New to the collectives are: Thai Tea (!!!), Peanut Butter Stout, and a scrumptious coffee-laced choco bar from starsnpigs.
The coming of a new year has seemingly lost its meaning with each iteration. Too fatigued for subzero photography excursions amidst the masses, I've mainly taken to celebrating the national event from the comfort of my home and cable television. Last year's had been spent exporting a painfully tedious compilation captured on the East Coast, whereas this year's proved even more mundane: recovering from a potential case of food poisoning.
Maintaining their presence is orangecane's adorable sugar cookies; though the Maple Nutmeg bears didn't lack in the visual appeal category, the plain, full-body Santas were my personal fave.
New to the collectives are: Thai Tea (!!!), Peanut Butter Stout, and a scrumptious coffee-laced choco bar from starsnpigs.
2020's arrival stirred up quite a bit of noise, for it marked the landing of a new decade - a fact that raised awareness of time and space (aka AGE). Frankly, it's never been a habit to recap the happenings of the past 365 (and sometimes plus one) days. But sometimes, just sometimes, it's important to look back, just to see how far you've come, or how far you've retreated.
Commonly heard throughout my undergrad were the following three pillars: Sleep, Studies, and Social Life, and how maintaining equilibrium between them was an unattainable task.
Post-graduation, the S-trio has undergone metamorphosis, yielding Health, Interpersonal Relations, and Financial Stability as its final form.
- Health encompasses both physical and mental well-being, be it concerns over insomnia or the simple act of
engaging in everyday joys (such as fangirling).
- Interpersonal Relations takes into account family matters, friends, and the general presence of a social circle. These intangible ties are often neglected when the latter grows dire.
- The most self-explanatory of them all, Financial Stability is a gauge of survival capability - the distinction between struggling for fundamental means and cruising comfortably through 401 congestion.
Without elaborating into an otherwise arguably philosophical approach to human existence, I shall plainly state that these pedestals of continuance are impossible to acquire in harmony. The inevitable has finally befallen, and it seems that circumstances are likely to persist for a while longer.
Weekend work and errands were succeeded by a Big Mac and a terribly tedious wait at Pearson.
Reluctantly inching into Monday, I saw blue skies, a Matcha Latte, and the slow-but-steady advancement of CIBC Square.
Oh, and The Krys. The Golden Thai Milk Tea - at Light sugar and no ice - may be the sole item of delectability at the waterfront bubble tea shop. Whitewater Brewing's Peanut Butter Shake was nothing short of tremendous either. Good on you, Ottawa Valley!
Behold: Triple Threat Sulley.
Fancy socks are commonly incorporated into my closet to offset my otherwise monochromatic (and allegedly monotonous) ensembles.
Since mid-October, my weekly KDC sessions have repeatedly been supplying me with new perspectives. As much as dance is a form of exercise, it is also a medium of expression, surpassingly so.
Despite being an amateur at "feeling the groove" while memorizing a sequence of movements, the classes were always a blast, and always a portal to absorb new information. Contrary to my initial belief, the choreography introduced did not have to be reproduced identically. Rather, it seemed that both participants and instructors preferred slight modifications, such that the moves aligned with one's original style.
I grasped the core meaning of "community" - a space free of judgment and brimming with absolute freedom, a collective of positive vibes and mutual encouragement.
KDC classes bridged the gap between Intermediate and Advanced levels, which was, admittedly, still too advanced for the likes of me and my lack of practice. Years of recreational badminton have honed my hand-eye coordination, yet left my sense of rhythm stagnant. The ability to move my body with grace was impaired. I was but a zealous concert-goer unaccustomed to the complex steps of urban dance.
However, the more experienced attendees did not bat even an eyelash. Many were more than willing to lend a helping hand - or arm, or leg - in assisting newbies like me learn a new move.
The term concluded with a double class: the first incorporating b-boy vibes and the second fluid attitudes à la house and ahgase's very own Hit The Stage champion.
One Beginner class and two KDCs later though, I was more than ready to call it a day. The team at the nearby McDonald's was apparently aware of this as well, for I lucked out with a triple-sized Vanilla Cone due to worker error.
This single serving was sufficient in compensating the dissatisfactory swirls of the past.
In review of the rest of the week was an incredulously lengthy baking session, which, in turn, resulted in a decent batch of gingersnap cookies and a not-so-spectacular dual-toned pound cake.
Mother Nature is an indecisive beast - a force to be reckoned with, especially in the cooler periods of Canadian climate. For one moment may witness above-seasonal rainfall, while another harsh hail (and the consequential cancellation of scheduled social pursuits).
These chilly conditions are commonly interpreted as prompts for hibernation, or at least increased susceptibility to inactivity. To combat feelings of laziness, winter walks were executed along the waterfront.
Holiday festivities have landed at Union Station. The second last day of November marked the introduction of an outdoor skating rink at Toronto's largest transit hub.
