here in London - and she's just that awesome and can always be counted on when I have a craving for parma ham. But when I saw her, I was even more excited when I saw her recent purchase from Canada.

These are THE BEST MITTENS EVER. Period. I am totally lusting over them right now and can't wait to pick up a pair for myself when I fly back to Canada in December. I can't imagine a better way to keep my hands toasty warm during those cold London winter days AND show a little patriotic pride..especially when I'm watching Team Canada kick ass during the olympic hockey games.

Sad news is that when I went online to check them out, they're temporarily out of stock - I might have to put an order in with Santa (aka my mother) soon to avoid disappointment this holiday season.

Incidentally if any of you are feeling particularly generous, my size is adult S-M....C'mon, I'm sure I've made someone's nice list this year....anyone?

Sunday, 1 November 2009

I miss my violin

My good friend and former quartet/jam sessions cellist, Cz, sent me this link the other day

The Impossible Duet - Handel Halvorsen Passacaglia

Even if you don't play a musical instrument, it's clear that this guy is amazing. I recognize the piece as well. My brother (who's an infinitely better violinist than I ever was) used to play it. I can't remember whether he ever successfully tackled it, or whether he just attempted to play it, because as you'll hear and see - it's a freaking difficult piece.

I haven't touched my violin since moving here. I miss it. Even though I was never very good, I still love playing music. Some of my happiest memories involve music...whether it was late night jam sessions with my Kameleon crew (who said you can't play Aerosmith on violin??), or the traditional Harvey's dinner with my orchestra friends before our MYO concerts.

Like every other Chinese kid on the block, my parents put me in violin lessons at a pretty young age. And like every snot-nosed, spoiled kid, I hated it. I never practiced, I practically threw up every time I had to go on stage, and I won't even get into how I was before auditions and exams.

As the years went on though, I grew a newfound respect for my violin. Sure, I wasn't really good at all - but I was good enough to play with other people and appreciate the music we made together. I learned to practice - and took pleasure in the end result from hours of practicing the same passage over and over again. I loved performing in ensembles. I loved rehearsing even more, the sense of camaraderie and sheer fun that comes from spending hours together, working as a team. When I play violin, I don't worry about my job, my failed relationships, where I'm going in life... I am 100% focused on reading the music and translating that onto my violin.

I may not be good, hell - I'm actually pretty awful for someone who's had over 15 years of private lessons - but I'm glad I stuck with it. Because so much of what I've experienced in my short 27 years has come about because of that wooden contraption of gut strings and horsehair.

Friday, 30 October 2009

frank had it wrong

I read that Sinatra once said 'the great thing about unrequited love is that it's the only kind that lasts'.

At the time, I thought that line was quite poetic and romantic, kind of a moment when the audience goes 'awww' and everyone gets a warm fuzzy feeling in their stomach.

Right now it just makes me want to throw something against the wall and stomp my feet. Unrequited love sucks. It is the bane of my existence and I spit on Sinatra and anyone who agrees with what he says.



On an entirely different note - I think I have spent WAY too much money putting together my Halloween costume this year. Unfortunately for me, I neglected to read my invitation for the party I'm attending carefully (or really at all) and somehow missed the fact that it's an 'Alice in Wonderland' themed party.

Therefore, my flapper 1920s girl costume might stand out from the Alices and Queen of Hearts in the crowd.

But that's nothing a few glasses of white wine won't solve right?

Besides, when I wandered into the new Anthropologie that just opened up on Regents Street, I couldn't help but buy this gorgeous headband that I will no doubt use again...

Thursday, 29 October 2009

why do I even bother dating? part two

I was cleaning my room tonight and came across my...wait for it....score card from a speed dating event I'd gone to a few months ago.

Before you start to judge me (which I'm sure you already have) please let's rewind this a little bit.

I had just made the move to London not long ago and when my coworker asked me if I was interested in going, I figured that:

a) It would be entertaining
b) What else was I going to do on a Tuesday night
c) How bad could it be

In the end, yes it was entertaining, after copious amounts of white wine, and yes, there wasn't much else I could do on a Tuesday night, but I underestimated how bad it really was going to be

My scorecard really gets less legible as the night went on, but let's give you a little overview on a few of the gentlemen who graced my presence that night. (note: this is actually a copy of what i wrote down that night...)

1. James - Asian, soft spoken

2. Michael - likes to travel, spiritual, creepy

(he actually told my friend that she had amazing eyes, and that he hadn't had sex in over a year, and she might be the one he finally makes love to...he just asked me if I was spiritual and whether I believed in a higher being)

3. Andy - cross eyed

(totally threw me off, I didn't know which eye to look at)

4. Mike - potentially gay

5. Kel - asked me if I had been fired from my job

6. Maxim - definitely gay

7. Gee - Yugoslavian guy, gay?

8. Malden - short IT guy going bald

How did the night end, you may wonder, after this particularly spectacular showing of the male sex?

