July 2014 in pictures

So long, July! I didn’t like you much (except for the week off at the beginning), but I don’t want to dwell on the bad stuff. Only the good stuff here (food already covered earlier this week!

snail // sky // fluffy shedding puppy // giant goofy Bernese named Sven // three snarling wieners // happy puppy // 15th anniversary flowers // orange door // healthy mint!

I spent a few days in Ottawa for work a few weeks ago, and I got to hang out with this cutie:

My nephew, his dinner (chicken fingers, fries, and cucumber slices), and a really big bottle of ketchup.

As nice as it is to see him, it’s also nice to sleep in a hotel bed, especially when work pays.

Just out of the picture is the old guy holding up a sign that said “THE PILL KILLS BABIES.” Freedom of speech and everything, but I really really really wanted to punch him in the head.

I still think Ottawa is really boring, but it’s always pretty in the summer.


What I’ve been eating lately

I cope with stress with food. The more stress, the more food, and not necessarily the healthiest of food either (does anyone ever binge eat salad? If so, please let me know). Judging by the photos on my phone in the past little while, it's been a stressful month. But also a delicious one.

I keep saying this lately, I know I'll have to rein it in soon. If not for vanity (my clothes are tiiiiight), for my health; all this wheat and dairy and sugar is not good for me. When that happens, I can look at these pictures and live vicariously through former me. Or they'll make me fall off the wagon, either way.

(This is also a bit of a recommendation on where to eat in Toronto, with the exception of one Ottawa place. I recommend all these places.)

Wvrst sausage and beer hall is still one of our go-to places:

I like the chorizo sausage with peppers and sauerkraut.

Dessert is usually ice cream, like the gelato at Hollywood Gelato (my usual is key lime pie and Skor):

Golden Turtle has been another of our go-to places since we moved to Toronto, Will and I go there for lunch at least once every few months.

I get the beef ball and throw in tons of Thai basil. No beansprouts, Sriracha on the side to dip into.

Ossington St has changed a lot since we started going to Golden Turtle, now 200% more hipster with craft breweries and new restaurants, including Bang Bang Ice Cream and Bakery (an offshoot of Bakerbots, which got a mention on Buzzfeed's 25 Bakeries Around The World You Have To See Before You Die):

I got the everything cookie with burnt toffee ice cream. It was good, but I don’t know if it was worthy of the list of 25 bakeries you should go to before you die.

This dog didn’t care though, she just wanted me to share with her:

When I travel, I always need to know where the good places to eat are. I recently travelled to Ottawa on business, where I popped into my favourite Vietnamese restaurant to have the wonton soup (which is really more Chinese):

When I got back to Toronto, I attempted to be healthier with this green juice from Greenhouse Juice Co (my go-to for fresh cold-pressed juice):

But after that, I went back to my old habits.

For lunch before going to a Blue Jays game, Will and I tried Lucky Red, a new bao shop in Chinatown.

It’s Chinatown going more hipster/trendy/upscale, which I have mixed feelings about. But the food is pretty good.

The housemade yuzu lemonade is delicious.

The decor was a little freaky.

My reaction to the baked baos was a little “meh” (the steamed baos were better), but I really liked the lo mien.

Smoked meat with ballpark mustard, which is fine but you can get a better smoked meat sandwich elsewhere.

BBQ chicken, essentially a mini burger with a few Asian elements.

Rice balls and pork belly lo mien. I really liked the lo mien, the rice balls were like Asian arancini.

Work has been a major part of my stress, so this week I needed a lunchtime pick-me-up in the form of Purdy’s salty caramel truffle ice cream with dark chocolate sauce.

Going back to Chinatown, I tried the traditional banh mi sandwiches from Nguyen Huong (owned by the parents of the three brothers who opened Banh Mi Boys and Lucky Red). More traditional, cheap, and delicious.

On the other end of the city, I go to Moo Milk Bar for cookies and milk and ice cream sandwiches.

Cookies and Cream cookie with vanilla ice cream. I only had a half sandwich (one cookie), because I’m not that disgusting.

I also like going out to Moo Milk Bar because I can hang out on Lake Ontario for a bit.

Finally, Will and I had our 15th anniversary lunch yesterday at Playa Cabana. We have high standards for Mexican after eating at Rick Bayless’s restaurants in Chicago; happy to report that this place (while expensive) did come close (but just not quite).

Ancho-braised short rib brisket crispy tacos.


Well, this was an embarrassment of riches this month and I definitely need to cut back. (After Will’s birthday dinner where we’ll probably end up going for pizza again.) When I do my monthly wrap-up at the end of August, I hope to not have this many food photos and to be back on the right track.


Books, books, books

I’ve spent the whole month escaping in books. First it was on vacation when I had lots of time to read and to escape the boredom of Parksville, and since I’ve been back it’s just a good way to de-stress from work.

I’d set myself a New Year’s Resolution of reading one book a month because I felt I was spending too much time watching TV and being on my iPad, and it’s been one I’ve kept. Also, I read six months’ worth in this one month, so I don’t have to read anything for the rest of the year. Just kidding, I’m not going to stop. Also, I’m a little obsessed with library eBooks. The fun of reading, at no cost!

