29 July 2013


My grumpiness of having to wake up early this morning (weekly briefing) is offset by the afternoon tea at the Exeter Cathedral Cafe :)

Scones are definitely better overloaded with clotted cream and strawberry jam. Delicious.

We also got a complimentary entrance to the Cathedral with our tea, so in we go:

Vaulted ceilings are awesome. It almost looks alive after staring at them for so long.


And alas, more views from my room, yesterday's rainstorm followed by today's sunset:

28 July 2013


Was going to Bristol today, but high chance of thunderstorm stopped that from happening. Instead just went to town for some shopping & food.

Highlight of the day is introducing my friends to Lush (and spending 1.5 hours in the store...) and lunch at Bill's.

The atmosphere is adorable, it's like eating in a bazaar. The shelves of product lining the walls are all available for purchase, we sampled some jams and took home a gooseberry+gin. Coming to UK has made me realized that I've been missing out on so many varieties of berries! Gooseberry is deliciouuusss.

Main course is char-grilled tuna with orange and fennel salad. The tuna is medium done and quite flavourful on it's own. It's much better with the accompanying salad though, especially the capers. The cherry tomatoes were so juicy and sweet *u*

So many restaurants in Exeter to try yet so little time @_@

27 July 2013


Day trip to the Stonehenge and Salisbury today!

They're quite far away from Exeter actually, coach ride took bit more than 2 hours. Good time to catch up on some sleep :) Glad I perfected the skill of sleeping on moving vehicles through gritaly.

Quite magnificent ;D
Though it's smaller than I thought, guess I just had high expectations. The audio guide was very helpful, explained many aspects of the structure. Interesting topics were:
  • Type of stone: bluestone is actually blue! with white specks too, but only if you split it open
  • Construction methods: 1/3 of the stone is actually buried underground, and woodworking joints were used to secure the rocks together)
  • Mythology: many involve Merlin, one involves aliens, but all relate to the stones being flown here from Ireland...
Also saw the wool blanket that my mom bought for me when she was here haha. They have different patterns now. Were also really temped by posters of the stonehenge with various astronomical events (eg. comets),  but was deterred by the steep pricing and risk of it being bent in my suitcase.

Afternoon was spent in Salisbury.
Originally wanted to have lunch at Market Inn, but they were full with a private function. Was suggested by the manager to head a few doors down instead. Forgot the name of the pub, but they had a great soup:

The wooden board in which the food was presented on is gorgeous. Gotta get myself on of those later on in life.
Other culinary delights purchased included clotted cream and blackcurrant ice cream (yummm) and a variety of fudge to bring back as souvenirs.

The main attraction of the city was the Cathedral though. Also the best preserved original copy of the Magna Carta is here too.

Religious structures are always the prettiest (y). Though now that I've seen the Vatican, no other church can really impress me.

But sunsets amaze me no matter how many times I see them. Luckily the sun shines right into my window everyday, to me awe and then annoyance.

25 July 2013


More vicocam'd snaps from around campus, slight addiction has been rewoken. Today is the first day of lecture, and expectedly, I am so darn tired. Luckily most of the material I've learned in CME, thank you Peterson.
Roof of La Touche Cafe in Building One, where everyone's lectures are. Reminds me of mermaid scales, or at least how I imagine them to look. The lunch here is rather delicious, beats dinner any day.

Antler chandelier, fancy. This is from The Ram, the student guild run pub.

I thought these looked a bit like blueberries, they grow right in front of my dorm.

Spent the night planning day trips around Exeter, since there's so much free time haha. Decided on Torquay & Dartmouth for one, and Bristol for the other. Here's the spreadsheet if anyone's interested, will finalize sooner to trip days.
So cheesed about Bristol though. The program includes a day trip to Bath, which is like within an hour of Bristol. But there's not enough time in the same day to visit both cities, and staying a night outside is just unnecessary logistics and cost. Durrr.

24 July 2013


So far in love with the University of Exeter campus.

Specifically,  in love with the view from my residence. Today I just saw horses grazing on the fields to the right.

