Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Toy Story 3

Since our usual Tuesday gathering wasn't gonna happen last night, Mish and I decided to catch a movie instead.  My brother and I had been wanting to see Toy Story 3, and since Dad was out at soccer and Mom went out shopping, I took him with me.  The theatre was packed!  I was surprised to see such a big crowd on a weeknight, but it turns out Cineplex has a Tuesday night special where all admissions are half-price.  It's such a great deal - even better than the corporate rate I get :)

We managed to get in just in time, but couldn't find room to sit together in a row.  It was a considerably smaller cinema because the movie's about a month old.  We still had a great time (except for one lady who kept commenting aloud throughout the movie), and it's definitely a must-see in 3D.  The third installment of the series was much more mature (just like the audience) with elements of violence and romance that probably weren't meant for kids.  Or maybe kids nowadays become mature at a younger age.  Either way, we all really enjoyed it even though there were some sad moments in the movie, and I would love to go back on a Tuesday to enjoy another half-priced movie.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Blueberry-Picking + Shooting Range + Driving Range = very exciting weekend


I heard about a place to pick your own blueberries from a coworker that lives in Milton and I immediately knew that's what I wanted to do - we've gone to pick apples, cherries, and strawberries, but never before had we gone to pick blueberries.  Plus, the blueberries she's brought from that farm were so big and sweet and flavorful - nothing like the ones you get in the supermarket.  I am a big fan of blueberries and so is my baby brother Kenneth (OK, so he's not a baby anymore, now that he's even taller than me, but he'll always be my *baby* brother), and we were very excited.  We had planned to go on Saturday, but then the weather forecast predicted rain in the afternoon, and by the time we were ready to leave Kenneth already went out for breakfast.  I guess breakfast would have been instant gratification and blueberry-picking - well, you gotta put in some efforts.

We got to the farm in 20 minutes, and even on the way there it started to drizzle a little bit.  We picked up our baskets and decided to walk to the blueberry patch.  The further we walked in, the more  berries we saw.  I had never seen a blueberry bush before, but I didn't expect them to be this big and tall - some were even taller than B!  We got down to business and taste-tested each bush before we started picking, because some bushes were sweeter while other bushes were more tart but more flavorful.  There was a rule imposed by the farm to limit tasting to 2 to 3 berries for economical reasons, but I'm pretty sure they meant 2 to 3 berries per bush - how would we know which bush to pick from otherwise?  Before long, B got distracted by butterflies and taking pictures with his Nokia phone, and I was left with the task of picking the berries.  It got more hot and humid, so even though we only had half a basket filled, we moved on to find raspberries.

Unlike the blueberry bushes, the raspberry bushes were shorter and very thorny.  The berries were also mostly hidden, so that you would have to reach in to get the berries.  There were also many more mosquitoes around that area, and I was bitten in at least 5 different spots before we gave up.  Then tragedy struck - our basket tipped over, and the fragile raspberries all splattered on the ground.  We salvaged what we could, which wasn't much, and decided to find the black currant patch.

The black currant patch was down the valley beside the raspberry bushes behind the flower patch, and we actually managed to pick some more raspberries along the way.  We didn't know what black currant trees look like (the only forms of black currant we are familiar with are Ribena and Fruitips) - but we managed to find out from a little old lady who had the top half of her body buried in a short shrub that happened to be a black currant plant.  There were few fruits left and the ones we tried were all tart with a bitter aftertaste.  We gave up as it had started to rain, and we hurried into the store to pay.  The store offered black currants and other fruits that were picked and packaged and we tasted the black currants there but they weren't any better.  We were quite disappointed.

Our tour there ended with some wine-tasting - there is a winery that uses the fruits from the farm to make fruit wines.  We tried one called "True Blue" that was made with blueberries and a "Black Currant Truffle", but the ones we liked the most was the "Strawberry Fields" and "Cassis".  The strawberry wine paired really well with clams that we had for dinner.

