Automatic updates enabled. If only.

Hey all,

Don’t you wish you had an update hub so everyone can just be filled in with what’s going on with your life instead of you having to repeatedly tell people or different groups individually? But then again, I guess that wouldn’t make for much conversation or seeing each other I suppose.

Not being in school this term was a big change for me. Never have I ever missed a term of school and done something else, but here I am doing co-op while I see pictures of everyone back at UBC. Do I miss it? Yes. But at the same time, it’s a nice change. Plus, work is letting me get a glimpse of the real world— it’s not the most exciting and makes me wish I can stay in school forever, but it’s manageable. Or maybe I’m still waiting to find something I’m uber passionate about.

Working also means that I’m no longer just seeing my friends randomly around classes or on campus, and I realize it meant that I had to reach out in order to see people. I’m glad I realized this sooner rather than later, because I’ve got many dear friends that I would hate to lose contact with! The past few weeks have been me filling my schedule up so that we could check in on each other’s lives and also just talk in general! It also meant that I got to try out lots of new food places 🙂 It’s Vancouver and it’s currently fall/winter time. If you’re not at the movies or in a restaurant, where else would you be?

I finally tried Gyoza Bar with my friend Amy. Heard about it over the summer when it first opened, but never got a chance to go! I must say, their ramen broth really is something else! It’s thick and really flavourful! The egg isn’t as good at Marutama Ramen’s, but everything else was quite nice! We also ordered their special which was a chickpea karaage. It was very interesting since the chickpea was soft and warm on the inside, with its crispy karaage exterior.

Carmen showed me this dessert place near where I used to live in Marpole. It’s relatively new and it’s called Doolami Dessert. The mango pomelo sago was delicious and my friend got the durian one. It’s not easy finding Chinese dessert places in Vancouver, especially in the Vancouver West area, so this was great to know about! This place also makes their own pints of ice-cream (I know it’s winter, but hey, ice cream) with interesting flavours. Carmen got a pint of durian ice cream and I was contemplating the blueberry lavender. But apparently, the blueberry overpowers the lavender and I’m more for the lavender.

I also met up with my ex-supervisors from work (they had both moved on to pursue other opportunities!), and we went to Bella Gelateria’s new location in Yaletown! I ordered a meat-filled pizza (I remember salami on it, but don’t remember its fancy name), and one of the other girls ordered one with eggplant. I never liked eggplant, but thinly sliced then stone oven baked made it delicious. This may be a turning point between me and eggplant’s relationship. Overall, the place is kind of expensive, but you can get away with sharing 2 pizzas between 3 people.

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Doesn’t this look super artsy? A shot from the interior of The Greedy Pig. My hand shook when I took the photo and it blurred. So pro.

Last but not least, I met up with C, a fellow blogger here! Well, technically no longer on WordPress since he actually has his own domain now and blogs from there, but it was through WordPress that we had met. Talking to him made me realize that we had actually known each other for three years. I had first started my blog when we came across each others’. He had also moved away from Vancouver for a while, but now that he’s back we managed to meet up and chill. He had suggested this place called The Greedy Pig. Sadly, my appetite was crappy that day, but their mushroom soup was still good! C chowed down his mac and cheese fairly quickly, so I’m going to assume it was good. I’ve been by that place before, and was even going to eat dinner there once, but the line up was so ridiculous my friends and I ended up going elsewhere.

Of course, there’s other updates in my life. Another first for me was updating my Facebook relationship status. Never done that with a boyfriend before, so he’s something special 🙂 But that’s probably another story for another time.

– Karen

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ECCC 2014: Another year of slacking off right before finals

Hey all,

It’s the end of March and you know what that means (just kidding, pretty sure if you do know, you’re definitely in the minority)… EMERALD CITY COMICON!

Hurray for 5AMbussing.

Hurray for 5AMbussing.

