friends, travel

Camping

I think I have only gone camping twice in my life prior to this summer. Once with my family and family friends which I don’t remember much of as I was a small child, and once when I was a counsellor for Vision Youth a couple years back where all we did was the mandatory hike (for campers as part of their DoE program), eat and chill.

This summer I had the opportunity to go camping twice. A couple of my friends were surprised that someone like me (kind of princessy) would go camping so often in one season since it obviously isn’t the most comfortable or cleanest of living conditions. While I do agree, I suppose I see it more as a social activity and I never really had a problem of spending a couple days living more basically than I normally do (#slummingit). I have no problems with doing outdoor activities, sleeping in a tent or using a communal washroom for a few days. I think what I dislike most about camping would be the bugs and the fact that sleeping on the ground hurts my back after awhile. But these are sort of things you try to suck up, right?

For my first camping trip this summer, I went to Bruce Peninsula ¬†with a group of my friends from the MAC dragon boat team. Although the trip was not the most organized and had a very much “deal with it as it happens” kind of attitude, I really enjoyed it; and I have to say of the 2 trips, I enjoyed this¬†one more. I like travelling and going on trips/vacation where I can do lots of activities, be adventurous and go exploring, which I find fun¬†– and we got to do all of those things :) ¬†While rainy weather did put a damper on some of our activities, we did manage to go on a midnight hike, swim in The Grotto, and check out Tobermory. My favourite and highlighting moment of the trip would have to be the part during our midnight trek where a couple of us left to go explore¬†The Grotto at night. I wish one of us had a Go Pro to document our adventure because it certainly felt like one at night when we had to hike around looking for the correct path, climb up and down the rocks and hop on some rocks just to reach the entrance of the Grotto. Mind you, this is very late at night and all we had was a few flashlights to work with. It was quite exhilarating although potentially dangerous…

Another very memorable moment of the trip was as we started to climb up from the Grotto after our late morning swim and witnessed huge storm clouds rolling into the area. Our reactions were to hurry back up and head back to camp as our site was a good 15-20 minutes away. But we got caught up admiring the sky because it was just unimaginably epic especially at the clifftop. I remember at one point the sky had a huge divide between more clear skies and an enormous rainstorm cloud…the downpour hit us almost immediately after that. We had underestimated how fast and how close the storm clouds really were, and also how heavy the downpour could be. The 20 minute trek back to camp was quite difficult as we were soaked and also wearing only flip flops, so all the little rocks, dirt and mini tree sticks would prick our feet. But we made it back to camp and luckily the only thing that got ruined from the rain was our firewood. Which we eagerly¬†scavenged for tree branches and leftover firewood from other campsites as a temporary solution.

My second camping trip was to Orillia’s (never heard of this place before, ever) Bass Lake Provincial ¬†Park. I enjoyed this trip as well as it really gave a relaxing, “away from it all” feel. ¬†But it was entirely the opposite of the Tobermory trip which was just one weekend before. Thus, the contrasting camp lifestyle was very stark. I went with Matt, his friend Allen, and 2 of Allen’s friends Wing and Ivan. They were much more organized, hygenic (haha) and just more orderly as a whole especially during times of cooking and clean up. I guess because I am sort of more laissez-faire that although I found their orderliness to be right and proper (since tidying up ensures tools and equipment are all clean and deters animals away from the site more), I found it a teensy bit excessive. This might be also because I’m simply a lazy person who likes to procrastinate tidying up until later. The irony of this is, despite putting all our food away properly, a raccoon still managed to make a hole in a tent’s mesh entrance/storage way to steal marshmallows ; while at Bruce Peninsula we fully had food out in the open but never had any animal issues.

Unfortunately as it rained on only full day so we did not get to do as much as we wanted to outdoors – we ended up playing a 2-3 hour Monopoly game, where I got tied for first. I probably would have lost if we were to have one single winner, but the game had lasted for far too long to continue. I am quite proud of this win because for 90% of the game I only owned Boardwalk and Park Place. ¬†Later in the afternoon when the skies cleared, we went canoeing and fishing. What’s great about Bass Lake is that there are boat and fishing rod rentals, and also a beach. However, the park has a very strict noise policy : S so staying up late and hanging out by the bonfire was basically out of the picture.

Before cleaning up and heading back home, Matt and I went into town to check out their Water Festival. They had a cardboard boat race that I really wanted to check out. This is mostly because my favourite Japanese boyband, Arashi, used to a host a show (D/G no Arashi) where a recurring segment would be their attempt to cross Tokyo Bay on boats made of various weird materials including cardboard!! The other ones they tried from what I recall was salt, lego and also a huge ice block.  Because we got lost on the way there, we only saw the aftermath of a few boats :(  We did however, have a memorable interaction with a local who was extremely curious how we found out about, and came to their local event. Orillia is very predominately Caucasian, so I suppose we stuck out very much.

