Weekly Photo Challenge: Monument

In this week’s challenge, show us your take on a monument (broadly defined). It could be a fresh angle on a well-known tourist site, or a place nobody knows outside your community. It doesn’t even have to be an official monument…anything can be monumental as long as it’s imbued with a shared sense of importance.- Weekly Photo Challenge: Monument

As the days close in on my vacation to Hong Kong and the most crazy time of the year at the office is stressing me out, I can’t help but to wander back to my vacation photos (since I barely have time to leave the office to go take pictures). I flipped through some of my photos and found a few.

First up is the Tsim Sha Tsui Clock Tower.

Clock Tower Hong Kong

Tsim Sha Tsui Clock Tower in Hong Kong

Why is this Clock Tower a monument because its one of the few original Hong Kong landmarks that remain.  I’m not a big fan of having landmarks that show the history of Hong Kong especially when they were a colony to be ripped away and revamped.  Its hard to preserve history as it is and going back to Hong Kong is kind of a trip down my own family’s place which I love to learn about.

Next is the Bank of China Tower.

Bank of China Tower

Bank of China Tower, Hong Kong

This is a monument to me because I can remember this being how I remembered Hong Kong even when I was a little girl. The towering high building that was oddly shaped and an obvious skyscraper that stands out.

Third monument is actually the first that I thought of when I read about this challenge: Big Buddha (Tian Tan Buddha) on Lantau Island.

Big Buddha

Big Buddha in Lantau Island

I’m not much of a believer in religions.  I follow any particular rituals on my own but I do respect all religions, I guess that makes me agnostic? I believe there is a higher force and that life is ruled by something.  My family is split between Christianity and Buddhism.  As I said, I respect both but Buddhism (aside the rituals) holds a great philosophy of life and I can’t help to feel a little bit safe and sound when I’m looking up at Big Buddha in Lantau as I walk up those neverending flights of stairs to go up.  That makes this a monument.  Plus, its huge and definitely a landmark.

Next and last is the Ruins of St. Paul’s situated in Macau.

Ruins of St. Paul's, Macau

Ruins of St. Paul’s, Macau

This is possibly one of the newest place since I only visited Ruins of St. Paul’s on my 2009  trip to Hong Kong and took a day out to visit Macau. The Ruins of St. Paul’s is the most important landmark in Macau.  Everyone who visits goes and I never quite understood visiting ruins (despite my respect for history) but something about this is monumental.  Its high for one and standing in the back panels and looking out of the face of a broken church is just a pretty odd but incredible feeling.  And just look at how many people are there.  This isn’t even high season when I went.  It was sometime in November.

What places are monuments to you?

This is my response to this past week’s photo challenge: monument. You can find more entries HERE!

Hop (2011)

Easter is just around the corner and I felt like I should post an Easter movie.  How many are there out there? I already saw Rise of the Guardians (review HERE).  Netflix had this movie sitting around and I remember seeing the first 10 minutes of it a few weeks ago at my boyfriend’s parents.  Honestly, I have zero hopes for this one and I really think it’ll turn out bad but that is what makes it perfect for a brain-dead day ;)

I always try to push away any early expectations or lack of before I see anything so lets check it out!

hop posterDirector: Tim Hill

Cast: James Marsden, Russell Brand, Kaley Cuoco, Hank Azaria, Hugh Laurie, Gary Cole, Elizabeth Perkins

Ever since he was a little bunny, EB (Russell Brand) has known that he will be the next in line to be the Easter Bunny to take over his father (Hugh Laurie). As he grows up and the time that he will take over the Egg of Destiny, he knows that he isn’t right for the job but rather he wants to be a drummer.  Not caring for the consequences of the impending Easter day in 2 weeks, he runs away to Hollywood to search for his fame.  There he meets Fred O’Hare (James Marsden) who accidentally hits EB with his car and takes him in.  Fred has no direction in his life and while helping his sister (Kaley Cuoco) house sit for her boss, he tries to get his life in order while helping EB reluctantly as they both unknowingly is searching for approval from their father in their own way. At the same time, back at the Easter Bunny headquarters, Carlos, a chick and the current Easter Bunny’s number 2 wants to take over the Easter Bunny duties.

