30 December 2013

2013 review

I've been putting this off for the longest time because it's such a daunting task, and I'm bound to forget somethings that I should mention. Here goes.

To start off, revisiting my resolutions made last year, I seem to have followed them. Slept more, hoping for higher grades (I doubt), bought less and used more of things I already had. Nothing much really happened in the second semester of first year.

First year... I'm glad I met my Chestnut friends. Otherwise I'd know almost zero people outside my program haha. Fun times eating (discovered good places!) and hanging out with them. Living together increases the rate that you feel close to people haha. Unfortunately, since we all split up in second year, I haven't been able to see them as much as I want/should. Missed out on a lot of gatherings simply because I'm lazy and didn't want to walk 30min+. Is this fact likely to change? I doubt it haha, my laziness is rather overwhelming, though good weather in the coming months will be a motivator to venture outside.

The big change from first to second year, aside from increased academic difficulty (this will be addressed later) is the change from living on res to off-campus.
Firstly, finding a condo downtown during the summer is a fucking pain in the ass that I don't ever want to do again. This is mostly because there were 4 opinions (in actuality, my roommates were chill, their parents weren't) that had to align, which does not converge fast enough for the downtown condo market. The place we ended up with is alright at best. The unit was not in the greatest of conditions (landlord clearly did not clean enough), and there are a lot of unusable space. The good thing is that its conveniently served by the TTC and the kitchen is actually usable.
I quite like living with 3 guys as roommates. Perks of having my own washroom (y), though at the expense that I can't just change clothes in my room (well the living room). We also had little conflict for the drastic differences in lifestyles (or more like me and them, in terms of eating preferences, siblings, housing type, etc). There were initial problems with dividing up the housework, which became more of a problem as midterms approached, and then died down again. Though it does prove that clear communication is the most important factor is resolving these issues. It's also important to not play the zero-sum game.
That being said, I think I would fare better living alone. My personality is too much of an introvert's haha, can't stand being with people for prolonged periods of time. There were so many days (and every single morning) when I was just really tired and did not want to interact with anyone. Its also because I'm stubborn and don't want to adjust my lifestyle to others, especially in regards to food. I need my husband to have similar culinary preferences lol.
Overall, I definitely don't regret my current living situation. It's a valuable learning experience living with non-family members. I also appreciate the time I spend with my parents now that they're not around, this is probably the first feeling of being a "grown-up"?

While on the topic of food, I'm really happy to be the coordinator of Sky Garden. This is the closest I've gotten to work and play being the same. Super excited about the upcoming season, especially since we might be expanding into the GB quad (but ugh, lack of sunlight). Also super glad that I have access to freshly picked vegetables and fruits, they do taste infinity better than out of season, grocery store varieties.

Also in the summer was my study abroad trip to England. It's always something I've dreamed of doing, and consequently had high expectations of (also because Shad was so amazing). Unfortunately, it wasn't fulfilled and I now wish I found a job instead (though that would have excluded Sky Garden, so all is fair). It's really my fault that I didn't make the most of this opportunity, I should have gotten to know more of my classmates and went out more. It was a weird situation though, on one hand I don't fit in with the Chinese students, nor do I with the American ones. Of course I'm generalizing here, but it's not an understatement to say that the majority of them follow their stereotype exactly (though this could be because I didn't get to know them). So I mostly stuck with the few friends that I did make, and stayed in my room a lot of the time. The stuff I learned was useful for civ220, but I didn't end up getting a CS/HSS credit that I wanted. What I did get was gorgeous sunset photos though.

Okay, academics, what the life of a student revolves around. Second year is much harder, or rather, the way that school is hard has changed. First year is hard because it's a new routine, second year is hard because the stuff you're learning is actually hard. Though I'm sure next year I'll be, third year is hard, wth was I thinking last year. And unfortunately, the seasoned profs for 3 of my courses are on sabbatical this year and we have new instructors. It turned out well for solids, but construction could definitely be better.
Though to be fair, I worked less this year. For example, my exams "studying" was almost a half-half mix of doing questions and being on reddit. Oh yeah discovering subreddits is the one of the best things that happened. Unfortunately that also means my ability to concentrate on one task is greatly diminished. I'll forever wonder how I managed to study calc for 8 hours straight in grade 12.

