The holidays are just around the corner, which can only mean:
It is, essentially, a time of giving and acquiring - a win-win situation for both charitable organizations and retail.
Weekend grocery trips usually involve adhering to the perimeter. Weekend grocery trips usually involve adhering to the perimeter. But, woe is me, for the heart is weak in the face of cute characters, especially Brown.
With snow mounds having rapidly dissolved over the past two weeks, I was able to break out a new - or rather, old-but-never-before-worn - pair of colourful kicks for a casual day out. These have since replaced my ever-tattered, royal purple pair while reinforcing my loyalty towards New Balance.
Morning rituals of McD's brewed coffee and oatmeal were supplemented with half portions of Chiamigos. A regrettable purchase from the Seasons Christmas Show, the organic, vegan, and gluten-free instant mix packets were sugary and ultimately unfulfilling. Contrary to their declared fibre potential, the formula displayed incompetence in lubricating the GI tract. Back to my Porridge Oats & Ancient Grains I go!
I'm on an unspoken mission to partake in as many holiday markets as possible this year - the free ones only, of course.
stackt provided a relatively dismal experience when I visited earlier in the year. Besides offering clean bathrooms and an outlet for suburban independents to reach a larger customer base, the shipping container market was an all-around average ordeal. In spite of this, its coordinates are fairly close to the downtown core, and also conveniently along the way to west elm.
Limited-time additions to the outdoor space included a "Crokicurl" rink, an open kitchen/dining area, plentiful string lights, and a handful of pop-up shops.
I'm no hater of early holiday promotions. Frankly, I set it as a form of taking initiative, as well as a subtle reminder to commence preparations. (The only exception is back-to-school season, when backpacks and stationery kits are inappropriately introduced in mid-July.)
Recall my fondness for themed events, but disapproval of admission fees - for it pains to pay for entry, then pay again for retail purchases. The Seasons Christmas Show at the International Centre was a standalone case, where special circumstances had enabled hassle-free access to the GTA's best cookies. (Yes, I said it.)
The three-day event was, more or less, a festive marketplace filled with gaudy Christmas gear, unnecessary kitchen tools, and customizable stocking stuffer options. Some vendors were swell at promoting their table items, though a handful were less than apt at convincing consumers of their products' superiority.
Its main demographic was female, ranging between the ages of forty and seventy, I reckon. Beyond this group were young families, which explained the random bursts of winter boot-clad children in our peripheral.
We paraded through the aisles without much aim, then again along the perimeter and even the depths of the space, the designated sections for workshops and lectures.
Admittedly, a few items did catch my eye. Ahgase-themed earrings were spotted; while adorable, its composition was ostensibly poor.
And just like that, the snow has come and gone. Overcast skies persist, however seasonal climate has seemingly returned.
Weekend activities involved the regular grocery runs, cold brew preparations, and zealous recipe testing for a coincidentally gluten-free prototype. The results were a tad damper than desired, but overall better than expected, given that the scale's battery had been zapped mid-weighing.
P.S. These Colorado beans were saved for a later point in the future, substituted by a full-bodied medium-dark roast for the time being.
A second round at innisfree earned me a three-piece Holiday Hand Cream set, a much-needed blusher, and some nonessentials that inexplicably made their way into my basket.
The visit confirms that, while the store is smaller in comparison to the Yorkdale flagship, product range was not compromised. Friendliness of the floor staff remained consistent, though the manager on duty was a positively disagreeable character - and a shameless one at that.
After a grueling four-month wait, one of two Kinka Group eateries has unveiled its interior to the avid diners of the waterfront food scene. While Kinton isn't slated to open until December ("The wallpaper is being put up."), the neighbouring Kinka Izakaya has supposedly been serving dinner for the past two weeks, and, more recently, lunch.
It brings me much sadness that the establishment can only be accessed at street level, and even further disgust that greasy fumes manage to permeate hair follicles and cotton apparel despite the two-door barrier. Such griefs are owed to an open kitchen, as well as peak lunch hour in full swing.
You Calling My Name is a revolutionary concept for ahgases, especially those that have stood their ground since the beginning. Unprecedented in sound as well as style, the approach shifts from enigmatic synth sounds paired with powerful vocals to soft, seductive utterances and "sorrowful" verses.
Clad in fitted leather suits - with some strategically positioned slits - the MV depicts a desire for one's name to be called, along with regret for having caused feelings of pain to a past lover. The foundation of the song stemmed from fanchants, an impactful element of live performances and, especially, concerts.
