A gift to myself, for the skirt of our tree is relatively barren this year.
"So a placeholder!"
On the eve of Christmas, the world welcomed a dusting of frosty precipitation. Flurries commenced in the late evening hours, continuing throughout the night, such that the next morning we would awake to a weighty cloak of white on our porch, driveway, and backyard perimeter-lining pine trees.
There are only green Christmases in memories of recent years, although perusing the archives revealed discrepancies. Regardless, the just-freezing temperatures were quite welcome, for the tone of the holiday had been established.
In fact, the comparatively mild conditions even prompted the purchase of an Irish Cream Cold Brew. Advertised countless times by the Thai ahgase, the beverage was indeed as delicious as she had vouched for. It was creamier than expected, with a dash of nutmeg and hints of Irish Cream (in the absence of alcohol). Personal preference still lies with regular cold brew though, given the inhomogeneous properties of flavoured cream cap.
Appeasing the last-minute scramble of grocery runs and pre-Christmas cooking was the timely arrival of my fangirl package. A kind soul from Korea had shipped it two weeks prior, and the delivery date happened to coincide with the season of gifting.
A gift to myself, for the skirt of our tree is relatively barren this year.
My status as a devoted MyDay was declared as of 2018's "Youth" tour. Further confirmed was my position as a Wonpil stan, and now I have a Pil to my name to prove it!
(The teensy feet are the best.)
I had also teetered on the decision for (yet) another lightstick. Adopted as symbols of commitment, I ultimately proceeded with the Robong order.
"It's a promise to myself that, one day, I will see them live in concert." I had stated.
"So a placeholder!"
The last month of the fiscal year had previously meant nothing more than frigid fingers and the end of another school semester for my studying acquaintances. Holiday hangouts were customary though not events typically associated with the arrival of winter. Upon boarding the bus of full-time employment, December equated to an entirely different experience - one characterized by endless evenings of physical and mental exertion.
These happenings also have a tendency to creep into one's subconscious state, where its side effects conclude a psychologically taxing state. (Have you ever dreamed of being chased down via emails?)
In the face of COVID-19 though, there are few things deemed more critical than stable income and general health and wellbeing. Working from home may not offer the most ideal circumstances, yet it allows for the isolation of issues that probably weren't granted much attention in the past. Moreover, it encouraged the development of new skills, a silver lining in the midst of widespread pandemonium.
Creations of the week included:
1) Green Tea Scones
Continuing the pursuit of the perfect scone, I progressed onto a green tea variation sourced from the ever-dependable Sunday Baking.
Egg was swapped for additional heavy cream and Mediterranean yogurt (10%) as to keep them moist and adhere to the egg-less formula of traditional tea scones. The dough was fairly easy to construct and binded together without excess dampness. I didn't re-roll the dough, but instead separated the disc into triangular segments as illustrated in the original recipe. Just as advertised, the sections exuded rich green tea flavour and was ideal paired with sticky matcha-white chocolate drizzle. Utilizing an egg wash of only whites helped to preserve the luscious colour - a 끌팁indeed!
Albeit misaligned after baking, the pieces bore only a single crack around its midsection, as scones ought to.
The scones were delicious, and best enjoyed a milk-enhanced espresso beverage. All hail the timely arrival of my Black Friday Balzac's package!
2) Homemade Rice Krispie Squares Two Ways
As like many North American children, tri-colour Rice Krispie squares were an essential element of every end-of-year school potluck. I wasn't able to locate the holiday edition of the puffed rice cereal, but instead made use of the Brown Rice variation for this nostalgic Christmas treat.
The first snowfall of the season arrived earlier than past years, wherein parched, cracking skin and green Christmases were inevitable.
It was but a fleeting scene of all white though, for the rapid surge in temperatures eradicated the snowy masses over the course of three days. I remained within my humble abode in the meantime, primarily due to workload, but also due to my reluctance to summon winter boots at this early stage.
Seemingly an eternity of a homebody state, I proceeded with consumption of leftovers, Highballer Pumpkin Ale - totally not a treat, mind you - purposing the remainder of my couvertures into a silky chocolate mousse.
In hindsight, I should have adopted a more conservative approach to the 2.5 kg bag, as the objective of inventory replenishment largely went unaccomplished on Black Friday. Prices were far from reasonable, and when they were, they were sold out.
Quite honestly, I had dreaded nothing more than the return of yet another Monday, especially after a Sunday of endless edits and a late night technical travesty that terminated in tears. The release of GOT7's Breath impressively erased that uneasiness. I breathed a slow sigh of relief, unaware I had been stifling one the entire time.
Thank you Youngjae. Thank you GOT7. At the most pivotal times, where I find myself wallowing in tremendous doubt, anxiety, and frustration, thank you for providing a safe haven for faith restoration.
