Chocolate Cake

Friday, October 23, 2009

So this morning I woke up and walked into the kitchen and was greeted with the tantalizing aroma of something that resembled cake.

Naturally, I got really excited, but after looking everywhere, couldn't find the source of the smell. After a little while, I realised the pot of coffee was on and running. Hazelnut flavoured coffee.

Disappointed, I concentrated on finding an instant source of cake, short of walking to the bakery and getting a slice.

What did I do exactly?
Made a cake in the microwave.

Now, if you google '5 minute cake' you'll be greeted with millions of hits.
The base recipe calls for you to make a cake from scratch and microwave it in a mug.
To maximize taste, however, I usually open a box of cake mix. And I hesitate to use a mug, not knowing how microwave-friendly they are, so I use a microwaveable bowl.

So how do I do it?

- 5 heaping tbsp chocolate cake mix (I use the Duncan Hines Swiss Chocolate one)
- 1 egg
- 3 tbsp milk
- 2 tbsp olive oil

- Find a microwaveable bowl and butter down the base and sides so you don't lose any of the cakey goodness. I use a bowl that can hold about a pint which is about a litre, to compensate for the cake rising.
- In another bowl, mix together the wet ingredients
- Mix the cake mix into wet ingredients
- Pour into the buttered bowl, cover loosely with a microwaveable lid (I do this because I think the cake gets drier/spongier than if it isn't covered - it might just be psychological though! :)
- Microwave for 3 min; it's done when a knife inserted comes out cleanly
- Top with icing/chocolate chips/nuts or just enjoy straight from the microwave! Careful! It's hot! :D

Microwaved cake has a peculiar taste that at first was odd but it definitely grows on you!
It's a light cake I think, that's still relatively drier than a cake baked in the oven, but a glass of milk will solve that!

Pay it Backwards!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Most people need that fix of java in the morning in order to be fully functional - I thankfully am not among those people.

Now, if your favourite coffee haunt is at Second Cup, you may just want to do a small act of kindness today - buy the person behind you a coffee.

Why is that?

Well today's Pay it Backwards day.

For every cup of coffee that's bought for the person behind you, $5 will be donated to Sick Kids Hospital.

Fuzzy feelings of being a do-gooder and perhaps a cup of coffee for yourself as well - what more can you ask for?

Now, I'm just hoping that hot chocolate counts in this as well... :D

Old Navy

Monday, September 14, 2009

Old Navy.

It's something I've been obsessed with for a couple of months now, especially since Old Navy Weekly got me hooked to the store. You won't have to scour long to find sites and pages dedicated to finding the coupons on the site to use in-store - or the drama linked with them either.

Now, Bargainmoose - yet again - has another great contest for us Canadians.
Win a $75 giftcard for ON?! I'm so down for that!

Bargains + Canadian = Bargainmoose

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I have a list of sites that I love to follow every single day.
One of those wonderful sites is Bargainmoose.

It's the place I check for updates on great sales and offers in CANADA. Isn't it just so frustrating when you see a great deal, and realize that it's only for the US, not for us Canucks?

Anyway, often, there are many great deals, but I can't use them because I
- don't visit those particular stores
- don't use that certain item
- don't buy online

BUT I still to visit and see Anna's (the site's poster) humourous reports/handwritten picture comments.

Also, I love how she has contests from time to time.
This time, I'm really excited for a contest to win a set of gorgeous earrings - just like the ones Jillian wore on the Bachelorette (I know, it's a guilty watch).

Check it out!
If not for the contest, then for the deals and humour!

Tornadoes in Toronto

Thursday, August 20, 2009

First off, I am a proud Torontonian.

Now today, as I went up from the subway at about 7pm, I was surprised to see that it was dark like it was 9pm. I mean it's just August 20th - summer's still in the air! There was an ominous feeling in the dark skies, and just as I was contemplating the thought, a sudden torrential downpour started. There was very little warning for the rain save the darks skies.

Wow - the amount of rain and the thunder and lightning - it was both wonderful and terrifying.

