Saturday, April 28, 2007

Do YOU care?

A group of local high school students at Manitoulin Secondary School planned, organized, and put on an event to spread the word to their community about the genocide that is taking place in Darfur. How wonderful is it that these teenagers would be so involved in a cause that is so much larger than themselves and that they would think outside their world? I think it's absolutely marvelous.

Hubby and I, along with my mother, took my student to a fundraising dinner for Darfur. At the door, people were given bracelets that read: "CULTIVATE PEACE-". Dr. Kevin O'Connell was the guest speaker for the evening and he talked about his experience with in Darfur. He had maps, quotes by politicians and world leaders, and some photos of the people in Darfur.

I truly believe that it is important for me to expose my students to these kind of problems and show them that there is a larger world outside the one they live in. We got to eat some delicious traditional African food as well. It was so funny...When one of the students brought over our basket of African bread, my student touched them all and said, "Oh! Hand towels!" He thought they were for cleaning your hands before you eat! (Don't laugh! My mom thought that's what they were too!). The bread was rolled up, so they did look like hand towels. They were to be used to scoop up the food. You're supposed to eat African food with your hands. I was quite surprised by how spicy the food was! I love spicy food, but was concerned for Hubby. He surprised me by going back for more! What a lovely experience the evening was.

Some may feel that because something isn't happening in our own backyard, it isn't our problem. I do believe that those who cannot protect themselves need the help of people who can do something. To watch idly as helpless, innocent people are killed and not take any action at all makes us as guilty as those who commit the crime. After the Holocaust, world leaders vowed that "Never again" would anything like this happen. Armenia, Rwanda, and other countries have suffered ethnic genocides as well, and each time, world leaders have said, "Never again".

I've had countless arguments with people close to me about these sort of things. Some may say that I've got the "Mother Theresa Syndrome" where I feel the need to help everyone. I don't exactly think that is an accurate view of my beliefs, but I do have some very strong ideas and beliefs. Just because something is not happening in our own backyard, doesn't mean we are not accountable as human beings. Nobody (no person, country, or group) has the right to take away someone else's basic human rights. This is just the way I feel though.

Here are some websites to peruse:
Darfur: A Genocide We Can Stop
*Note: Absolutely none of the photos were taken by me. I found them on Google Images and unfortunately, I don't know their original sources. I would have liked to give proper credit to the photographers, rather than just nab them off the Net like that.

Interviewed by Doggy Mama!!

The wonderful, gorgeous and talented Doggy Mama interviewed me recently. What fun! If you want me to interview you, just leave a note here in my comments and I’ll send you 5 questions to answer on your own blog!

1) How did you meet your hubby and how long did it take for you to realize that he is "The One?"
We met through mutual friends of ours. They set up a blind date and we went to their house for supper one night. We had been talking on the phone for for a few weeks before we met and then decided it was time to meet. Even though we lived 4 minutes away from each other, we had never crossed paths before. Our phone calls lasted 4 hours or more sometimes! John says he was hooked by the first phone call. I knew there was something special when I spoke to him the first time, but I think I knew he was "THE ONE" the first time we met. I know it sounds silly and cliche...and right out of a movie, but it's true! There was just something so sweet, and genuine about him.

2) What was the hardest part about leaving your "city life" for the island? What was the easiest part about it?
I think the hardest part of leaving my "city life" was leaving behind a job where I knew I had a paycheck every two weeks! I also knew I'd be leaving behind some very good friends, the access to movie theatres, lots of great restaurants, shopping, etc. In the city, it's so easy to get what you want, when you want it. The easiest part about leaving my city life was leaving behind the traffic, gruelling commuting to and from work, the congestion (too many people!!), the hectic lifestyle. I don't miss living in the city. If I want the amenities of the city, I just go for a visit. I go for a weekend, a few days, or a week...but there's a sense of relief knowing that I will be coming back to the island.

3) If you could travel to one place that you've never been, where would it be? What one place that you've already visited would you want to go back to?
I have always wanted to go to Australia ever since I was five years old. I have a tremendous weak spot the Aussie accent! LOL! Plus, I have always wanted to see the Great Barrier Reef, the Outback, and all the neat wildlife that exists there. I've also wanted to go to New Zealand because I've heard from some kiwi friends that NZ is absolutely breathtaking.
Hmmm...the next question is soooooo difficult! If I could revisit one place I've been to, it would have to be San Jose, Batangas (the Philippines). That's where my grandparents are from. I've got extended family there. It's such a great place, where people are so warm and have really big hearts. I can't explain it. It's just so down to earth and there, the less you have, the more you give. It was interesting to finally get in touch with my 'roots'. I'd been to my dad's homeland (Trinidad and Tobago) many times, so visiting my mom's country for the first time was special.

4) How did you begin hosting/tutoring students in your home and what do you most enjoy about it?
Short version or the long one? After university, I supply taught at a public school and the kids were brutal. It was the hardest job of my life, but I loved it because of the kids. However, I decided I didn't want to teach in public school because the kids we had there were such a challenge. I ended up going to Japan to teach and it was such a great experience. I loved my life in Japan. After two years, I returned home due to family reasons. My dad had gotten sick and that made me homesick and I decided to return to Toronto. I continued to teach ESL (English as a Second Language) at a school in Toronto and after 4 or 5 years, I moved to Manitoulin Island. I have wanted to open up my own Study Holiday Program and this is what I did. We host students and I teach them ESL. I follow a curriculum that I have tailored for each student, depending on their needs.
The thing I enjoy the most about my job is that the students not only learn the English language, but they also learn about life, friendship, Canadian culture, life in a rural North American setting, etc. Seeing the students' progress is remarkable. It's such a rewarding feeling.

