My Weekly Adventures: Shopping Hauls Recap

We’re already halfway through December! Its kind of crazy to think there’s only 16 more days and its 2019. I’m pretty happy to see 2018 go away because it seems to have been a tough year for everyone that I’ve talked to. I know on my end that as bad as things are, when I look back, I see that things did turn out to have the best results out of a bad situation, so glass half full, right? Its how I stay positive. I’ll do a year in review in the next weekly adventures. Not sure together or separate post yet. I guess it depends on time and how I want to structure it. Its a lot of housekeeping behind the scenes going on for the blogs and projects right now. However, there were a few little things that went on this past 2 weeks so let’s check it out! If you follow my Instagram, then you might have seen some of this…

Salon des Metiers D’Art de Montreal

smaq 2018 haul

The Salon is back in town and smaller and shorter than previous years. However, I am now a veteran at this place. There are places that I haven’t tried before and some cool ideas but somehow I ended up picking up stuff from the usual and some returning stalls that weren’t there last year (or I missed it? I don’t remember). So let’s take a look at what I picked up:

  • Cidrerie du Minot – Ice Cider
  • Cryo – Ice Cider
  • La Nougaterie – Nougat – Christmas, Lavender, Chocolate, Classic
  • Coach House Shortbread – Sugar Plum, Rose and Almond, Ginger flavors
  • Nutra Fruit – Dark Chocolate covered Cranberries
  • Courtesy of my friend’s honey wine purchase, a gift of Confit of Onions

Most of these are either gifts or things to share for upcoming festivities with family and friends.

Signé Local – Square Dix30

Signe Local Dix30

The husband and I finally went to Signé Local in Quartier Dix30 which is a store full of local artisan products. Its like Salon des Metiers d’arts everyday. I’m really trying to support more local products because I’ve bought some really durable and great stuff so I’ve been wanting to go see this spot since it opened earlier this year. Its nice that we went because I found a few things:

  • Oomph Popcorn Seasoning- Vegan Maple BBQ Flavor
  • Les As Du Fumoir – Smoked Salt
  • U’nhiver – Handmade Winter Hat + Extra Pompom

Ooomph is one that we’ve bought before and its pretty nice. The sales rep there told us that some people actually use the seasoning for other things. It is a pretty good idea. As for the hat, its pretty cool because you can remove the pompom. It has a snap button (is that what you call it?) and the second pompom was an extra $10. Its pretty nice because not only is being able to change the pompom pretty fun but whenever these hats go into wash (which this one needs to be handwashed anyways) its nice to remove the pompom because its what wears out the most.

Grocery Trip to Plattsburgh, USA

Target

TARGET Haul:

  • Winter Oreo
  • Sugar Cookie Pop Tarts
  • Frosted Nerds
  • Quaker Oatmeal Medleys
  • Lacroix: Passionfruit, Cran-raspberry, Tangerine
  • Sierra Mist
  • Candy Cane
  • Larabar: Snickerdoodle, Strawberry Chocolate Chip

Pricechoppers

PRICECHOPPER Haul:

  • Fresh Bagels
  • KIND Granola Bars
  • Popcorn (because it was on sale and we needed it)

Walmart

WALMART Haul:

  • Cape Cod: Wave Reduced Salt, Waffle Cut
  • Crunchy Rice Rollers: Mixed Berry
  • Larabar: Mint Chip Brownie
  • KIND granola bars 12-bar value pack
  • Ritz Bacon

I haven’t gone across the border (a lot, like once earlier this year) for many reasons in the past few years. Mostly it is because of the fact that our exchange rate is absolutely stupid low. After I saw the foreign exchange on my transactions, I kind of regret it again but then it had some cool vegan snacks and whatnot, flavors and such that aren’t sold here. Most of the stuff I bought aren’t sold in Canada or else I would feel that it wasn’t exactly worth it. However, it was a nice trip.

Holiday Marathon Update

We’re two weeks into the holiday marathon. Its been going pretty on track with posts related to Christmas every other day. Its been quite a batch of stuff from books to movies to TV binges. You can find it all updated as the reviews go up on the page HERE.

