I love dim sum

July 26th, 2009, 1:39 pm PST by Kat

The best part was when the woman made a funny sound when she realized all five orders of mango pillows were for our table. That and the free tea hook-up. Thanks Daniel!

I scream. You scream.

July 25th, 2009, 9:08 pm PST by Kat

It’s times like this when I remember why I married Greg.

What I’ve been doing lately

July 24th, 2009, 11:59 pm PST by Kat

This has been what I’ve been staring for the past month – almost constantly for last two weeks. I’ll be glad when I can get back to the lab full-time.

Mobile photo blogging

July 21st, 2009, 10:50 am PST by Kat

I’ve been a little lax in blogging lately, and I realized it was because I always gel like I don’t have enough to say to merit a blog post. Then in a fit of procrastination I signed up for Twitter. It seems as though the short character limit and ability to quickly post a picture are right in lone with the amount of info I feel like sharing on a day to day basis. However, because a lot of people who read this blog seem to be allergic to social networking (you know who you are), my tweets aren’t reaching very many people.
So to remedy thus situation I found an app that wil enable me to mobile blog and quickly add a picture, and I did it all by myself! (Greg is now probably rolling his eyes.) Anyways, here is my first mobile blog. If you’re reading this then that means it worked! I’m attaching a picture just to see whether that works too.

Alaska – Kat’s perspective

June 2nd, 2009, 11:43 am PST by Kat

By the sounds of Greg’s post, the cruise was a downer. Contrary to Scrougy-McScrougerson’s account, we had a fun (and relaxing) time.

During the week we saw a wolf (dark brown and kind of mangy. Just realized that this wolf was probably shedding it’s winter coat – hence it’s mangy look), a bear, a martin (Greg’s mom saw it at the dock at Juneau), black-legged kittiwakes and other gulls, pupping and diving harbour seals, and a pod of orca.

Holland America has what they call “dam dollars”. They’re pretty much play money that you earn by participating in ship activities. Other cruise lines have similar things like Royal Caribbean’s “Ship-Shape dollars”. Anyways, all week I dragged Greg to team trivia ($1 each for participation), name that tune ($3 each), Wii bowling ($1 each + $3/spare and $5/strike), and the most profitable, polar bear swim ($10 each! + a nice certificate!). In the end we’ve ended up with 59 dam dollars! We got a hat for Greg’s dad and two mugs for us and gave the rest of our dollars to a boy that was at all of the activities. While I did have to “drag” Greg to these events, he did have fun while we were there, honest!

After playing team trivia almost every day (and doing fairly mediocre at it the whole week) we finally won on the last day, and we weren’t even there to see the victory. We teamed up with a couple from Burnaby and another couple from Vancouver Island, and ended up in a quadruple tie at the end of what was possibly the toughest game during the week. We initially thought it was a 3-way tie not involving our team, so Greg and I left for our 5:30 dinner seating. However, after we left, our team found out that due to a miscalculation, it was actually a 4-way tie. The rest of the team won during the tie-breaker and our entire team won Holland America picture frames, which were the nicest trivia prize of the week. The two guys actually came and found us in the dining room and presented us with our frames! Yippee!! 😀

The views of the Margerie Glacier in Glacier Bay National Park were really stunning. If you’re ever in Skagway, I recommend the Skagway Brewing Company beer tasting which comes with a free hat! 🙂

Shanghai – Day 1

April 22nd, 2009, 9:02 am PST by Kat

We started off the day with a visit to the Shanghai Museum. Here there were rooms full of Chinese coins, calligraphy, paintings, ceramics, seals and bronze sculptures. Everything was really beautiful and the displays were really well lit. [GB: Sadly, the “Ethnic minorities of China” exhibit was closed. I compensated by buying a book to read on the boat.]

We then headed to Old Town Shanghai where we walked through the bazaar (winding alleys of stall-stores where vendors try to sell random Chinese stuff to tourists (Chinese and foreign). We walked through the Yuyuan garden, a Ming dynasty-style garden, which had large dragon sculptures on top of the walls, huge rock formations and beautiful koi ponds throughout.

