My August 2019 Adventures

Its been bothering me a while on how to change up these adventure posts because they are no longer weekly and I have no intention of making them weekly especially because biweekly collides a lot with the What’s Up already and there is some overlap there. So, the solution to it all is to just make it a monthly segments. It gives me time to get some of the recap posts together and also gives it a little more content to work with. This will be set for the last day of each month starting with this month’s recap of August!

Let’s get things started!

Fantasia Festival 2019 Wraps – Up (Aug 2)

Every year’s Fantasia Festival is a more and more ambitious feat as I try to pile in as much as I can and work with as much of the stuff as I can. This year was a bit different. It was a lot more time at the festival as less screeners offered off site but there was the screening room that I took advantage of to get conflicting films watched and round out the schedule better. Other than some hiccups on Day 1 for myself getting the pass, things actually panned out pretty well. Tallying 24 films (as shown in Instagram post above) and 6 short films.

My Top 5 films of Fantasia would  probably go to :

  • White Snake
  • Daniel Isn’t Real
  • Riot Girls
  • Paradise Hills
  • The Fable

Honorable Mentions: 1BR, Harpoon, Aquaslash

If you may have missed any of the reviews, you can find it all HERE.

Hiking: Parc National de Plaisance

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Festival season is done so its time to get back to some hiking and taking advantage of the outdoors before winter hits us in a little while. Weather is already starting to cool down a smidge, at least in the mornings. We went for an easy hike to Parc National de Plaisance and to explore their boardwalk (which seems super new or just newly redone) over the marshlands. We totaled around 6.5 to 7 kilometres of walking.

You can check out the recap of it HERE.

Girls Day Out

Sugar Marmalade

Its been a busy summer for everyone so after a few months, me and my girl friends finally found time to meet up for an overdue get together to catch up on everything. We had brunch at Petino’s in La Prairie area and then went to do some cake shopping for a bride to be in our group then went to have a beautiful afternoon snack at Sugar Marmalade. I had the herbal jelly above which I’ve been craving for a while.

Finding More Non-Dairy Choices

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I don’t always post about these new things I find at the grocery store usually but I think that some of these brands do deserve a nice little mention for going the non-dairy selections. The next to join the selection which I found is Magnum which has a very cool texture especially the ice cream is not as hard as the normal ice cream bars but feels like soft ice cream covered by rich Belgian chocolate. I liked these ones a lot. Its a bit more expensive than the Haagen Daz ones even on sale.

Toronto Weekend Getaway: Fan Expo Canada 2019

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Fan Expo Canada was a 4 day event where we met up with my awesome blogathon co-host for our annual Toronto meet-up to check out this event for its 25th anniversary for Saturday and Sunday. Went to a ton of panels and didn’t have enough time to check out every thing and it was definitely an adventure. You can check out the recap HERE and the general trip shopping haul HERE.

Gardening Update

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It feels like its been a while since I last talked about it (because I realized that I decided to do the format change at the beginning of August. Either way, I lost some plants (zucchini) and then some are doing quite well. We had some harvests. My mom who is the gardening expert came by while I was away at Fan Expo and told me that my garden needed to level up on the soil which has me thinking to raise up the sides of the garden a little and fill it with soil. Its something that has to be done since the wood around it are starting to rot and break apart. Lots of projects to deal with. Yet again, I have to reiterate the importance to not buying your house in the winter where there is heavy snow and you can’t see the condition of both the garden and the roof which the latter is 80% solved with the gutters still needing to be changed while the garden is a constant nuisance of crap to deal with. Either way, one step at a time and soon, we will get this house stuff settled once and for all.

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Ending on a positive note, if there’s anything I’m proud of, its my flower garden which has really grown well. I just need to get some more mulch to cover it up properly and tend to some weeds but overall, it looks really nice and has a nice group of flowers and alternate in blooming season so the whole summer has been colorful.

Cute Kitty Pic

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That’s it for this August adventures!
Its a new frequency but same format!
Hopefully you will enjoy it!

