April 2009

General30 Apr 2009 09:57 pm

So, I’m behind in just about everything. Laundry. Vacuuming. Filing my taxes.

In my defence, I do have a return coming, and I was busy doing school work. And, it’s not my fault Revenue Canada lives in the dark ages.

Credit: Trento from Flickr

Seriously? SERIOUSLY??!


work (kinda)25 Apr 2009 10:36 am

If any of you are bird lovers, you should check this out. For the second year in a row, the Journal has their goose-cam up and running. One of the photographers lives on an acreage and had a Canada goose nest on his property, so last year he and another photographer trained a live webcam on it and people witnessed the hatching of six little goslings. This year’s camera started running last week, and mama goose is kind enough to pose again.

If you happen upon a screen with just straw on it; never fear. When she leaves the nest, she covers the eggs, then uncovers them when she returns. She is not a deadbeat mom! (People really freak out in the comments when they see an empty nest)

Edmonton Journal Goose Cam

Food and Food: Las Vegas and Travels19 Apr 2009 07:49 pm

New York cafe Serendipity 3 has opened an outpost in Las Vegas at Caesars Palace. It appears to be on the promenade facing the Strip; where an unfrequented bar sat for a long time.

Serendipity 3 is famous for their ice creams and other frozen treats, including the “Golden Opulence Sundae.” It’s basically ice cream with expensive chocolate and some gold leaf on it they made for publicity purposes (which is totally working, as you may notice.) It costs a thousand bucks. Yawn.

However, an interesting addition to the Vegas menu is “One-N-Only Las Vegas buffet sandwich” which promises “tastes of Italy, Japan, France, Mexico and the United States – all on the same bun.”

What could POSSIBLY be in that thing? It kind of turns my stomach to think about it actually. I’m going to have to look into it on the next trip…then beeline it to BLT at the Mirage for one of their tried-and-true shakes.

Food and Food: Las Vegas and Travels18 Apr 2009 09:40 am

Laura Severs, a freelancer, published a package of stories on food tourism in Las Vegas, a destination near and dear to my heart. It’s a place I’ve been a food tourist in more than once.

We made a microsite on the website, so you can view all the stories here. I tried to shove as many photos in the stories as I could.

Just remembering the skate from Boulud is making me ravenous. I gotta go eat.

Crafts etc17 Apr 2009 11:21 am

It is not often I am able to catch Mike off guard. He’s an alert one, that boy. But, I finally did it.

Years ago, I told him if I was ever ready to get married, I would be sure to ask him. Last year, about this time, I thought I might be ready. I bought a blank set of dolls and started making a matryoshka nesting doll to give to him. The ideas of small things nestled in larger things really appeals to me, and I liked the idea of adding a Ukrainian twist to things. It was nice to be nostalgic about our fabulous trip to Japan as well.

It just took me another year to be sure and to finish the dolls. It was difficult to work on this and keep it hidden. I did some when he was in California and sometimes I had to retreat to Starbucks and work on it there.

So, I sketched and painted and finally came up with this:

As I mentioned in another post, these guys are, from left to right:

  • A geisha doll. Her base/kimono is chiyogami paper, and her obi is ribbon.
  • Mount Fuji with cherry blossom trees (continuing the theme from the geisha)
  • A sumo wrestler, complete with man boobs and bum.
  • A mini Totoro. He’s a character from the 1988 film My Neighbor Totoro. Originally he was going to be a Hello Kitty doll. So kawaii!
  • Finally, the smallest dolls are meant to be tickboxes, as a nod to an inside joke Mike and I have. They say yes and no in English and Japanese.

Here is a (somewhat) detailed look at my idea from start to finish. It took me FOREVER to do, because I am no artist at all.

I started with blank wooden dolls from Etsy seller WhittleWorld. She has relocated to Singapore from Hawaii and will be starting to resell soon, which is awesome. She was very kind and provided me with an extra of the tiniest doll so I could do the yes/no thing.

My original idea was to do all kokeshi-style dolls in different sizes, but I ended up doing different themes on each. You can see my preliminary sketches below. I had to scrap many a cool idea, which was hard to do.

There were some changes, but I think it turned out well over all. My initial Hello Kitty doll that did not happen. She morphed into Totoro instead, who I think is much more adorable, even if his ears are kind of weird and flat. The bonsai trees became cherry blossom trees.

I found it difficult to get the colours to look professional. That is to say, to be cohesive and to layer properly. It must have worked, because Mike assumed I had purchased it as is. I had to do a sort of “paint by numbers” map so that I knew which colours should go down first (lighter shades instead of dark, and so on.)

I used cut out pieces from the chiyogami paper to put in the geisha’s hair as hairpieces and was going to add them to other dolls, but they just did not look right.

I had to redo the tickbox dolls twice. These were so hard to paint! I had to mount them on pins on an eraser and use a TINY brush to get the strokes right. I am hoping they say the right thing in Japanese, to be honest; I had to pull them from some rudimentary tutorials online.

After all the painting, I finished them with a varnish and waited for the right time. Men have it so hard, I do not envy them. The waiting and thinking and worrying about different outcomes was SO nerve wracking.

At some point I decided I needed a ring to show I was serious, even if it was just a toy one. I looked at many different types and almost got a vending machine ring, but ended up on Etsy again.

I got the record ring from AnalogPark, and then made my own label and shrunk it down in Adobe Illustrator. This idea was rooted in Mike’s love of (hardcore) records and DJing so I kind of did it in that style.

Okay, I’ll shut up. Here are the many, many photos:

When I turned the dolls over to show Mike the secret message (which I’m glad I did, because I could not speak or make eye contact with him I was so nervous) I took out the ring.