We have another 10 days to go and a few other things in my plans. Hopefully you’ll stick around and keep checking out what I’ve dug up from Netflix and my Kindle and such.

Housekeeping/Planning Ahead/Catching Up

December also brings on a bunch of housekeeping. You will see that most of my indexes are being updated and should be all ready by the time we hit the new year. They are all currently updated to the end of November (if I remember correctly). As for planning ahead, I’ve talked about a few things here and there between this and the What’s Up posts so I’m debating a few structural things but unsure about how committed I will be to a fixed schedule because that is usually when things fall apart. Considering that sort of thing and figuring out how to fit everything I want to keep and maybe what I’m not so dedicated to anymore because I added a good few new segments last year and revived a few as well. Suffice to say, taking everything into consideration, I also have a lot of catching up and backlog. I’m fairly confident that by the end of the year all the movie backlog will be done because its all double features that I’ve already paired off. And books is all done except for one which I can’t figure out how to do for the past few months and ended up rereading at least 2 times. The main thing is TV series and the fact that I’m debating something really ambitiously stupid or doing something more sensible but something I had wanted to do for the past few years but never figured out how to structure it around what’s here. A lot of thinking going on but 2019 overview will talk about all of that and we’ll even go back and talk about some of the achievements this year in 2018 in the next weekly adventures to wrap up the year (if not in a separate post).

I’m sorry to keep talking about this if I’ve talked about it before. To be honest, I don’t remember much sometimes and this adventures post has felt slightly empty so I just wanted to use this space to share some vague thoughts.

Cute Kitty Pics

**I realized that I forgot to post a cute kitty pic in the last weekly adventures so here’s two this time to make up for it! My cat is enjoying the fireplace and basement hangout time a lot to say the least. **

That’s it for this Weekly Adventures!
What have you been up to? Have you started Christmas shopping yet?

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Double Feature: Star Trek: Beyond (2016) & Baby Driver (2017)

double feature

We are nearing the end of the year which means I’m going to try to get a lot of these backlogged movies reviewed. While I did write a review over on Weibo for Baby Driver already, I haven’t done one here and I’m not going to lie that Star Trek Beyond was a few months ago so its starting to get a little blurry.

Star Trek: Beyond (2016)

Star Trek Beyond

Director: Justin Lin

Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Idris Elba, Sofia Boutella, Joe Taslim

The crew of the USS Enterprise explores the furthest reaches of uncharted space, where they encounter a new ruthless enemy, who puts them, and everything the Federation stands for, to the test. –IMDB

After the last Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness (review), I had my reservations about this one. For one, the first and the second had this conflict in tone and humor. There was this narrative that worked but the villains felt underused or not quite as effective. Thinking back now, it felt like a fairly unsatisfying and forgettable movie experience save for some of the returning cast who had roles which were quite fun to watch. Star Trek Beyond however takes a different approach. It may have to do with the fact that Simon Pegg doesn’t only appear in the film but also does the writing for this one. It also helps that Justin Lin, a director that I like a lot in the Fast and Furious franchise takes the helms of this sequel. A lot of the factors makes this one such a fun and entertaining movie experience that reminds me a lot of the fun I had in the first Star Trek film.

Star Trek Beyond resumes the familiar roles. Its a good thing because for those who have been following the franchise, its a nice little team that we know the personality of. There is this well-oiled machine dynamic despite the issues they encounter. Everyone delivers it very well. I completely had forgotten that John Cho was in this as well especially since I had just seen him in Searching (when I saw this movie in August or something..Searching review here). Then of course, we have Anton Yelchin that is still such a huge loss in my heart because he is so incredibly talented. However, I think what deserves a mention here are the new additions. The first is the girl on the planet they land on called Jayla, played by Sofia Boutella who has such a fantastic character design appearance wise and her weapons and Sofia Boutella does a great job. On top of that, mostly unrecognizable except for his voice is Idris Elba who plays the villain, Krall. He still feels a little underused but the presence is very much there.