Okay, I give up.  I don’t know how to make this sound interesting. I’m just going to leave the synopsis like that.  You get the idea, right?

hop easter factory

Suffice to say that I didn’t really like it all that much but I didn’t particularly hate it either.  It was just pretty blah, for lack of a better word.  Now, I do have some pros I’d like to talk about before the cons. They are worth a mention and maybe what will push you to watch this.  At the same time, I think maybe kids might get some enjoyment out of it more than say, me. I like pretty childish animation but as musical as this got, it didn’t really work for me. Oh right, I’m getting carried away.

One of the biggest pros is the beauty of the animation.  C’mon! Look at that Easter factory: the vibrant colors, the details and even the animated characters were done in a rather cute way. Look at our ninja royal guards, the Pink Berets.  They actually carry a bit of the Alvin and the Chipmunks qualities, in a way. Here’s for the director who made Alvin and the Chipmunks a few years back, right? Tim Hill gets to do this plus the little one is so cute and clumsy, qualities I love in animals ;)

hop pink berets

Another pro is James Marsden. I never quite understand why he takes on these animation crossed with real life movies.  I like it a lot usually, especially Enchanted (which I probably should review soon) and in this one, I actually liked Fred O’Hare.  James Marsden pulls the funniest facial expressions and he puts some fun into this.

Hop 2011

I guess this makes me go to the bad part.  What really hurts this animated flick is the story.  It could because once you start the beginning narration, you already know what will happen in the end so the sense of danger never amounts to anything.  And Carlos, our supposed villain, isn’t really that threatening.  He’s actually kind of funny in a weird way but then Hank Azaria does his voice and that man is a voice genius.  And then we have Russell Brand.  I’m not a fan of him. Period. I don’t like him as an actor, or even as the voice of EB. As a voice, he was tolerable but nothing that made me feel like I liked EB very much either.

Hop 2011

Overall, if you are watching this with kids, they might enjoy it because its not scary and it has some nice happy beats and furry animated bunnies and chicks, plus lots of candy.  However, the story does lack a bit of inspiration. Even its nice animation and James Marsden’s involvement couldn’t give it more life.  I really don’t hate it.  I’m just indifferent and I know that I probably wouldn’t watch it again.

Have you seen Hop? Do you have any movies you watch for Easter? What are your thoughts on James Marsden?

 

Marshmallow Moments Cupcakes!

Happy Thursday, my friends!

This week I’m finally picking up on a few things I need to do despite all the work crazy going on.  Plus, today is supposedly the last day of the work week.  “Supposed” because I might have to go in to work and I believe, everyone at the office will be there also.  Either way, yesterday night, I needed to relax and after postponing actual baking for at least a few weeks, at somewhere near midnight, I decided I was not going to do it anymore and decided to improvise some cupcakes.

These Marshmallow Delight cupcakes didn’t turn out quite as pretty as I had envisioned in my head, but I think I have a way to remedy it if ever I make a second batch. Look at them, they aren’t too ugly, right?

Marshmallow Moments Cupcakes

Right out of the oven!

In case you wondered how I got the name, Marshmallow Moments is for the name of cereal I used from Sally’s Cereals.  They sell it at Walmart here in Canada (not sure about elsewhere). You could probably use Lucky Charms and it would have the same effect :)

How did I do these, you ask? Its actually extremely simple.

I used the recipe for Yellow Cupcakes in Betty Crocker’s The Big Book of Cupcakes and then before putting the batter in the oven, I sprinkled and nested the cereal as I liked on the top so that it would be combined together when it baked a look like little marshmallow (cereal) treasure on the top.

Here’s the recipe for Yellow Cupcakes:

Yellow Cupcakes

makes 24 cupcakes (I halved everything to make 12 instead)

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup butter or margarine, softened

1 1/4 cups sugar

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2/3 cup milk

Marshmallow Moments Cupcakes

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 350F.  Place paper baking cups in each of 24 regular-size muffin cups.  Grease and flour muffin cups or spray with baking spray with flour

2. In medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt; set aside

3. In large bowl, beat butter with electric mixer on medium speed 30 seconds.  Gradually add sugar, about 1/4 cup at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping bowl occassionally.  Beat 2 minutes longer.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in vanilla.  On low speed, alternately add flour mixture, about 1/3 of mixture at  a time, and milk, about 1/2 mixture at  a time, beating just until blended.

4. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, filling each about 2/3 full.

5. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pans 5 minutes.  Remove cupcakes from pans; place on cooling racks to cool.

Marshmallow Moments Cupcakes

As usual, there are a few changes to this recipe.  While halving everything to get 12, I used 2 eggs (since 1.5 is a bit hard to achieve) and the normal amount of vanilla since it wouldn’t make a huge difference.  I also replaced the milk with almond milk (due to my lactose intolerance).  Thats all for the modifications on this one.

These cupcakes may have turned out to be a bit deformed looking.  Its only because I believe if I kept them in for 20 instead of the full 25, the marshmallows might not have melted quite so much and it would look better. As I was monitoring it, it was looking so pretty, except that if I were to make it again, I would stuff the cereal in the batter even more abundantly so it would look like a mountain of treasure hiding in the cupcake.

Marshmallow Moments cupcakes

Aside its flawed appearance, this cupcake is really good.  The taste was well balanced and if you want less sweet, just decrease the sugar a tad because the cereal is already sugary.  I didn’t really mind because the taste was like biting into a crunchy layer on the top and then into the fluffiness of the cupcakes and I love the contrast of that feeling as I chew :)

“Long” weekend is coming up so be prepared, I have more baking adventures planned with a bit of an Easter theme hopefully!

What do think of this Marshmallow Moments cupcake?

Steve’s Music Mix: Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda

I looked forward to doing this week’s Steve’s Music Mix.

If you haven’t been current, Steve at Steve Says has a weekly music mix segment where we use the power of our MP3 players/Ipods and its shuffle mode to determine answers for 3 questions that he asks.

Here are the rules (copied from him):

Each week I will post 3 new questions so…

(1) Go to the music player of your choice and put it on shuffle
(2) Say the questions aloud and press play
(3) Use the song title as your answers
(4) NO CHEATING

Title your post “Steve’s Music Mix – …” and link back to this week’s page.

Post your response in the comment section of that week’s page.

You can check out his post and see other creative answers HERE!

Lets check out what my MP3 whipped up for his questions:

What should I do…?

–> Defying Gravity – Wicked soundtrack (Idina Menzel & Kristen Chenoworth)

Hmm…Defy gravity.  I like that.  Not literally but going against the norm or whatnot.  Maybe it is time to chase some dreams ;)

What I shouldn’t do…?

–> El Tango de Roxanne – Moulin Rouge Soundtrack (Ewan McGregor)

Definitely! I agree! I’m not much of a dancer even if I wished I actually had taken lessons.  So no tango and in the context of the song, I will not be selling my body to no one.

What I will do…?

–> Shadow – Sam Tsui

Become a shadow? Be haunted by someone’s shadow/my past? That second part happens occasionally already but right now is not really the time for it.  Maybe its just reminding me to put my past behind me and focus on the present.

There you go! I have to say, my MP3 was feeling quite depressed this week. Its giving me a ton of slow paced songs and partially musically.

Head over to Steve’s site and give this a shot! Lets see what your music has to say about what you should, shouldn’t and will do ;) Have some fun! :)

The Key to Relaxing :)

I’m a bit late with this random life update post that I almost didn’t want to put one together. By the way, if you don’t want to read anytime, scroll down to the bottom, I have a special message :)

Nothing really happened actually, which is quite a miracle and honestly, a relief.  I needed some down time from running around.  We managed to finally start painting and for me, it was a totally new experience as I’ve always been pampered and my mom used to do all the painting at my place.  I gotta love her to bits: an awesome cook, a lovely home painter and just wonderful.  Sure, my mom and me, we have our cranky days and she loves to piss me off when I’m in my time of the month and it usually ignites some form of argument but I’m starting to feel the best friend in her coming back slowly. But of course, things never quite last in the happy zone these days and I’m feeling pressured with something else that I’m not quite ready to discuss here just yet.