This, of course, comes with a price. The amazing view is a gift from the topology, which unfortunately means that the rest of campus (and everything else) is at the foot of the hill. So to get to pretty much anywhere else, it's a long walk down, followed by a very miserable descent up. During the campus tour, the guide informed us that Exeter students have good grades and good calves.
To think of this positively, I'm pretty much forced to exercise. And climbing the idyllic hill is so much better than squats.

This is my favourite place on campus, Reed Hall. It's gorgeous I know, might as well be a castle from a fairytale (though I haven't been to a proper German castle, so this will change). Apparently couples who met on campus often come back here for their wedding.
Beats my love for Hart House by a tad due to the garden surrounding it:

The tour also said this is the largest collection of botanical species (I am perhaps not technically correct here) outside of the Kews Garden in London.

Following are photos that were phone edited (via viscocam, which I forgot how much I liked) when I had too much time:
The Forum, a very costly, newly built student center. The ceiling is rather awesome.

Fresh (or so I think) berries from M&S foods (I totally did not know that they sell food). Had some of the non-abominably sized strawberries, delicious.


Something I've been trying for this trip is to take less photos and spend more time actually looking at whatever I would be taking a photo of. Being more present I guess? So far it's worked well for London, 200 snaps for 3 days. My Gritaly count is waaay above that.

23 July 2013


A quick catch up of the time I spent in London.

Overview of famous landmarks:

Clockwise from top left:
  • Westminister Abbey and Big Ben: (well actually the clock tower of Westminister, the nickname just refers to the bell inside, which has its distinctive sound because of a crack). Did not have enough time to visit these two, the photo was taken from the Thames River cruise.
  • Traflager Square: quite a nice place to relax, and right next to the National Gallery.
  • London Eye and House of Parliament: much grander looking than Canada's haha. The house was originally wood, and was plotted to be burnt down in the gunpowder plot. That didn't succeed, but 2 drunken lords manage to start a fire that burned down 75% of the building.
  • Tower of London: guess this is suppose to the Vatican equivalent (not fair comparison either). Went to see everything inside of the crowned jewels, there's some interesting rooms haha. There existed a Lion Tower that kept exotic animals, including a polar bear that was tied to a rope so it could fish in the Thames.
Yours truly being a tourist at Traflager Square:

The lion is symbolic of Britain (like the eagle is to USA). It's also a favourite of the Assyrian kings as I later learned at the British Museum. Saw very little of the museum, was dying of fatigue and heat instead.

Change of guards at the Buckingham Palace:

The guards were followed by a mob of eager tourists, which was quite futile since there's been people queuing at the gates since morning to get a good view.

A bridge who's name I forgot but still has to mention as a civil engineer:

The bridge was opened by the Queen, but soon experience major swaying problems and had to be closed down by the police a few hours afterwards. The architect denied that the bridge had any faults and instead blamed the way that Londoners walked (which would be a lot more believable if everyone marched like soldiers but no). Eventually, after a great sum of money has been spent, the bridge was fixed. Tsk tsk.

More buskers at Covent Garden:

Tightrope walking Frenchmen, and violin players (y) They entertained me while I waited for check-in time to arrive. Covent Garden was originally the vegetable and herb garden for local nuns.

Also had lunch at the Coven Garden Market, Jamie Oliver had a joint there:

Woodmen's Pizza at Jamie's Union Jack. A tad salty and not the most British thing to order. In fact most of the meals I ate in London were Italian, like the Tagliatelle di Campagna I had at Bella Italia (it's like Swiss Chalet, but better).

Overall I wasn't as impressed by it as I was by Rome, but Rome had a longer history so it's also not quite a far comparison. Was still great though, wish there was an extra day of free time, so many things were left unvisited!

19 July 2013


No G2, but flying to England in a few hours. Wheee

18 July 2013

nothing comes quicker than nothing you'll find

Two days late on the season premier of Suits, but omg.
I really like Scottie and Harvey haha. She is really pretty.

OP song so good (y)

17 July 2013

Summerlicious at Biff's Bistro

Haven't seen my UT friends since May, finally had lunch with them at Biff's Bistro for the occasion of Summerlicious. The restaurant has a nice interior with pretty comfy chairs (y)

The menu's pretty too haha.