Baby Driver (2017)

baby driver

Director (and writer): Edgar Wright

Cast: Ansel Elgort, Jon Bernthal, Jon Hamm, Lily James, Eiza Gonzalez, Kevin Spacey

After being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway driver finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail. – IMDB

Every once in a while we get a new gimmick and it works for some and doesn’t work for others. Baby Driver utilizes the constant soundtrack in Baby’s life to  work around it. It starts off fairly fun and charming, if a little odd especially when he turns on the wipers for no reason but to match the lyrics or sounds or something. There is a charm to it all. However, Baby Driver reminds us how sometimes soundtracks are used sparingly for a reason because it accentuates a scenes. As clever as the idea itself and how the execution works in some parts, it doesn’t translate to everything. There is no doubt that the soundtrack is really good, except I would have liked to not be overloaded with music so much.

Baby Driver

As charmed as I was with the use of music and soundtracks and how that was executed well enough, the story here is fairly basic. Its actually not even very fleshed out for any of the characters. Its almost like the gimmick is the reason for the whole thing. The action sequences are done pretty good though and the bombastic characters played by Jon Bernthal, Jon Hamm, Eiza Gonzalez and Jamie Foxx all are quite memorable. When things get dicey though, the characters are really just shells and the story is pretty much on rails following everything as expected and predicted.

Is it as awesome as it seems to be for a lot of people? For myself, I don’t really think its that well-rounded. There are aspects that stand out and as much as I like the music and cars and this one delivers two things I love, it somehow outlived its hype. Its not a bad idea and its a fun little experience but somehow it just lost its charm in the second half.

Christmas 2018 & TV Binge: Nailed It! Holiday! (Mini-series, 2018)

You can see reviews for the main seasons here:

Season 1
Season 2

Nailed It! Holiday! (2018)

nailed it holiday

Host: Nicole Byer & Jacques Torres

There are shows that talk about refined baking competitions and such but there is also a great joy in watching amateurs bake because its a learning curve and everyone has to start somewhere. Nailed It! has taken that concept and really excelled with it. Sure, Season 2 had its odd moments where it forgot what it was trying to do but overall, it still brought a lot of joy and laughter to some of the odd baking things that came out of some of these episodes. With that said, I was excited to see that Nailed It Holiday is now a thing. It keeps the same format, very much like the first one which focuses its first round on Baker’s Choice and its making smaller baking things like cookies, cake pops and cupcakes while its second round is the money maker, literally, because you can win $10,000 with  making a cake creation. This time we also see a hint of what might be potential new extension or a new direction for the show in the 7th episode as it escapes the baking realm and jumps into the DIY crafts realm. I’ll talk about that a little later as a final wrap-up discussion point.

Nailed It Holiday

Nailed It! Holiday! definitely did do exactly that. Its hilarious and a ton of fun. It themes itself around the different holidays during this winter season from a good few Christmas to simply winter themes to Hanukkah and takes us straight to a countdown to New Year’s. I’m guessing if you do watch this one or two episodes a week, you might actually reach New Year’s Eve to watch the countdown. The creations themselves are super nice. Its still very much difficulty but its always the how the choice of candidates in the competition that brings a lot of fun because of just how ridiculous some times these things turn out to be. At the same time, they add on a different special button in each one episode themed also around the holidays from unwrapping presents or untangling lights which also makes it fair because if they finish it during the 3 minutes, they can get back to their baking right away. Its a nice twist to the freeze button in the second round.

Nailed It Holiday

Nailed It has always seemed to want to divert away from its baking competition formula. And doing the DIY crafts route is a good one for sure. It might eventually also run out of topics at some point but it has its potential also. The one episode we had was definitely just a taste or maybe a market test in their own right to see how well received it is. I thought it was a fairly fun episode. I like to do DIY crafts as well so this was right up my alley. Crafts have the potential to go horribly wrong and they can also be pretty entertaining to watch as well. I would be down to see if they do a season of this especially of Nicole Byer continues to host.