Through everything, I'm thankful that my family, friends, and especially Dave are there. I generally don't like being dependent, but knowing that they're there is good enough :) It's been good.

27 December 2013

2014 reading list

Whee finally got the library books that I put a hold on! Hopefully I'll be able to finish everything before break ends. Aka less Ni no Kuni (27 familiars away! But I'm being stubborn about tokos) and more reading.
 Food and philosophy (y), you might remember me mentioned Alain de Botton here and here.

Related,  here is the way too ambitious reading list for the upcoming year, partially crowdsourced from facebook friends. I'm betting on completing most of it during the summer months, so please ffxv don't come out until afterwards e_e"

  • The Accursed - Joyce Carol Oates
  • More Murakami
  • Whatever I haven't yet read from Vonnegut
  • Perhaps some classic sci-fi?
  • Brave New World
  • Metamorphosis  - Franz Kafka (rec'd by gr.12 English teacher, ahu's awesome)
  • Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy (I've had it on my shelf for YEARS)
  • The Gourmet - Muriel Barbery (I feel as if I did read this but can't find a record of it)
  • Paradise Lost - John Milton (someday...)
  • Then We Came To The End-Joshua Ferris
  • Green Grass Running Water
  • Snow Queen
  • The Five People You Meet in Heaven
  • The Glass Castle
  • East of Eden
  • Perfume
  • Mephisto 
  • Something by Malcolm Galdwell 
  • The Time Machine - H.G. Wells (this falls under classic sci-fi I guess)
  • This explains Everything - John Brockman
  • On Looking - Alexandre Horowitz
  • Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance  
  •  The discovery of the Future - H.G. Wells
  • Cooked - Michael Pollan
  • GEB (I don't plan on finishing it, just want to just farther than my last attempt, it really doesn't help that I have zero music knowledge and barely any formal logic knowledge) 
  • Letters of Note
Cookbook section (these are more for personal reference and there's actually way more, I just don't feel like digging through archives):
  • Land of Plenty -  Fuchsia Dunlop (best Chinese cookbook in English imo)
  • Vegetable Literacy - Deborah Madison (trying to eat less meat)
  • Little Jars, Big Flavour and Mastering Fermentation (gots to get going on preserving those bounty from the garden)
  • Mastering the Art of French Cooking (gift to parents, but I'll steal it for reference sometimes)
  • More by Alice Walters

26 December 2013

Holiday 13 shopping

Finally saw the remenants of the ice storm after coming back uptown:
Rather pretty for the devastation it caused.

Boxing day was calmer than expected, probably due to the white Christmas making road conditions bad. Though it still took roughly half an hour to find parking at Yorkdale. Got the bunch of items from the planned shopping list (cords, jeans, loafers!!!) and an impulse purchase cause the bird print is too darn cute.

Overall, here's what I remember buying from 2013. My goal is for 2014's list to be shorter.

  • H&M white sundress 
  • Everlane silk blouse
  • Barbour jacket
  • chambray shirt
  • Tommy thick shawl collar cardigan
  • ECCO white sneakers
  • LL bean sailor shirt
  • H&M sheath dress
  • GAP legging cords
  • J.Crew toothpick jeans
  • J.Crew bird print shirt
  • Everlane ryan tee
  • Jeffery Campbell loafers 
PS. totally forgot about the swarovski crystal christmas tree, which use to be at Eaton's:

25 December 2013

merry christmas

One giant ice storm and finally back home after 72 hours of no power.
One Christmas day and 3 trophies left to go until platinum on Ni no Kuni (y).

Throughout all this, I've come to appreciate the company of my parents more. I think the near-20s is when we grow out of an overwhelming desire to be independent (least I think I'm getting there). On one hand the freedom of adulthood is just beginning, on the other hand, the nostalgia of childhood is just seeping in as well haha. Difficult to figure out how to enjoy this period of time. But for now, plat on Ni no Kuni!

