Dec 31, 2013

Tiramisu Cupcakes

Adapted from Martha Stewart's Tiramisu Cupcake Recipe.

Tiramisu cupcakes were one of the more challenging recipes I've tried since it incorporates different techniques I hadn't used in baking before. This recipe certainly requires a bit more time than your usual vanilla, chocolate or red velvet cupcakes and I had a hard time finding some of the ingredients (e.g. Mascarpone Cheese for the frosting).

Mascarpone Frosting

Adapted from Martha Stewart's Mascarpone Frosting Recipe.

Dec 30, 2013

Penny's SI Joint Subluxation

Yesterday our bunny Penny started limping and dragging her right foot. We had witnessed no injury or fall, our place has been carefully constructed to be bunny proof so we didn't quite know what was going on.

Penny and Charlie at the vet. I brought them into together because they are a bonded pair and I felt she would be less stressed/calm once she was with him:

Toronto Eats: Playa Cabana Mexican Restaurant & Tequila Bar

On the last day of my birthday weekend, we went to Playa Cabana for dinner which was a place we heard about through the Food Network. My exposure to Mexican food includes Taco Bell, Burrito Boys and Margaritas Mexican Food.

Birthday Weekend!

The weekend of December 27th was my "birthday weekend". Each day I planned activities with close friends and family.

Dec 27, 2013

Home: Re-organizing the Pantry

Living in Condo in downtown Toronto means having very little space to work with. I consider us lucky the place came with a pantry closet where can store cleaning supplies and clothing.

Dec 26, 2013

Shopping: Boxing Day Haul

Call it Spring

Call it Spring's Boshard Tote that was 30% off. This was the last model and luckily I was able to get it! I couldn't find it on the Call it Spring website and apparently these totes have been flying off the shelves.

Lessons Learned from Boxing Day

For the first time, ever I woke up early to go for Boxing Day shopping. I had done Black Friday this past November and was amazed at the number of deals. Most stores went all out! I was disappointed with the sales that were available for Boxing Day. I was not in the market for electronics so I was interested in clothing sales and kitchenware.

Dec 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

A very Merry Christmas from me to you :) Wishing you a safe and happy holiday. See you in 2014!

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Dec 24, 2013

Instagram #1 : December Part 1

My Christmas break has been filled with family and friend meetups, gift exchanges, hot chocolate, sushi and.

Dec 1 / My dark, snowy commute


Photoshoot at Brookfield Place

I took the opportunity to take advantage of the beautifully lit interiors of Brookfield Place in Toronto with the new SLR camera I got.

Camera: Canon Rebel SL1
Location: Brookfield Place, Toronto, ON

This is one of my favourite photos, it reall looks like a scene out of a movie:

Dec 23, 2013

Jillian Michaels Body Revolution #2: Keeping up in Winter

I am currently half way through Jillian Michaels Body Revolution the second time around. I began in May 2013 and have had good results with weight loss and toning. Everything was put on pause when I moved to my new place in August. I have also been joining a lot of new activities including salsa classes, a small stint with hip hop which meant keeping up with a regular workout schedule was less realistic.

{via weheartit}

Toronto Travel: Toronto's Christmas Market

Toronto's Christmas Market 2013 ran from November 29 to December 15 this year. I had the unique opportunity to go with a couple of friends to the Distillery District, which is where the Market takes place. It was very crowded, and much more practical to take the TTC/walk there as parking was expensive and nearly impossible. 

The origin of Christmas Market  began in Germany in the 1400s, and consist of street vendors who sell traditional and/or local goods to market patrons. 

There were carols, warm hot chocolate, hot apple cider, and whiskey tasting in the Beer Gardens all within a few blocks of each other.

This year's Christmas Market was sponsored by Lowe's. 

Dec 22, 2013

Easy Cream Cheese Tartlets from Scratch with Babycakes Maker

This dessert was a LOT of fun to photograph and make because I had my cousin Cindy over to help bake. We usually have these baking dates, but this is the first one I've blogged about. She's been very busy with exams and recently finished so we decided to get together to catch up and bake :)

Dec 19, 2013

Penny and Charlie Update #2 - Bunny Haul!

Today I went to Pet Valu and get quite a few things for my bunny loves Penny and Charlie. 

We have switched to Aspen Cedar for bedding, we is on the approved list of rabbit bedding you can use. Cedar and Pine bedding can cause respiratory problems and liver problems in rabbits, so its best to avoid it:

Dec 17, 2013

Dragonboat Practice Entry #3 - Off Season Training

I've joined a Dragonboat team which starts its training during Fall/Winter aiming for summer season 2014. After doing a series of core, upperbody and lowerbody training several weeks in a row, today was the fit test to set a baseline to go from at future fitness tests.

When I set out to try new things, my goal was primarily to have new experiences. What I realized through all of this was actually the new people I met and the friends I met. Meeting friends once I finished school was extremely challenging, but by partaking in these different activities, you get exposed to new networks of people outside of your friends (and even friends of friends).

Dec 12, 2013

North Indian Music and Dance: Tabla and Kathak.

I had the opportunity to sit in a Tabla and Kathak performance with vocals this past week organized by Toronto Tabla Ensemble. It featured and was attended by Tabla and Kathak students. 

The traditional Tabla is a membranophone "drum". There are usually two drums, of different sizes. The musician uses the fingers and palms, with the used to apply pressure to the drum to change the pitch as the fingers produce the "tap" or "bol" that you hear (source):

Dec 10, 2013

Cream Cheese Frosting

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Martha Stewart's Couscous with Carrot and Cilantro

For the original recipe, please see Martha Stewart's Couscous with Carrot and Cilantro.

I came across this recipe in a book that my cousin gave to me: "Food Everyday: Freshest Flavours Fast" from the Martha Stewart Living magazine. I've seen/heard of couscous but was not actually aware of what it was.