Lunch somehow took 3 hours (the French's influence says Cindy), would have probably stayed even longer chatting if not for the fear of ttc during the rush hour.

16 July 2013


results from lots of sweat and watering:
Too bad I won't be able to taste the tomato before I leave D:

14 July 2013


Wheee manga is the best de-stressing tool. This is a particularly good one:
via Batato

I was scrolling through the promo chapter debating whether to read it or not, until I came to the title panel and saw the chrysanthemum. So beautiful, but must've been a pain to draw @_@ If I had read this before existentialism, I probably would have had an easier time.

Best to read this before bed, but perhaps not since you'll have a hard time falling asleep.

13 July 2013

Farm City

My mom joked that after I graduate I should move to a rural area and become a farmer. I responded by saying "Is that what you want your 40k investment into a civil engineering degree to yield?" (which I immediately thought was offensive and rude to farmers since I, for sure, would not be able to handle their lifestyle, so I mentally apologized).
But urban farming on the other hand :D

...is still pretty hardcore as demonstrated by Farm City.
I would describe this book as like Wild, but taught by a back lot farm instead of the PCT. The method of storytelling is similar. But this is what Amazon had to say:
When Novella Carpenter--captivated by the idea of backyard self-sufficiency as the daughter of two back-to-the-earth hippies--moves to a ramshackle house in inner-city Oakland and discovers a weed-choked, garbage-strewn abandoned lot next door, she closes her eyes and pictures heirloom tomatoes, a beehive, and a chicken coop.

What starts out as a few egg-laying chickens leads to turkeys, geese, and ducks. And not long after, along came two 300-pound pigs. And no, these charming and eccentric animals aren’t pets. Novella is raising these animals for dinner.

An unforgettably charming memoir, full of hilarious moments, fascinating farmer’s tips, and a great deal of heart, Farm City offers a beautiful mediation on what we give up to live the way we do today.
It is hilarious, especially the third part where she acquired pigs and her dumpster dives to acquire feed for said pigs.They're the pinnacle of urban farming as the author says.

Similarly, my motivation for growing a few vegetables on my balcony comes from the promise of better tasting food that wasn't bred for uniformity, prematurely picked and shipped half way across the world. And buying organic/local produce costs way too much. Other addictions, like stationary and skincare products, are already a bottomless sink. There's also the satisfaction of eating something that's the literal fruits of your labour.

Of course this is lots of hard work, as the book repeatedly points out (equal to a part time job if not more). It also doesn't fail to mention all the frustration like pests ruining your crop, or someone stealing the sole watermelon on your vine. Not to mention the death of many of the author's animals.

Meanwhile, I should have lots of fun managing the roof top garden at UT. Also found a much larger scale urban farm at Downsview that I hope to get involved with next growing season (well if I can find time). Also there's plenty seasons of River Cottage left to watch :D

12 July 2013


Downtown adventures with Dad today.

First off harvest at Sky Garden, still lots to learn before everyone graduates and ditches @_@

Complete photos on our picasa atm. It will be more organized I swear, my goal is to revitalize the official wordpress but that takes too much effort so leaving that off till I don't know when.
That's terrible goal setting I know.

After hardwork (not really, most vegetables aren't fully grown yet), it's lunch time! Originally wanted to take dad to 巴山蜀水, but when we arrived they were in the middle of a power outage (gg storm). Ended up at 1 Hour cafe, which was quite a good choice.

Thank you to Jeff's raves about the coconut bubble, it was delicious *u* Both noodles gained my dad's stamp of approval, which says a lot about the flavour and quality. Probably going to end up eating here lots next year.

Had to meet up with agent to finalize offers. But nooo, ttc decides to shut down service from Bloor to St. Andrews the moment I sat down. Wtf. Do not want to live in Toronto cause of the ttc. But luckily we have a place for next year now :D whoohoo!

Also feeling proud that I've converted my dad into a Lush fan. I mentioned that we could go to Eaton and he was like "and go to the soap store?" haha. He brings them back to China as gifts and apparently they all love it xD

Lastly a quick update on the balcony garden:

11 July 2013


I think I'll be alright in terms of food next year. Or so I say now.