Toronto & Fan Expo Canada 2019 Haul

On a much needed weekend getaway, Toronto and Fan Expo Canada 2019 was a really great time to say the least. Arriving in the early afternoon on Friday, we all had the day to just get into town and settle into the Airbnb. My to-do list had quite a few things including Vaughan Mills to check out a few stores and stock up on stuff on sale as well as hit T&T Supermarket for groceries like breakfast and snacks and stuff to bring home and of course, taking a stop at LCBO to see what there is new there to check out.

Uniqlo

Uniqlo

Some very normal stuff here. I was at Uniqlo looking for T-Shirts and found one. I don’t know any of the manga that they were doing T-shirts for but I liked this one the most. Other than that, I was looking for tank tops and whatnot. Its a really good selection over here so I picked up some stuff that I think will be good.

Disney Store

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While there was a lot of cool plushes at this Disney store, there was no doubt that Sebastian was the one that caught my eye mostly because it was the 30th anniversary new arrival that the sales rep said just got to the store that week. Plus, I already have a lonely Flounder sitting next to my bed and have been meaning to wrap up The Little Mermaid collection.

LCBO

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We also make a stop at LCBO (or whichever provincial alcohol store) whenever we head out of town to try and find something that we can’t find here. One of the things is the VQA Niagara Peninsula always has more choices and then there’s a lot more selection for the ciders. We bought a few more than these three but over the time on the trip, it was consumed between us. I had the Queen Street 501 that I had already written about before on a Wine Recap and we also had the Molson Cider as well as a few flavors from the Crazy Uncle collection other than the root beer, an orange crush version, cream soda version and lemonade version. These three are what made it back: Smirnoff Sangria (red – which means I won’t be drinking it but might give it a sip to try), Thornbury Village Craft Apple Cider and a Riesling white wine.

FAN EXPO CANADA 2019

If you didn’t catch my Fan Expo recap, I didn’t have a lot of time to do much wandering and shopping during the event so really only went through the North Building and didn’t look at any of the retailers or artist alley in the South Building.

Black Fawn Distribution

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I realized that Black Fawn Distribution was going to be there really close to when I decided to head out. Luckily, they were in the North building and we had time to do that on Saturday and they had the movies that I was looking for since they haven’t been to Fantasia in a year or two (I think). We did talk to them and they are hoping to be at Fantasia next year so crossing my fingers for that. Either way, they had a whole signing thing going on so I managed to sneak back during the afternoon between some lining up to get The Heretics signed but didn’t realize that on Sunday they also had signing for I’ll Take Your Dead so that one only has the director that signed. Looking forward to watching these as always since I’ve always liked Black Fawn films and appreciated what they’d do for indie horror films.

Myth Hawker Travelling Bookstore

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What’s really impressive about Fan Expo is the amount of authors and books that are sold there. Some big publishers are there also. Its incredibly amazing which makes me want to slap myself a little for not trying to find more time to go through South Building but then, where we were had a lot of choices too and they had this one: Myth Hawker Travelling Bookstore which had a lot of books that looked and sounded really good when I read their synopsis. In the end, I went back to pick up this Asian sci-fi and fantasy anthology called Where the Stars Rise. The premise and such caught my eye right away so I’m excited to check this out after my string of reading commitments is done.

Aside from this haul, we did get a free poster of The Fanatic from the advanced screening. We also each got a free Fan Expo T-Shirt from past expos that were given out. I skipped sharing T&T Supermarket stuff as there’s nothing too extraordinary except that I bought moon cakes in anticipation for the upcoming Midautumn Festival and stocked up on some drinks and such.

That’s it for this Toronto/Fan Expo haul!!
Did you go to Fan Expo Canada?

Book Review: Osgoode As Gold (Toronto Comics #5)

Yonge at Heart (Toronto Comics #4)

Osgoode As Gold (Toronto Comics #5)
By: Stephanie Cooke

Osgoode As Gold

In a city of competitive wizard barristas, nervous werewolves and scoundrel Trash Pandas, you’ll find some of the best upcoming comic creators! We’re back again with twenty-four fresh comics from local indie veterans and first-time creators.