A group of my friends and I managed to take some time off and bus to Seattle again for the con. We were very tactical with the whole thing. We stayed over at one person’s house so we could taxi off to the Greyhound station early Saturday morning. We had to wake up at 4:30AM in order to get dressed, and get to Pacific Central at 5:30. I think that was possibly the earliest I’ve woken up for something before. Anyway, the plan was for M, Mal, and I to bus down to Seattle first and be at the convention for both Saturday and Sunday, while our other friends with the car would drive down on Sunday and take us home with them.

My friend M was actually sick during the trip, so it was a little worrying for me and Mal. But overall, it was so much fun! It was quite different from last year because although there wasn’t a main celebrity that was on my bucket list of people I wanted to meet (unlike Misha Collins last year), I did meet a few celebrities that I respected  a lot!

Day 1

The first day was a hectic rush to get to the actual convention centre. We got off the bus, ran to the hotel, then took a taxi to the centre. A wave of nostalgia rushed through me when I walked through the front doors and saw the three sets of escalators that took all the guests to the main event floor. A banner read “Welcome to Emerald City Comicon” and I almost wanted to cry. I had such a great experience last year (albeit some issues with the line ups and such) that I didn’t realize how much I missed it.

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I dressed up as Castiel from Supernatural again on the first day, except a different version of the trench coat. I am actually so happy that my mom likes making these things.

The day was spent buying arts, tshirts, and geeked out assorted goodies. We watched Mark Sheppard’s panel (from Supernatural), and Osric Chau (also from the show) showed up to ask Mark a question. We later caught up with him to have a chat and take photos with him. Osric is honestly such a nice guy, and despite being tired, he was very accommodating to the fans! The convention had told him he would have to keep moving or else he’d cause a traffic jam, and he kept his word, but allowed fans to take selfies with him while walking. We spent some time helping him located a vendor who would sell a machete so that he could complete his cosplay (Glenn from The Walking Dead), but upon not being able to find one, he ripped one out of cardboard.

Osric Chau cosplaying as Glenn!

Osric Chau cosplaying as Glenn!

I ran into some old friends that I met from Emerald City last year. I cannot believe the lasting friendships I’ve managed to make just from conventions. (Shoutout to Delaney because we managed to run into each other on both days!!! And her cosplays are awesome.)

Unlike last year, it felt like I had a lot less time to shop around in the artist alleys and vendors. I suppose having more friends with you will slow everyone down a bit, but at the same time, having more people was so much fun! It was a different experience.

At night, we wanted to eat at the Cheesecake Factory across the street from the convention centre. Upon entering the crowded restaurant, we asked how long we’d have to wait for a table for three. The wait was 1 1/2 hours. We left. Instead, we opted for subs at Jimmy John’s. We tried sleeping earlier that night, and Mal did a great job of that. But M and I were not used to sleeping till around 4AM, so it was hard. I ended up sleeping at one, which was pretty good in my books. And that was day one.

Day 2

Our friends, T, F and B, came down on day 2 and we walked with them from our hotel to the convention centre. First order of business was getting photo op tickets for Karen Gillan. Although only F and I were getting tickets, we all lined up together. These guys 🙂

I wore my Tardis cosplay today, mostly because I wanted to wear it for a picture with Karen Gillan! Amy Pond was probably my favourite companion since I had started with her.

A picture of me with a weeping angel I found wandering around

A picture of me with a weeping angel I found wandering around

 

As a group, we did wander the convention floor, but since the day was only till 5PM and we got to the convention at around 11:30AM, the day was short. We had two panels we had to see (Mark Sheppard and Jim Beaver + Karen Gillan) and we had to go to the hall early to get seats. I still had a lot of things I wanted to buy, but didn’t manage to make it because of how tight schedule was. That was one of the biggest things that struck me this year. With six people travelling together for day 2, time evaporated.

However, I still got to take a picture with Karen. Actually, basically right before our turn, she had to take a quick break  so her smile could relax and she could take a sip of water. F and I stared at her for a good five minutes since we had entered an area that we could actually see her, unlike most of the people still in line. Fangirl.