Let's just say I embraced my bottle of white wholeheartedly to get myself through the two hours of an endless 4 minute rotations of hell - so much so that I had quite the rough night and morning after.

Still, I can't seem to throw out this scorecard - call me sentimental, but I do hope that somewhere and sometime these men find their perfect match. And at some point, in sometime, I'll find someone who isn't potentially gay, cross-eyed or deemed creepy after the first minute of conversation.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

i lust you...

Last week I went to a special screening of the new Ricky Gervais film 'Cemetery Junction' with my friend, the lovely L.

It was an advance screening for market research purposes - meaning we had our cell phones and blackberries confiscated, and were given a survey to fill out afterwards. The film, for having no expectations whatsoever, was actually quite good. It was one of those feel good films you walk out of and feel determined to conquer the world. (As opposed to wanting to crawl into a corner and cry, which is how I felt after watching 'House of Sand and Fog' - definitely the most depressing film ever)

The highlight of the film was the leading actor. Whoever casted him as the protagonist should be given a gold medal in casting hot unknown stars. Similar to how Robert Pattison shot into stardom after being casted as Edward, I predict that Christian Cooke is going to get a ton of attention once this film is released to the public. Just look at those puppy dog eyes....

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Seven minutes in (hamburger) heaven

My weekend dinner plans never go as planned. I was planning on making a massive pot of chili tonight and freezing portions for those lazy mid-week nights.

Then I got the text message that my friends were making homemade hamburgers. So plans for chili went out the window and I was out the door to take a bus down to hamburger heaven.

Nothing beats making your own burger patties. Skip the frozen and pre-made ones, that is unless you prefer eating a thin sliver of grey mystery meat. No, making your own patties is super easy - even I can do it. All you really need is some good quality ground beef, and then play around with whatever you have in your cupboards. I typically like to add minced onion, whatever spices are in my cupboard, an egg and breadcrumbs. Tonight I learned a new trick of adding grated parmesan to keep it moist and add a kick of flavour (Thanks E.!)

Hamburger heaven was ready at around nine, and the six of us sat down to utter bliss. There's nothing like piling your burger with crisp lettuce, fresh tomatoes, sweetly carmalised onions, an assortment of condiments, then the first bite, juices dribbling down your chin and onto your plate as you try to keep your delicious creation from falling apart.

L. commented that hamburgers shouldn't be eaten on a first date, but I happen to disagree. There's nothing sexier than seeing someone truly enjoy their food...and it's always good to know that they're willing to get themselves a little dirty....

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

best line I've read in a long time...

I abso-fucking-lutely love Liberty London Girl. Having just stumbled upon her blog a few months ago, I get to read old posts she's written and I love her style and wit.

This particular post was about getting over her cheating ex and meeting another charming man who has an 'MA in flirting'. When I read her last paragraph, I actually laughed out loud.

" was most cathartic; a most unexpected experience which I highly recommend for anyone struggling to get over their fuckwit ex. The moral of the story: flirting doesn’t have to mean anything, but Christ it puts a spring in your step." true you are.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Great Balls of Fire!!!

There I was, standing in a crowd of people in a room, looking at a canon and eagerly awaiting with bated breath for the gallery worker to load it up with a ball of red wax and shoot it into the opposite room.

This is how I spent my Saturday afternoon... at the Royal Academy of Arts with my friend D. checking out the new Anish Kapoor exhibit.

I honestly didn't understand any of the art I was looking at, nor was I particularly moved by any of it. The general feeling was of total confusion, as well as a mad desire to touch some of waxy residue left behind by the great square of red wax that moved back and forth between galleries.

I wish I had one of my artsy art history friends who could enlighten me as to how these installations may relate to the decay of human kind or something like that.

Outside was a giant installation of towering silvery bulbs that reminded me of.....Christmas. Yes, instead of being filled with inspiring beauty or an aching for the loss of society's compassion, I was moved with the image of mistletoe and twinkling lights.

Tomorrow I start at my company as an official employee, no longer just an intern. I can't wait to start. Honestly, I'd much rather be stressed out over a work project than trying to wrap my head around giant globs of red wax.

Besides, it doesn't leave a stain on my clothes.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

why do I even bother dating?

Ok, the events described below actually happened a few weeks ago, but I was prompted by Melon to share them because of the sheer ridiculous-ness of it all (which is apparently highly entertaining for others). Plus I came across a similar post by one of my favourite bloggers - London Liberty Girl, which inspired me to recount my own dating horror story.

I met D. at a posh bar in Mayfair one Friday night, when I unwittingly ventured out for a quiet night with a girlfriend, which turned into bar hopping with a group of very made up, very posh girls.

He seemed nice enough, and had a sexy French accent which sold me. We made plans later that week to go for dinner and drinks.