While I had my initial doubts about the project, primarily in terms of commuter safety and ease of navigation, the rink proved significantly more secure than imagined. Surrounded by wooden barriers, the raised recreational facility was distinctly separated from pedestrian traffic and monitored by authorized personnel. With only one supervised access, it ensured that commuters could continue with their routine, completely uninterrupted by the installation. It'll only be a matter of time before I embark on my own test of the addition, since the allure of free rentals and free lessons is simply too great an offer to refute.
In terms of vendors, there was, sadly, limited numbers. In consideration of the several other markets taking place in parallel in and around the downtown core, this is of little concern for the urban adventurer.
Walk-worthy points within Union included nut butter and Panettone samples from the Biscotteria Forno Cultura pop-up, whiskey sampling and custom engraving at the Johnnie Walker booth, and the upcycled Tomorrow Tree, all of which were housed within the VIA Rail Hall/West Wing, connecting Great Hall and the UP Express pedestrian bridge.
Breakfast burritos from McD's were discovered to be no larger than the size of my palm, yet, nonetheless satisfactory in delivering energy to fuel fatigued mornings.
The Office Treats series persists in the form of dainty cookies, chocolate-covered dates from Dubai, praline sweets from Ukraine, dense slabs of vanilla shortbread (Can you tell I wasn't a fan?), and brimming boxes of The Night Baker.
Taking place between Wednesday to Friday was The Buildings Show, a phenomenal construction-focused expo spanning both the North and South Buildings of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
Weekly occurences of the Artisan Market welcomed Pokéball bath bombs, essential oil aromatherapy products, chopstick holders in the form of Mt. Fuji, and sodium laureth sulphate-free handcrafted soaps. The amusing baubles served as great stocking stuffers, or simply tidbits to supplement Christmas gifts.
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.
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.
"Are you doing anything for Halloween?" asked an innocent fifth-grader.
"Are you giving out candy?"
"Then what are you doing??" she pressed.
"I'm going to work."
"That's so sad." The concept of reality began to dawn on her. "You should be a kid again!"
Alas, time and space are not mediums that permit backtracking in the world of nonfiction.
The week commenced with many a snack, including LINE Friends-themed Pepero, Cadbury squares transported directly from the UK, and mini cupcakes bearing a 1:1 ratio of cake and frosting.
On a particularly damp day arose uncompromising cravings for cookies. And, against my discretion for the city's current transit system, I set out on a lunchtime commuting mission.
TTC was able to whisk me to College and Ossington in roughly forty minutes, but making it back within the one-hour time frame would have been impossible. So again, against my better judgement, I pulled aside to the nearest Starbucks and opened Google Play. It was time to try Uber.
In case you're wondering, I was still late. On the brighter side, I was dry and less tardy than if I had opted for retracing my path via the subway.
As far as personalities go, orangecane and I couldn't be further apart, and this very observation was validated through our habitual tendencies. She makes no appearances in this entry, however I was constantly reminded of our conversation - with You Are playing as BGM - every time I cocked my head upwards to gaze upon the cloudless skies above me.
The first order of business for the week was consolidating my Rec Room credits. The Roundhouse Park location re-invited one of my old favourites, Kung Fu Panda, where I spent a solid twenty minutes trying to grab all the golden dumplings (to no avail, of course).
A shocked stool plush keychain was redeemed as consolation.
Nearby was Chipotle, where I had specified an order of Carne Asada Salad (with guac!!!) in advance. In sheer contrast to my first encounter with the system, my bowl had been assembled perfectly to my liking. The pickup process was smooth, the online order staff member was swift, and utensils/napkins had already been placed into the bag. Adding to my day was the adorable message adorning the aluminium cover.
Midway through the week was my two-time-postponed meetup with feedthebear. And naturally, we had slotted in a few new dining destinations surrounding our point of congregation.
With a bit of time on my hands, I opted to swing by Thank U Coffee first. The understated café had ranked high on my list of to-gos, and I must say that it did not disappoint.
The walls bore a variety of finishes: lacquered in a lush forest green, faux brick appliqués, and even a vivid mural owed to the artisty of a local creator. Light fixtures were sophisticated orbs resembling a tumble of roughly wound steel wire; they cast a cozy glow throughout the space, further accentuating the luminosity of the colours found within.
An extensive menu was found to the right of the entranceway, its prices unmistakably at the higher end of the spectrum. Piquing my interest was the Canadian Latte, which I was informed to be shaken by hand to yield a thin layer of surface foam. When I took to asking "What makes it Canadian?", it was noted that the name had been determined by a Canadian, and the inclusion of maple syrup had been tested in its initial stages but was ultimately deemed unsuitable for the final formula.
I later chose a regular-sized Thank U Coffee - essentially a latte with Earl Grey syrup (and no leaves in sight). The result was fragrant, delicious, and hit all the notes for a great iced latte. Needless to say, though, it was priced steeper than one would prefer.
I stayed a while, long enough to learn that the café owned by a young Korean husband-and-wife duo. They were entrepreneurs with a vision: the wife extremely friendly and made attempts to acquaint herself with every patron that waltzed through the door, including the Ritual frequenters.
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.