After a dim sum lunch, we had some free time in the bazaar, and I was able to buy some preserves for the family. I was sent here with a wrapper from a preserve that my aunt really likes, but can’t find in Vancouver (she was given a bag as a gift). So, here we are in China, flashing this little wrapper at tour guides and people in stores hoping that they have this exact brand of preserved plums. To make it worse, there are Chinese characters on the wrapper that say ‘United States”. I think this is because the plums used are California plums, but everyone who speaks English has said, “This says ‘US’ on it. Can’t you but this over there?” So yes, I feel like a moron! Anyways, I haven’t found the exact brand, but I bought some that are similar, so the quest continues…

Our next stop was the Temple of the Jade Buddha. This is a “working” Buddhist temple, so it was kind of weird walking around on a tour while people were praying and burning incense. Anyways, we say two jade buddhas (one large one, one small one). We also got to sample to “Buddha tea” in the temple’s tea room. Here a saleswoman asked me if I was Chinese. I said that I was Chinese-Filipino from Canada. Later our tour guide said that she overheard the woman tell another saleswoman my background and that she thought my Chinese half was either Fujian (from Fujian province in China, not Fuji!) or Cantonese based on my face. I tolk her that I am half Fujian, but I never knew that there was a “Fujian look”. Apparently there is, so that was interesting. For that interaction the saleswoman got a Canadian flag pin. 🙂

Speaking of pins, if you are going overseas and want to give random people you meet during your travels something from Canada, go to your MP/MLA’s office and pick up a handful of Canadian flag pins for free! We’ve been giving them to people (usually cute kids, friendly cab drivers, etc.) and they seem to love it – especially the cab driver in Hangzhou who got out of the cab and ran after us to ask if it was an earring! But, I digress…

After a brief rest at the hotel, Greg and I took a walk down Nanjing Road, Shanghai’s high-end shopping district. This was not as fun as the walk back to the hotel on a parallel but more Chinese street. Here we saw local shops, food on the street (mostly BBQ meat skewers) and convenience stores.

After dinner we took a cruise on the Huangpu River along the Bund to see Shanghai’s ultra-modern skyline. It has the world’s second highest building (soon to be 3rd as another is going up in Dubai), the Shanghai World Financial Center, along with a lot of other really cool skyscrapers (both in terms of architecture and lighting). We were lucky to also see an impromptu fireworks show from a passing barge. The lights on these buildings is comparable to Vegas, but on extremely tall office buildings, as well as on the lower office buildings and restaurants in front of them.

[GB: important note about the skyline on the east side of the river (which is what Kat describes above) is that it wasn’t there 15 years ago. Fifteen years ago, it was suburban at best. Everything in Shanghai is new.]

Tomorrow we head to Yichang to embark on the Yangtze River cruise. Not sure what the internet situation will be like, so we may not post for the next 4 days.

[GB: I have still been posting a few pictures each day, but haven’t been mentioning it. This is just the tip of the iceberg: quickly-chosen favourites. Hundreds more will appear after we’re home.]

Hangzhou – Day 1

April 15th, 2009, 6:59 am PST by Kat

Today started early. 5:30 early. Damn you jet lag! But, waking up early meant that we were definitely on time for the 7:00 hotel breakfast. After breakfast Janice met us at the hotel, and we set off for a day of adventure. We cabbed to the Leifeng Pagoda where we saw the excavation of the original pagoda’s foundation, a collection of amazing artwork (wood carvings, paintings, calligraphy, etc), and breathtaking views of the West Lake.

Then we took a boat to see the three stone buoys (they were actually stone monuments, but we called them buoys because that’s what they looked like) which are depicted on the 1 yuan bill. [GB: the scene is apparently Three Pools Mirroring the Moon]

We had lunch of steamed freshwater fish, chicken cooked in a (banana?) leaf, and rice in a little restaurant on the lake.

We then took a boat to the island that is in the middle of the lake, walked around there, and then took another boat to the eastern shore of West Lake where we then went to the Temple of King Qian.

Following a refreshing and rejuvenating afternoon coffee, we walked through the flower market and then the night market (yes, we went to the night market in the afternoon). We then decided to take a bus to the silk market as catching a cab at rush hour can be difficult. We got on a bus that we thought went by the market. What we didn’t realize was that the bus did go by the market, but on the expressway, where there are no bus stops. We blew right by the market! But we were able to figure out where we were, and walked back over an interesting bike-pedestrian bridge that went over a canal and a busy expressway. Definitely a fun adventure! 🙂

We finally made it to the silk market, but it was closing so we made our way to a noodle house, had dinner, and then it was back to the hotel to rest our weary legs.

Edit GB: quickly threw a few pics up temporarily until we can take a serious look through them.

OMG! Chinky sunglasses!