22 December 2013

Cloud Atlas

Originally planned on watching this back in October because SIU drew a comic version, finally got around to it.

Took me a while to make the connections between the different subplots, still not entirely sure how all the characters are connected though. I get the SonMi parts (her lines are cool), and I get the nuclear reactor&music parts, and then there's the slave part which I don't really see how it relates aside from the diary.

The character designs and music is nice though.

Fate is a central motif (?) in the movie, and I somehow feel very privileged that I'm not bound by it (or at least don't realize that I am if it is indeed so).

21 December 2013


I always seem to schedule a packed day on last of exams.

Morning: solid mech exam. Not to a good subject to end with, ouch.

Lunch: mmm kebobs, I'm still amazed at how I finished such a large portion.

At Pamier Kabobs.

Afternoon: oh yeah guys, I have a summer research position now (y). It's with Professor Shiekh's group helping his grad students. It'll be a mix of lab work (seriously, UT's structural lab is pretty amazing, too bad undergrads don't get to use it, or even see a lot of it), and office work, so I should be able to get a lot of great experience from this. A previous student also got PEY at Arup, there is hooope!
Also played SGS with chestnut crew, man I miss SGS.

Evening: Date with Rui :p Grave of the Fireflies at TIFF, you should all go see the ghibli feature! They also have official artbooks in the store, just not of the films I want T_T" Look at the pretty pamphlats though!

We were fully prepared with tissues for a cry-fest, but the film was so depressing that no tears would even come out. But honestly, Seito could have prevented this! "orz Lesson: do not consume untreated water. The soundtrack and scenes with fireflies are absolutely beautiful.

Dinner: Khan San Road, super popular place. We arrived at around 8:30 and there was still a 30min wait. Worth it though, the Tom Yum soup is intensely flavourful! Every sip packed such a punch of spices. Was still full from lunch so just had the fresh rolls as a main, liked the basil in there.

17 December 2013

dissolved oxygen

Food eaten on past exam days in preparation for second last exam tomorrow (y)

 Deep dish pizza at College Q, a 6" may look small, but it is extremely filling.

Dimsum at Rol San, yeah we got a little greedy... I'm not the most adventurous at dimsum, always ordering my favourites. The top right corner, which has a chive and shrimp filling, is something new but will definitely be reordering.

15 December 2013

Love in the Time of Cholera

It is difficult to finish a novel during school times, but alas I am done reading this one.
I picked it up since it's by the same author as One Hundred Years of Solitude (oh hey I read that almost exactly half a year ago), hoping to relive some of the magic. It did and did not live up to the expectation. In short, I loved the writing, but not so much the ending.

Some exceptionally beautiful lines:
The ephemeral splendour of another afternoon that would never return
 It was a mediation on life, live, old age, death; ideas that had often fluttered around her head like nocturnal birds but dissolved into a trickle of feathers when she tried to catch hold of them.
The light of the city had disappeared over the horizon. Seen from the darkened deck in the light of a full moon, the smooth silent river and the pastureland on either bank became a phosphorescent plain.
Usually I skip over introduction of books, wanting to get straight into the story. I decided against doing so this time and was rewarded with a far more eloquent description of Marquez's writing style than mine own. I (severely) paraphrase: when reading his books, you sense that time cease to flow. Interestingly, the plot of both books also involves "stopping" time. This makes me read at a slower than normal pace, partly why it took so long to finish. Sometimes I catch myself lingering amongst a select passage, or rereading entire paragraphs just cause.

The plot of the book, as the title suggests, revolves around love. It follows the life of 2 characters and the changes in their view on love as they age. Select quotations include:
And he felt he had the fortitude to endure forgetting.

And it was always without pretensions of loving or being loved, although always in the hope of finding something that resembled love, but without the problems of love.
And he felt he had the fortitude to endure forgetting.

And it was always without pretensions of loving or being loved, although always in the hope of finding something that resembled love, but without the problems of love.
It was the first time in half a century that they had been so close and had enough time to look at each other with some serenity, and they had seen each other for what they were: two old people ambushed by death, who had nothing in common except the memory of an ephemeral past that was no longer theirs but belonged to two young people who had vanished and who could have been their grandchildren.

