Monday, November 18, 2013
On a whim, I picked this up from the sales bin at an Indigo a few weeks ago. I wanted a light reading before I dive into my classics over winter. Was it bad? Not really. The concept is decent enough. 9 every day women share their pantry and cooking story with a Cordon Blue trained chef. They all have their own reasons for not cooking more often and stuffing their kitchen with overly processed food. The chef then offers them cooking classes to teach them the basics and gain confidence in the kitchen.
Was it good? No. Despite the elements of what should have made for an enjoyable read, it was so overly optimistic and written poorly with departures to talk about how great and wonderful the author's life is, with spontaneous trips to Europe. Apparently everything the author/chef introduced to the participants was great and it worked out fine. Cooking actually is in fact easy. I mean, c'mon!
Don't bother reading this book, even if it is free. If you want a real cookbook turned memoir, read Cathy Erway's The Art of Eating In. Erway does what Flinn didn't do. She broke down the reasons why we should be eating in and how to teach yourself to cook. She isn't perfect and makes plenty of mistakes along the way. Better yet, she's realistic with her budget and breaks it down to the penny about how much is spent on her meals. I can relate to Erway and this book made a difference in my life and my kitchen. Kathleen Flinn's The Kitchen Counter Cooking School was a waste of time.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Warning: personal rant ahead.
As I stared down at the scale, I was shocked to see the largest number of my life. Sure, I've been busy at work the past few months, but have I really put on that much weight? My BMI is still in the normal range, and I still fit comfortably into a size small, but that doesn't really count. I'm Asian.
North American girls think they have it bad? Try being Asian, where anything above a size 4 is large. If you follow entertainment news from Hong Kong, China, Korea or Japan, it's commonplace to see actresses and singers make the front page for putting on a few pounds. Strange thing is? Those "fat" actresses/singers are considered average in Hollywood.
Yes, American actresses and singers are still expected to be skinny. However, no one is pulling contracts away from them if they do put on weight. Christine Kuo (pictured above) is on probation at the moment with all of her projects on hold until she loses weight. Why is the Asian perspective of beauty still so far behind?
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
What is the purpose of stuff? If I find the right stuff and give it to person A, will that somehow change the dynamics of our relationship? It may for the moment, but unlikely to affect the future a week, a year, a decade from now.
Even for the stuff we deem important, like an engagement ring. Is it stuff we are giving, or is it a promise to cherish the person and the relationship? The meaning behind the stuff we give far outweighs the actual thing. And if you're hoping the item will speak for you, then you're not going to get the message across.
I don't need stuff and I probably don't need stuff from you. I would like to spend time with friends over coffee or dining out at some new restaurant. THAT is what I want.
Thursday, October 31, 2013
Don Don Izakaya (130 Dundas St W Toronto, ON M7A 2C7)
You're likely to miss this unless you look up. It's a slightly-expensive restaurant located above some pretty obscure stores on Dundas. An Izakaya is how I would describe Japanese tapas. Dishes are small and full of flavour. My favourite item on the menu includes the pork belly buns which came to $7 for 2. It's a relaxed place where you could enjoy what's on the plate and people watch at the same time.
Java House (537 Queen St. W Toronto, ON)
Way down the part of Queen St. W known as the garment district, there's a dive-looking place that serves cheap drinks in a grown up college bar setting. It's a jeans and t-shirt kinda place, and I simply adored it. Small booths, dim lights and no annoying indie band playing crappy bass. You can kick back and just talk for hours without the wait staff giving you the evil glare.
Ai Wei Wei
The AGO always puts up a great show for the fall. This year, it's controversial artist Ai Wei Wei. I went in with low expectations since there was just so much hype surrounding him. I left very impressed with the small collection. It was beautiful, though-provoking and deeply touching. Those are all cliche adjectives, aren't they? It's hard to stand in front of a wall of names, birth dates and grades of children who died in the Sichuan earthquake due to poorly built government schools. How can you not feel something?
If I have any criticism to share, is that I wished the AGO had more space to properly display his works. They are so beautiful, they need that much more space. This is definitely one my favourite shows in recent memory.
***I only ever seem to visit Toronto for weddings and birthday parties now. It was lovely to go back to the city, just to experience the city itself. It only goes to show how even cities you've frequented enough in the past is never static and that there is always something to offer if you just make the effort to explore.
Monday, October 28, 2013
I've been busy trying to keep myself occupied. See, if I'm distracted, I'll likely be saving money. Why is shopping a pastime for most people? I'm trying to collect travels the way some girls collect shoes and makeup.
Presently, I've paid off my trip to Ecuador for 2014, which means I can now start saving for the next big trip. A portion goes to the essentials (mortgage, bills...etc), another goes to my future (RRSP, TFSA), the remainder is my "fun money". This means something fun now (a concert, fancy resturant) or something fun for later (travel).