5) What would your pefect day be like?
A perfect day would be just spending some quiet time with my husband! Perhaps going for a walk on the beach with Hubby and our pup...watching the sunset :) I know...simple and corny. That's me!
Friday, April 27, 2007

For Ms.Mamma

HAHA! I KNEW IT! Seriously, I had a feeling if I were any drug, I'd be this one...

Your Personality Is Like Ecstasy

You're usually feeling the love for the world around you - you want to hug everyone.
And while you're usually content to sit back and view the world with wonder...
Sometimes you're world becomes very overwhelming and a little scary.

Because Kimmie got me hooked on these Blogthings!

You Are 52% Lady

You're part lady, part modern woman.
Etiquette is important to you, but you brush aside rules that are outdated or silly.

What kind of sundae are YOU?

I pretty much had a feeling I'd be this kind of sundae:

You Are a Hot Fudge Sundae

Classic, simple, and divine.
Why mess with perfection?

I used to be exotic, adventurous, spontaneous, full of surprises. Now I'm just a hotfudge sundae...LOL!
Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Restaurant Meme

When Curiosity Killer tagged me with this meme, I simply couldn't resist because it was a good one! Here's the deal...

The rules:

1. Add a direct link to your post below the name of the person who tagged you. Include the state and country you’re in.
Nicole (Sydney, Australia)
Velverse (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
LB (San Giovanni in Marignano, Italy)
Selba (Jakarta, Indonesia)
Olivia (London, England)
ML (Utah, USA)
J (California, USA)
Curiosity Killer (Hong Kong, SAR)
Chrissy (Manitoulin Island, Ontario, Canada)

2. List out your top 5 favorite places to eat at your location.

#1 The Garden's Gate Restaurant on beautiful Manitoulin Island.
What a treat for all the senses. Definitely my favourite place to dine on the island. Nestled amongst the most beautiful gardens ever, you'll find this hidden gem of a place. This farmhouse turned restaurant serves up healthy, natural, unique dishes and the most amazing desserts!!! Everything is from scratch and they feature some great micro-brews and Ontario wine! We love supporting locally! Chrissy's recommendation: Strawberry Chicken with homeade rolls, choice of soup or salad, choice of potato dish and fresh vegetables - all prepared when your order arrives in our kitchen...and make sure you have room for dessert! The keylime pie or the mad about chocolate cheesecake are just heavenly.

Royal Michael's Bay is a great place for special events, with its enchanting view of the water. What a relaxing place to dine. Just soak up the scenery and enjoy a nicely prepared meal. My choice: Pasta Napolitana (tomato sauce and fresh basil).

#3 Cafe Santropol- located in Montreal, Quebec. Since I'm a Montrealer by heart (okay, so I wasn't born there, but I spent most of my life there!!), I recommend one of my absolute favourite places to dine.

This place is cool, trendy, artsy...and a vegetarian's paradise. There are a few items on the menu that aren't vegetarian, but for the most part, you'll find heaps of selections for the vegetarian or vegan in your life ;) My pick: Midnight Spread (cream cheese, peanut butter, honey, nuts and raisins on traditional Santropol bread, served with fresh fruits and vegetables). To drink? How about a nice Chai latte?

#4 Juice For Life in Toronto, Ontario.
"Fresh By Juice For Life is nestled in the heart of Toronto, a cosmopolitan food lover's city." This is yet another vegetarian paradise! There are so many dishes to choose from--You'll be agonizing for ages on what to order!! Healthy, fresh, refreshing food...and all good for the body and soul! My pick: I think it's a dish called the Buddha Rice Bowl (tempeh and tofu with veggies on top of rice) and to drink, one of the Energy Elixirs, Fruit Smoothies or Lassis! Oh, YUM!

#5 Tiger Lily's Noodle House in Toronto's Entertainment District. Located on Queen St. West, you'll find this quaint little place that caters to the city's celebs. Everything is very affordable and this is a perfect place for even the most frugal foodies! Pan-Asian dishes and the most delicious eggrolls are the way to go. Finish your meal with a nice bubble tea!

**Note: All photos were taken from the restaurants' websites**

3. Tag 5 other people (preferably from other countries/states) and let them know they’ve been tagged.
I'm tagging:
-Canine Cologne- because she always has the most amazing restaurant reviews. Seriously, I get hungry just reading her blog! Plus, she seems to know a lot of amazing restaurants in California!
-Girlie Monkey- I've discovered Lambert's, so now I wanna know more good places to eat in Missouri!
-Doggy Mama- Are there any good eateries where you're located? Please share some of your fave places to dine!
-Kimmie-Gimme some good places for foodies in Manila! I've been to a few nice places there, so I'm curious to hear your recommendations!
-Merinz-I know things are hectic now with the twins' arrival! When you get some free time, I'd love to hear of some good eateries in NZ! I've always wanted to go to New Zealand. I have a soft spot for kiwis! lol!

Really Funny Blog

Diesel (over at The Mattress Police) has a super funny blog...guaranteed to make you laugh every time. It's chock full of interesting tid bits and his stories are always witty and hillarious. Oh and never are his stories just flippant and glib!
What I love most is that he's got these really great caption contests, where he PhotoShops himself into scenes of popular TV shows! Go check him out...and vote for me, while you're at it!!! No, you don't have to vote for me ;) Just check out his blog and keep going back because he's always got great stuff on there!

Mattress Police - Antisocial Commentary

Mammoth Meme

...tagged by the fun, funny, cool, hip, Karen -thanks!

Q. What is your salad dressing of choice?
A. My homemade balsamic vinaigrette. It's deeeeelish!

Q. What is your favorite fast food restaurant?
A. Don't hate me...but I really don't like fast food :(

Q. What is your favorite sit-down restaurant?
A. The Garden's Gate Restaurant on beautiful Manitoulin Island ;)

Q. On average, what size tip do you leave at a restaurant?
A. Usually around 15% but more if service is excellent. I tend to be generous with tipping though.