Creations of the week were many and included:
1) Pickled Cucumbers Two Ways (not pictured and unsuccessful)
2) Tzatziki Cucumber Salad, in which forgotten removal of cores resulted in a watery, but nonetheless delicious, mess.
3) Tomato, Potato, and Pork Soup
The combination was a classic Chinese soup similar to the likes of the Malaysian ABC soup - not that I have ever referred to it as such.
I hadn't ever thought that twenty-degree weather and holiday decorations would ever co-exist, however this year has proven to be a year of many firsts. (We may even be nearing the first lockdown in eight months.)
Progressing into the final months of 2020 provokes a period of reflection, as with every passing year and every winter. In hindsight, I don't believe to have accomplished much besides an incredulous amount of cooking, chore doing, and virtual meeting partaking. That said, I am grateful for employment, and the sheer ability to execute my assigned duties from the comfort and safety of my own home.
With gradual improvements in wrist mobility (despite persistent inflammation), I shall commence this week's roundup with a collection of creations of the week:
1) Earl Grey Almond Latte
Making the most of my gifted Sloane Heavenly Cream, soon-to-expire unsweetened almond milk, and exceptionally floral Knotty Coppertop Honey, I commenced the week with a low-impact Earl Grey Almond Latte.
Costco's Rotisserie chicken and homemade Diana sauce ribs constituted the household's protein sources for majority of the week.
2) Sour Cream Bran Muffins
SK's comparatively more savoury rendition of the high-fibre breakfast item was found to pair best alongside fresh fruit.
3) Unsuccessful Pizza constructed from previously proofed yeast and lonely strips of SPAM (feat. a heavily advertised yet decidedly undelightful can of Harvest Ale
4) Mini Pumpkin Tarts
Opting to make the most of a discounted local pumpkin wedge and my Stainless steel OOMOMO tart shells, I undertook the 3-day project later to be recalled as the soggiest Pumpkin Tarts in history. The endeavour had purposely been separated into three days for the sake of preserving wrist wellness.
The first day involved steaming the wedge and rind removal, while the second and third involved custard-making and crust-forming. A meringue topping was whipped up - in the most literal sense - utilizing leftover egg whites, then smothered atop each tart and charred.
Growing up, my favourite season was summer - as probably every kid's was. The balmy months were often tied to keywords such as "summer break", "no school(!)", and "vacation". With the coming of age though, there is an undeniable shift in favour of cooler temperatures. Autumn's breezy conditions and saturated shrubbery offer a sense of serenity - an emotion disparate from the sweaty bustle of summer. There's just something extremely satisfying about traversing across crunchy leaves post-abscission.
Creations of the week included:
1) Apple Cider
...or rather, Mulled Apple Cider. With majority of our stash allocated towards Apple Pie, the remaining 802 grams of fruit thereupon constituted the base of an apple cider attempt. Alas, I was far too generous with the spice blend; the brew was stripped of its luscious, juicy tartness and made spicier than need be. Serving it cold in a 3:1 ratio with water was the resulting solution.
2) Oatmeal Bread
For me, it would be an understatement to declare that craggy, fibrous - and oftentimes healthy - items are joyful to consume. Thus, one can imagine my enthusiasm upon perception of the words "I need to eat healthier."
I first began scouring the World Wide Web for a gluten-free loaf utilizing oats, partially for the sake of experimentation and partially to eliminate white bread flour altogether. After landing on several formulae that listed pre-soaking of steel-cut oats as the first step, I reverted to the Queen of Breadmaking for a hassle-free endeavour.
Bake for Happy Kids has done it yet again! Not only was the dough was extremely easy to handle, but the kneading process was comparatively much shorter as well.
Admittedly, the loaf doesn't resist moisture dissipation as efficiently as the standard sugar-laden loaves. It also failed to the same height. Fluffiness was gradually lost over the course of twelve hours. Thankfully, this aspect mattered minimally, for slices were toasted till crisp and smothered with Knotty Coppertop's fabulously floral unpasteurized honey.
3) Pigs in a Blanket - the puffed edition
Success seen with SK's revolutionary pie crust, we began to contemplate a savoury edition. The conception eventually materialized in the form of wiener sausages coiled within thin, flat strands of buttery pie dough, then finished with a dash of dried parsley.
The first one, a highly unfortunate, dust-covered prototype, was topped with flaky sea salt and a pinch of turbinado sugar. Additional sodium was omitted from the latter batch upon the discovery of the sausages' existing salty profile.
Much as The Tablo Podcast says, maturity is often depicted with a sense of minimalism, eradicating elements extraneous to one's overall functionality. The coming of age and its associated responsibilities as a contributing member of society nixes the need for abundant acquaintances and a house full of knickknacks.