We met at the Berkley Hotel (which is actually pronounced the BARK-ley) and is apparently one of the poshest places in London (accordingly to said friend who I had gone out with that Friday night and is an expert in all things posh). Not really my scene, but I was intimidated enough to wear heels, straighten my hair and attempt to wear make up.

Like a snowball rolling down a hill and gathering momentum, my date went downhill right from the beginning.

Gentlemen reading this, take note...

1. Do NOT make a big fuss about my ordering a glass of champagne (which cost 35 pounds...oops) and make a fuss about how scared you are to get the bill. You picked the damn place, deal with the consequences of my not ordering water and a side salad

2. Do NOT slouch on the banquet, pushing me to the edge so that I have to politely ask you repeatedly to move over because 'I'm about to fall off the bench'

3. I don't care that your parents have a place in Lake Como (or Como as you call it), if I don't sound impressed, don't continue trying it impress me

4. Here's a hint, if I asked you to stop kissing my shoulder, that actually means stop kissing my shoulder and don't move onto my arm or any other part of my body. If I'm trying to move away from you, it's because I don't want to be next you

5. Do NOT start the date by telling me all about your gym workout. I don't care what you bench pressed, nor does it interest me at all that you work out 6 days a week.

6. Do NOT say that you think gays are unnatural and disgusting, especially AFTER I've told you that my best friend is gay

7. And when I start to get angry over your ignorant remarks, don't say 'Oh, I'm glad you're getting excited...'

8. When I say that I don't want children, do not patronizingly say 'of course you do' and then try to kiss my arm (see point #4)

9. Here's a hint, if you can't even be bothered to buy a couch in your living room, but rather are proud of the fact that you have not one, but three bean bags instead, that's just pathetic, not cool

10. When you pay the bill and I graciously thank you for dinner, do not tap your cheek for a kiss, and if I'm stupid enough to actually give you a kiss on the cheek, please don't turn and try to make out with me.

11. If I literally have to push you off of me, that means I'm not interested

12. It also means that I'm not coming over, no matter what you think or how much you hint at it.

Oh, D... I was going to erase your number from my phone, but just like my heroine, Rebecca Bloomwood, did in a scene from 'Confessions of a Shopaholic', I will change your ringtone to 'Do not pick up this call, repeat, do not pick up the phone....'

Why do I keep on this dating scene? As George puts it... you gotta have faith.

Onwards and upwards!

Monday, 12 October 2009

Italy - where to start?

I'm not even sure where to start with this trip - there was so much that went on, and at the same time I did very little considering the amount of time I was away. There were the typical tourist activities (Uffizi, Museums, etc) and then there was sitting in a tiny cafe for a few hours, writing in my journal and watching life unfold around me.

There's these moments that I get when i travel when it just hits me that I'm actually there. I get it every time I walk along Westminster Bridge and see Big Ben on one end and the London Eye on the other. In that moment I feel nothing but pure joy and happiness. Cheesy, yes but so true. It's like nothing can beat the excitement of having travelled and seen this new city.

In Amsterdam, my moment came, not when walking through the infamous red-light district and seeing prostitutes wearing glow-in-the dark bikinis in the windows in attempts to beckon and attract clients. Nor was it during the sampling of the local herbs. No, it was during a bike ride with 8 of the people I met and travelled through Amsterdam with. Cycling down a country road with the canal on one side and fields on the other, looking down the road and seeing this long row of new friends I had just made, it was a good feeling.

In Italy, I was hit with moments at every corner. Literally. Turning the street corner in Florence and seeing the magnificent Duomo up ahead. Or walking down a corridor of the Gallerie dell'Accademia and right there in front of me was the massive David.

Traveling alone, for me, was a thrilling and terrifying experience. Having no knowledge of Italian, the simplest requests left me shy and tongue tied. Ordering an espresso in the morning, or one of the delicious and flakey sfogliatelle al melone was a huge achievement, but made each sip and bite well worth it.

I met some amazing people on this trip. There was L. who was kind enough to meet me for a drink in Bologna, which quickly turned into a few hours of conversation, that night and the next too. There were the fellow English speaking tourists who were always curious to find out why I was travelling alone. There were the young student protestors who eagerly shared why they were on the streets that day, and taught me the cheer they were chanting on the streets when I joined them. There was G. who graciously let me couch surf at his place. And of course, the unnamed Albanian waiter who provided hours of amusement and ample red wine. Grazie to each and everyone of them who helped make my trip totally unforgettable.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

home - finalement

Just got in from a whirlwind of travels, from Amsterdam to London, to Bologna, to Florence, back to Bologna and then finally back to London.

Just when I thought I could take a breath of relief and relaxation, I'm up early tomorrow to cook a 10 pound turkey for my friends to celebrate Canadian thanksgiving

And I might be heading off to Scotland on Tuesday....

Once I catch my breath, updates on A'dam and Italia to come (plus photos!)

xoxo exhausted girl...