Shooting Range

Michelle had invited us for a trip to the shooting range on Sunday, and although I wasn't crazy about it at first, B was excited to have the chance to fire a real gun.  The shooting range called Target Sports wasn't too far away - the drive must have been less than 30 minutes.

We geared up with ear-muffs and safety goggles, and after signing the liability waiver and a brief lesson on safety and how to hold a gun, we were led through double doors into the range.  Booths were set up with the different guns - a glock, a S&W militia and police, a sig, another glock, and a shot gun.

It was definitely an experience of a lifetime.  The loud bangs, bullet casings flying everywhere, and the thrill of hitting the target - it was way more exciting than I thought it would be.  Turns out I was a better gunman than B :)

Driving Range

After lunch, we met up at the driving range across from Angus Glen for a different kind of exercise.  It must have been the first or second time I've been on a driving range this summer, and honestly, I can't remember how to swing properly anymore.  Not that I hit any better last season - all my irons and woods go about the same distance, which isn't that far to begin with.  But I could swing the driver - even if the ball doesn't go far, at least I usually get the "pong" sound I love to hear.  B, on the other hand, had a couple nearly perfect shots.  I think it's time I get back to seriously practising my swings.

Friday, July 23, 2010

and as a treat....

I did it!

5 consecutive days of fitness:
Sunday: light weight-lifting sessions plus some sit-ups/push-ups
Monday: Body Attack
Tuesday: Zumba + my sit-ups/push-ups routine (20 sit-ups, 15 leg raises, 60 sec plank, 15 each of chest/triceps push-ups)
Wednesday: Zumba plus some sit-ups/push-ups
Thursday: Body Attack + Yoga

And I just realized I had gone vegetarian - the last time I ate meat was Monday evening when we tried the Michelina chicken flatbread.  I had been living on fruits and bagels and chocolate for the past few days.  Weird, because I don't miss the meat at all.

Friday, July 16, 2010

pani puri

We pulled another group effort for yummy pani puri - a puffed, hollow cracker filled with chickpeas, potatoes, onions, tamarind chutney, then topped off with a murky green water that's flavored with mint and black salt, among other things:

feet pain from body attack

Back to my Body Attack + Yoga combo and felt great - it really is invigorating!  Only problem is now my feet hurt from all the high-impact jumps and kicks - maybe it's time to look for new shoes?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Lake Placid

It was an awesome weekend getaway - shopping at Waterloo Outlets, staying at Lake Placid, rafting down the Hudson River, then Applebee's and Walmart to wrap up our trip.

We stayed at a really charming inn overlooking main street with a view of the lake:

After rafting, we had an awesome dinner at an outdoor restaurant with a lobster mascot that looked rather menacing:

The next day we decided to sleep in and enjoy a nice breakfast instead of the planned hiking/sight-seeing.  Humongous portion size must be a normal thing in the States, where everything is bigger:

Sangria @ Applebee's:

I already want to go back for another round of white water rafting and for the food.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

going nuts

my ipod ran out of battery and now i'm defenseless against my coworker who has an almost-pathological need to talk incessantly.  With the new DSM-5 that includes sex addiction as a "disorder" - I wonder if there is also going to be a defined condition for those who feels compelled to keep talking.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

numb and sore

2 days of BodyAttack in a row = no feelings nor strength in my legs and sore shoulders and back - but getting swimsuit-ready is well worth the pain!!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Day at the Museum

I haven't visited the ROM since its not-so-recent renovation, and I have always wanted to go again because we didn't have enough time to see everything we wanted to see the last time we visited.  With the Chinese Terracotta Army on exhibition and the $5-off coupon from T&T Supermarket, we took advantage of the day-off in the middle of the week (i.e. Canada Day) and made a trip downtown.

Traffic wasn't busy and the scenic view of the Don Valley was quite nostalgic - the last time we drove through there must have been when we were still at UofT.  We found parking quite easily at the Intercontinental Hotel, which is just across the street from the ROM.  The Crystal looked menacing - I'm not sure I like it - it's like an asteroid has hit the ROM building.  Maybe we just didn't see it in a favorable light.