10 July 2013


The combination of having to pack for England/move in September and /r/femalefashionadvice (why have I just discovered the power of reddit now? /r/asianbeauty is awesome too) has led me to an effort to better inventory my belongings.

Starting with lip products.
Below is not an extensive list, but rather what I use frequent enough to keep out on my counter.

Left to right:
Swatches are in the same order. There can never be too many swatches on the internet (y)
Most used ones are the Korres lip butter, and the Tonymoly gloss bar now that I've gotten it. Both is long lasting (by gloss/butter standards, they can last almost through a meal), but unfortunately both are international brands "orz Gots to get a backup of the lip butter while I'm in England. The Nars lip pencil is also quite pretty and a natural looking pink.

Thinking of splurging on a Burberry lip velvet to replace the unknown maybelline lipstick, but the money saved is likely more useful @_@"

09 July 2013

rain rain

Busy day yesterday, meeting about Sky Garden job in the morning, followed by housing appointments in the afternoon. And then, rainstorm whohoo "orz

Least the job worked out. I was complaining about the civ department coordinator not replying to my application, but it turns out that I wasn't eligible for work-study and his inbox has 600+ unread emails gg.

There's sooo many things growing up there! Beans, lettuce, tomatoes, squash, raspberries etc! Gonna be good :)

Housing is as depressing as ever, low supply plus high demand is never fun. Gotta make offers though, it's only downhill from here.

What's even worse is the rainstorm yesterday. TTC was paralyzed, stuck for total of 3 hours on the subway, plus driving back from Lawrence took another 2 hours.

More flood photos here.

Took refuge in a pizza shop near the station, man pizza has never tasted so good while you're half soaked and clearly been standing in one spot for too long.

Came home to find that there's no power too. Luckily elevators were working and there was still hot water (y).

08 July 2013


Dad came to visit, time to intensely practice driving @_@" Should probably aim for at least 5 more hours on the road derp.

He also brought along my rather large haul of asian skincare products from taobao. Taobao is great (y). I also discovered that they sell samples online, which makes it much easier to try new products.

Direct, overhead lighting is not your friend.

Few initial impressions:
  • Think I went overboard with Innisfree masks... especially since I ordered 7 packs of the sleeping pack durr.
  • Tonymoly petite bunny gloss is so adorable, and cheaper than the Clinique chubby sticks which I wanted. However the pigmentation of this shade is terrible, doubt any colour will show up on my lips. They might have given me the wrong shade since I remember ordering a bright red one...
  • Tonymoly's egg masks, such wasteful packaging! Only the bottom half contains the product.
  • High hopes of the MBDM apple polyphenol. General consensus seems to be that it is one of the best out of the series. Also bought a bunch of fancy ingredient ones for mom.  
My aunt also sent this along, I shall presume this is a housewarming gift for when the condo is finally found "orz

Housing omg "orz More showings later today, hope it goes well.

07 July 2013


Spent too much time reading reviews of asian skincare this summer, so might as well do a quick roundup of my own routine as a reference.

I've realized the usefulness of flow charts ever since the programming project. Mine was so pretty *u* probably improperly done cause I only know the rectangle is for process and diamond for like decisions, but it was colour coded haha.

The products so far. Ordered a bunch of stuff on taobao, so this is going to expand haha:

In my defense, this is simple compared to most! Only 3 steps on most days haha. Looking to replace the exfoliator with something chemical instead (all I see is that AHAs/BHAs > physical gg), add a serum (preferably to fade scars, might look into the Kiehl's one), and restart using an eye cream (too many choices "orz).

The assorted masks are currently Kiehl's rare earth clay mask (looking for cheaper alternative), random MBDM sheet masks, and laneige waterbank sleeping pack and multiberry yogurt pack. Ordered a whole bunch more though *u*

To my further defense, have not bought make-up items in a very long time.