Monday, 5 October 2009

leap of faith (or is it just laziness)

arrived very late last night from amsterdam, woke up very late this morning, and day has been spent trying to get ready for Italy (unpack, wash, episodes of mad men...)

riiightt... so I have a place to stay in Bologna, but Florence I'm still homeless.. went online to try and find something, but to be honest I can't be fussed to find a place right now. I figure I'll just arrive the day of, and find a place that looks decent enough.

Oh, and I'll be using my cell phone while in italy - not looking forward to my next phone bill! If possible, I'll turn off my internet capability so that at least I won't be paying for those roaming charges, but still.. long distance calls..

updates and photos when I'm back in London town!!!

Monday, 28 September 2009

the typical London dinner

I worked late tonight, then rushed to Carnaby Street for quick drink, then rushed to pick up my watch from a friend's apartment that I had left there... finally got on the tube well past 8 pm and was well starving.

Steps to enjoying a typical London dinner at home

i) Drop by your local Tesco

ii) Head straight for the refrigerated aisle.. it'll be the one with all the people in work clothes still, ignore the fresh food section, you're too hungry and not ambitious enough to actually cook tonight

iii) Select your Entree

iv) Go home and carefully take off the wrapping (very important: save the actual packaging so that, if needed, you can consult the instructions on there

v) Heat in microwave to desired temperature (i.e. if it's still lukewarm but you're starving, then go ahead and eat it)


Tomorrow night... definitely will be cooking.

mm... tesco brand chicken korma... yummy

Sunday, 27 September 2009

I see you!!

Ok maybe not... but a few weeks ago I was chatting to my favourite Viking about blogs (he has one too) and he said that he gets people from all of the world who stumble onto his blog.

"How do you know??" I demanded

"You just install a blog thingy that tracks that can tell you when people read your blog and where they're coming from"

(* I'd like to point out that he never said 'blog thingy', that's just what I heard and remember)

So when I got home that day, that's exactly what I did. So now, in moments of pure vanity I get to come home and see that now there have been 130 page views on my blog in the last 2 weeks, AND i can track where visitors are coming from, how long they stay and which pages they visit.

Do you know that someone stumbled onto my blog from Chicago because they were doing a search on the words "I snore"?? Well, I'm sure they were disappointed to find my rambles and venting; I just hope they found what they were looking for.

I can see that my favourite Aunt from Colorado has taken time out of her extremely busy schedule to check it out (Thanks Auntie B!), as well there's quite a lot of activity from back home, so it's nice to see that my friends are keeping track of me.

Anyway, one more week of work and then I'm off to my travels! To be honest, I've been so stressed this week with work and trying to plan my trip AND a massive thanksgiving dinner for everyone when I get back, that this weekend I pretty well spent basking in the sun and not thinking about anything. It was absolutely glorious and just what I needed to gear up for what will undoubtedly be a ridiculous next 2 weeks.

Until then, I hope all of you are enjoying your night/day from wherever you are... whether you're a friend from home checking in, or someone who's trying to find a cure for snoring :)

xoxo snoring girl.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

another sunny day

another sunny day by belle and sebastien is one of my happy songs. I listen to it when it's a bright blue sky day out and I'm walking down the street at ease with the world.

It's a late september saturday in London and it's warm and sunny out. I'm at regents park with Helen and Tobi enjoying the day just as we had for so many weekends this summer. We feasted on the regular spread of parma ham, proscuitto, cheese, baguette and olives.

It's nice being a creature of habit when you're joined by good people and warm weather.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Travel guru I am not...

One of my clients at work, has created a new viral marketing campaign. Basically it's an online game called Travel Pursuits. Choose three different levels of difficulty and test your travel knowledge for a chance at winning some really great prizes (ipod touches, Macbook Air).

Is this a plug for one of my clients at work? Maybe... but seriously, check out the game and test your knowledge... and try.. just try and beat my sadly low score of 15,982

Travel Pursuit

Monday, 21 September 2009

Big News

Ok, maybe not so big because I've pretty well sent a mass email to everyone who reads this blog, BUT I got hired on full time by my company!!

Since I'm essentially replacing a girl who's leaving, and they can't double pay us, I have 2 weeks to kill before starting work there... (they generously offered to let me stay as an unpaid intern for 2 more weeks, but I decided after much thinking to decline that offer)

Plans... I'm off to Amsterdam with a group of friends and friends of friends who I've never met for 3 days... then I'm back in London for a day to rest, do laundry, charge my camera before heading off to ITALY!!!

I'm a little nervous going travelling on my own, but I figure I'll meet people during my travels. Can't wait.

I've decided against buying a guide book. I figure I'll print out some information, and then supplement it with whatever I can find from the city's local tourist office. To be honest, whenever I've travelled I never use the guide book that much and it just ends up being a really heavy thing that I have to lug around all day.