He had never been so exhausted by so brief a conversation, he felt pain in his heart, and each beat echoed with a metallic resonance in his arteries.

It is incredible how one can be happy for so many years in the midst  of so many squabbles, so many problems, damn it, and not really know if it was love or not.
In the end, the two's love is requited, and that's where my problem lies.  I didn't want to see Florentiono Ariza's love for Fermina Daza to be reciprocated.
(later edit: I thought my afternoon exam is in the morning, so I have time to spare and try to explain why I didn't like the ending)
I think it has to do with very realistic characters (eg. Fermina Daza with her fickle feelings) with a very idealistic ending. In their youth, their love was abruptly ended when Fermina Daza realized that her feelings towards Florentino Ariza was not actually love (+1 realism). However Florentino Ariza persists in his love (more like obsession) for her, waits until she is widowed, and again professes his love for her. He writes a reflective letter, which imo is the only redeeming action in their entire courtship (others include stalking her throughout the city...). The letter gives Fermina Daza strength to continue living despite her husband's death, and slowly bring them together in the end. I guess this is because their view on love changed in their old age, but to myself as a reader, the ending felt discontinuous with Fermina Daza paying him no attention the all the other time. On the other hand, I suppose this is the point the book is trying to make.

The last couple of sentences of the book is very impactful though, eg.
He was overwhelmed by the belated suspicion that it is life, more than death, that has no limits.
Also something to think about (to distract myself from my unwillingness to figure out my displeasure with the ending) :
No one described him better than he did when someone accused him of being rich. 'No, not rich,' he said. 'I am a poor man with money, which is not the same thing' 

So subjectivity aside, this book is beautifully written.

13 December 2013


Between looking up teas and teapots, I spent way too much time in this thread about fashion brands. Now I have a couple more things added to the already impossibly long "want" list (eg. in terms of super boss looking blazers: Theory and ofc YSL smoking jacket).

Some looks I'm saved:

Jason Wu is the only design whose collection I've followed, starting from the one with Versailles inspired decor. Obviously that was what hooked me in the first place, but I'm staying for his gowns. Really like how these 2 pieces transition from a body-con fit to beautiful draping.

Seriously I'd take the black one as my wedding gown if it was white. Though the side cutouts may not be the most appropriate. Though my all time favourite gown is still this one.

Elie Saab also makes gorgeous gowns. I was about to take some images, but the experience of using their website (and the zoom!) was good so I'll let you click through to there. Check out the detail photos to really appreciate how intricate each dress is (also cool to look at the sketches). His dresses don't change much season to season, but why change the perfect formula of beautiful lace+beading+drape?

The next designer is a new one that I discovered through the thread: Stephen Schneider. Really like the abundance of white space on the site, and how the landing page for each season's collection looks. Eg. the 2013 s/s below:
The left image is like a more glamourous version of Barbour's printed beadnell jacket. The right image just has amazing print. Gots to get myself a legit persian rug someday.

Speaking of which, watch this short documentary about Hermes and craftsmanship. Makes the high price of its items justified. Also just found a Leica and Hermes collaboration, woah.

12 December 2013


Skincare interlude! About to change routines and thought I'd note down some products for future reference.

Out-going empties:
Shu cleansing oil (fresh pore ver) / Laneige water bank line essence and gel cream.

The shu cleansing oil is the second bottle of cleansing oil I've tried (Lancome's was my first, cause my mom purchased it by mistake). Compared to Lancome's, the consistency is thinner, which took a while to get use to. I use it on days when I wear sunscreen or make-up, and it absolutely removes everything. In fact I was so happy when I found out Sephora is carrying them and use them in store to wipe off swatches from my hand haha. While massaging my face with it, I can feel some 'grit' coming out. So it is effective. That being said, it's really pricy for what's basically mineral oil, thus I'm trying a cheaper cleansing oil (see below) and seeing if there's really a difference.