05 July 2013

come and rearrange

More music fillers cause housing depresses me, though other aspects are well? Reblogged from Ivy, such perfect falling asleep song

the only time I feel good falling
is when I'm falling fast and hard for you
the last two digits when I'm calling
fade away but somehow I'll get through
the only time I feel good sinking
is when I'm sinking fast and deep for you
you caught me as I was winking
now I think my winking days are through

could it be another chang?
to come and rearrange
why can't she just feel the way I do?

you can't love no one
you can't love something
you can't love nothing
you can't love anything
till you can love yourself
till you can love yourself
you can love yourself

the only time I feel good falling
is when I'm falling fast and hard for you
I can't tell if you are stalling
so if you are please tell me what to do
the only time I feel good sinking
is when I'm sinking fast and deep for you
you caught me when I was winking
now I think my winking days are through

could it be another change?
to come and rearrange
why can't she just feel the way I do?

03 July 2013

Everything that kills me makes me feel alive

Best line from tumblr: everything that doesn't kill me gives me exp

02 July 2013

Norwegian Wood

Took me a while to decide to check out Murakami's books. The pretty cover overlay of 1Q84 was what initially attracted me, but Norwegian Wood was on the library shelves so it ended up being the first Murakami book I've read.

(the eyeliner on the cover is so perfect woahhh)

Synopsis via Amazon:
Toru, a quiet and preternaturally serious young college student in Tokyo, is devoted to Naoko, a beautiful and introspective young woman, but their mutual passion is marked by the tragic death of their best friend years before.  Toru begins to adapt to campus life and the loneliness and isolation he faces there, but Naoko finds the pressures and responsibilities of life unbearable.  As she retreats further into her own world, Toru finds himself reaching out to others and drawn to a fiercely independent and sexually liberated young woman.
It's a very...umm...melancholic tale? Well that's obvious, but you know those people who talk with such clarity when they're telling a sad/vulnerable story about themselves? The book reads like one of those people telling you the story.

I also think the writing is very beautiful, or at least the translation of it. Like these few lines:
I read Naoko's letter again and again, and each time I read it I would be filled with the same unbearable sadness I used to feel whenever Naoko stared into my eyes. I had no way to deal with it, no place I could take it to or hide it away. Like the wind passing over my body, it had neither shape nor weight, nor could I wrap myself in it.”
April ended and May came along, but May was even worse than April. In the deepening spring of May, I had no choice but to recognize the trembling of my heart. It usually happened as the sun was going down. In the pale evening gloom, when the soft fragrance of magnolias hung in the air, my heart would swell without warning, and tremble, and lurch with a stab of pain. I would try clamping my eyes shut and gritting my teeth, and wait for it to pass. And it would pass....but slowly, taking its own time, and leaving a dull ache behind
and these:
She knelt on the floor by my pillow, eyes fixed on mine. I stared back at her, but her eyes told me nothing. Strangely transparent, they seemed like windows to a world beyond, but however long I peered into their depths, there was nothing I could see. Our faces were no more than ten inches apart, but she was light-years away from me.
Though I think I like it because the last sentence reminds me so much of Byousoku 5cm.  It would be pretty awesome if Shinkai did an animated film of this *u*

Didn't take down any quotation myself, the only line I'll probably remember is that "Only the dead stay seventeen together", and that's only because I have a One Piece wallpaper that quotes the line. Felt really proud when I came across it and finally knew what the wallpaper was saying haha. 

As a bonus, the book introduced me to some Beatles songs.

01 July 2013


Not sure why we picked one of the busiest long weekends to head to Niagara Falls, but it was fun xD

First stopped for some shopping at the nearby outlet. Got a shawl collar cardigan and a pair of white leather sneakers to replace my worn out converses.

Wheee for panoramas and rainbows:

Had an overpriced and rather bland tasting dinner at the Welcome Center restaurant. Would have much preferred the greasy burgers downstairs. Since there was still some more time to kill before the falls lit up and fireworks started, thought it would be a good idea to grab some coffee at Timmies. Was not such a good idea, the line was longer than the one outside Coach's outlet e_e"

Finally the sun set and everything started to glow:

After some more time the fireworks started. I strongly believe that they look better out of focus.
but here's a short clip if you want to see the actual show:

The traffic on the way back was horrendous. Took 4 hours to get back to Toronto wtf, was a good nap though. Moral of the story: don't go to Niagara Falls during a long weekend.