I've also bought a moleskine journal... yes, I know it's cliche, but I want to be able to remember exactly how I felt the first time I walked into an Italian restaurant, sipped my first glass of wine in Italy, tasted my first homemade pasta in Italy, spoke Italian, made friends, met new people...

I'll also try and blog while I'm there, but am not sure what my internet availability will be like.

In other news, I put up some artwork and photos up in my room in efforts to make it more home-like. I figure since I'm here for the long run, it's time to make my room less like a place to just sleep and more of a home. Eventually I'll get to the rest of the apartment...

Friday, 18 September 2009


little confession, I do like Kelly Clarkson.

She may just be another American Idol, Simon Cowell creation, but her songs are good.

this one I'm listening to quite a bit, for anyone who has just fallen out of love, it really just captures what you want to say but can't because you don't have the words for it

Remember all the things we wanted
Now all our memories they're haunted
We were always meant to say goodbye

Even with our fists held high
It never would've worked out right
We were never meant for do or die

I didn't want us to burn out
I didn't come here to hold you, now I can't stop

I want you to know that it doesn't matter
Where we take this road someone's gotta go
And I want you to know you couldn't have loved me better
But I want you to move on so I'm already gone

Looking at you makes it harder
But I know that you'll find another
That doesn't always make you want to cry

Started with a perfect kiss then we could feel the poison set in
Perfect couldn't keep this love alive
You know that I love you so, I love you enough to let you go

I want you to know that it doesn't matter
Where we take this road someone's gotta go
And I want you to know you couldn't have loved me better
But I want you to move on so I'm already gone

I'm already gone, already gone
You can't make it feel right when you know that it's wrong
I'm already gone, already gone
There's no moving on so I'm already gone

Already gone, already gone, already gone
Already gone, already gone, already gone, yeah

Remember all the things we wanted
Now all our memories they're haunted
We were always meant to say goodbye

I want you to know that it doesn't matter
Where we take this road someone's gotta go
And I want you to know you couldn't have loved me better
But I want you to move on so I'm already gone

I'm already gone, already gone
You can't make it feel right when you know that it's wrong
I'm already gone, already gone
There's no moving on so I'm already gone

Wednesday, 16 September 2009


This song somehow ended up on my running playlist. I had never really listened to it before until tonight during my after work run. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs are up there on my list of favourite bands. In fact they're coming to London in a few months to play - but of course the tickets are all sold out.

The song starts simply enough, and then the voice starts, slightly plaintive and melodic. It's slow and melancholy, the lyrics are simple enough, but something about it just fit into my current mood. I could have run to this song for awhile.

Anyway, I'm off to work on my job applications now.

I was feeling sad
Can't help looking back
Highways flew by
Run, run, run away
No sense of time
Want you to stay
Want keep you inside

Run, run, run away
Lost, lost, lost my mind
Want you to stay
Want you to be my prize

Run, run, run away
Lost, lost, lost my mind
Want you to stay
Want you to be my prize

I was feeling sad
Can't help looking back
Highways flew by
Run, run, run away
No sense of time
Want you to stay
Want keep you inside

All along, not so strong without these open arms.
Hold on tight.
All along, not that strong without these open arms.
Lie beside.
All along, not so strong without these open arms.
Ride beside.

Run, run, run away
Lost, lost, lost my mind
Want you to stay
Want you to be my prize

Run, run, run away
Lost, lost, lost my mind
Want you to stay
Want you to be my prize

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

ever the procrastinator...

It's finally come.

In 2 short weeks, my internship at my company will be over and as it stands I have a 60 per cent chance of getting hired on afterwards.

And with that, I have started to pound the pavement in search for something else. I made the decision weeks ago that I was going to do everything I could to stay in London. But that was when I still had a job of sorts.

Now my time here is looking a bit more precarious. Unfortunately, there's nothing I hate more than sending out my resume and writing cover letters... that's why instead of working on one job application that's due on Monday, I"m blogging about how I need to find a job.

Besides, a very dear friend of mine today told me how much she loves my updates and that I should become a professional blogger... if only my dear, if only!

Right then, I'm sure there will be more updates in the next few weeks as I actively avoid applications, job searches and CVS (in short - reality) by blogging.


ps - totally off topic but saw the season premiere of Gossip Girl today! loooove it. Although the whole Serena behaving like a petulant child throwing a temper tantrum to get her estranged father's attention? Not so sure about that one... And when did Lily's mother get cancer all of the sudden? And I'm totally loving the whole Chuck/Blair romance...Chuck still being all sweet and loving, but with a hint of his devious old self - amazing.

Monday, 14 September 2009

chicken noodle soup for the needy soul

I woke up yesterday morning with a terrible cold. The kind that makes you want to stay in bed all day in your pjs, watching old Audrey Hepburn movies and with a box of kleenex close by. (which is exactly what I did)

Unfortunately the medication I took made me sleep all day, which meant I didn't sleep at all last night. Decided this morning when my alarm went off at 6:30 that there was no way I could make it into work. One of the perks of working as an unpaid intern is that it's not a huge deal if you call in sick.