I really don’t have much to share about the past week.  I’m even in much of a mood to ramble on about stuff.

You know what I think about when I’m in these moods?

One thing is TV and I went ahead and continued on watching Season 2 of Psych.

Psych

And happily finished it last night and after getting in a few movies so that I have content for the following week, I will move on later this week to Season 3 hopefully :) Honestly, Psych is not as awesome as The Mentalist, Lie to Me  and shows with the same sort of investigation through hyper-observation. It does have that easy-going silly fun that works for me because it offers a lot of laugh out loud moments that I realized I appreciated a lot more in Season 2.  I look forward to catching up with Season 3 :)  What series are you watching now?

What goes well with TV aside from food, which I already posted about HERE, is some drinks! While I went to shop for my weekend dinner and food for the following week, this bottle caught my eye.

CID Tranquil Cider

I have no idea what Still Cider is but what caught my eye was when I was looking at the description in the back, it showed that it was made by Pinnacle which is a popular ice wine producer here. I’ve always liked their products so I figured I’d give this a shot :) Turns out its pretty strong but it tasted decent also.  Its not my favorite but I managed to grow to increasingly like it. It could also be that I was getting a tad tipsy.  Who knows, right? I love exploring new wines once in a while although I’m usually more of a cocktail person.

That leads me to my Sunday night drink.  Work the next day also meant that I couldn’t drink as much as the previous night.  I was surfing Pinterest (again!) and found this recipe called Sex in the Driveway.  LOL! That was seriously my reaction.  I’ve heard of Sex on the Beach but c’mon! Really? Sex in the Driveway?!? Anyways, here’s what it looks like:

Cocktail Sex in the Driveway

Sex in the Driveway

I had a bit of improvisation but the actual recipe is: 1 oz peach schnapps, 1 oz blue curacao, 2 oz vodka and fill with sprite. I don’t own peach schnapps so we used apricot brandy instead and my boyfriend had to improvise because my glass was taller than the normal size.  Either way, it turned out good.  The apricot brandy overrides a lot of the other tastes so it tasted a lot like apricot and was very perfumed with it but I also love it a lot so it didn’t bother me :) Its a pretty good drink and I love vodka based cocktails so this was right up my alley.  But then, I wonder because I swapped out the peach schnapps does the location of where the sex occurred change? Just joking! Being a tad silly..haha!

What cocktail do you like? How about wine?

Now that we have our thirst quenched, my third way to de-stress is one I’m trying to overcome: Shopping.  Except now, I’m trying to resist online shopping.  I’ve been doing rather well, except I really was in need of some clothes so I took advantage of an online sale. And then add a trip to Walmart to damage my wallet a little more…at least I didn’t feel too guilty because everything was awesome.  Since I said that I wouldn’t do a selfie, I just caught the front of the shirt and not my face.

First up from La Senza is my ROAR sleep wear. I love tigers. What more can I say? :)

La Senza Tiger sleep wear

I love La Senza stuff but its just so pricey.  Thank goodness this was on special and had my size left in stock.  Then, in the same package, I had a few other stuff but as a filler I got this very meaningless headband but maybe for Halloween eventually, it’ll be useful.

La Senza Hairband

Cat ears hair band

I wore them on and off during the weekend.  I like to channel my inner feline/tiger/cat self.  After all, my boyfriend calls me kitty as a nickname.  It could be because I like to meow randomly.  Scratch that about no selfie, but just one because I don’t know how to take a hair band without my face.

Moving on from that, I also got a cute shirt at Walmart which totally defines me.

Fighting for Cupcakes Marvel

Fight for Cupcakes!

C’mon! You add Marvel and cupcakes and I’m in! I guess the only way to one up this would be to add a cute tiger with a cupcake…

Now that we’re done with clothes and accessories, I’d like to bring your attention to this super cool car trunk art that I saw.  I don’t know what you call it but this car we were behind at a red light had the COOLEST picture on it ever!