Talking about that, the reason that Nailed It works despite whatever content they have is in part all the good creative things they do and finding the right type of participants and having a good angle, like this Holiday theme mini series. But the biggest reason is Nicole Byer. She is just the heart and life of this show. While Jacques Torres is a fun match for her, the crafts episode proves that she really can have the same dynamic with another host as well. Its her personality that makes it so fun to watch. Nailed It Holiday is a really fun season and I hope that they continue with this show, whether it be in baking (which I probably would prefer as it works well) or even if they expand to crafts.

TV Binge: The Final Table (Season 1, 2018)

The Final Table (Season 1, 2018)

The Final Table

Host: Andrew Knowlton

Global competitions should be the hook for Netflix in all kinds of competition simply because they have the opportunity and the resource to make them. It is why I was so excited to stary watching The Final Table. Well, and because I’m a foodie and love watching food related shows (which reminds me that I need to get back to Chef’s Table). The Final Table is just the debut season so there are some imperfections in execution overall but the concept itself is a good one. If there is enough popularity, it would be interesting to see how they can make certain changes to make it more polished to watch. Since I probably won’t find another place to write this, I think the host Andrew Knowlton does a great job and is a good fit for the show because he has the knowledge for it and the charisma to carry the show.

Just for a little basics, The Final Table starts off with teams of two cooks paired up by the chefs own choosing. They are all professional chefs in their own specialities and their different origins and backgrounds. Each episode is themed around one country. The first round consists of a national dish from said country set by the three ambassador judges, which usually includes two celebrities/public figures and one known critic from the specific country. The bottom three teams (until they reach the ending episodes) go into a final dish round where a legendary chef from the specified country will choose an ingredient known in that country to be the star of their next dish and the team considered the less refined for whatever reason will depart the competition. In the last finale, the Top 2 teams break up into individual competition again and the 4 competitors go head to head for the two rounds for the big finale.

The Final Table

Right away, the pros of this one is the country by country theme per episode. It helps people learn about other countries and their dishes and cultures as well as shows off some of their known celebrities. It seems like a pretty win win situation. At the same time, a few (if not more) of the chefs were on Chef’s Table so already associated with the show or known before so makes it more fun to watch in that regard. Some of the national dish choices are pretty surprising so its always nice for the unexpected and mystery element. That part of the structure works well and is well put together. Themed like that gives it a chance to hit a lot of other countries even after they get through all the countries associated with Netflix.

If we look at teams of two, that works pretty well also. It gives them a chance to learn from each other and encourages team work and adds the drama element. At the same time, it gives the chefs a chance to make a more elaborate dish and be strong in certain segments because of each of their different knowledge lending a hand to creating their version of the traditional dish or their knowledge of the ingredient and how to use it in their interpretation as well. If we look at the ambassadors and critics, I don’t have a lot of knowledge of a lot of foreign movies and such so obviously, I knew the USA celebrities the most and then some of them looked familiar and I knew some of the chefs because of Chef’s Table. I think that is part of the fun also as long as the judges themselves have knowledge in food and give constructive criticism.

So far, I’ve said a lot of pros of the show and it is a pretty good structure in its heart. However, I have this issue with how it changes from the teams to the individuals. Personally, if the final challenge was just the last team standing, that might be a little more reasonable. Or commit to it completely and do a half point of top 5 where we get to see the abilities of the individual chef for a few rounds to make it more engaging. At this point, its like a sudden drop to finish the show in a set amount of episodes where they drop a few teams in one shot to force a top 2 which gets siphoned into the finale which just automatically has three chefs removed. That part of the structure needs some work to see what sort of transition works better. If its too little episodes for the amount of teams, then cut 2 teams or something to make it work out. Whatever it is, that needs some work to not feel like the change comes and leaves too abruptly.

Overall, its a good idea and things work for the most part. There probably will be more polish to this if it gains its popularity. I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing another season of The Final Table.

What’s Up #13: It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas…

You can’t say its wrong when almost everything I’m doing last week is holiday-related or perhaps more specifically, Christmas. So it sure is looking a lot like Christmas and while this doesn’t cover my other blog, Avenue of Daydreams, my photography blog, that place is turning my phone into a Christmas gallery as well.

With that said, let’s see what happened last week!!