Dec 7, 2013

Toronto Eats: Buster's Sea Cove [St. Lawrence Market]

After having a sleepover, my friends and I headed to St. Lawrence Market. I took my new Canon Rebel SL1 camera - with an 18-55mm kit lens and started to practice shooting. I'm still learning how to take good pictures - both by adjusting camera settings and determining composition of my photos.

Dec 4, 2013

Lemon-Glazed Cookies

This is a modification from Martha Stewart's Lemon Glazed Candied-Gingered Cookies

Toronto Eats: Margaritas Mexican Fiesta

During a particularly rainy day, we decided to head to Margaritas Mexican Fiesta for some food. As you can see it is nearing Christmas. 

Dec 1, 2013

Annie's Fall-off-the-Bone Pork Back Ribs

Toronto Fun: Salsa (Advanced) at UofT Dance Club

Class: Salsa - Advanced
Instructor: Martin
Location: University of Toronto Dance Club
Cost: $40 for students for 7 classes
Time: Tuesday evenings 7:00 PM for one hour. 

They offer dance classes, practices and workshops as well as performance classes if you are more advanced.

Our salsa group

Our dance teacher Martin is on the far right. He also teaches Waltz, Tango and Salsa. 

Krispy Kreme Doughnut Cafe

The Drgaonboat Team members wanted to stop by a Krispy Kreme Doughnut Cafe after volunteering at the Mon Sheong Seniors Christmas Party.

I had no idea such places even existed!

Dragonboat Entry #2 - Week 3 & Volunteering at Mon Sheong

So this weekend has completely packed with activities. 

Dragonboat Practice

Sunday morning I headed down to Don Mills station where my good friend Bernice picked me up and we headed to Dragonboat practice. This is our third week thus far and I'm really enjoying the camaraderie I am building with many of the team members. 

Being on the Dragonboat team has also encouraged me to work on my endurance and conditioning. Right now, my fitness isn't the best and my diet isn't the greatest either. I will work on eating healthier and having a more balanced lifestyle in order to keep up with the Dragonboat practices. 

Our practice was shortened slightly because we had to head out to downtown Toronto to volunteer at the Christmas Party:

Volunteering at the
Mon Sheong Christmas Party

The Dragonboat team has many of its fees subsidized by the Mon Sheong foundation which runs a long-term-care centre. This event invited elders in the community to come enjoy music, food. There were many volunteers from the Mon Sheong youth group volunteering at the event. The dragonboat team came to show their appreciation for the financial support.

I decided to attend and had the chance to interact with some seniors. They all spoke Mandarin (the only language I speak at all is English) so it was challenging. Luckily some people were there to translate for me. 

Our dragonboat team members on the far left:

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Nov 27, 2013

SLR Camera Basics

I'm in the process of getting into photography and taking the initiative to learn from camera savvy friends as well as learning what I can online.

I have my eye on the Canon Rebel SL1, a light weight camera, and good beginner SLR camera.

Nikon has a great SLR beginner's tutorial which I have been learning.

Anatomy of a Camera

View Finder / Eye Piece

The area that you look through in a camera that frames the picture. Just like peering into an "eyepiece" of a microscope in order to view an image that is being magnified.

Image Sensor

The image sensor picks up the light filtered through the camera (past the lens, aperture and shutter) and is what ultimately creates the picture.

Shutter Speed: Control for Blur

The shutter "curtain" covers the image sensor. When you press the "Shutter-release" button, the shutter curtain is raised allowing the light onto the image sensor to the take picture.

Shutter speed is measured in fractions of a second, 1 second, 1/4 second, 1/500th's of a second. Therefore the larger the number, the slower the shutter speed. The prime symbol "f" is sometimes placed for shutter speeds less than 1 second instead of displaying it in fraction form.

 A "fast" shutter-release means that the image sensor is exposed to light for a short period of time. You get a "frozen-in-time" effect of an object that is moving, good for taking pictures of moving subjects:

A "slow" shutter release means the image sensor is exposed to light for a long period of time. The image will appear blurry:

Aperture: Depth of Field/Distance of Focus

Aperture adjusts how much light is able to filter through, very similar to the size of our pupils. A larger aperture size means more light is allowed in and for the human eye, this occurs when a room is dark and we want to let in more light so we can see more. A small Aperture size allows very little light in; and for our eye, the pupil size gets smaller when we are in a room with bright light in order not to overexpose or overwhelm our eyes with too much light.

This is often expressed as an "f" number. Changing "f" number changes the size of the aperture and therefore the amount of light that is allowed into the camera. Small apertures means MORE light is let into the camera; where as larger f-number aperture means LESS light is let into the camera.

A larger aperture size (smaller f-number) allows you to focus on objects in a further distance, whereas a smaller aperture size (larger f-number) allows you to focus on a particular point whilst blurring everything else.

{Exposure Guide : Focusing Basics} DOF = depth of field

To Achieve Bokeh Effect:

  • A high Max Aperture (LOW f-number e.g. f/1.8) giving us a shallow depth of field (DOF)
  • Lens - a larger focal length for macro photography

Basics to Photography Infographic

How To Take Great Digital SLR Photos

Nov 25, 2013

Dessert Ideas from Mandarin Buffet

Nothing particularly special about Mandarin, but I decided to take some pictures to save ideas for dessert ideas later :)

We went to Mandarin Buffet for my cousin's 17th birthday. There was lots of snow but it was nice to see the decorum and feel the warmth once we were inside:

I was able to eat 4 dishes of main and 2 dessert plates. I did very well considering:

Lemon Merengue Pie:

Some NewYork Style Cheesecake:

And a few desserts:

My fortune cookie:

My cousin William:

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