I don’t know this car and if the owner of that car does find the way to my site and doesn’t like their car shown, feel free to tell me and I’d gladly remove it. Just in case anyone gets offended by it.  I should probably blank out the license plate, right? Still, I’m am quite impressed with this.

One of the best things of this weekend is that the weather FINALLY is warming up. We had a pretty clear Saturday which was great because I managed to start my walker to runner training that I talked about HERE! On the same day I also started the Beach Body Challenge and as of today, I’m going to do Day 4 and I honestly want to punch someone because who puts 50 burpees and 50 leg raises in one go.  Either way, for the run, this is my land of jogging: the neighborhood bike path :)

20140412_170548

Not looking very green and alive right now but it will come :) We did have abnormal warm weather yesterday.  I’m ready for the heat! Although at my office, its feeling extremely sauna-like everyday. Since then, its pretty much been raining. Hopefully it’ll stop soon so that I can go out for another run :)

This post was full of randomness so I guess to wrap it all up, I’d like to end with steering you all to check out a post I’m pretty proud of on my newly established blog (that I really should spend more time on) for the last Weekly Writing Challenge.  I’ll find my comfort zone there soon, just like I kind of have here! You can check it out HERE! Its only a fifty word “story”.

Blogging has been my breath of fresh air, even in all my versatility and lack of direction and spontaneity.  Its all about keeping things positive and even without any milestones or whatnot, I’d love to just share this quote to end this off!

thank you

 

Maybe I’ve been feeling extremely mushy or its just me being extremely thankful, I don’t know but all I know is that without this blog, I wouldn’t have had the courage to do many of the things I’ve been working on of late.  You all are my inspiration and I thank all of you for dropping by and following, commenting and just writing up all those wonderful blogs you own :) You all are awesome! Its keeps me motivated each day to know that there are such wonderful people scattered across the world that I’ve been acquainted with here in this blogosphere!

Happy Tuesday, my friends!

Girl Most Likely (2013)

I don’t really remember why I chose to watch Girl Most Likely.  I think it was one of those mid week times when I just felt the week was going SO slow and work was ridiculously stupid and I needed a break and a good laugh.  I don’t think I read a lot of reviews on this one and if I did, I probably wasn’t outstandingly good or bad.  So either way, maybe it was my faith in Kristen Wiig or my wanting to check out Darren Criss in a non-Glee scenario.  Whatever the reason, I watched this comedy. Let’s check it out!

Director: Shari Spring Berman, Robert Pulcini

girl most likely posterCast: Kristen Wiig, Annette Bening, Matt Dillon, Darren Criss

Imogene (Kristen Wiig) is a failed New York playwright who decides that when her boyfriend leaves her that she was going to stage a suicide, except her suicide note was so convincing that the hospital psychiatrist sends her to her only family left, her gambling mother (Annette Bening) living in New Jersey, to be supervised and to make room for more urgent patients.  She gets back “home” since a long time and reunites with her younger brother Ralph (Christopher Fitzgerald) and also realizes that her mom now has a strange boyfriend called George “The Bousche” (Matt Dillon) who makes some wild claims about who he is, while she also realizes that her mother also rented out her old bedroom to Lee (Darren Criss), a guy who studied in arts and music.  Despite having to embrace the humiliating move back home, she starts to learn a little more about herself, where she wants to go and accept her family for who they are as well as where she comes from.

girl most likely

I really don’t know what to say about Girl Most Likely. Girl Most Likely is not a very entertaining movie at least for the most part I didn’t actually laugh a lot for watching a comedy but it wasn’t so stupid that I turned it off also. Comedy is a hard genre to grasp because its so hard to determine what makes people laugh. The best way I can describe how I feel about this one was that I didn’t really care.  There were parts that I like and then some that I know probably was supposed to make me laugh but didn’t. Kristen Wiig plays a great awkward adult role.  She’s just simply great at it.  I mean, just look at Bridesmaids, right? She was pretty great in that.  I think for Girl Most Likely, it had to do with the layout of the story that didn’t work for me and maybe character design more than the actors.  It felt like something was missing to life it above what it turned out to be.

girl most likely

For one, lets start with Kristen Wiig.  I think she did a great job in acting out Imogene.  The only deal was Imogene was at times, pretty annoying.  She was like that girl who had something, failed and didn’t know how to pick herself up again and just lost it after that.  Its the women that embody all the needy and crazy and just can’t be alone but thinks she has everything in control when she doesn’t.  Wait, that sounds a bit like me.  Maybe a fraction, either way, the way they did it was a bit irritating.  Still, between wanting to just slap Imogene and wake her up (maybe that was the intention), there were moments that I started rooting for her but thats because her character grew (kind of).  Why kind of? Her character was somewhat sporadic in the weird not totally making sense way. I still hold that Kristen Wiig did the best she could to pull this together.