I didn’t have much photos from either trips as I mostly kept my phone safe in the tent in fear of it getting wet and ruined… But I will be going on my first back country portaging trip during Labour Day long weekend where I will attempt to take more photos to properly document. I’m a bit worried about how strenuous that trip will be as I’m not a physically strong person, so my strategy is to pack extremely light. We’ll see how that goes!

 

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friends, life, toronto, travel

Badlandz.

That’s my new single coming this fall.

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This is our album cover.

Long weekends are meant for adventures and unfortunately I couldn’t partake on another YOLO trip for this one. However, I finally had the chance to visit Cheltenham Badlands. I didn’t know we had a place like this in Ontario (and so close by to Toronto too!) until last year when my friend Michelle went and I looked it up. ¬†Ever since then, I have been wanting to go.

As the weather has finally started to warm up, hiking season returns. ¬†I think with age, hiking grows on you :’)

This mini trek consisted of myself, Nancy, James and Derek.  I knew Derek would be perfect for this excursion because he knows so much about everything, especially biology haha. So I would not only get to see the landscape and take awesome photos, I could actually learn and understand what it really is.

Things I’ve learned about badlands:

1) It is due to poor farming practices

2) Soil erosion caused the formation

3) The red colour is from iron oxide

4) The green bits are green iron oxide because it got affected by some ground water (??)

I shamelessly used my selfie stick to take pictures. It surprisingly is quite useful at taking regular non-selfie pictures too! Because it has further reach and makes sure your phone is straight and stable.

 

It would have been much nicer with less people around, but I suppose it was to be expected since it was a holiday. Apparently (says Derek) in a decade or so, the view will change as the erosion continues. Will have to come back again in a couple years (if not earlier) to see how it turns out!

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food, friends, harajuku, japan, odaiba, roppongi, Tokyo, travel

Gonpachi and Hot Springs!!!

For our last full day in Tokyo, we decided to tackle 2 must-do-before-we-leave activities ‚Äď eat at Gonpachi (where they filmed Kill Bill‚Äôs fighting scene) and go to an Onsen!! Nico and Juan (totally our new bffs in Tokyo now) were interested in going to Gonpachi too so we all met there for lunch. ¬†The restaurant is much smaller and less glamorous than it appeared to be in the movie, but nonetheless it was exciting to just BE there. ¬†Gonpachi is a soba restaurant, but I think it’s more of a tourist attraction for Kill Bill.¬†¬†There‚Äôs a bunch of pictures of the owner with various celebrities ‚Äď even Stephen Harper (Prime Minister of Canada) was there. What was funny was someone scribbled fascist on his photo ‚Äď like‚Ķ.what?

After lunch, we said our goodbyes to Nico and Juan with promises to see each other when we go to each others’ respective countries. I’m really glad that we were able to meet them just by sheer chance because without meeting them our trip would have been totally different!

We then headed ourselves to Odaiba again to visit Oedo Onsen¬†Monogatari Hot Springs, a hot spring ‚Äútheme park‚ÄĚ. The hot spring we wanted to go to was too far away and would require a day trip, so we settled for Monogatari which gives you the feel of¬†one and they claim their facility¬†uses natural hot spring water. My favourite part about the hot spring was being able to dress up in a yukata! And also the outdoors hot spring area where you can sit in little individual wooden basins. It would’ve made an awesome picture especially with us sitting in one, with towels on our heads haha – except cameras are not allowed inside for obvious reasons…

At night we walked around the waterfront of Tokyo Bay and got to see the Giant Gundam and Rainbow Bridge lit up too! Totally did not expect to see a mini Statue of Liberty in Japan.

Our last day in Japan was spent briefly touring Harajuku before heading to the airport. ¬†I couldn’t leave Japan without visiting it for the fashion, and also for their famous crepes! ¬†To my surprise,¬†there were many hip-hop style shops in the district too. Many of the shopkeepers looked like they belonged in a rap MV. ¬† One of my favourite souvenirs that I brought back from Japan is my $3.00 clear plastic umbrella which I had purchased in Harajuku as it suddenly rained.I really wanted one prior to going, so I was more than happy to purchase one. It didn’t rain at all during our 2 week trip, the umbrella was meant to be mine. I still have it and use it to this day!

Going to Japan has always been something that I wanted to do as I was always interested in Japanese culture since I was in high school. Definitely an awesome check on my to-do list. I still definitely have to go back for cherry blossom season though !!!