After sending my manager a text, I rolled over and went back to sleep for a few more hours. I woke up much later, with the sunlight streaming into my bedroom and was feeling much better. Yes, I was still a little stuffed up, but I didn't feel like being cooped up my room all day.

Now, yesterday when I went shopping for cold medication, I also bought some other cold fighting essentials... cough drops, OJ, ginger ale... but there was one item I couldn't find. Chicken noodle soup... just inhaling the steam from that soup helps me on my way to being cured.

This morning I decided to make some.

I did a search on the Food Network website, and after discarding a few recipes that instructed me to roast a whole chicken first (who has time for that when they're sick and hungry?) I found this one - the Monday to Friday chicken noodle soup. Just the name said 'hey, this is easy, no frills chicken soup that won't take too much time!'

I never really follow recipes completely, and I like to add some of my own ingredients as I see fit. This one was pretty simple already, so I just added some extra veggies (frozen and fresh) and played around with the amount of water. I found that it was pretty thick and not soupy enough near the end, so I added a bit more water to get more broth.

The only mistake I made was adding salt near the end without tasting first. The broth was a little too salty for my liking, but I figure when I heat up the rest I'll just add more water to dilute it a bit. I have enough left over for lunch tomorrow and dinner another night this week. Hopefully this cold won't last that long.


Sunday, 6 September 2009

live from the viking apartment

Just saw my cousin off at the train station and am now hanging out with my favourite viking, awaiting another sunday family dinner.

posts and photos from the weekend to come in the next few days!

wont write much though... this swedish keyboard is way too difficult to navigate.


Wednesday, 2 September 2009

The most labour intensive salad...ever

I'm lucky enough to have a few wonderful friends scattered around the world, and this past weekend I went to visit two of my favourites who reside in Gernany - Fraulein Caroline and Bman. It was a lovely and relaxing weekend, definitely what I needed after a hectic few weeks in London.

Caroline and Bman love to cook and so every night was a chance to try out new recipes or bring out old favourites. On my second day there, they decided to prepare a traditional Germany dish - schnitzel paired with potato salad. Very typical Germany dish, but with a twist, the potato salad would have an asian flair to it (perhaps in honour of their visiting Chinese friend?)

Anyway, when Bman told me that we would need about 2 hours alone to prep the salad, I thought he was kidding.

He wasn't.

I won't even try and recount all of the steps to this recipe, but it involved peeling a lot of potatoes by hand using fancy German engineered potato peelers, chopping then blanching carrots, de-seeding cucumber then slicing and salting it, de-stemming cilantro and chopping the leaves, and making your own mayonnaise and fancy chili sauce

We started at around 5 and sat down to eat around 7:30. Was it worth it? Definitely. I'm actually not a huge fan of potato salad, but this one I couldn't stop eating. How can I describe this salad? It had a perfect combination of textures, from the crunchy carrots and cucumber, to the still-warm mealy potatoes. The flavour was a mixture of sweet, sour and spicy, with a dash of cilantro to finish. And to top it off, we had veal schnitzel that was perfectly tender thanks to Bman's efforts with a frying pan and a little muscle.

Thanks Fraulein and Bman again for a really wonderful weekend. I can't wait to visit you both (and tru luv) again!

Bman using his manly power and strength to crush the poor veal for our schnitzel

Attempting to use the fancy German engineered potato peeler - they have devices for everything, I should have taken a photo of the egg cutter!

Step #17 Caroline chops the carrots...

Step #52 Adding the bean sprouts

Finally we eat!

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

are you f-ing kidding me?

So I just spent a good half hour composing a deeply thoughtful and well-written blog post only to delete it accidentally!?!?!

Stupid blog... oh well, let's see if I can sum it up in point form

- weather has been amazing
- have got a tan
- weather will be crap soon
- only 3 hours of sunshine!?!!
- going to Germany this weekend
- attempted to row on Sunday at Regent's Park
- apparently rowing skills are up there with my frisbee skills
- ...yah that's all I've got, am going to bed now.

Here's a photo that Melon took of me relaxing on the rowboat, after I had made us go in circles and one of the guys thankfully took over.

good night people

Sunday, 23 August 2009

something strange

I did something strange to my blog, was trying to add it to some sort of blog analytics website (work related) and then all of my posts disappeared!!!

Meh, sorry I haven't posted in weeks, I'll try and update tonight, but right now I"m off to go enjoy the beautiful weather!

xoxo Irene

Sunday, 9 August 2009

A Sunny Weekend in London

Amazing weekend. Friday night was spent with my housemates and some new friends I just met. Saturday I managed to get out of bed and venture to Portobello Market. It was a little like Niagara Falls. You go just because it's a major tourist destination, and when you get there, you're too busy trying to walk through hordes of tourist who inevitably always walk too slow that you forget to admire the surroundings. The only difference is that instead of thundering waterfalls, you're surrounded by antique spoons and old postcards. Honestly, I wasn't a fan and won't be going back.