Now as I lie here listening to the news, I'm stunned to hear that there's a tornado warning in effect - what?! This is TORONTO. We rarely get this sort of weather! I'm actually glad I live in Toronto because we usually escape this extreme weather.

I was lucky enough to get through this with just a good thorough soaking. There's news of other who had less luck and I just hope they'll get everything fixed soon.

What was beautiful, though, was after the storm subsided, the skies started to lighten to a gorgeous shade of orange, lightening to show that darkness can be succeeded by the light.

This mind-boggling phenomenon just shows anything is possible.

Lost Generation - A Poem -- Jonathan Reed

Monday, June 22, 2009

Now I'm not a huge fan of poetry, but my friend showed me this poem the other day, and it is one inspiring poem. (Thanks for this amazing piece!)

Reading on the way down, it's a depressing story of how society can be painted.
Read in reverse, it's not only a brilliant piece revealed, but a testament that a difference can be made.


Lost Generation

I realize this may be a shock but
'Happiness comes from within'
is a lie, and
'Money will make me happy'
So in thirty years I will tell my children
they are not the most important thing in my life.
My employer will know that
I have my priorities straight because
is more important than
I tell you this
Once upon a time
Families stayed together
but this will not be true in my era
this is a quick fix society
Experts tell me
Thirty years from now I will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of my divorce
I do not concede that
I will live in a country of my own making
In the future
Environmental destruction will be the norm
No longer can it be said that
My peers and I care about this earth
It will be evident that
My generation is apathetic and lethargic
It is foolish to presume that
There is hope.

And all of this will come true unless we choose to reverse it.

SURVIVE! Essential Skills and Tactics to Get You Out of Anywhere - Alive -- Les Stroud

Friday, June 19, 2009

On my daily commute with my customary sheaf of newspaper, I was reading the articles and was about to skip over yet another ad, when I noticed that it was an ad from Chapters/Indigo/Coles. 50% off select books, geared towards Father's Day. (And the deals go on only until Jun 20th, so act fast!)

One book in particular that caught my eye was Survive! by Les Stroud.

Now, I don't usually make impulse buys, but I had to get that book the same day that I saw that ad. What can I say, I'm a huge fan of his show, Survivorman (I will definitely miss his shows since they're apparently ending with season 3). And after reading the reviews and reading through part of the book, $12 for this book is a fantastic deal!

Plus, I figured it was about time to get brushed up on some survival skills just in case that does happen. I know it's pessimistic, but with summer just around the bend and trips likely to occur... well I'd rather be prepared than not...


I haven't read that many books on the topic, and the only thing I've heard about survival is from the show, obviously (and from a 4-hour long session on outdoor activities and useful skills).

But from what I've read from the book, and from various websites reviewing the book, it's a comprehensive read, that almost assumes you know certain skills and stuff (e.g. tying knots...). It's straightforward and easy to understand. He illustrates points well with examples and interesting stories (remember Aron!).

There's also a chapter on one of the most important aspects of survival - the psychological part of it. It could have been covered some more, but the fact that it's there is great.

And well, it's just basically a really good book coming from a fantastic survivor with lots and lots of experience.


From my reading so far, the book instructs clearly and the writing is very conversational - exactly like how he is during his show. But a book that is conversational like this makes for a very interesting read.

It seems like a book with a lot of his work to date - I like the fact that the book explains quite in depth how he used them on the show - like how to use a watch as a compass, with daylight savings time in consideration.

The fact that he drops little helpful tidbits here and there is also very appreciated (e.g. when eating mussels, if the water coming out of them is green - it's poisonous, you don't want to eat one of those; if it's clear, it's good).

I also like how the book is organized into the following chapters - you can quickly flip to what's important and the categories are quite apt:

1. Trip Planning and Prep
2. Survival Kits
3. Psychological Aspects of Survival
4. Signalling
5. Water
6. Fire
7. Shelter
8. Survival Travel and Navigation
10. Dangers and Hazards
11. Weather
12. Clothing
13. Survival First Aid
14. Essential Survival Skills
15. When Disaster Strikes Close to Home

There are also checklists of important items at the end of the book, which is handy since you don't have to comb through the book for the lists.