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friends, life, travel

Vermont.

I would like to apologize¬†for telling you all that I went to Vermont for Family Day long weekend….Long story short, I have poor¬†geography and was given wrong information, thus mistaken!! I actually went to Lake Placid, New York ¬†– home of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics.

I always complain about the lack of vacation days causing my inability to travel, so when the opportunity arose to join a snowboarding trip at Lake Placid, I took it. I can’t say it is the most impromptu trip I’ve been on (I think I went to New York City once a couple years ago on a whim too), but its on the list as it was a very #YOLO decision, for lack of better words. I was quite indecisive about going for the whole week prior because¬†I didn’t know a majority¬†of the people going, had paranoia of getting lost in the mountain alone without data, and fear of getting left alone because my snowboarding skills would be sub par comparatively.. Luckily I was able to rope¬†Derek in last minute. And he wouldn’t ditch me :D

I snowboarded once during high school but haven’t gone even skiing since. This year however,¬†I made the decision to buy all of my own gear since I finally found people to go snowboarding often with. Having¬†my own gear really was all the motivation I needed to¬†finally learn the sport – despite all the falling, embarrassment, and bruises, I’m improving! ¬†I failed so much at the lifts at Whiteface Mountain that the staff fully knew who I was and would laugh and joke with me each time they saw me. At the end of the day, I managed to get off the lift successfully !!! It was quite a feat, even the employee at the lift gave me a thumbs up. I think I made his day with my wipe outs coming off the lift – especially the one time where I ran into Derek and he nearly fell on me. You’re welcome.

I have to admit, one of my favourite things about travelling or doing any remotely interesting activity, is the photo opps. I follow a lot of landscape photographers on Instagram haha, so I had to give landscape photography a shot while I had the scenery available.

Lake Placid was beautiful. Mountainous scenery was visible everywhere within town, as it is right by Adirondack Mountains. Unfortunately as we went in one of the coldest¬†days, I don’t have as many photos as I would have liked and none of the town at all.

Other than snowboarding we had plans to do other winter activities since many of them were quite readily available, since Lake Placid was an Olympic town and all. ¬†There was dog sledding, tobogganing, snow tubing, skating, and bob-sledding. ¬†We did none of these things in the end though. But that didn’t make the trip any less enjoyable! It was nice just to get away from town and have a mini vacation for the weekend. It gave me time to slow down, relax, and get that “away from real life”¬†feeling¬†which you can only truly get when you’re out of town.

We spent our non-boarding day walking around Lake Placid main street and its neighbouring town, Saranac Lake which had a Winter Carnival going on. Unfortunately there was barely any festivities happening when we arrived, but they had several interactive sculptures and an ice palace which we acted like tourists around.

More landscape shot attempts..

This trip allowed me to make¬†some awesome new friends, improve on my snowboarding (thanks Derek for being a great teacher!) and travel to a place that I have never been….or knew existed :/. All in all I think it was a memorable weekend, and I’m so glad that I made the choice to go :)

I think this impromptu trip was a great start to the new year!

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desserts, events, food, friends, toronto

Zomato One Month Meet Up

Zomato Toronto launched at the end of October and I had to opportunity to attend one of their meetups in December which was in celebration of their one month launch. Zomato hosts several small group setting meetups for their blogger users to get to know Zomato and their fellow foodies better. I was quite excited to be able to attend since I don’t usually get invited to any, and in the past it was very inconvenient for me to attend anything downtown since I worked in Mississauga (near Oakville far). But I had recently just switched jobs and am in financial district now!

Honestly, I thought this was going to be a larger scale event since I was told it was in celebration of their launch…so I asked to bring a plus one in case it was very awkward / boring. But turned out it was small scale, nobody else brought a plus one, and everyone invited that night was female.. (Oops, sorry Isaac…though honestly you should be thanking me, getting to be surrounded by like 7 girls).

The event was hosted at The Beverley who volunteered their venue up to Zomato. Nothing about the menu was disclosed until we arrived, and I was pretty impressed that we would be getting a full 4 course meal and a mojito (for free too). The Beverly was given free reign on choosing the menu and their final selection was of their best dishes which they want to showcase.

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First course – Lovell Springs Trout with puffed rice, cucumber, fennel, smoked grapes, pickled mustard seed

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Second course – Confit Pheasant Leg with pickled mushroom, strawberry gastrique, green icicle radish

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Third course – Wagyu Blade Steak with beet & truffle tortellini, horseradish potato, red wine jus

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Fourth course – Spiced Apple Cake with dark beer caramel, granola, vanilla ice cream

 

Both the chefs Jonny OC ¬†(his instagram is spot on)¬†and Binh An Nguyen came out to explain the dishes as each one arrived, they also prepared a vegetarian option as well! The staff were very kind and at times turned the lights brighter to assist in the photography, haha.¬†My favourite (and also most people’s) was the Wagyu Blade Steak. It was most interesting out of the 4 since it came with a horseradish potato mash, truffle tortellini and my favourite from watching way too much Master Chef – purple cauliflower.