Afterwards I hopped onto the tube and met up with some friends for a picnic in Regents Park. Like all the other Londoners, I was basking in the sun trying to soak up as much of it while I could.

Today I went to Columbia Rd Flower Market. Like a total idiot, I left my A-Z London Street Map at my flat, so I ended up getting myself and my flatmate Rob completely lost before showing up an hour late to meet my friends. Good news is that we brought home a massive arrangement of lilies!

Tonight my friend Helen had tickets to go see an outdoor screening of "The Soloist" at the Somerset House. Amazing. We went to our friend, Tobi's place for dinner and did our traditional sunday night family dinner (I cooked this time) and then myself, Helen and Tobi headed down to the Somerset for a movie under the stars. The event was put on by a company called First Direct, all proceeds went towards a charity. As someone who's dong a little event planning, I have to say that this one was pretty amazing. The goodie bags were full of treats, and the best part was that everyone was given a blanket to sit on.

I wish I could say that I really enjoyed the film, but Jamie Fox pretending the play the cello was more than a little cringe-worthy. I won't even get into the opening scene of him playing the violin...

Unfortunately I wasn't able to use flash to capture what it was like at the Somerset House, but trust me, it was beyond cool. The perfect end to a perfect weekend.

Monday, 3 August 2009

here comes the sun...

I'm sitting at the sports field of regents park right now, and shockingly the sun is out and the sky is blue. Amazing. I might still have slight goosebumps because of the breeze (ie strong wind) but myself and what seems like half of london are taking advantage of it!

Right, I'm going to go throw my sweater back on.

Hope everyone had an amazing long weekend in canada!

Friday, 31 July 2009

good news!

I came home last night after an Ultimate Frisbee game where I let in only 3 points (a vast improvement), to find that my internet was working again! yay!!!

Funny thing was, I sat down on my couch with my laptop open and had absolutely no idea what to look at. I had no desire to surf the net, stalk ex boyfriends on facebook, watch random youtube videos...

...thank god that didn't last for very long!

Am very much looking forward to the weekend... drinks tonight with a friend, tomorrow I'm off to some farm party, back sunday morning and then dinner at another friend's house. Will also have obligatory skype date with my mom and one catch-up session with Ashley. can't wait!

Thursday, 30 July 2009

temper tantrum

I full out just threw a temper tantrum over the phone with O2, the idiotic internet providers who, after a week, still hasn't managed to re-connect my internet. They've actually just informed me that it will be yet another 2 weeks until my internet is re-connected.

Classic case of how the stupid british system of utilities, phone lines, internet has managed to cause deep frustration and anger.

Thank god I have my blackberry and internet access at work....

Monday, 27 July 2009

No you're eyes aren't deceiving you, it really is a guy playing violin on top of a massive column. I went to Trafalgar Square with my flatmate because one of his friends was performing on the plinth in the square. Mind you, when I had agreed to go, I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about thanks to his thick midlands accent, but assumed that it was some sort of street performance.
Actually I was totally wrong. Think of any kind of performer, random bloke, protester, musician, you get the picture... getting one hour on top of this massive column to do whatever he or she likes. That's the idea behind this project titled 'One and Another' where for 100 days straight, for 24 hours, one person will be on top of this plinth, doing whatever they want.
When I got there, it was the violinist playing something, however he was being drowned out by the saturday afternoon crowd of tourists, screaming children and a random evangelical christian church service going on outdoors...(during a painful rendition of some woman warbling 'amazing grace' I put my headphones back on and turned up my ipod until it ended).
My flatmate's friend was this guy named Elliot who decided to organize the crowd of spectators into a series of "E-lympic" games, such as paper airplane javelin and egg toss. Probably the most memorable was trying to bounce a volleyball around the crowd without letting it touch the ground, although the sight of 50+ strangers doing a slow motion run across Trafalgar Square is a close second...
...really, it was just another day in the London-town.

Friday, 24 July 2009

I've been lazy

Alright people, I'm really sorry for not updating for a really really long time! I wish I could say that I've been out exploring London and working hard, but really I've just been lazy. Plus my internet in my flat isn't working right now (long story, not getting into it because it'll just make me angry for the rest of the day), so right now I'm writing this whilst at work. (and of course multi-tasking with all the other things I have going on... I'm just THAT efficient...)

So, the other day, one of my managers was talking about an event she had attended the evening before where the Mayor of London, Boris something or another had made a speech regarding how great London was, and he said that while our North American counterparts do speak English, it is only in London that proper English can be heard.