Q. What food could you eat every day for two weeks and not get sick of?
A. Lasagna!! I'm with Karen on this one!

Q. What is your favorite type of gum?
A. Excel Peppermint (again, same as Karen)

Q. What is your wallpaper on your computer?
A. It was a wedding pic of ours, then a pic of my pup, then a pic of my 5 week old nephew. Now it's back to the original, generic Microsoft scene of the green hills and blue sky...because someone told me that a pic as my wallpaper would take up too much room and slow down my pc. I don't know if this is true, but I will be the first to admit that I am technologically challenged!!!

Q. How many televisions are in your house?
A. Two. One for watching TV and movies and one in the games room for our PS2.

Q. What’s your best feature?
A. Probably my lips? I have no idea!

Q. Have you ever had anything removed from your body?
A. HAHA! I once had an allergic reaction to earrings (hence the reason I cannot wear anything that is not 100% silver or 100% gold- no cheap cosmetic jewelry for this girl, unfortunately), so I had developped keloids on both ears. They were like little cysts and they had to be removed by cosmetic surgery. I think I was more horrified because I had to walk around with my ears bandaged for a few days! LOL!

Q. Which of your five senses do you think is keenest?
A. Smell. It's a curse. I am very sensitive when it comes to smell.

Q. When was the last time you had a cavity?
A. Probably in high school. I don't have much of a sweet tooth, so it helps.

Q. What is the heaviest item you lifted last?
A. Probably 60 + lbs. of wood! I had to lift some wood onto the splitter so I could split it and then pile it.

Q. Have you ever been knocked unconscious?
A. I can't remember! I once fell down the stairs at college and ended up with a huge egg shaped bump on my forehead. I smacked my head since I fell head first. I remember blackness, bells ringing in my ears, my head hurting and then there was this awfully white light. Then I had to write an exam...Don't remember much else!

Q. If it were possible, would you want to know the day you were going to die?
A. No.

Q. Is love for real?
A. Very real.

Q. If you could change your first name, what would you change it to?
A. Hmm...I used to think I'd like to have been named Crystal Erika or Amber. I've grown accustomed to my name though, so regardless of how boring and common it is, I don't think I'd change it.

Q. What color do you think looks best on you?
A. Turquoise.

Q. Have you ever swallowed a non-food item by mistake?
A. Probably, but I likely not on purpose!

Q. Have you ever saved someone’s life?
A. Yes.

Q. Has someone ever saved yours?
A. No.

Q. Would you walk naked for a half mile down a public street for $100,000?
A. Possibly, but I'd have to have a few martinis just before...and it would have to be a street where no one knows me! LOL!

Q. Would you kiss a member of the same sex for $100?
A. Oh sure. Why not?

Q. Would you allow one of your little fingers to be cut off for $200,000?
A. NO.

Q. Would you never blog again for $50,000?
A. That's a toughie. Maybe. Maybe not.

Q. Would you pose nude in a magazine for $250,000?
A. Nope.

Q. Would you drink an entire bottle of hot sauce for $1000?
A: I would try, but it's doubtful that I'd be able to finish it.

Q. Would you, without fear of punishment, take a human life for $1,000,000?
A. Never. That is such a creepy question!!

Q. Would you give up watching television for a year for $25,000?
A. Sure. I don't watch much TV except for Grey's Anatomy. I'd only do it if Grey's Anatomy were cancelled.

Q. Give up MySpace forever for $30,000?
A. Sure. Never been on it.

Q. What is in your left pocket?
A. Right now, nothing. Wearing pyjamas now.

Q: Is Napoleon Dynamite actually a good movie?
A. Haven't seen it yet. Should I see it?

Q: Do you have hardwood or carpet in your house?
A. Both. The only rooms with carpet are the games room and the guest room.

Q: Do you sit or stand in the shower?
A. Stand.

Q: Could you live with roommates?
A. I guess I already do.

Q: How many pairs of flip-flops do you own?
A. Way too many. Dressy, beach, casual, expensive, name it.

Q: Last time you had a run-in with the cops?
A. Years ago, when I was in Montreal. It was Christmas time, I was in university, the roads were blocked for the parade and I went down a side street. There were cars parked on both sides of the road and then when I was making a right turn, some guy pulls out without signalling and then hits me as I'm turning. I was young and had never gotten in trouble with the police and didn't know what to do, so I kept driving! Minutes later, the police were chasing me with their sirens and lights going! I kept driving. Hey! I was nervous! When I did pull over, they told me in French, that a hit and run is a criminal offense. I explained my story and they saw that I was sort of in the right but I shouldn't have kept driving! LOL! By the damage, the insurance could see that the other driver hit me. I still don't know why I was the one who was nervous though! I still can't believe I kept driving!!!

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?
A. I have to grow up?

Q: Friend you talked to?
A. My student's mom.

Q: Last person you called?
A. My sister-in-law in Kingston. I called to check in on my little nephew and to wish my SIL a happy birthday. Turns out her b-day is in 2 days. I'm a dummy.

Q. First place you went this morning?
A. Kitchen.

Q: What can you not wait to do?
A: Have some quality time with just my Hubby. We're so gosh darn busy all the time.

Q: What's the last movie you saw?
A: The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift. Hubby wanted to watch it :)

Q: Are you a friendly person?
A: I sure am!!!