In the 90-minute-long showcase, the boys discussed the back stories behind B-side tracks, choreography trivia, and the members' individual efforts to sharpen themselves in preparation for the comeback. Leading up to the comeback, the already lanky maknae lost 3-4 kilograms, while our sunshiney otter summoned absolute willpower to drop 8 kilograms (the equivalent of 17-18 pounds!!), even exercising after hours amidst a global world tour. His efforts did not go unnoticed, for the 96-liner is rapidly rising on my list. Crash & Burn showcases his charisma and extensive vocal range, which is only further enhanced by smoky makeup and coloured lenses.
As for the title track, 니가 부르는 나의 이름 (You Calling My Name), there is not a single member engaged in the K-Pop scene who can deny the dynamic of my husbae. His newfound confidence enabled stylists to dress him in mesh and see-through apparel, moreover dismissing the all-too-frequent undershirt layers spotted in previous comebacks. My sanity, as well as the the minds of countless others, were thoroughly degenerated with the mere sight of him. New ahgases shall never comprehend the lengthy journey that was exposure beyond the neck and forearms.
The physical album was - and still is - beautiful, of course. Photobook contents did not adhere to the customary age-based sequence, therefore resulting in anxious flips of the page; units graced different sections of the booklet, while (closeup) solo shots followed suit.
There is nothing quite like the allure of free events. I'm a firm believer that organizers need beware of this fact: Admission fees are deterring.
ProFusion entails not a single cent for entry, yet entices, enchants, and bestows knowledge upon all attendees, of all ages, professions, and budgets.
Having been an attendee since the photo and video expo's first year of realization, I can profess that major improvements have been made with each passing year.
From only a handful of vendors occupying the basement level of the Sheraton Hotel to a jam-packed space of presentations, product demos, and up-and-coming media equipment brands in MTCC, the event has evolved into a 2-day course of knowledge acquisition, attracting not only local photographers but those south of the border as well. Last year's exhibit saw an influx of 360-degree technology, while this year's focus shifted towards drones and other remote-controlled devices for cinematography.
Those that attend are primarily photographers or videographers by trade, the turnout also comprises of younger faces - students and/or aspiring filmmakers. I remain an enthusiast, for drawing upon a hobby as a source of income seems to evict all enjoyment for me. Equipment testing is my main goal of the event; being able to discover, then depart with a sense of enrichment is always something to look forward to.
The second day of ProFusion happened to coincide with the Toronto Christmas Market's first day of operation - and, as it turned out, the same day as the Eaton Centre's tree lighting ceremony (which orangecane and I sweatily attended last year).
For the first time ever arose the desire to tune in for the Distillery District's edition.
Weather played its part and ensured that the trip there (and back) were free from ice, snow squalls, and plummeting temperatures. Winter is unpredictable, so mild mercury levels are never to go unappreciated.
We entered by the Mill/Parliament access, passing Palgong, and finding ourselves (or myself, at least) roped into a low-budget engagement session for CIBC customers. With the flash of a credit card, participants were provided a plastic token to toss into a waterless wishing well; prizes that resulted from the toss included monogrammed mittens and toques or $5-off vouchers for Tornado Potato's spiralized potatoes. The latter was attained but ultimately went unclaimed, for the very reason that I'm unfond of cold, sodium-laden carbs.
Vendor stalls had been rearranged since the previous years, with food and retail interspersed along the various cobblestone corridors instead of being based on category. The revised setup stimulated simulatenous acts of shopping and eating, instead of engaging in one activity before moving onto the other, customarily becoming distracted along the way.
View the full album HERE !
I've been debating reverting to numbered recaps for simplicity's sake.
That said, I won't deny that, now that winter has officially arrived, hibernation tendencies are in full effect. (This can also be interpreted as the sheer desire to snuggle beneath fuzzy covers, embracing its coziness in lieu executing acts of productivity.)
One of my biggest gripes from last winter was the blatant absence of blue skies. Dreary greyness, blurred lines of day and night, and slick, desaturated streets - these were uncommon sights to central and east Canada. I pray that the same fate does not fall upon on us this time around.
Following the announcement of oncoming slush, I embarked on a frigid walk along the waterfront.
Peculiar it was that, while the trees remained in full fall swing, the air spoke in a frost-laced tone. Mother Nature is clearly conflicted.
I also happened to catch IMPULSE's on its final week of operation. Sans illumination and sans seesaw partner, it was quite mundane of an experience.
The holiday season welcomes more than just precipitation, however. Chasing the sugar rush that was Halloween are the vast assortment of indulgent treats resulting from countless end-of-year gatherings.
Hershey's was quick to hop on the holiday bandwagon, introducing a bakery/café pop-up inside Scotia Plaza.