Which got me thinking about all of the terms and accents I've heard over the past 5 weeks. I'm not struggling as much to understand my co-workers, although I wish I could say that they've ceased to poke fun at my 'accent'. I've now learned that a 'quid' is essentially a 'buck', and that I am a size 4 in shoes (learned when I tried on a pair of size 7 shoes ). Southwark isn't pronounced south-WARK, but actually South-ARK. Same with Vauxhall being Vox-HALL...and not Vo-all (damn the french in me).

To make things more complicated, I've started to play ultimate frisbee... now those of you who know my athletic skills, you know that I have none. With brothers who spent more time playing dungeons and dragons growing up, I sadly never quite learned how to throw a ball, or more importantly, how to throw a frisbee. So you can imagine my terror when on the pitch, I hear the instructions called out - Ok alex, you're handling, rosie is first cut, you're second cut and Irene you stack.

Although I confidently nod as if I know what he's talking about, my mind is screaming at me "wtf is stack!?!? these stupid brits and their stupid terms and stupid ultimate frisbee, I don't even LIKE frisbee"

The game went downhill from there.

I won't get into how I pathetically struggled along the pitch and let in not one, but two goals... however, because I am such a masochist, I continued to play more games... and such as my knowledge of regular british terminology, my understanding of ultimate has also grown.

I can also kind of, sort of, throw a frisbee now too.

Monday, 29 June 2009

the art of rice

I have a confession... I cannot, despite my best efforts and hours of research, make a proper pot of rice.  I feel that this confession may strain my relationship with my asian elders, however it's sadly true and at this point, I need to reach out to you, dear reader.  

How do you cook rice?  And I mean, in a pot with boiling water, not a rice cooker... 

My mother makes a perfect pot of rice with each and every dinner, it's never burnt, mushy, watery or hard.  And the crazy thing is that she eyeballs the amount of water needed to go in!  No measuring cups, no fancy instruments, just a natural sense of the water to rice ratio. 

The other day, after being frustrated with my watery and mushy rice, I turned to my trusty friend - Google - for answers. 

Other than numerous suggestions to buy a rice cooker, I came across one post that outlined the "Index Finger Rule to Cooking Rice" 

Here's how it works, wash the rice as usual and drain out the murky water without dumping the whole pot of rice into the sink (I've done that before...) 

Next, rest the tip of your index finger on the surface of the rice, and fill up the pot with water until it reaches the first joint of that finger.  

That's it!  I have yet to try out this technique, but it seems relatively simple and idiot-proof.  

Friday, 26 June 2009

keeping up with the brits' version of thursday night drinks...

This thursday, I was staying at work a little later than usual when my team leader asked me if I wanted to join a few of them for after-work drinks.  Not having much else on my social calendar, I agreed and off we went a little while later to a nearby pub.  

In my mind, I was going to have one pint, then head home and cook whatever was on the menu of my weekly food planner.  Yes, I do realize that having a food planner is slightly geeky and neurotic, however, with food being as expensive as it is, I have to plan out my meals and groceries on an excel spreadsheet so that I don't end up buying a bunch of crap and throwing it out when it rots in my fridge.  I'm not at the level of cooking where I can just look in my fridge and pantry and throw together a meal.  Combine that with the fact that my fridge and pantry are in a very sad stage of emptiness... 

But I digress... back to thursday night...5 drinks and a handful of nachos for dinner later, I'm noticeably slurring my words and stumbling a bit to the bathroom.  My colleagues on the other hand seem fresh and completely sober... 

I'm happy to report that I did not puke on my team leader, nor did I reveal anything too embarrassing about myself (to my knowledge)... and it might just be me, but all of the sudden, my co-workers seem friendlier.  Could it be that beer brings people together?  

Next week's food planner will include bringing a large(r) lunch on Thursday, as well as many snacks, as a precaution against another night of debauchery.  One can never be too prepared for these things - wish me luck... 

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Blog Post #1... (for lack of a better title)

My decision last year to leave my banking job and return back to school was made with much trepidation.  While I was unhappy with where my life was heading at HSBC, I was hesitant to leave the security of a full-time job for unemployment and student life.  Making big decisions has always been hard for me.  I'm the type of person who can spend upwards to 20 minutes in the shampoo aisle of Shoppers trying to decide between Dove or Pantene Pro V.  One might be on sale, but the other donates a proceeds of its sale to a self-esteem fund!  

In the end, I made the leap from lowly banker to a Humber PR student.  Fast forward 10 months and here I in London, UK, working at a travel PR company and learning how to cross the streets of London without getting hit by a car driving on the "wrong" side of the road.  

I really have no direction or theme for this blog.  Mostly I plan to write updates on life here, little tidbits/events/happenings that have caught my attention and want to share.  Knowing me though, much of this blog will focus on my love of food.   For example, the food here really is as horrendous as people have warned me.  However if you're willing to part with your cash, sushi in the food hall of Harrods is surprisingly good.  (My advice, skip out on the green'll set you back about $5). 

Welcome to my blog