READING

Mooseletoe

  • Mooseletoe by Tiffinie Helmer (Review)

Currently reading: *deciding what to read next*

Reading has been going a little slow on my end and that has to do with the lack of holiday books in my Kindle at the moment. I do have two more books that I found. I might have overlooked something because I honestly thought that I had more. Mooseletoe was kind of a finishing point for myself as I will line up a lot of stuff other than the easy contemporary romance genre because it really is getting irritating most of the time to read and then you know, sometimes I feel bad because it makes the one or two great ones that I read this year get lost in this really lackluster genre that I am realizing that I am not a fan of even if it is some of the easiest books to go through. A hint towards a few new directions in the reading department for 2019 already. Its really shaping up to some fun things in the new year. For now, we will just continue the holiday book trek until the end of the year.

PLAYING

  • Hidden Folks DLC Beach

Currently playing: She Remembered Caterpillars

As I kept saying in the last section, I only have one pair of eyes and each of these things aren’t quite multitaskable, although I do find myself sometimes TV binging and reading at the same time when I’m feeling super ambitious, so who knows, right? However, playing games is a very different thing. Currently the channel is slightly lacking in videos but I am working on Hidden Folks which is one that gameplay doesn’t quite work but a review is in the works. Its a fun little game that I forgot to write a review for when I played the main game last holiday season and now I’m doing a batch review of the main game and the DLC. I am currently playing She Remembered Caterpillars which is a narrative puzzle game. Its an interesting experience but I think I have a ways to go but gameplay will go up for this one soon-ish. Just a few gaming things to get out of the way as well. A new game plan for Game Warp posting schedule is in the works for 2019 so bear with me as I figure that out. We have some fun podcasts for year-end coming up which is currently in editing.

WATCHING

The Princess Switch

  • Isabelle (2018)
  • The Holiday Calendar (2018) (Review)
  • The Princess Switch (2018) (Review)

I’m not quite in holiday movie watching mode but to be fair, Netflix is just starting to launch a lot more of the holiday stuff this past week so I have a few other films lined up. My fave of last week had to go to The Princess Switch which pretty much surprised me on how much fun I had watching it. Vanessa Hudgens has always been this hit or miss sort of actress, at least in the few things I’ve seen but she really did nice in this fun little doppelganger sort of film in veins of The Parent Trap (review) and It Takes Two, also two films that I enjoyed quite a bit. The holiday movies is definitely getting better and better so hopefully, it keeps going in this direction.

TV BINGING

nailed it holiday

  • Love O2O (rewatch)
  • Nailed It! Holiday! (Mini Series)

Currently binging: An Oriental Odyssey, The Inn, Who’s the Murderer, Happy Do Re Mi

I know TV binge has been fairly the same over and over again but I’m taking the time to really just focus on a little less of TV since I have a ton of unwritten TV series which I have to go back and watch to remember what to write. I am enjoying (kind of) the catching series as they go live although only 2 more episodes of An Oriental Odyssey and its going to be over. Whoever decided that the last two episodes was going to be on one weekend needs a serious chat. But then, I’m hoping to get the TV binge done for that in a timely fashion and then rewatch it in one shot (as much as 50 episodes can be in one shot, right?).  I keep forgetting to mention it but An Oriental Odyssey does have English subtitles so I probably should have linked it before. My bad.

In terms of new things, I was super excited for a new limited series of Nailed It! for the holidays which seems like a fun time. So the husband and I had some time to binge the 7 episodes in true binging fashion so the TV binge is going up very very soon. 🙂

Christmas 2018: Mooseletoe by Tiffinie Helmer

Mooseletoe
by: Tiffinie Helmer

Mooseletoe

Alaska’s matchmaking moose, Bullwinkle, has his sights set on a most unlikely pair. Holly Noelle Snow loves Christmas so much she could be one of Santa’s elves, and Reese Sutton might as well be Scrooge. But there is no way BW will allow these two to ruin his perfect track record. Even if he has to bind them together with Christmas lights. – Goodreads

It is always a struggle to find holiday books and Mooseletoe fits a lot into the movie selections that I have made this holiday season. Its contemporary romance set during Christmas in Alaska in a town with a Christmas-y name and a story revolving a lady with a Christmas-y name. We soon learn why but it couldn’t be more in your face. Suffice to say, there are quite a few holiday elements and that works. The matchmaking moose also works. I realized that this moose is part of other books by Tiffinie Helmer which I haven’t read before or even heard of and responsible for other couple pairings that are in this town. I have nothing against it. Its a decent idea plus I like moose and how it should be used more in winter settings.