From the strange giants that prowl Kensington at midnight, the vengeful Pacific Mall dance mafia, or the dragon-hunting wannabes working Queen Street, we’ve got stories inspired by every part of the city we love. – Goodreads

The 4th comic anthology revolving around Toronto in Toronto Comics is called Osgoode For Gold. If you have read these anthologies before, you already know that while the central focus is set in Toronto, the stories all vary and can be set in fantasy or reality or past, present or future. There are no limits in these stories and yet once again, the creativity and the themes addressed here are truly great to read. They shed light on the people and culture in the city and have stories for everyone. At the same time, the art also changes with each story as well as the color palette. Its what makes them unique.

There are 23 stories while it ends with an additional 4 which are thoughtful one page art. It would be crazy to talk about each of them, however, I will choose a few that I personally like.

They are the following:

  • Catnap Cafe: When a newly immigrated girl moves to Toronto, she goes to Catnap Cafe for the experience where she turns into a cat and befriends another cat who guides her back to apartment in hopes of being able to turn back into human. Lets just say, cat cafes and cat related stories are things that I love so this one also had the perk of the whole details and such that I really liked.
  • Leave it to Leo: More of a comedic offering in a vibrant colors and art set in 1940s, Leave it to Leo talks about comic book artists who want to be compensated for their worth and play a trick on their editor.
  • Mirrored: Nothing like a little imagination of interdimension fantasy, Mirrored tells the story of a subway entrance to another dimension for magical battles with a little twist ending parallel to reality.
  • FinalMIX! Difficulty Expert! : Set in Pacific Mall in Markham and structured around a video game dance battle, this story is about as relatable as they get for me.
  • Cenotaph: Set in a future Toronto, we look at ghosts who are looking back at the city that was when they were alive and how the destroying and building has changed it in the present.
  • The Part-Time Knight: Wrapping up the anthology is this story about a stable kid who hears a dastardly plan to murder the king and finds a way to bring the message as knights would do.

Here are a few that I like and of course, all the stories were pretty great whether it was the different art styles or the time frame they chose to use or the realistic or fantastical angle. It shows off the talent and the stories that any place and experience can inspire. Sometimes they are predictable but the majority times, they aren’t.

Thats it for the review of Osgoode For Gold.
Have you read any comics from Toronto Comics?
Have you read/seen comics inspired by a city?

BITS 2018: Altered Skin (2018)

Blood in the Snow (BITS) Canadian Film Festival kicks off tomorrow, November 22nd at the Royal Cinema in Toronto, Canada and runs until November 27th. This festival celebrates contemporary Canadian horror, genre and underground films. While the festival only runs a few days, it is filled with not only full-length feature films but also two short film showcases, industry panels as well as a web series showcase.

You can find the festival schedule here.

Altered Skin (2018)

altered skin

Director (and writer): Adnan Ahmed

Cast: Robin Dunne, Juggan Kazim, Salman Shahid, Ali Kazmi, Nimra Bucha

An American expat living in Karachi, Pakistan, Craig Evans is married to Insiya Zia, a Pakistani doctor. During a routine hospital round, contracts a virus called the MN-2. A devastating pathogen, the virus causes uncontrollable outbursts of violent rage. Then when the dead body of an investigative reporter turns up in a sewer, it sets off a domino of events that lead Craig to the mystery behind the virus…and to the last chance at saving his wife. – BITS 2018

Medical thrillers are not frequent as thriller material but have had its success. Altered Skin comes somewhere midway. The execution is clear-cut and straight forward. It starts off on the first act setting up the story and what happened to reach the point of conflict. The second act focuses on the suspense and mystery and just like any thriller, building up the unanswered questions that keep its audience intrigued and the third act works towards unraveling the final reveal. Thrillers thrive on how well the setup of the mystery is done to create the shocking yet logical fundamental twist or reveal. In some ways, that is one of the elements that slightly miss the mark. There is missing a wow factor here. While the execution is done pretty well and the suspense does build well enough, the pacing at times feels like it lingers too long on unnecessary bits.