With each passing day, I strive to reduce the count of material goods embedded in my immediate surroundings, shifting preference of nominal presents from barely familiar faces to financial stability and adequate food supply. This is not to say that the fewer the friends, the better. Rather, it is a nod to new experiences free from unnecessary frills.
The occasional dine-out pays homage to this quarantine-founded concept. Drearily has the past week passed me, with work tasks consuming the bulk of my waking hours (and even some of my subconscious ones in the form of apprehensive dreams). Well overdue was a weekday lunch, and with a crippling craving for ramen, I suggested a visit to Kinton.
Of course, the go-to option has never veered from Kenzo - er, now Kamen. It is with remarkable regret that the re-branded restaurant offers no patio for in-store dining. Thus, the less preferable alternative was sought out.
Tables were relatively empty at the late lunchhour of 2 PM. The franchise's storefront faced Confederation Parkway, where patrons were successfully shaded from the blaze of the sun though subject to the comparatively less desirable state of wind and rampant dust particles from traversing construction trucks. Despite landing ourselves at a loathsome location of a patio, we proceeded with the meal with consideration to stomach emptiness, glancing back to our vehicle every so often in fear of parking enforcement crews. (What a travesty metred parking spots are.)
Upon entry, one member of each party was required to input information on a Health Declaration Form. The list requested details including guest name, phone number, entry time, and a signature; a pen - wrapped in neither plastic nor visibly sanitized resided adjacent. In spite of the declarative application, no temperatures were taken. Servers wore masks, though guests were not required to do the same, even when accessing washroom facilities. For the most part, we complied with the masking, even in the absence of others in our 2-metre radius, for the gusts of granular material were as unpleasant as could be.
We enlisted a member of the waitstaff for a wipedown of our sand-speckled table, who took to a damp cloth that brushed ours before immediately navigating to a different one. The utilization of a single cleansing cloth was common practice amongst waitstaff prior to COVID-19, however the scene induced a questionable eyebrow raise in today's times.
Guests were provided the options of individually packaged disposable utensils and plastic cups or the franchise's array of standard eating equipment, inclusive of a funky smelling ladle and Stainless steel water cups.
We took to orders of Takoyaki, Pork Original ramen with thin noodles, and seasonal Chilled Tsukemen, discarding mindfulness of their atrocious prices and overly rich broth in the moment.
Four teensy pieces of very, very average Takoyaki set us back a whopping $5.50. Surrendering bonito flakes to the wind, the morsels were left with tonkatsu sauce and mayo as toppings. For the record, this was an instance where fat (deep frying) did not equate to flavour.
Those under the impression that Chilled Tsukemen would be on the same page as refreshing Korean naengmyeon couldn't be further from the truth. Thick starchy noodles coated in an obscene amount of oil was delivered to the table, sans dipping sauce. I appreciated the generous portion of sesame seeds, as well as the grated daikon. For a Japanese establishment though, I expected wasabi that was less powdery and scallions more finely chopped. The dish was far too slick for a summer afternoon - or any meal at any time of day, really - leading me to halt consumption within a few mouthfuls, despite being famished. The soy broth, once it eventually arrived, was also heavier than expected. Surprisingly, the two thin slices of pork shoulder were the least greasy of the entire composition.
Our household has always had coffee drinkers. Once upon a time, we even did daily Timmie's Drive-Thru runs and, if I remember correctly, my go-to choice was either an Iced Capp or Vanilla Yogurt. The menu has undoubtedly undergone several changes since then, and so have we, whom no longer pay for the painstakingly watery cups either.
However, coffee drinker statuses never waver. We simply seek the next caffeinated thrill, whether it be iced lattes or affogatos.
No summer is complete with a trip to Port Credit, and no waterfront experience is complete without ice cream, especially irresistibly creamyartisan flavours.
Solely operating during peak sunshine season, Scoops is a local favourite that took to offering sugar/waffle cones in a cup and 500 ml or 1 L takeaway containers in the face of the current pandemic.
Although Piña Colada sorbet was quite a dismal pick, Cappuccino Crisp did not disappoint. The velvety Maple Walnut we brought back was another winner that incoporated the best of conventionally Canadian maple ribbons with crunchy walnuts in a luscious vanilla base.
The return trip marked my first visit to McD's since Vancity Blitz three months prior. And while probably not the most health-conscious choice, Chicken McNuggets with honey and BBQ sauce were the ideal companion for makgeolli.
Loyal visitors of this space may be familiar with Ark + Anchor, or more specifically their croissants from de la terre.
As the yearning for pain au chocolat surfaced, my mind instantly flew to the website of my favourite stall in the Hamilton Farmer's Market. Lo and behold, free home delivery was being offered!
Unpopular opinion: The economic pillar shall forever supersede the social pillar.