  1. Blue Plate Special – Kate Christensen.
    Since I’m obsessed with food, I loved how the story of her life (and an interesting one, too) was linked together with food.
  2. Jim Henson: The Biography – Brian Jay Jones.
    Very detailed, very comprehensive, really fascinating, and a must-read for anyone who grew up on the Muppets like me. So much talent and creativity in one person, it’s amazing.
  3. Bossypants – Tina Fey.
    Hilarious. I’m a Tina Fey fan, so wouldn’t expect anything less. I’m listening to the audiobook right now because it’s interesting to hear it in her voice, but I really hate audiobooks. I find they’re like listening to a long monologue. I make the exception for her, though.
  4. A Long Way Down – Nick Hornby.
    The only novel on this list, which is interesting to me. (I thought I only read fiction.) I don’t know if I’m a fan of Nick Hornby. I didn’t want to stop reading, but I don’t think it’s one I’d ever return to.
  5. The Bling Ring – Nancy Jo Sales.
    I really liked Nancy Jo Sales’s Vanity Fair article, and I just finished watching the movie so I thought I’d read her book. It was a quick read, and insanely fascinating, but I’m not sure that a full book was necessary. At any rate, I kinda understood their motivations. You see something, you want it. I’ve done the same things with blogs I read. I have never stolen anything, however.
  6. Toast – Nigel Slater.
    Another life story told through food. This one I liked just for all the British foods I’ve never heard of but had to Google because I needed to know what they are: Heinz Sponge Pudding, Jammie Dodgers, bourbon biscuits, Walnut Whip, Sherbet Fountains. Some of these sound truly disgusting (sponge cake in a can is so bleahhhh), but I suppose that’s what happens when you grow up in England in the 1960s.

If anyone has any good book recommendations, I’d love to hear them!


Some like it hot (I do not)

I know I have tropical ancestors and I was born in Ottawa in the month of June (which can be pretty hot and sticky), but I do not handle heat very well. Give me a summer where it stays at 20-25C (70-75F) and I’m happy. The past few days have been hot and sticky and I have not been happy.

So I wear as little as possible.

Gap cami dress (last summer) // J.Crew symmetrical stone necklace // J.Crew flip flops (last summer)

I’m a little iffy on going sleeveless (I don’t love my upper arms), but keeping cool trumps all. It got up to 30C (almost 90F with the humidity factored it) yesterday and I saw people walking around in jeans, jean jackets, some scarves, and even one leather jacket. I would die, but I am quite the wuss when it comes to heat.

Kate Spade wallet – I love white and turquoise together! (My toes are Essie where’s my chauffeur, a little more blue and less mint green than turquoise & caicos.)

Also, behold the return of a real camera, no more fuzzy iPhone outfit photos. Or maybe the fuzziness is more forgiving and therefore more my friend?


Comfort dressing, vacation photos, key lime pie, and goats on the roof

I spent the end of June/first week of July at Will’s parents’ house in Parksville, Vancouver Island, British Columbia. It’s not a very interesting town (aside from the beach, the highlight is the pub with the beer garden overlooking the beach), but it was very relaxing. I did pretty much nothing except lie in bed or on the couch or outside, either sleeping, reading, or watching TV. So relaxing, it was almost exhausting. Getting myself upright to get back on a plane and go home was certainly exhausting.

Gap cami maxi dress // knockoff J.Crew bubble necklace // J.Crew flip flops

I didn’t pack much of interest because I knew I’d be doing nothing but lounging around, so this was the extent of dressing up for going out to dinner one night (pic obviously taken at home). And it’s cheating at dressing up, because it’s basically like wearing a nightgown. As I get older, comfort is rapidly becoming my number one priority. Is it only a matter of time before I go Homer and start wearing a flowered muumuu?

I went straight back to work on Monday (after coming home late on Sunday), and it was rough. I think I’m still 3 hours behind, and I was sleeping in every day until about 10 a.m. Pacific time. I always need a vacation from my vacation, but I never want to use my precious vacation days at home, I want to use them to go places. And possibly more interesting places than Parksville.

It is ridiculously pretty there though (warning – lots of photos ahead).

Horseshoe Bay, leaving on the ferry from West Vancouver to Nanaimo.

Out at sea—well, in the Georgia Strait, at least.

Storming in the distance

Looking behind the boat

Storm clouds coming

Key lime pie at the Cactus Club in Nanaimo, after we got off the ferry. I probably should have had Nanaimo Bars, but I’m still on a key lime kick.

Rathtrevor Park beach, the view on the walk to and from the pub

Parksville main beach at dusk, waiting for the Canada Day fireworks

The Old Country Market in Coombs is a big draw in the Parksville area. I’m pretty sure a bunch of people were high when they decided to put goats on a roof and call it a tourist attraction, but hey, it worked.

The Island Farms ice cream counter is the draw for me.

I shared my waffle cone with this black bunny.

Giant gooseberries from the market

Vacation over, work is insanely busy again, but I will try to get back to some semblance of regular posting.

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