I tag Ms. Mamma, Curiosity Killer, and Doggie Mama. Have fun!
Monday, April 23, 2007

in my car

While I was driving, I noticed that my car looked like a disaster inside. My mom noted that ever since I had kids (not my own...yet!), my car has been messy! Actually, she said, "You know you have kids when your car looks like a tornado hit it (inside)". My vehicle wasn't always like this. There was a day (once upon a time) when it used to sparkle and there were no bubble gum wrappers or lost socks stuck between the seats. Last summer, I had a very bulky 6ft-long inflatable alligator in the back of the SUV. It was there all summer, since I took our nieces and my students to the beach almost every day.

In my vehicle, I have:

* 3 water bottles; 2 full and 1 empty. One of the kids crumpled up the empty one and it's now poking out from under the backseat.
* a bunch of old newspapers and flyers for Freshmart, Valu-Mart, Foodland and Price Choppers
* 2 beach towels
* my cell phone charger
* 2 tins of Warp Energy Mints. One actually has candy in it, and the other has quarters, loonies and toonies in case I need change. You never know if you'll have an emergency situation while driving. No, I don't use the coins for emergency phone calls. I have a cell phone for that. I use the coins in case of more serious when I'm at the drive-thru at Tim Horton's and don't have any small bills in my wallet! LOL!
* a gigantic roll of paper towel. For some reason, when I have all the kids in tow, I always need paper towels...and lots of it!
* about a dozen plastic bags. One of my nieces gets car sick. I also keep plastic bags on hand in case I take Chance for a ride. A responsible dog owner always picks up after the dog when taking him on a walk ;)
* an air freshener in the shape of a beach sandal. I think it's the "Ocean Breeze" scented one. It kind of gives me a headache and I sometimes think it smells a bit overpowering, but it's better than stinky kiddy running shoes! One of my students always has the habit of taking his shoes off in the car. *sigh*
* an emergency kit, which my clever, thoughtful husband put together for me. He got me this rubbermaid storage tote and filled it with all the implements I may need in event of an emergency. He even got me a first aid kit.
* 10 randomly selected CDs for my listening pleasure:

-Filippa Giordano Yes. I like opera! If you hear Filippa's voice, you'll know why I love her music.

-The Very Best of Crowded House You've gotta love Aussies!

-Bic Runga Given to me in Japan by a friend from New Zealand. This CD is special to me.

-Smashing Pumpkins- Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness Don't even ask!

-American Pie- the soundtrack Totally random!

-Jackson 5 Sometimes I just need me some good 'ol Motown!

-Duke Ellington (Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington)

-Jey Flores (Reggaeton Flava) She's my little cousin

- a CD I got from a group a band from El Salvador. They were playing the guitar, drums, flute, scraper and singing in the streets of Old Montreal one summer. The name on the CD has worn off, so I don't recall their name. Lovely music!

-a mixed CD I made for my husband with cheesy love songs from the '60s, '70s, '80s and '90s.

I think I'm going to clean my car this week. What's in your car???
Saturday, April 21, 2007

Liquid Gold

My darling husband thought it would be neat to give our student from South Korea a truly "Canadian" experience. Hubby took it upon himself to tap some of our maple trees and make maple syrup for the first time!!! Yippeeeeeeee! It was quite the exciting process and I didn't realize just how labour intensive the process actually is! I think he said it's something like 40 L of sap collected to make 1 L of maple syrup??? I think the ratio is 40:1, but I'm not sure. We sampled the syrup and it is sooooooooooo good!

I can't wait to have pancakes for breakfast tomorrow!!! LOL!
Nuthin' says I love you better than a jar of sweet, golden (okay, amber) homemade maple syrup!!!
Thursday, April 19, 2007

Home of the "THROWED rolls"

I don't know how we got to talking about it, but Girlie Monkey and I ended up chatting about this restaurant I'd been to in Missouri where the waiters threw the dinner rolls to you and you had to catch them! GM immediately knew the place I was talking about and told me its name was Lambert's Cafe.

A few years ago, I went to visit some friends of mine in the States. I visited a friend in Branson, MO, then another friend (whom I taught with in Japan) in Kansas City, Kansas, and my final stop was Philadelphia, PA to spend American Thanksgiving with another friend of mine from our days in Japan.

While in Missouri, we did the whole tourist thing. We visited Silver Dollar City, the original Little House on the Prairie cabin site, Celebration City, one of the breweries (even if I don't even like beer!) and one of the caves in the Ozarks. The trip was a memorable one. I really enjoyed visiting Missouri. It's an interesting place with all sorts of things to do and places to see. Silver Dollar City reminded me of a smaller scale (and family friendly) Las Vegas with all the flashing neon lights and the many shows you can see.

One of the other places we went to was Lambert's in the Ozarks. My friend kept telling me that there's this really cool restaurant where they throw the dinner rolls to you...or at you, in my case! I thought it sounded amusing, so we dined there. The line up was long! Apparently, just going to Lambert's was a 'must see' attraction for all tourists! I still don't remember what I ate that night. I think it was good though! All I can remember is the atmosphere, the fun, the energy, and the fact that the waiters threw rolls to you and you had to catch them, and they also served fried potatoes, fried okra and black eyed peas out of buckets or pots and spooned them onto a paper towel on your table. It was quite the experience.

Not too long ago, I saw something on FoodTV or the FoodNetwork about Lambert's. I was telling my hubby that I went there and thought it was a really fun place, the food was good, and the waiters throw your dinner rolls to you! If you're ever in Missouri, you'll have to dine at Lambert's!
Wednesday, April 18, 2007

You know it's going to be a good day when...