The laneige line is alright as well, will not rebuy since I like Hado Labo Shirojyun better. Laneige has way better packaging (dat reflective surface and tinted glass *u*), but is more expensive and performs on par or even below compared to Hado Labo. That's not to say it was hydrating, in fact it's pretty good considering my heater's on 24/7 (plus Canadian winter whee...) and my skin's yet to be dry. Nevertheless Hado Labo is better and will be returning to that.

Also finished 2 lush cleanser samples (coal face and aqua marina). Coal face has actual bits of charcoal in it, which I found too harsh. Also there's no proven benefits of charcoal (ugh forgot where I read it from), so will be passing similar products in the future. Aqua marina was interesting to use, it's clay based so it doesn't lather at all. Also time consuming to pinch off a small amount to mix with water, so will also be passing up in the future. I'm still loyal to foaming cleansers.

Incoming new products to try:
Missha creamy latte green tea cleasner / Innisfree "it's real" sheet mask / Holika Holika soda pore cleansing oil / MBDM apple polyphenols sheet mask / Benton snail bee essense / Benton snail bee steam cream

Phew that's a lot to type.

Missha cleanser is very creamy and produces a thick foam which I like. The green tea is for oily skin, though my current skin is rather normal thanks to the winter weather offsetting my usual combination skin. I use it in the morning and it seems fine, nothing to write home about.

Innisfree vs MBDM, ohh this is tough. On one hand I like how MBDM has so much extra serum that I can use it for a couple days afterwards, but the downside is that the mask takes forever to dry. Innisfree's mask is also thinner (said to be made from artificial silk), which I prefer. Both works well as a temporary boost, but yet to see any long term improvements.

Have yet to try the cleansing oil. Don't think there'll be a big difference though.
later edit: it's very viscose compared to Shu's, similar to the Lancome one. The scent is bad though, like those cheap lemon-y car fragrances, definitely will not repurchase because of this. It cleans fine though, but gosh the scent!

Benton's snail bee line, ahh read so much good reviews about them. Desperately want it to be a miracle product for me as well. So far, mm not sure. While there could be a reduction in my hyperpigmentation, it could also be causing some breakouts. Going to persist through an entire bottle before making any final judgements. Textural wise, both are great. The essence absorbs very quickly, and the cream is thick but not greasy at all. They're also quite cheap, which makes me want to love them all the more.

Overall, /r/skincare has educated me to pay more attention to ingredients. Future purchases will be guided by this new found knowledge, and veer in the directions of AHAs&BHAs for exfoliation (trying some PC samples atm), and vitamin C serums.


Today in summary:
  • Good: eng math final went pretty well, mainly because the prof has the tendency to closely follow the format of his previous exams.
  • Bad: broke both of the lids of my favourite tea mugs in a single incident. It actually makes me so sad, especially since there's no option of replacing the lid of my absolute favourite 紫砂 teacup. Ughhh life sucks.
  • Good: exposure is so pretty, I made a post about 成都. Now I feel sad and nostalgic, fantastic. Maybe I can fit a Asia trip after PEY?

09 December 2013


Thanks to the internet, this blog can be filled with posts while I discern the construction lien act (y)
Second exam tomorrow, whee. This will be the one to slaughter my gpa.

Regardless, eggs! (webisodes about deconstructing dinner)

07 December 2013


Good food shall carry me through exam season!
 Pretty gradient carrots

Crusty bread dinner that was prepared in < 5min (y)


06 December 2013


First exam came and went, was alright.
Spent the day planning the itinerary of New York trip, which revolves around eating. In fact I'm barely going to any big-name tourist destinations. So sad that there's no events going on at the Hayden Planetarium while I'll be there though :(

Studying shall resume tomorrow.

05 December 2013


Help I'm tried of studying already and it's only the first exam.

Meanwhile this is fantastic for travel photos. Made a test post with some England snaps.

02 December 2013

answer's in the looking glass

Back to back oasis cause I feel miserable from the cold. Blocked nose is making my eyes water and it seems like I'm crying all the time "orz

01 December 2013

forever and a day

Unfortunately I got a cold from heading out yesterday. Cold, you can definitely go away.