There was more to read then to see in the Terracotta Army exhibit.  It was definitely an interesting lesson on Chinese history, and it was quite amazing to see some of the artifacts that I've only seen on textbooks.  The exhibit gave a detailed introduction to the rise of the short-lived Qin Dynasty.  Half-way through the exhibit B's stomach started to growl but we didn't realize the ticket is only good for one-time use - once we left we wouldn't be able to get in again.  So we hastily saw the rest of the exhibit and left - there weren't much to see after the life-size terracotta soldiers anyway - the Han Dynasty section seemed like an afterthought to fill up leftover space.

We didn't see anything we liked in Food Studio, the fast food restaurant inside the museum, so we ventured out onto Bloor St. and within steps, found this really nice breakfast-and-lunch joint with a patio called "Over Easy".  For under $25 both of us were stuffed - the aptly named Big Breakfast included a pancake, 3 eggs, 3 strips of bacon, baked beans, potato and toasts, and the Meat Lover's Omelette filled with ham, bacon and sausage had a generous serving size too.  I've never had such a perfect pancake - lightly dusted with icing sugar, it was crispy on the outside yet so light and fluffy on the inside.  It was a bite of heaven when topped with butter and syrup.  The baked beans was amazing too - there were pieces of bacon among the tender beans in the richly flavored sauce, nothing like the canned stuff we used to get as kids.  And included in the meal was a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice.  It's such a nice thing to do on a gorgeous summer afternoon -delicious brunch on a shaded patio.

We got back into the ROM hoping to walk off some of our brunch, and saw animals, dinosaurs, crystals and gems.  We saw moose, both the specimen of the modern kind and the reconstructed fossils of the extinct kind.  I was drooling over a big round diamond when the security guard shooed us out at closing time - and there were so much more that we never got to see.  Like the mummies.  And the chainmails.  And the rest of the gems and jewellry collection.  I knew we wouldn't have enough time but was still quite disappointed to not have seen everything we wanted to see.  We will have to find another chance to visit the ROM again :)

The Last Airbender

We were excited to see The Last Airbender because of the cool visuals in the trailer - the kid with a glowing blue arrow on his forehead and the computer graphics with fire and water being hurled at each other.

We were puzzled about the introduction that vaguely resembled a cheaper, cheesier version of the Star Wars opening, and even more so when the screen faded to black with the title "Book One: Water".  Logically speaking, why would sane person hit the ice underneath their feet, only to run as the ice crumbles?  And how did the granny return to her hut so the Waterbender and her brother could be told to go and help the Avatar - wasn't she captured by the Fire Nation's Army?  Then there were these gibberish scribbles that look like Chinese or some other Asian language and all these brown-skinned people in Japanese costumes eating donburi.  What messages were the moviemakers trying to convey??  I was most confused about the premise of the movie - wasn't there supposed to be four elements?  After liberating the Earthbenders in a village, the Earth element was just cast aside and there was no mention of it again - even in the animation in the end sequence only Water, Fire and Air were shown.  As if the plot wasn't tacky enough, there was the horrible acting, or lack thereof - the Waterbender and her brother hardly had any expressions and the exiled prince looked more like a hurt puppy than someone bent on capturing the Avatar to clear his name...

We saw the movies in 3D, but none of the scenes were particularly engaging and we came out wondering why we saw it in 3D.  The most exciting parts of the movies were nothing more than what was shown in the trailers.  I could just go on and on and on about what a waste of time it was to see this movie.  No wonder the reviews had given it less than 3 stars out of 10!! (Note to self - make sure to check the internet first for reviews before heading out to the movies next time.)

Despite the huge disappointment last night, I am looking foward to the new Disney/Nicolas Cage movie The Soccerer's Apprentice, which is coming out in 2 weeks.  The trailer looks awesome and I am a huge sucker for Disney movies.  At least Disney movies rarely disappoint.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Thursday, July 1, 2010

our "date"

he was late.  i got upset.  we fought.  we missed the movie.  we talked.  we made up.  i think we're gonna be okay.  and i think we're gonna wait to see the movie on pplive.