-you wake up in the morning and the sky is clear with the exception of a few wispy white clouds and the sun is already warming everything up.
-your student gets up on time for a change!
-you are driving on the highway and see a fox, six sandhill cranes, eight deer, and a wolf...and it's not even 9 AM yet!
-the radio station you're listening is playing really great tunes from the '80s and '90s!
-your puppy greets you with that cute smile of his (I honestly believe Chance can smile!!) and the crazy wagging of his tail. Too cute!
-Hubby makes you hot chocolate before it's time to go to work :) (Those of you who know me, know I don't drink coffee because it has an adverse effect on me).
-The first person you talk to on the phone is your wonderful mother-in-law. I love talking to her. Even if we see each other regularly (she lives on the farm next to ours), I do love talking to her on the phone too!
-Your dad pops by unexpectedly at breakfast time, just to say hello :) I love my papa!
-Your mom calls and says they can make it over for supper. Even if we live 4 mins away by car, for some reason, I don't get to see my folks as often as I'd like. They're in the same town, but work always keeps us busy. It's nice to have them come over for supper :)
Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Is work keeping you too busy for family? Are you preoccupied with deadlines, projects, meetings, conferences and being stuck in the office? Is life passing you by?

My student and my husband watched Click a few nights ago and I was too busy to watch it with them. I was talking to a girlfriend of mine who lives far, far away from where we live. Catching up on the phone is something we don't get to do much of these days.

I heard my student and my husband howling with laughter throughout the movie. I wish I had watched the movie with them.

Hubby informed me that Click was going to be on TV again tonight, so I decided to watch it. Hubby saw it the other night, so he went to sleep, and our student went to sleep too. There I was, watching a movie all by myself. Oh, let me correct myself. I wasn't alone. The kittens were curled up on the sofa with me.

Basically, Michael Newman (Adam Sandler) is a workaholic who doesn't have time for his family and puts work before his wife (Kate Beckinsale), kids and his parents. He meets this strange man named Morty, who gives him a special remote control that can let him replay, mute, pause, and fast forward parts of his life. He ends up fast forwarding most of the important parts of his family's life and regrets what he's done. The ending is quite sad and touching. The message in the end is clearly, "family first".

There were some really funny parts in the movie and some parts I found not so tasteful... especially if you have children at home. There are sexual referrences and scenes with some foul language. I bawled my eyes out in the end though. Can you picture how sad that must have looked? Me watching the movie, crying like a baby, tissue box almost empty, a cat on my lap and another curled up beside me? Ahhhhhh...I am such a cry baby! :) Ah, quel fromage!

*Some added goodies to make you laugh :)
Stiffler's mom (I don't know the name of the actress) plays the crazy, emotional, friend.

David Hasselhoff plays the jerk-of- the- year boss. I used to like him in Baywatch back in the day!

Sean Astin plays the Speedo wearing swimming instructor turned husband in the movie. Funny seeing him not dressed like a hobbit!

Christopher Walken plays Morty, the strange guy who gives Adam Sandler the remote control. If you're clever, you'll note that 'Morty' can be associated with 'mort' (death). I picked that up, but no one else I spoke to seemed to make the connection.
Monday, April 16, 2007

Tattoo Taboo

When I was growing up, I was told that tattoos were only for 'bad' people. Only criminals, prisoners, and gang members had tattoos. Or so I was told. As a child, I thought they were hideous, but by the time I reached high school, I became curious. My bedroom walls were covered with Warrant, Skid Row, Slaughter, Guns 'N Roses and Trixter posters. All of those dreamy singers were covered in tattoos. Though these boys were naughty, I no longer thought tattoos were just for 'bad' boys. I still wouldn't think of getting a tattoo though.

I delved into the historical significance of tattoos. Samoans, Tahitians, and even the Japanese had a long history of marking their bodies. Even in the Neolithic Age, tattoos marked people's bodies. Tattoos have served as rites of passage, marks of status and rank, symbols of religious and spiritual devotion, decorations for bravery, sexual lures and marks of fertility, pledges of love, punishment, amulets and talismans, protection, and as the marks of outcasts, slaves and convicts. (Wikipedia)

I was just so amazed and intrigued by the history of tattoos. By the time I was in college, I decided I was going to get one. My friend, Jason tried to talk me out of it. He was very upset with me and for hours we discussed his religious reasons behind not wanting or liking tattoos. Jason explained that for him, tattoos bring a great deal of painful memories, as his family members (generations before he was born) were branded and tattooed in concentration camps during the Holocaust. It was a very difficult converation for Jason and it is one I will remember forever. I understood and respected his feelings and for him, decided that I might not get a tattoo after all. He went on to tell me that "our bodies are our temples and we should not alter them". He was adamant that we should not alter the bodies God gave us. Then I pointed out that he had his ears pierced and didn't that count for altering his body? I think I should have just kept quiet when I had the chance. I didn't mean any harm in what I said. I was merely pointing out the obvious.

A few years later, I decided I really did want a tattoo. I designed my own tattoo. It was a symbollic rite of passage for me. It was sort of a "coming of age/now you are an adult and you are free" thing for me. A girlfriend of mine came with me and held my hand through the entire thing. It didn't hurt at all. I was anticipating gruelling, excruciating pain, but it was more of a dull, nagging, annoying buzzing...sort of like being pricked by a pin a zillion times.

Eventhough I was already an adult, I hid the fact that I had a tattoo because I knew that my Roman Catholic family would be against it. Haha! So much for freedom and being my own person! I was still worried about what my family would say :) My grandmother happened to see it poking out of the back of my shirt one day, and she shrieked, "Dios Mio!" "Oh, my God! What have you done? Only criminals have tattoos! You know that this will be on your body forever? This is very bad! Very bad!". Her words resonated in my mind and for some reason, didn't sound like nagging to me, but rather like music! Strange. "Dios mio! Dios mio! You are a lady! Ladies don't wear tattoos!" and then she moved the fabric from my shoulder and touched the tattoo. "Why didn't you get a butterfly or a dolphin???" she asked. I love my grandmother :)

**An enjoyable read if you're interested: Eve's Tattoo by Emily Prager. I read it in university in one of my Women's Studies classes.