I'd definitely bring this book with me if I'm ever going to some sort of trip (The book is a ~370-page softcover - light! - with a durable, waterproof cover - I only wish the inside pages were waterproof... though they could be used for tinder in an emergency. There are actually two pages at the end that are labelled "Fire Starter" :D).
And I'd better get a move on with my survival kits!

* * *

Also, for those interested in other 50% off books, the other books, besides Survive! were:
Always Looking Up - Michael J. Fox
My Remarkable Journey - Larry King
Assegai - Wilbur Smith
Medusa - Clive Cussler
I Met The Walrus - Jerry Levitan
The Legend of Sigurd & Gudrun - J. R. R. Tolkien
The Complete License to Grill - Chris Knight
Crazy for the Storm - Norman Ollestad

Two other notes:
I live in Toronto, so I don't know if that's the only place with this promo.
Also, even though they're on sale, when I went to the store, they weren't placed on a special table or marked up to show that discount or anything - the discount was just taken automatically at the cash.

Peach Plum Pear

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I've been a fan of Joanna Newsom's music for a while now, but I haven't gone beyond her album version songs and a few live performances via youtube.

In hindsight, I'm glad I decided to stick around and try to listen to a couple of her songs, since the first minute I listened to her song, I thought: what the heck is this?!

Peach Plum Pear was one of her songs that I first listened to.
Here's the version that I usually listen to:

Her voice is so different from what is accepted as 'normal' in society, and it's a shame that our definition of beauty is so narrow. Her voice is raw and conveys such a deep sense of emotion.
And her harp playing? Stunning.
Oh the joy I derive from listening to her songs

Now, before, I was a little irritated that Joanna changes the singing or tweaks the playing just a little bit from performance to performance.
But that was before I found an alternate version of Peach Plum Pear.

Here's the new version that I found that I got shivers listening to the first time (though the ending was a little drawn out imo):

And lastly, here is a wonderful cover I found of the song, by Owen Pallett (And it was a shock to find a cover that I actually liked since I usually don't like covers):


Oh, and I nearly forgot the lyrics! I've read a number of people say that she is a brilliant lyricist. And I've got to say that I agree. For the longest time, I just listened to her songs without examining the lyrics. And this song's words just touched me so.

These are the lyrics as I hear when listening to the song:

We speak in the store
I'm a sensitive bore
You seem markedly more
And I'm oozing suprise

But it's late in the day
And you're well on your way
What was golden went gray
And I'm suddenly shy

And the gathering floozies
Afford to be choosy
And all sneezing darkly
In the dimming divide

Well I have read the right books
To interpret your looks
But you were knocking me down
With the palm of your eye

Oh na na na...

This is unlike the story
It was written to be
I was riding its back
When it used to ride me

And we were galloping manic
To the mouth of the source
And we were swallowing panic
In the face of its force

And I was blue
I was blue and unwell
Made me bolt like a horse

Oh na na na...

And now it's done
Watch it go
Well you've changed some
Water runs from the snow

And am I so dear
And do I run rare
Well you've changed some
Peach, plum, pear
Peach, plum

Now, I think that it's a song about a girl who thought she found love, but it was just a crush. She's new to love and still shy. When the man does not act as she expects, she reflects on how she's lost something that was never hers. She's thinking that he's changed from that ideal love in her mind, to this reality where he never showed any interest in her to begin with.
I'm curious what the 'peach plum pear' means though. Any thoughts?

the search for the perfect first post

First blog post.
How daunting.
What to write about, what to write about.
The first post should be something interesting, something witty, something to draw in people.
It should be about something relevent, something that people care about, something I care about.
So what fits the bill? Hummm

I could start with who I am:
a university student, a daughter and sister, a friend

I could start with my interests:
music and arts, books, cooking, tv, current issues, volunteering, computers and design

Or I could start with whatever strikes my fancy.
Oh the possibilities...