Karen squared!

Karen squared!

The drive home was…interesting. We stopped by a Jack in the Box for dinner (we felt so american with our burgers that had a ridiculous amount of cheese and meat) and proceeded across the border. That’s when things started to get a little messy due to us getting a little lost. But in the end, we made it out okay! In the car, we were already making plans for next year! I can’t wait!

I’ll follow up this personal post with a shorter, snappier review of the convention (maybe to convince everyone to go?)!

– Karen

Dine Out Vancouver Festival 2013

Hey everyone!

If you live in Vancouver, and have a Facebook, you may have seen an increase in pictures of food appearing on your Facebook Feed. I sure did, and it is making me crave all the delicious plates of food my friends post up!

A lot of these pictures came from friends who did Dine Out Vancouver, a festival that encourages people to go and eat at the many amazing restaurants around Vancouver. What is so great about having this festival in Vancouver is that our city is the home to many different cultures and ethnicities, which can be reflected in the food we serve. If you look through the list of participating restaurants, you are bound to find at least one you will want to visit!

Dine Out offers set menus at different restaurants, all for a fixed price of either $18, $28 or $38 depending on the restaurant. The set menu still offers a bit of flexibility, as they usually have two to three choices for each course of the meal. Reservations are easy, since you can simply do reservations online for most of the restaurants (though some require you to call them), but I highly suggest you book your reservation well in advance. We had some trouble securing a spot in the restaurants we had picked even though we tried making reservations four days in advance. This is understandable as they are busy, and the dates we wanted were all on weekends, which is when everyone else has time to eat out too.

A group of my friends and I went on the first day Dine Out was offered this year– January 18th. We decided to go to the Sandbar Seafood Restaurant located on Granville Island. We wanted seafood, and a menu that was not the most expensive, nor the least.

We all had a lot of trouble deciding what we wanted to eat, and our waitress patiently waited as we hemmed and hawed. I went with the salmon and shrimp salad for my appetizer, and the grilled salmon with rice for my main. I ended it off with a peach and apple crumble, served with gelato!

Overall, it was a good meal, and I enjoyed the ambiance of the Sandbar. It was not our first time there, since one of our mutual friends had her last birthday there, but with the set menu, it really does force you to try out something you would otherwise probably not have ordered! If I had to put a numerical rating on my meal, I’d give it a 7/10.

The menu

The menu

Warm bread that just kept coming!

Warm bread that just kept coming!

My appetizer

My appetizer

My main course

My main course

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second time I went Dine Out this year, another one of my friend and I went to Ciao Bella Ristorante & Piano Bar down by Denman street. It was also a $28 menu restaurant, offering dishes with an Italian flair. I ordered the lobster bisque for my appetizer, grilled lamb chops for my main, and as my dessert, I got the tiramisu! My friend who went with me got their dessert of the day: zucchini chocolate cake. Props to her for being so brave and getting the zucchini cake. Turns out that you cannot taste the vegetable, but what it does is make the cake more moist! Overall rating: 7.5/10.

Lobster Bisque

Lobster Bisque

The lamb main

The lamb main

Tiramisu

Tiramisu

A chocolate cake with zucchini!?

A chocolate cake with zucchini!?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So did you guys go try out a restaurant or two during Dine Out Vancouver? Let me know if you have any you recommend!
(Also, I am hopelessly trying to fit pictures onto WordPress, but I obviously am not doing it correctly! I want to place them side by side…is that too much to ask for!? Anyone know their way around positioning images on here? Much appreciated!)

-Karen

My First Time Bar-hopping!

Hey guys!

So I went bar-hopping for the first time today! What is bar-hopping? It is synonymous with pub crawling, and basically means exactly what its name entails: visiting different bars for drinks. You will have to put up with my grainy photos with terrible lighting. To be fair, I did the best I could given I was using an iPhone camera and pubs are not usually known for having the brightest lighting.

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The Storm Crow Tavern

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The Doctor Who table!!