My main issue with Mooseletoe is very much the fact that it hits a lot of aspects I find wrong with these contemporary romance books. One of them is the dialogue. Its a tad cringey at times and the ways certain descriptions are written were equally odd. There is this thing about writing contemporary romance that really needs to be read out loud before finalizing because it never feels like I am reading a real couple (or maybe I just don’t talk like that).

Then we have this sped up romance that sometimes works but in this case, it also falls into this frustrating situation and the love at first sight but not embracing it thing and these meaningless arguments. Its a bit too much for me. There are some intimate scenes and it was okay written and I am rather indifferent to it. However, my main issue is the personality characteristics of the main couple, Holly and Reese where it feels very contradicting in parts in what happens before and after.

To be fair, Mooseletoe did bring in a family element. That part was a nice twist and surprise to the story. I enjoyed having those bits because even if you move alone to Alaska, real life is more than romance (no matter how much of a romantic I can be). On that same note, the moral of ths story behind this pairing is a positive message about having courage to push through the bad and see the good to be happier sort of thing. And to not let the bad define you. All very good messages just its not in a very fun read for myself. Overall, a few good ideas, but the writing style is not for me.

***On a side note, I am starting to think contemporary romance is something I need to stay away from for a while. Its the contemporary genre that really gets me very irritated.***

Wine Recap – November 2018

Wine Recap

Welcome to the November 2018 edition of Wine Recap!

This past month, we’ve been slightly on a break due to various reasons. One is due to decrease of alcohol due to some health stuff my husband is dealing with. We wanted to lower the alcohol consumption to lighter varieties and we’re having this feeling that perhaps he has grown an intolerance to white wine so we’ll see how this segment shifts from here on out. The second is that the SAQ, which is the entity that governs our alcohol distribution in Quebec, is having union negotiations and strikes and such and for personal reasons, its been making us going less so I’ve picked up only two things from the grocery store this past month.

With the holidays coming up, I promise that December will make up for this month. I’d say I’m about 80% positive that it will.

Beach Day Every Day

Beach Day Every Day

Producer: Beach Club
Alcohol Content: 6.5%
Location: Quebec

A light refreshing alcoholic drink is really what Beach Day Every Day is. Its a drink great to have on a hot summer’s day. Very fitting for its name. It actually tastes a lot like Crush with hints of alcohol, making it a rather relaxing one to have. I bought this one at the grocery store (maybe an IGA, if I remember correctly).

Henry’s Hard Soda

Henry's Hard Soda

Producer: Blitz-Weinhard Brewing Co.
Alcohol Content: 4.2%
Location: USA

Surprisingly, it seems that I’ve been choosing a lot of citrus flavors. This one is an orange flavor which actually didn’t taste of alcohol at all but almost felt like I was drinking something identical to Crush or any other orange soda. You can’t say that its not true to be fair. Its pretty tasty and the orange flavor is full, plus it also wasn’t too sweet. I don’t mind drinking this one again, although I am curious what the other flavor tastes like. It should be coming up in next month’s since we bought one can of each flavor from the grocery story (Metro in this case).

Revisit: Madjack Iced Tea

Madjack Iced Tea

Just to keep it real (and because there wasn’t anything else here), I did end up buying a pack of Madjack Iced Tea flavored drinks this month. It spanned over the month to drink so that is also why we didn’t buy much of anything else. It is always our fun light drink to have. For my initial thoughts, check out April 2018 recap HERE.

That’s it for this “wine” recap.
Not any wine at all but its the alcoholic content that matters in this segment. Its alcoholic drinks in general (for anyone new here).