Along with timeless Kisses and decadent brownies in the display case, the limited-timed installation featured "mixed-to-order" cookies.
The concept was simple: Customers chose their pick of cookie dough (Original or Peanut Butter), and then picked three toppings from the bar. Employees operated in a four-member assembly line, each adopting roles such as the Form Filler, Topping Scooper, Mixer and Moulder, and Baker. Cookie dough scoops were placed onto parchment paper for shaping, then baked for about three minutes - just until the chocolate began to become gooey.
"Winter is coming." booms a sinister voice in my head.
The season most dreaded by Canadians is nearly upon us, its inevitable appearance foreshadowed by Mother Nature warnings of frost and powerful gusts.
But alas, I shall continue to bask beneath the rays of sunshine until the fateful day dawns upon us
Early in the week, I was summoned to the east side of the province - even further than the city's east limit of Scarborough. Being a commuter through and through, I chose the GO Train (and the utterly dismal municipal bus) over the estimated two-hour drive. I predicted some nap time, or at least a breather from nervewracking wayfinding procedures induced from unfamiliar surroundings.
With a starting point of Union Station, the entire journey approximated two and a half hours, including transfer time.
Once business had finished, I patiently retraced my route. This time, my endpoint would be Mississauga.
I don't know how the residents of Whitby survive with a GO-connecting DRT route operating every thirty minutes during weekday peak hours. Suburbs aren't renown for public transit, however I can't say Mississauga nor Markham fall within such a dire category.
Moreover, there was but only one option to kill time in the presence of Wi-Fi: our nation's (supposedly) favourite coffee shop. A severe lack of McDonald's in the walkable vicinity meant securing a Four Cheese Bagel from Tim's. Albeit warm (and delivered to me with an even warmer smile), its dryness was unmistakable. The absence of butter had further emphasized the bagel's denseness. In contrast, muted were the normally fragrant qualities of cheese.
I demolished the snack fairly quickly, which made the wait for the bus seem even lengthier in comparison.
Eventually, it pulled up outside the municipal building, then rushed its only five riders in the direction of Whitby GO.
I pry my eyes open to the chilly sombre mornings.
The world is dark, and the air laced with frost.
An extended arm reaches for the alarm, which vibrates and rings.
The blanket is removed, and all ease is lost.
Lurking around the corner is none other than your internal clock's worst nightmare: Daylight Savings.
The shift in seasons prompt changes in our daily habits:
We may also end up munching a bit more, then resort to hibernating within the comfort of our homes, baking up sweet treats to combat the frigidity of the external mercury levels.
A few tidbits of the week are as follows: a box of goodies from The Danish Pastry House (that went unsampled by yours truly), Banana Bread Beer (that went unpurchased), new Fresh Foam Craig Trails to combat grade differences in the concrete jungle, and a preview of Bluestone Lane's Yonge/Queen location.
More Matcha Cookies were attempted (and butchered with an accidental dumping of baking soda), and patriotic cans of Royal City were acquired in anticipation of the eminent Canadian moment.
A Bacon, Egg & Cheese McGriddle and Brewed Coffee pairing facilitated the morning routine. The McD's App enabled the meal for under five dollars - a wonderful combination of sweet maple griddle cakes and savoury, headache-banishing fillings, accented with a jolt of caffeine.
Positively necessary was the purchase of this duo, for what ensued was a visit to City Hall, an urban landmark towards which I embody feelings of resentment and grief.
A short breather allowed a visit the McDonald's flagship at Yonge and Elm, and prior to that a stopover at CoCo. Who would've thought that this mere trek would have resulted in a wad of saliva being hurdled in my direction, tainting not only my jacket but my beloved new tote as well. And yet, there are those that wonder why the intersection of Yonge and Dundas makes headlines for its detrimental acts to society.
Growing up, Little Bear played a prominent part in my childhood. The same can be said for Pokémon, as well as all its forms of N64 releases, and I hope I'm not dating myself here.
Phineas & Ferb filled the mornings of my pre-university prep days, and then select anime series in my convention-attending days. My final days on campus marked the gradual complete transition to K-Dramas.
So I guess this is a really long way of saying:
I didn't grow up with Dr. Seuss.
Dr. Seuss hardcovers were always one of those books at the children's section of the doctor's clinics that I never dared to touch due to hygiene reasons, just like those wooden bead contraptions (that have now become obsolete in the age of iPad-wielding toddlers). To the best of my memory, the books smelled like dust and stale cheese.
Having said that, I was nonetheless ecstatic at the announcement of a Dr. Seuss Experience exhibit. This was especially the case when I inspected further: its presentation grounds of Square One was far closer than the AGO.