We decided to hit up the Commercial Drive area first, since one of my friends worked near there. The first place we went to was the Storm Crow Tavern. This was not our first time there– actually, it was our third visit this month I think. The Storm Crow is this great little pub with cheap food (all their food items are $6 from what I remember), and a great atmosphere. There are board games that anyone can just grab and play when you are enjoying your drink, and the whole pub has a nerdy/geeky-esque decor. They play Star Trek on their TV, as well as other awesome geeky favourites. Their wall decorations are also awesome! There are signed photos from several of the Doctors, Game of Throne actors/actresses, and other fancy memorabilia! The washrooms also have World of Warcraft figurines to indicate which one is for males, and which one is for females. If it is not obvious, I love this place.

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I had a Screwdriver here, which I enjoy. Screwdrivers are great because the orange masks the taste of the vodka so well. I like alcohol, but I hate the taste of alcohol if that makes any sense.

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Food at St. Augustine’s

Our drinks at St. Augustine's. I had the one with the cherry garnish-- the Tequila Sunrise.

Our drinks at St. Augustine’s. I had the one with the cherry garnish– the Tequila Sunrise.

After Storm Crow, we went to St. Augustine’s, which was just down several blocks. We also ordered food here. I knew we were probably going to go to another pub, so I went for a salad and stole a slice of my friend’s pizza. 😛 I tried the Tequila Sunrise. It was pretty, but I thought that it did not mask the taste of the tequila very well, but I still ended up downing it. St. Augustine’s had good food, but of course, was pricier than Storm Crow. However, they have a huge selection of beers here. In all, the food was good, but soon enough we were off again.

Food at the Cove

Food at the Cove

Drinks at the Cove!

Drinks at the Cove!

We picked up the car, since our driver only had one drink so far, and he had time to let it wear off. We then headed to the Cove, which also had board games. I opted for some greasy food here and had their pulled pork poutine. For drinks, I first had their Dark and Stormy– only to realize I hate ginger beer. I have never had ginger beer before, but I thought I would like it since it was basically pop. I was wrong. I gave half of it to my friend to finish, and then ordered a Bloody Caesar. That was good. I have never had a Boody Mary before, but to me, a Caesars tasted like cold soup with hot sauce. Not in a bad way.

Overall, bar-hopping was fun, but exhausting. You get pretty buzzed from the drinks, and you know how a bit of alcohol makes you feel warm, nice, and sleepy? I really felt tired of it after switching over from our first pub, but we decided to keep going. We finished off with three pubs, which is not a lot, but for a first time, I thought it was decent. It was fun to settle down in various pubs, and sip on different drinks in a new atmosphere again and again. But like I said, it does get physically tiring.

It is now New Year’s Eve! I better hurry and make some resolutions (that I will ultimately fail, but they are fun to make regardless)! Feel free to recommend some bars/pubs around the Vancouver area that you particularly liked! I LOVE places with board games, because alcohol and board games mean only one thing: hilarity! So drop down some pub names below!

Cheers!

-Karen

Down By Hick’s Lake

(Sung in the tune of “Down By the Bay”)
Down by Hick’s Lake
Where the water reeds grow
Back to my tent
I dare not go…. 

And that is basically where our campfire song ended as we realized how scary the lyrics were.

I am back from my camping trip, and have finally showered after two days without doing so. It was my first camping trip, so the whole no showering idea was scary to me. However, I prepared myself before the trip and finally accepted the fact that it was no big deal. What I did not expect was that there were no sinks in the ‘washrooms’. The ‘washroom’ was more of a pit in the floor, and the smell was pretty horrid.

Before heading off to camp, I read loads of camping tips, hoping I will have these bits of advice floating around my head as we camped. One of the first advice for new campers was to arrive while the sun was still up, so that you can set up your tent, get a fire going, and get a good look at your surroundings. Sadly, we did not arrive before sunset as we ended up being two hours behind schedule, so we did have to stumble around in the dark. Thankfully, the family in the adjacent camp site was really nice and lent us supplies (just rope really) and was there to answer any questions we had.