If there's anything I retained from my twice-enrolled, once-failed, and once-grudgingly-re-enrolled second year environmental course, it's the concept of The Three Pillars. Prior to undergoing any work, a project should be evaluated against the economic, social, and environmental pillars as criteria for execution.
And while each of these elements are pivotal in decision-making, one tends to forget to nothing can operate in the absence of economics. For without capital, there is no funding for implementing environmentally sustainable measures. For without work, one cannot afford to sleep with a roof over his or her head, regardless of whatever respect society shoves.
I abide by a pragmatic approach to living, because where there is a cause, there is an effect - most evident in the re-emergence of COVID in areas that were once deemed to have entered a "safe(r)" zone. Regardless of the sun's position in the sky, work is work, and work needs to be done. I'm not one to protest sanity breaks, of course, and was more than willing to justify it with a cool cup of CoCo after a tumultuous Monday.
Being thoroughly drained by an endless assortment of tasks (the "cause") yielded an out-of-character meal of instant noodles (the "effect"). The foray into fast food was a result of exhaustion and a consequential reluctance to cook. For the wellbeing of my tastebuds, the so-called broth of dehydrated MSG particles was diluted with thrice as much water, then had its nasty, hollow aftertaste nullified with a turmeric cold brew.
I suppose anxiety is a common spur of sugar-laden creations, for a dream about emails set me off in pursuit for brown butter cookies. "But not just any brown butter cookies." my subconscious announced, "We're doing matcha."
An embarrassingly elongated roster of attempts in my back pocket, I opted to modify Tasty's edition, for I had not the patience to caramelize butter and strum my digits along the table edge as it re-solidified. Truthfully, it was my own fault; I oughtn't complain.
I'm not, really.
Brown butter is aromatic in ways unique to itself - an acquired redolence, if you will - and, just as many other bakers will heed, is worth every second of added effort. But alas, the luscious caramelized bits were nowhere to be tasted in the final product, overwhelmed by none other that sugar: a sickening sweetness capable of driving some to the point of lunacy. Admittedly, the texture was quite a nice mix of crunchy and chewy, though nonetheless a subpar formulation in my books.
Woe is me for straying from the great SK!
Whether spring is finally here to stay remains a mystery. Between the flurries, heavy showers, and odd bursts of UV rays, it's difficult to predict precisely the climate that Mother Nature has in store for us next.
Victoria Day long weekend was off to a swell start with summery temperatures, rendering it the ideal time for trail exploring - while maintaining physical distance requirements, of course. And for those that relish in A/C-prevalent environments or find barbecue grills foreign (me), oven baked hot dogs and orange-Ribena bubbles are the way to go.
Weekend morning rituals revolve about live airings of 화양연화, alternatively known as "When My Love Blooms". Following suit was the preparation of hot dog complements: Egg Salad with sweet corn kernels (and wasabi!) and a Pickled Cucumber-Onion Mix.
Rotini and SPAM were then quickly coated in tomato sauce to yield a fast food-appropriate ally. Neither canned meat (if we can address it as so) nor jarred condiments made many appearances prior to the arrival of COVID-19, however one can only chop so much and cook so much with one dominant hand and one dominant wrist.
Sautéed button mushrooms would have been a pleasant addition to the mix, though speed was the name of the game this time.
Monday comebacks, with the exception of GOT7's, prove tricky acts to support. The influx of emails, paired with abrupt realization of imminent meetings, tend to prevail over 8 AM live showcases. My roster of Not By The Moon promotions remain unresolved, while indulgence in ASTRO's Knock activities are slowly but surely underway.
Prior to the release of third instalment in The Book of Us, DAY6 announced a hiatus from promotions due to health and anxiety issues. The situation was unforeseen, especially given that the news had circulated within 24 hours of the drop of "The Demon".
Five days of on-and-off screenwork later, I finally had the opportunity to familiarize myself with Zombie.
It was dark.
Dark red makeup with bluish undertones to replicate bruised flesh.
Dark and tiny was the ̶s̶e̶t̶ room, seemingly teeming with torturous tension.
Dark was the aura emitted from the hallucination-like post-production effects.
But darkest of all were the lyrics to the song - radiating one's deepest, dreariest deliberations towards living, or the mere thought of not.
Zombie depicted emptiness in the eeriest way thinkable, as if the world no longer held happiness.
"Though I want to just dream on. / 꿈꾸도 싶어도"
"Tomorrow will be no different. / 내일도 다를 것 없이"
"Give me back my tears, they’ve run dry. / 마른 내 눈물을 돌려줘"
"I live counting the time 'til I close my eyes. / 그저 잠에 들기만을 기다리며 살아"
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.
WHAT DOES "QUIRKY AESTHETICS" MEAN?
Quirky = a term that commonly refers to something/someone distinctly different and unique
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