From Publishers Weekly -On her 40th birthday, Eve, a WASP New York magazine columnist of German descent, has the ID number of an Auschwitz victim tattooed on her arm. This number is identical to that worn by an unidentified inmate in a 1944 death-camp photograph, whom Eve calls "Eva." Disturbed by her tattoo, her live-in lover, French-born filmmaker Charles, walks out; Eve then discovers that he was born Jewish and had converted to Catholicism, conflicted over his parents who were Nazi collaborators. While inventing variant life histories for Eva, Eve soon seems to split into a dual personality, holding conversations with Eva and probing such questions as why masses of German women ardently supported Hitler. Penthouse columnist and novelist Prager ( Clea and Zeus Divorce ) never satisfactorily explains Eve's obsession, which resembles a mental illness; her story, without metaphorical reverberation, is flawed. Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Time for a new post

Wow. Last time I posted was Friday the 13th! I guess it's time to post something new. I don't have much to report. It's been crazy busy as usual.

Oh, I had a conversation with a student about euthanasia, and it really made me curious about just how much students (whose first language isn't English) actually absorb and understand when they are listening to people speaking English. I wanted to see just how much they actually comprehend.

We were discussing reasons why people would be either pro or anti euthanasia. I tried to be neutral and not divulge my own personal feelings on the topic. The student was really upset to hear that people would be against euthanasia and said, "I can't believe people are so racist!"
I was surprised and puzzled, so I asked, "What do you mean?". The student said, "Why don't people like young people from Asia?!?!?!"

I was a little confused and then realized the student misunderstood and thought it was 'youth in Asia' and not euthanasia. After explaining the definition, we both realized that the student didn't understand. It's interesting to see how much my students really understand though.
Friday, April 13, 2007

MXC doctors vs. gamblers (1 of 4)

A teacher friend of mine and I were discussing some of the things we miss most about our life in Japan. Among culture, travel, food, nightlife, social life, art, history, friends, colleagues and students, we both agreed that we missed Japanese TV! If you have ever watched a Japanese TV game show, you'll know why we miss it! This video clip of "Takeshi's Castle" reminds me of the fun we had in Japan. The TV show has been translated into English and can be seen on Spike TV as "MXC: Most Extreme Elimination Challenge".

I am such a cheater...

I love cooking for friends and family. There's something about creating delicious dishes and being in a house where the aroma of mouth-watering food just welcomes all who enter. There's the creative aspect of cooking, as well as the social aspect--of feeding family and friends and having everyone gather around the dinner table and share some good conversation. I love that.

Though I like creating eye-catching dishes that taste as good as they look, I do not like the time it takes to prepare certain dishes. I have learned to cheat. Yes...cheat. Because time to prepare meals is not something that most people these days have a lot of, I devised a plan where I don't spend more than an hour from start to finish (that includes prep time and cooking time).
This meal was a cross between Chinese Chow Mein and Filipino Pancit. I couldn't get all the ingredients here on the Island, so next time I go to Sudbury, Toronto or Montreal, I'll be sure to stock up on my Asian ingredients.
To make this dish, you will need:
- 2 carrots, julienned (cut into match sticks)
- 2 stalks of celery, cut on a slant...not quite julienned
-bok choy, cut into 1-2 inch pieces
-1 onion, sliced thinly
-5 cloves of garlic, minced
-30 green beans, cut on a slant similar to the celery
-1 package of chow mein noodles (as seen in the above photo)
-oil for cooking
-a bit of oyster sauce
-salt & black pepper to taste
-a bit of water to soften the noodles
First, heat oil in a wok and sautee garlic, onions and carrot. When tender, add remaining vegetables. Once vegetables are cooked (don't overcook! You don't want mushy veggies!), remove from heat. I put the veggies into a different bowl while I cook the noodles. In a small dish or cup, put oyster sauce and water and mix. Add to heated wok and cook noodles directly in wok. With a wooden spoon, turn over noodles every once in a while to make sure the noodles are coated and get moisture from the liquid. Once noodles are softened (I like mine a bit crunchy, but not hard. You can make the noodles as soft as you like though), add the veggies and mix evenly. You can add shredded chicken or whatever you want. Additional ingredients can be water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, baby corn and mushrooms. I usually just cook some steamed fish while I cook this dish. It takes no time at all to make this.

One package of noodles contains a few bunches, so it makes enough for 6 people if you have other dishes to go with it.

Lotsa veggies!!! Hubby and students didn't mind that there was no meat in the dish :)

I served the noodles with steamed fish and a bit of leftover casserole from the night before. Dessert was homemade applesauce made by yours truly. I made huge batches in the fall and just froze them in containers so I could thaw them out and have them ready for whenever I need them.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Ghosts of our Pasts

"Have you ever heard of the Rape of Nanking?" I asked my husband this morning. He had never heard of it before and neither had I. I was reading about it the other week on my gal pal, Curiosity Killer's blog. I wondered why no one had ever told me about it before. I am part Chinese, but no one on my dad's side had ever told me the story of Nanking and the brutal atrocities that the Japanese army committed during their occupation of Nanjing in the late 1930's . (Thanks, CK- for the informative post)

I remember when I announced to my family after graduating from university, that I was going off to teach English in Japan, the reaction from my grandparents on my mother's side was slightly mixed. They were pleased that I had made a decision to flee the nest and spread my wings. They were excited about me teaching and making use of the diplomas and certificates that I worked years on obtaining. They were excited that I followed my grandmother's footsteps and decided to become a teacher. The one thing I remember the most though, was the saddened and worried look on my grandmother's face. She didn't want me to think that the Japanese were awful people, because she said that what happened was part of her history and did not affect me in the present. My grandparents on my mom's side are both from the Philippines and the filipinos were treated brutally by the Japanese back then. The Hidalgos and the Vergaras were very prosperous in their time, but when the war hit, a different story would be told. They would go on to live a prosperous life again after the war ended though.