My friend Monica and I had practiced setting up the tent in her front yard before the trip, just in case we would be working in the dark. That turned out to be very smart indeed. We also prepped the food and meals for the trip, getting them ready for the cooler. Packing was slightly annoying because I had to dig around for some winter gear since it would get cold at night. In the end, I think we were pretty well prepared seeing as how this was our first camping trip. Josh and Connie chopped up wood for the campfire, William got the van, and soon enough we were off to Sasquatch Provincial Park.

The first night was chaotic. Connie got the fire going, while Monica and I tackled our tent, and William and Josh tackled theirs. Monica’s dog Gator was also very anxious as he had no idea what was happening. We ate bannock, ignoring all food safety procedures and had ham and cheese. Sleeping was actually a lot better than I imagined, mostly due to Connie’s friend who lent us her inflatable mattress. Without it, we would have been sleeping on gravel under our thin sleeping bags.

The next morning, we woke up at around nine. We started another fire so we could cook breakfast. We ended up cooking our lunch too (Beef Kebabs) since fires took so long to get going. I think we all underestimated the amount of time it would take for us to cook our meals. It was well into lunch time when we finally got the food well done enough to eat. Thus, we had brunch instead.

Hard at work cooking our brunch.

Bacon, beef kebabs (with zucchini) and scrambled eggs.

Then it started to threaten to drizzle, so we glanced over to our neighbours to see them setting up a tarp over their fire, covering as much of their site as possible. We had two tarps, one to go under each tent. Good thing one of the tarps were actually huge, so we moved both tents over to the big tarp and used the small one as our rain shelter. We had rope, but it was not enough. The family next to us offered to lend us some, so we ended up being able to put up the tarp. We were lucky we copied them, and for them to have extra rope. When we were packing, different websites told us to bring rope. None of us knew what the rope was for…until then.

When the drizzle stopped, we started to hike. Hick’s Lake was actually really nice, and we started to walk around the perimeter. We eventually got to a point where Gator could not cross because it was too steep, so we had to turn back. We stopped by our site for a quick break consisting of toilet breaks and fruits, then the girls were off again on a different hiking trail. The guys wanted to nap.

Hick’s Lake in the drizzle

We saw this little guy on our way back!

Connie, Monica, Gator and I found a place called Beaver Pond. It was a hiking trail, with a sign claiming that a hike around it would take thirty minutes. It took us a bit longer because we kept stopping for pictures. But the view of the pond was breathtaking. The water was very still, and gave a perfect reflection of the trees and the sky surrounding it.

Beaver Pond

That night, for dinner, we had stew along with crackers, followed by smores. Then we told some ghost stories and sang some songs. We also just talked for a while. It was not until we used up our firewood that we decided to go to sleep.

Connie and William by the fire 🙂

As a whole, I found the camping trip a fun experience. It was not as strenuous as I had imagined, but the lack of actual washrooms came as a surprise. I look forward to going camping again!

Tips for camping (a.k.a notes to future Karen for future camping trips):

  • it is best if you arrive before sunset
  • practice setting up a tent if you do not have prior experience
  • bring your own firewood, or else you will have to buy from the camp site (overpriced)
  • it does get cold at night, so bring suitable clothing
  • make a meal plan. Even if you end up switching certain planned meals around, you will be able to prepare the right amount of food this way.
  • camp sites that allow you to drive your car into your lot is awesome. You save time unloading everything, and you can also lock up any valuables or food items to be kept away from nature.
  • cooking meals take more time than you would think
  • bring extra rope and tarp in case it rains. Just tie the tarp’s corners to trees to secure it. For us, we had to secure one end of the tarp to our car as we lacked trees for that end.
  • firewood and supplies will take up a lot of space in your van/car. We rented a 7 seater van, but still struggled to fit all our stuff

Until next time!

-Karen