A few days later, he presented me with a ring he inherited from his great aunt, Pat, and returned the question. What a surprise THAT was! (seriously, he totally shocked me, I wasn’t expecting it at all)

Best of both worlds, if you ask me.

Crafts etc16 Apr 2009 01:33 am

I made this cute matryoshka doll, which is a Ukrainian nesting doll. It took me about seven months (!) to complete, from sketching to varnishing.

I themed it after Japan, because I love Japan.

(geisha doll, mount fuji + cherry blossom trees, sumo wrestler, totoro and two small tick boxes saying “yes” and “no” in english and japanese)

On the bottoms, a secret message:

I presented this to Mike three weeks ago… and he said yes.

Sorry it took so long to share the news. I didn’t want to let the cat out of the bag before certain people were told, but now word is finally getting out.

I will post details on the craft project soon.

work (kinda)14 Apr 2009 12:42 pm

I’m still well into the blizzard of schoolwork, but was perusing Minneapolis hotel websites the other day during a break. I’m going to be visiting in May for a friend’s wedding. When looking at the amenities for the hotels I noticed not every chain was promoting free paper delivery in the morning. It kind of worried me.

Then I see today that HotelChatter posted that some hotel chains are indeed scaling back newspaper delivery to guests. Marriott claims people aren’t demanding the paper as much anymore, which surprises me. When did people stop wanting a free service? How do they measure such demand?

Perhaps people aren’t as cheap as I am and fork over the $11+ for in room wifi access and read the news that way, leaving the paper folded up and in its little door hanger bag?  Either way, I still love getting the paper at a hotel. (As long as it’s not USA Today. Ugh. Maybe that’s the root of the problem here.)

My parents (who are currently holed up in an apartment run by Marriott in Bangkok) said that even that property has switched from delivering the pricier Bangkok Post to rooms to having a copy or two of the somewhat inferior Nation for people to fight over in the breakfast room. Yikes.

Food09 Apr 2009 12:09 am

recchiuti logo

The Friday before we were due to check into the Wynn in Las Vegas in February, I placed a very special order, with Recchiuti.

Recchiuti is a fine chocolate vendor in California. Since they only ship within the States and it can be hard to find their chocolates anywhere outside San Francisco, I took advantage of the Wynn’s business center to have some treats shipped to greet us at the hotel.

I fondly remembered the San Francisco chocolatier’s confections, as I had received some as a gift from Mike once. Wanting to return the favour, I checked out the Recchiuti site. I mean, I enjoy chocolate, but Mike loves it.

It started innocently enough: a single box of key lime pears. I heard another blogger raving about them, and wanted to try them.

recchiuti key lime

Seasonal key lime pears

Then, into the virtual shopping basket went some of their signature S’Mores bites.


I was on a roll.

recchiuti green box

Next, a “green box” of their varietal chocolates. These are the herb and tea infused chocolates. Feature flavours include star anise & pink peppercorn, lavender vanilla and tarragon grapefruit.

I searched the internet for a discount code and found one through Food & Wine (only valid for February, sadly) for 25% off. That made it easy to add a three pack of their new bar chocolate and a special S’Mores pack.

recchiuti smores

making recchiuti smores(This photo from the Recchiuti blog shows someone hand making the S’Mores Bites)

I cannot tell you how excited I was to collect my box of goodies from the Wynn’s shipping department. It shipped overnight and beat us to the hotel, and everything arrived intact. Well, save for the S’Mores Bites which were cracked on top, but there was a kind note explaining that might happen in transit via airplanes.



Recchiuti’s packaging is absolutely beautiful, and the chocolate is wonderful quality. We dug into the care package right away, eating the S’Mores Bites and sampling the Key Lime Pears. We saved everything else for home.

The S’Mores Bites and S’Mores kit came with handmade vanilla bean marshmallows and were eons ahead of the jet puffed fakery you buy at the grocery store. Mixed with high quality, not overly sweet cocoa-heavy chocolate and crisp graham crackers, they were heavenly.

We finally broke into the S’Mores kit tonight. There were dual instructions for making them in the oven and over the fire. However since spring has sprung in town, it would seem we missed our chance to make them in our fireplace.

rech11A S’More from the S’Mores Kit, made in the oven.

The only real disappointment were the Key Lime Pears. They weren’t quite as lime-y as I had been expecting. But upon further reflection, I thought maybe the lime had more to do with retaining their crispy texture when dipped in chocolate. They snapped in your mouth! Pear and chocolate sound an odd combo, but they were quite tasty.

I would love to visit their flagship store sometime, but will probably keep ordering via their website when I’m in the States next. They were highly professional and easy to order from with precise delivery times.

You should see the Easter treats they have right now…

(Some Recchiuti products are also available at select Neiman Marcus department stores and other retail partners)

General01 Apr 2009 12:16 am

bear vs man hoodie


I bought this amazing Sitka hoodie a few months ago for a crazy cheap price.  I find it is not only cozy when I study, but it also keeps me mindful of the schoolwork I have to do. Cause I am the trapper and my degree is the bear. MUST KILL DEGREE.

I mean, bear.

In addition, it reminds me of the time Mike fought a bear at an epic wedding we went to a year and a half ago.

trapper mountie wedding jasper

Just kidding. But Dave + Jenn’s was the best wedding I have ever been to, and Mike was dressed as a trapper/Voyageur/Daniel Boone (depending on your geographic location.)

Anyhow, this is my way of saying it’s womano e bearo now as I move into April. It’s going to be a long month and I may not be blogging much, even though I’m DYING to launch this other project I’ve been working on.