My grandmother told me of how the people in their village would hide and run for safety. They'd build fires in the daytime so the flames wouldn't be seen at night. My grandmother told of how she wrapped up my uncle (the eldest child of seven children) in blankets and carried him in a sling...and prayed he wouldn't cry and arouse the attention of the Japanese army. I could not imagine such a harrowing experience and cried when my grandmother recounted her story. She said that she hid in a house, pressing herself and my uncle (who was a baby then) against the wall, closing her eyes and waiting for the army to pass them by. She said that the Japanese army took babies and threw them up in the air and bayonnetted them.

My grandmother told me how my grandfather and a few other men in the village were gathered up and lined up against the wall in the plaza in the middle of town...and were to be executed for helping the Americans. My grandfather and the other men were saved when one of the men in the village cleverly (or in desperation) set the roof of his house on fire! The Japanese army's attention was diverted to the burning house, and my grandfather was able to flee.

My grandfather (who passed away in 1999), remained silent about the entire experience. He then said that what happened then was in the past and that things have changed. That's what I love the most about my grandparents. They have experienced so many things in their lives that would make one become bitter and hateful, but they came out with a different understanding and wanted their grandchildren to know that all Japanese people aren't 'bad' and that was an experience they had. My grandfather once told me that any act of violence, degradation or injustice is inexcusable. It's just wrong. He did go on to say that we cannot change what happened in the past and that we can only control of what is happening now and make a difference in the future. One would think that after going through something as horrific as this, they would be hateful. It was quite the opposite. Sure, they had hard feelings towards the Japanese, but my grandparents told us that there is no use in holding onto the hate forever. I love my grandparents for being such good people :)

To this day, the story still makes me cry...especially on days when I miss my grandfather.

The photos are of 1) my cousin's tribute to our late grandfather and 2) our family's coat of arms

**I did end up still going to Japan and lived there for two years. I had an amazing experience and loved learning about the culture, the art and the history.**
Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter Weekend

I organized an Easter egg hunt at our place for our nieces and my student. They had to go on a scavenger hunt around our property and actually work for their chocolate! LOL! I limited the hunt to the areas of one of the fields closest to our house, the barn and the garden. The kids came in exhausted from running around the property, but they hauled in a lot of chocolate, lollipops and toys!

A lovely Easter supper with friends and family. Oh, my goodness! I don't think I'll be able to eat for another month!!! I didn't even have enough room for dessert! Booooooo hooooo!!!

The kids and their Easter haul from the Easter egg hunt in SouthBay.

Pretty Easter eggs painted for us from one of the ladies at our church.

My sister-in-law's feline baby, Dexter. Isn't he cute?

The yummy desserts I didn't get to eat! I did steal a bite or two off of Hubby's plate though! The cheesecake was sooooooooo good!
Friday, April 06, 2007

"God is a placebo"

I had a very interesting talk with my 14 year old student from South Korea after school yesterday. I was giving him some extra help with his reading comprehension for Anne Holm's book, I Am David. It's a story of a 12 year old boy who escapes from a concentration camp and makes his journey across Europe in search of freedom , safety and his identity - who he really is. We reached the chapter where David is thinking about God and the existence of God...and how and why he should have faith and pray.

My student suddenly said, "In Korea, sometimes doctors give people a sugar pill and tell them it's medicine. What's that called?"

Puzzled, I responded, "Oh, you mean a placebo?"

"I guess so."

"Anyway, why do you ask?"

"Because I think that's what God is."

"Hmmm...That's interesting. Why do you think God is a placebo?"

"Because people believe in him, but he's not real. They just need something to believe in. He doesn't help them but they think he does. I don't know. I just don't believe."

What a wonderfully interesting conversation to have with a 14 year old boy. I was really intrigued by his words. The funny thing is that I assumed he was Buddhist or something, but he's actually Catholic! His parents practice Catholicism. I grew up Roman Catholic, and followed the religion pretty well since my grandmother is a very pious woman. In my 20's, I began looking at other religions, trying to decipher which made the most sense to me. The more I delved deeper into the different religions, the more I became confused. I found that there were many aspects of various religions that I really liked. If only I could take snippets of each and base my faith on that. Seriously. Though there are lots of conflicting ideas in Catholicism, Buddhism, Judaism, and many other faiths, I found bits and pieces of all that I really respected.
I ended up marrying someone who is Christian (although, Catholics are Christian as well) of a different denomination. Anyway, the whole conversation really interested me, since my student is Catholic, but believes God is a placebo. Interesting! That's one clever kid...don't you think?
Thursday, April 05, 2007


Aren't these little guys absolutely precious? The last one is not even a day old. There's something just so magical about Spring. New life, new beginnings, and lots of cute little babies everywhere!

P.S. Jane, these pics are for you :)

Holidays...and one heck of a delicious sandwich!

For all those celebrating holidays this week (Easter or Passover), I'm sure you will agree that the holidays entail mostly eating, eating and more eating. Dinner at family's, brunch at yours, a huge meal at another family member's house...maybe tea and desserts at a friend's? Perhaps even repeating the entire process the very next day...or even day after that! Though I love, love, love spending time with friends and family, I secretly dread all the eating...or shall I say, overeating?
I am looking forward to the Easter egg hunt I've planned for our two nieces and my student! I just love stuff like this! I get a kick out of organizing fun events and seeing the kids enjoying themselves. Oh, my student wanted to know what the big deal was about those Cadbury Cream Eggs. Coming from South Korea, he had no idea. He saw the commercial on TV with the chicks and the yolk-filled cream egg and wanted to know what the fuss was. His English teacher in Korea loves them (she's from Canada), so he wanted to try them. I got him one and after school, I let him try it. Personally, I cannot eat those things. They are way too sugary for me. My teeth hurt even thinking about them! He took a bite and the look on his face was classic! I think he felt the same way about them as I do! Does anyone out there like those things???