Since I'm currently focused on the fun for later, that means the rest of my life is rather dull for the time being. There's a lot of side projects that I have on my plate right now, just so I could keep temptation at bay. With so much work, it justifies that vacation later on. This is my self fulfilling prophecy. Heck, it's your hard earned dollar, you could do what you want with it.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
The hardest step to pretty much anything is probably starting. I've signed up for this before and quickly abandoned it after a week or so since I was always busy with something. This year, I may actually be able to accomplish it since my schedule is pretty much empty. I'm not expecting anything out of this aside from the knowledge that I could actually write 50,000 words. Well, hopefully, that is....
Thankfully whatever is written is kept private!
Sunday, October 20, 2013
My job demands that I interact with people from a variety of backgrounds and circumstances. I adore it and am thankful every day when I walk into the office. I'm also an introvert. I get anxious and bitchy when I haven't had my piece of 'alone time' for a while.
When I was teaching and sharing an open office, my alone-time meant reading the newspaper with my lunch. At my current job, I go on walks and luckily for me, there is a beautiful park nearby (see above). I spent this weekend alone as I was dog/house sitting for my brother. This is how I find my source of energy and inspiration.
I am my own best friend in the sense that I know that I need this or else things would just get too stressful. Carving out a bit of the day for some peace and quiet is the best thing I can do to ensure that I could be my best for others. What's the point of charging full steam ahead for other people when you're full on empty on the inside?
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Books are my drug of choice. I'm not picky about where I get it. I would prefer the small independent book stores, but when I want a quick fix, any large retail chain will do. When I need it bad and money is tight, I'll do the Internet thing. Hell, for old time sakes, I'll frequent the libraries to remember what it was like when I first started.
Autumn is a particularly bad time for me, I tend to indulge and gorge myself on two maybe even three books at once. I'm currently on a three-book binge and it's delicious.
On days when I feel analytical, I have John Ralston Saul's On Equilibrium.
For those info-tainment days, I have Michael Erard's Babel No More: The Search for the World's Most Extraordinary Language Learners.
For the times when I want to surrender myself entirely to the story, Soseki Natsume's I am a Cat.
My day job changes its rhythm constantly. I blame this on the reason why I can't keep myself focused on one book right now. Instead of trying to read one book and losing interest in it, I read ,what I can, when I can. Still, I try to pick up each one at least once during the week. They are great books.
I don't force myself to read something I don't like. Life is too short for that. When I come across a good book, I'll know by page 50. I may not be able to devote myself entirely to it thanks to the craziness of life, but I won't rush through it either. There is no guilt in taking my time to appreciate the story for what it is.
Thursday, October 3, 2013
Autumn is the perfect time to slow down, even for a workaholic like me. With the season changing before our eyes, is it not natural to feel the urge to be doing something before winter sets? Like squirrels, shouldn't we be hiding a little something for the colder months ahead?
I've stocked up on books and a variety of hot chocolates. What more could a nerdy girl ask for? I plan on using this time to rest and just live in the now. As much as I would love to dive head first into as many projects as I could say yes to, there is a voice telling me to just wait a bit longer. There is so much to be thankful for for year and I want to fully appreciate how the universe unfolded.
Of course, the things I have planned for 2014 will be insane. :)
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
I stopped halfway through when I read:
I’m not interested in teaching books by women.
Huh? Did I just read what I thought I read? The article continues with Gilmour's reasoning,
when I was given this job I said I would only teach the people that I truly, truly love. Unfortunately, none of those happen to be Chinese, or women.
So, what exactly is he teaching?
What I teach is guys. Serious heterosexual guys.
That makes sense. As a privileged Anglo-Saxon male growing up in the 50s, he must have normalized these racist, sexist and homophoic beliefs. Ok, maybe that's a bit of a stretch. He's talking about books, and what he teaches. This isn't to say that he is a racist, sexist or homophobic. He just happens to like what he likes when he's reading. What anyone chooses to have on their bookshelves is their own business.
The problem that I struggle to understand is that he's a professor. He is responsible for what is taught and learned by students. Now the bookshelf matters. If it were "white male writers 101" class, his would be perfect. However, he teaches modern short fiction. He is instilling his personal beliefs in what is great literature and robbing his students their right to a balanced and varied curriculum.
If you were to sign up for a French cooking class and all that was taught in class were desserts, how would you react? If you're young and naive, like some first year students, would you fall into the trap in believing that all French cuisine consists of buttery cookies and rich cakes? If you're aware that something is amiss, you may raise it with the instructor. Only here in this case, David Gilmour informs the student that he isn't changing his books and that the women writers are down the hall.
I can't speak to whether or not he is a writer I enjoy reading because I haven't read a single word he had written. I can say that an educator who admits to being a bigot in curriculum creation and willingly deny their students a well rounded education is an enemy. He has no place in education. He has no place on my bookshelf.