My second reason for seeing this was Darren Criss. I’m over Glee like I haven’t seen the last 2 seasons or something. I’ve always felt that Darren Criss would be the most likely to have some form of success in acting or whatnot.  I like him the most in the show and I was pretty happy to see that he got a role outside of it.  Although they still give him some parts of singing and musical talents, its a different vibe to see him in the whole make out scenes and kind of girl magnets.  To me, it added some life to this flick and I really liked his character.

girl most likely annette  and matt

Annette Bening played as Kristen Wiig’s mom and she was really not such a pleasant person but at the same time, among all her faults, at times, she did bring some funny-ish moments.  Same goes for Matt Dillon, who did one of the most awkward characters ever but somehow, I don’t really know if I was able to laugh at his humor.

On a side note, I think the most lovable character goes to Christopher Fitzgerald who plays Ralph. He was pretty bit socially awkward or deficient if anything but he was the enlightening person in a pretty funny and cute way.  It packed in a few surprises here and there.

OVERALL, everyone brings there game in this one but this comedy lacks humor that works for me (maybe it might work for you).  I may have gotten a few chuckles and giggles but nothing like laughing out loud or anything.  It also seems to rush to wrap up this story and give everyone a sudden jump to all have something different and tries to pop in some surprises. Although, I didn’t laugh a lot and it really lacked something to make it anything worthwhile to revisit, the reason I did finish was that Kristen Wiig does try to work with this pretty irritating and self-absorbed character who kind of stole my heart for a split second in hopes that this movie will turn around.  I guess my problem with it is that its a comedy that doesn’t really make me laugh so that makes this not so good anymore.

Have you seen Girl Most Likely? Did this movie work for you? What do you think about Kristen Wiig? 

 

Bacon and Egg Cups!

Happy Monday, my lovelies! I’m in a great mood and figured that I would share some food posts to brighten up everyone’s day!

Last night was my boyfriend and me’s (not so sudden) desire to have our breakfast style dinner.  I was checking out my pins on Pinterest earlier in the day also to look for a baking recipe, which I will finally do tonight hopefully :)

Back to my dinner, as we were preparing, I landed on this very delicious looking recipe for Bacon and Eggs.  You can see it here: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/313844667755043073/

Somehow, the actual link for the recipe doesn’t work anymore but here’s how mine turned out!

Bacon and Egg Cups

Bacon and Egg Cups

Its super easy to make this.

What you do is that you take muffin tins and then you could add some non-stick spray if you’d like.  I didn’t, but it might help to take it out easier afterwards. You wrap a strip of bacon to each contour of the muffin tins and then whip up some eggs, as many as you would need to fill up each one 3/4 full. For me, it took about 5-6 eggs for each pan. They also suggest to mix in some cheese as well.  I can’t eat cheese so I didn’t do that. After that, you set your oven for 350F and pop it in there for 30 mins or so.

And VOILA!

Bacon and Egg Cups

Bacon and Egg Cups

These tasted really good.  My only problem was the border of bacon strip sometimes would go out of shape as I was preparing the eggs to pour in it.  The eggs were not seasoned for mine but I never feel the need to when there is bacon because it tends to be salty already.  However, if I were to do this again, maybe I’d try out add hints of smoked paprika perhaps.  Might give it a boost in taste.  It could be interesting :)

This is simple and quick and if you don’t like breakfast style dinners, well, you can just make it for breakfast or brunch, whichever works for you!

Do you like bacon and eggs? What is a must-have for breakfast or brunch meals?