Oh, that's another thing I dread about this holiday. What are we going to do with all that chocolate in the house? Grrrrr!

Okay, since I've been in the mood to do some reviews this week, I wanted to share with you one of the coolest little places to visit if you are ever in Montreal. Actually, I was inspired to do this because J mentioned honey in her last blog post! You see, there is this sandwich (yes, I said sandwich) that absolutely makes my mouth water when I think of it. It's called the Midnight Spread and it is served at this wonderful little gem of a place called Cafe Santropol on St. Urbain. The ambiance is very cool and the decor is fun and artsy. Anyway, the Midnight Spread is a spread of cream cheese, honey, peanut butter, nuts and raisins, and piled with banana, strawberry and other fruits. It's served on crusty French bread and is just oh, so very decadent. There are other great dishes on the menu, but for some reason that's the only thing I ever ordered from there. In my years of being vegetarian when I was in college (or cegep in Quebec), it was a cool place to end the evening out with friends or a secret crush. Great food and a hip place to be.
Happy Holidays, guys and gals!
Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Book Review!!!

Children are love made visible- This quote jumped out at me while reading this book in bed the other night. How beautiful and true is that?!

My wonderful blog friend, Jane, sent me this book a few days ago. The book was written by her mom and her sister. Let me just say that I simply could not put this book down! Reading its contents from cover to cover was not a difficult task at all.

As the authors wrote in Preconception Plain & Simple, there are many books out on the market about pregnancy and having babies, but not so many about preconception. It's all about preparing for pregnancy. How wonderful is that?!

What I loved most about this book was that it was light-hearted, funny, fun, positive and inspiring. I enjoyed the authors' writing style and felt it was very informal and fun. Just reading the book makes you feel relaxed and that the process of baby making isn't something stressful or anxiety filled...because it isn't (or at least, shouldn't be)! I don't mean the actual process of creating a baby, but rather the steps before one tries to have a baby.

The book talks about preparing your mind, body and soul for pregancy. There are lots of witty, sexy, creative, intelligent tips like what foods to consume for virility and motility (they even supply a grocery list!). Preconception Plain & Simple is also not laden with thick, heavy, overwhelming medical information. It's got just the right amount of info and they also include links to websites and references to books if you want to further research things yourself. I suppose one could also go to their doctor or specialist if one wanted full on medical information. Actually, I presume one would go to their doctor for detailed information and advice. However, I liked that this book wasn't all about that!

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Thanks, Jane, Sharon and Audrey!

Just an added bonus: I also loved that the authors included quotes by some of my favorites! Clever and inspiring! I was so pleased to see that Sharon and Audrey also appreciated the words of H.D. Thoreau, Arthur Guiterman, Victor Hugo, Simone de Beauvoir and many others.

Book info:
Author: Audrey Couto McClelland, Sharon K. Couto
ISBN: 0975442600
Published: 2005-02
Publisher: Pinks & Blues Publishing
# Pages: 256
Binding: Paperback
Amazon Price: $19.95 US

One more thing!!! Check out the promo these wonderful ladies have done for my sister-in-law's sister!!! It's on their website. All the more reason why I love these ladies!!! You can also check out my SIL's sister's website for her baby series at . You'll simply fall in love with Melanie Bailey's adorable baby series. I've already got mine! "The Baby Series paintings have even caught the eye of The Mom Show on Discovery Health Channel. Stay tuned next season to see The Baby Series used in a nursery make-over!"

PS. Unfortunately, I have had to start using the "word verification" on my comments section, because spammers have found my blog. Grrrrrrrr! Sorry guys and gals! I know it's a bit of a hassle to have to type in the word verification...
Tuesday, April 03, 2007


Fresh air, crisp breeze, blue skies, warm sunshine, snow melting, grass growing, birds chirping, wolves howling, and new life waiting to be born....

Ahhh...this is Spring :)
Calving season has begun and so far we have four little cuties!
Monday, April 02, 2007

Return of the King

errrr...I mean "the Queen"!!! While I was away last week, our kitty, George had returned! Well, it wasn't by her own free will that she came home. The kids across the road found her in their barn and brought her over. Apparently, they wanted to keep her, but their mom flipped the cat over and said, "Uhhh...nope. It's a girl and she's not fixed!" LOL! Now, little George is back home with her sister, Fred. I sure hope she's not 'expecting'!!!
Sunday, April 01, 2007

The cutest little Habs fan!!!

Isn't this the cutest pic ever?? LOL! At two weeks old, our little nephew, Kenny is the cutest Habs fan ever! This is something Hubby and I are going to have to iron out before we have kiddies of our own. Hubby is a Toronto Maple Leafs fan and I'm a Montreal Canadiens fan. Hockey season is pretty much the only time when this household is divided :) LOL!

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About the Blog Author

City girl moves to the country, falls in love, and marries a farmer. She tries to incorporate her city ways with her new country lifestyle and blogs to keep in touch with friends, family & students who live far, far away :) Can this city girl go country? Watch as she learns all sorts of exciting things about life on the farm and in a small rural community. *UPDATE* We are now parents! Our baby girl was born on Nov. 11, 2008 (at 28 weeks gestation- 12 weeks premature, but she's quite the trooper)!!!
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Life on Manitoulin: Just a bunch of ramblings from a city girl gone country!

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