January 2nd, 2009, 11:38 pm PST by Kat

I’ve been looking for a new pair of sunglasses since I lost my last pair. Tonight I went on the Oakley site, and (OMG! OMG! OMG! *jumps in chair while typing*) they have Asian Fit sunglasses and goggles! Now, this may seem strange to non-Asian people, but finding glasses/sunglasses that fit properly has always been difficult for me (and presumably other Asian people). Usually frames are too tight around my temples, slide down my nose, and touch my cheekbones (creating unsightly dents in my cheeks that take a while to go away). And now on their Asian Fit frames Oakley has made the ear stems more rounded to prevent touching at the temples, narrowed and deepened the nose bridge so the glasses will stay put, and reduced the curvature of the front to prevent touching at the cheeks and temples. I am so excited to try these on. I wish I had seen this two weeks ago when the mall was still open at 10:30 pm. I hope they didn’t sell out of these on Boxing Day.

UPDATE: As of this afternoon I am a proud owner of a pair of Oakley Asian Fit Five 3.0’s. 😀

Open House Menu

December 21st, 2008, 7:59 pm PST by Kat

So Greg blogged about his camera set-up, and I guess it’s finally time that I blogged about the food that we had at our open house. In typical Kat fashion, I planned for WAY too much food. But, it’s better to have too much than too little! 🙂

So, here’s what we had out: (links to recipes where we can)

Here’s what we had left over:

  • 3 L apple cider
  • 5 lbs beef skewers
  • 3 lbs chicken skewers
  • 2 sides of salmon (which we were going to cook on the BBQ)
  • the makings for 180 mini crab quiche
  • mini sausages
  • 2 medium wheels of brie
  • cream puffs
  • 3 Costco-sized boxes of frozen appetizers (which we bought in case we didn’t have enough food!)

So yeah, I guess we went a little overboard on the amount of food. Greg thinks that for next year we should have twice as much of half as many things. I, on the other hand, like the variety, so I’m thinking we should have the same amount of what we had out. 🙂

* from Greg

A few notes from me…

The beer/cheese/potato soup was nice, but I’ll never make it again in a million years. Because of the melted cheese, it fused to every surface it touched. I washed the slow cooker it was in three times, and Kat still rewashed it because it wasn’t clean.

For the butter tarts, I usually make a double pie shell worth of crust and double the recipe there. This time I doubled again because Kat encouraged me. 🙂

The trifle has to have the best appreciation to effort ratio of any recipe I make. It’s dead easy, and everybody loves it. I use grocery store pound cake and the custard in the sidebar of the recipe (you need 1.5× that recipe). I usually double the recipe (3× the custard) and make a big bowl, because it goes fast.

For the fruit coulis, I use a 600g bag of frozen berries, a little sugar, and cornstarch. Simmer to cook, and mash if the chunks are too big. Add a free-pour of sherry once it has cooled and you have enough for a double recipe.

OMG! OMG! OMG! We might have found a new place to live!!! :D

July 22nd, 2008, 10:15 pm PST by Kat

So since I’ve been back, I’ve been looking for a new place for us to live. The place we’re in is fine, but it’s a little small, and we’re getting to that point in our lives where we’d like to live somewhere a little nicer. The roadblock has been that we ideally want to stay in the same area. When I say “the same area“, what I mean is the two block by five block area surrounded by Albert on the north, Pender on the south, Willingdon on the east, and MacDonald on the west. We were hoping to find a new-ish townhome or duplex or something like that. This definitely limited our options, and I must say, I was starting to get discouraged. There were countless “brand new” condo units at SFU and near Brentwood, but those places aren’t Burnaby Heights.

However, today, I found it. The place where I REALLY want us to live until we get our own place. I’m so excited!

THE TRAMONTO

Here is the craigslist ad:  http://vancouver.en.craigslist.ca/apa/765760922.html

We have an appointment to meet with the landlady tomorrow evening. I’m SO excited!! I think the unit we’re looking at is floor plan F. It has a dishwasher, a wine fridge, a washer and dryer, and a deck where we can put a grill! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!! The landlady sounds nice and seemed quite happy to hear that it would just be the two of us living in her apartment and not “four people” or “a couple with 3 children”. Did I mention that I’m excited?

So, cross your fingers that she’ll like us and let us live there!

Update by Greg: Kat’s looking at it tomorrow night while I’m teaching.  My instructions to her: “I don’t care if it smells like cheese, I want to live there.”

Update by Kat: I saw it. I loved it. I put a deposit down!!!! 🙂 We will be living at the Tramonto in August! 😀 Oh, and I was initially wrong. The unit is floor plan C, which means that it’s on the north side of the building, and therefore quite quiet. The deck also has gas plumbing for a grill. 😀

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