Me being me, I signed up for one of the first spots the first day of the exhibit's public unveiling. Contrary to my assumption
of the exhibit being held in the holiday market spot next to UNIQLO, it had, in fact, taken over the old Sportchek location on Rathburn, outside the shopping centre. This discovery emerged amidst casual discussion with a coworker - one that I cannot appreciate enough, for I probably wouldn't have double-checked.
The parking lot was largely vacant at our time of arrival. With windows decorated with the range of Dr. Seuss characters though, we knew we had arrived at the correct location.
Beyond the doors was the exhibit entrance, in addition to a gift shop and simplistic photo-pretty backdrop. A stroller parking area by the staff-monitored access was an early indicator of the event's popularity amongst families with young children.
The precise meaning of a "friend" differs from person to person. For some, it describes an entity whom with one has spent the longest portion of his or her life, while others may depict it as someone who shares roughly the same geographic coordinates, thus permitting frequent meet-ups.
My lack of local friends has never failed to raise eyebrows. Yet, I am one to believe that friendship oughtn't to possess physical boundaries. The start of a friendship lies not with residential proximity, but rather a shared connection - a fated encounter that interests both and discourages neither. Sometimes, it is a shared fondness for exploring potentially overrated eateries in the city.
In many cases, it is the unyielding affection for our support system: a K-Pop group that deserves nothing but our adoration and admiration.
Fast forward about three months, it felt as if it was just yesterday that my Thai ahgase and I were dancing along to the encore tracks at the Keep Spinning World Tour in Toronto. She had left for the motherland not long after, while I had slowly grown accustomed to my new schedule.
The seasons had changed when we were reunited, though the fire within remained as passionate as the concert day.
We took to our regular Koreatown excursion, for the Bloor-and-Christie strip offers convenience as well as variety. Swinging by Hair Bank for a quote led us to feast our eyes on the wooden exterior that would soon be Daldongnae. It stirred up the meat-lover within one of us (Hint: it wasn't me).
Eighty minutes of coin karaoke equated to fifteen dollars, each song demanding a seventy-five cent fee. Though the booth was warmer than we would have liked, the experience was nonetheless enjoyable.
Continuing on with the fun, we strode about the area in evaluation of our dinner options. Burning Friday, a recent addition to the lineup, had piqued our interest initially. Perusing the menu after our dehydrating singing sesh though, it suddenly didn't seem as attractive anymore.
Thus, we retraced our steps, hopping onto the front steps of The Korean Kitchen.
More pub than restaurant, the establishment was home to an impressive count of alcoholic arrays, not exempt of cocktails either. Homestyle cooking in the form of jjajangmyeon and mandu-gook were absent; in their stead were bar snacks: chicken wings, bulgogi fries, and the shop's signature jokbal. Three varieties of pigs' feet (or pork hock) were available: Original, Garlic, and Spicy. A Half & Half option pairing the latter two flavours was an apparent popular choice.
At our time of entry, the restaurant housed only one other table. Staff members were still in the midst of opening preparations, evident by the hazardous puddle of water by the bathrooms that had been left unattended. The female member of staff came around to take our orders early on in the evening, speaking English in a more eloquent tone than expected. Her goth-like appearance caught me slightly off guard at first: the bold red lips against ashy white skin, the Emily the Strange haircut with blunt bangs, and the menacing nose ring contributed to an aura of mystery. Clad in a grey sweatshirt and jeans, the male member of the serving staff sported a decidedly average appearance in comparison. His skills at articulating the English language also revealed themselves at a surprisingly consistent level.
Our table order comprised of Fish Ball Soup, a Seafood Pancake, and a Half & Half Pork Hock with sauces on the side. Makgeolli and Sprite were also requested, and along with them came a bucket of high-sodium popcorn and edible twigs (fried noodles perhaps?) coated with cinnamon sugar.
The Fish Ball Soup was not mild, as one would expect. A sip of the broth warned of ghastly peppers and, soon enough, jalapeno slices began to make their appearance. The fish balls were standard fare - as standard as frozen fish balls could be. Flat fish cakes à la aburaage jackets, chunks of agar jelly, and scallop-like ddeokbokki segments filled the remainder of the bowl.
One bowl in and the concoction was deemed too fiery for comfortable consumption.
Who Am I?
I'm the one that talks fashion and K-Pop randoms behind Quirky Aesthetics, the one who contributes honest opinions about commercial beauty items on Review Junkie, the one that obsessively shares photos of food on Pinterest, the one that loves her DSLR more than her own being and the one that wants to work in the transportation sector for a living.