I’m definitely looking forward to trying out more restaurants now that I am downtown. Since my 2 weeks of working downtown, I have only gone to Blowfish and random joints within the PATH. Let me know if you have suggestions, I don’t follow any food blogs anymore : /


The Beverley Hotel on Urbanspoon

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life

Goodbye, 2014.

This year has honestly sped by so quickly that I am not quite sure if I’ll be able to compile a list of moments that I am proud of accomplishing within the year. ¬†But here goes anyway, in¬†no particular order of things that I am happy about in 2014. Simply just what came to mind.

  1. Passing Year 1 of CMA (half a year to go!)
  2. Got a new job (finally! managed to squeeze it in before the year ended, super clutch)
  3. Joined the gym and have been actively going at least 2-3 times a week….excluding the past holidays…
  4. Managed to read a new book – An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth
  5. Made some awesome new friends and got to know some older friends better
  6. Sorta perfected the Salmon Wellington
  7. Discovered some talent in scrapbooking (still working on finishing it)
  8. Levelled up my eyebrow game (my favourite aesthetic trait…)
  9. Kept in touch with all friends who moved out of town this year at a satisfactory level (still miss you guys lots and wish the time zones worked more favourably)
  10. Got to be apart of the Zomato Canada launch (albeit small it was)
  11. Won several medals with the PaddleBears this year <3
  12. Successfully took public transit and driving downtown all on my own (quite a feat I must say)
  13. On the most part completed a marketing campaign for MSYG and elderly awareness, and had an interview about it broadcasted on TV and radio

Looking at my list I feel like I must have done more since it was a good and enjoyable year…but I don’t want to dwell and rack my brain trying to think of more brag-worthy successes…not that any of the above mentioned are. I suppose a lot of the things that make me happy are not necessarily “big” events but small everyday joys. Sometimes what makes me happy on an everyday basis is simply my friends tagging me on funny and relatable Instagram pictures (ahem Nancy with the sarcastic ecards) or my cat willing to sleep beside me at night : 3

Here are what resolutions I can come up with thus far for the new year.

  1. Continue working out at least 2-3 times a week
  2. Read more – daily
  3. Cook more by trying out new recipes – monthly
  4. Assist with household chores more ._.
  5. Blog at least once a month and in a more timely manner
  6. Be grateful
  7. Not really a resolution but more of a goals that I want to pursue – study/review Japanese, attempt drawing/painting/art, and attempting to do OOTD’s towards having some sort of fashion related blog/social media

I personally don’t really like following guidelines and budgets sort of things because I want to be able to do what I want; as long as it is within reason – and I would be anyway. So my resolutions are more of just reminders to myself. But with the new year there is a feeling of a new start and I think that gives some motivation to work harder towards any¬†personal goals!

I read somewhere that it only takes about 60 (or 70) days to form a habit, so we just need to keep it up for about 2-3 months and the new year resolutions should be a go! As long as they were set realistically and measurable : ) SMART goals people, haha.

Have a happy new year everyone!

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desserts, events, fashion, food, friends, life, toronto

My Bougie Birthday Brunch Buffet

Adrienne brought me out to Colette Grand Cafe for a brunch buffet in celebration for my 24th birthday.  Colette is a french cuisine restaurant and bakery which just started offering brunch on Sundays as of September 2014.  The pictures of the interior as well as the food on their website got me sold even though the brunch does come at a hefty price of $50 per adult. And it really is quite beautiful in person too!

There isn’t a tremendous variety of food, but everything offered was definitely a must have unlike regular buffets where I skip many of the dishes.¬† There is a grand seafood section, a charcuterie and cheese section, hot foods section, and of course fruits and dessert section.¬† We had 3 rounds of food in order to sample everything. My personal favourites were the smoked salmon, charcuterie/cheese, cheesecake and apple rice pudding. I think the desserts do change depending when you go however because some of the cakes had changed¬†during our meal.

I really enjoyed brunch there, the location and ambiance was lovely, and it is worth the indulgence once in a while : )

 

Bonus pictures of majorly beautified selfies of us. #photowondermagic
Thanks Adrienne : ‘) ¬†you know the way into my fat bougie heart.

 

Colette Grand Cafe on Urbanspoon

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