Looking at the cast and characters, there are a lot of them. The focus is on Craig, played by Robin Dunne, who for some reason feels very rigid in this role. Something never quite feels convincing enough. Maybe it is the script and dialogue that feels slightly clunky in parts. Maybe it is the sheer amount of characters that shuffles around that never creates enough depth to connect or care about anyone of them. Or maybe it is the flow of events that sometimes try to add horror to its pure thriller roots but never seems to fit in and at times, some moments feel slightly contrived and predictable.

However, all is not lost. What works here is the setting in Pakistan plus the effects are done well, both sound and visual. The altered skin victims also have a zombie-like sort of nature to them which is also pretty impressive to see and adds to the mystery element. Altered Skin might not be perfect, but it has the makings of a well enough thriller. Packed with some intense moments throughout, the only thing lacking is the build up to the reveal that becomes slightly generic and falls short of its potential.

The world premiere of Altered Skin will be showing at BITS at The Royal Cinema on November 23rd at 7:30pm. 

Restaurant: Congee Queen (Thornhill, Ontario, Canada)

I always talk about Asian cuisine after going to Toronto. Its usually the closest place with good Chinese cuisine in particular since to be honest, Montreal has a lot of great restaurants but Chinese cuisine itself is a bit lacking. Its why I tend to avoid it whenever given the option. Sad, because I do truly love Chinese food. I mean, its not hard to imagine seeing as I am Chinese and my mom makes about the best Chinese food in town or its my best friend who also is a master in the kitchen.

Not surprising that the rare time that we all end up in Toronto for a wedding, we meet up for a dinner the night before to hang out. We never do double dates much seeing as we all have funky work schedules and commitments so this was a great time to catch up and have fun.

We lived at the Courtyard Marriott in Thornhill and right next door was the flagship store of Congee Queen. Let’s check it out!

Congee Queen

Congee Queen

Dinner Selections

Congee Queen

Crab Meat & Vegetarian Shark Fin served with Conpoy Rice in Chicken Broth

My best friend was the one who ordered this meal. She wanted to give this a try mostly for the vegetarian shark fin. It actually had a really  nice flavor. The textures are all there and the chicken broth was nice. I was originally worried that it would be too strong like on the salty side as broth sometimes tends to be, but it wasn’t like that.

Congee Queen

General Tao Chicken Rice

My husband mostly focused on eating this meal. General Tao is very much non-traditional Chinese food however, I don’t usually fuss over these things. My husband thought it was good although he did end up not eating all the huge pieces of chili peppers because those were really intense.

Congee Queen

Snow Pea Leaves with King Mushroom

One of my choices for the evening was this snow pea tips with oyster mushrooms. I think my description is the correct one but the one in the description is the one that is shown on the menu in case you ever want to get it at this restaurant. The season for snow pea tips is a little bit past so it was expected that they were more old in texture so it was more stiff and chewy. The mushrooms are always a nice alternative. I actually eat more of these types of mushrooms in Goodfood boxes and I really like them a lot. This veggie plate is a win. If we had it back in April when the snow pea tips were in season, then it would have been perfect.

Congee Queen

Pork Rib with Onion on Sizzling Hot Plate

The second dish that I picked was pork ribs. This is a pretty traditional dish at least for myself when we went to Chinese restaurants when I was younger. I don’t go to Chinese restaurants as much mostly because Montreal cuisine isn’t great but Toronto is a different story so I was excited to see how they would prepare this. This one was okay. I think we all agreed that it tasted okay but it was nothing too fancy and felt a little overpriced.

Congee Queen

Fried Eggplant, Minced Pork with Spicy Sauce

My best friend’s second choice was this dish which is an uber traditional Chinese dish. I was pretty full so I didn’t eat a whole lot of this one but it was fairly good. I’m not a huge eggplant eater but I do appreciate its health properties so I try to eat it more often and learn to appreciate it. This one was slightly spicy also.

Congee Queen had some pretty delicious meal. It does some cool dishes and sometime switches up some traditional meals to something of of a fusion of sorts. I do think that for the experience, it is a little bit more pricier than I would want to pay. I don’t mind so much paying for good food if there is something original but for the portion size and the price of some of the very common dishes, it definitely felt not exactly equal. Luckily, I am visiting and I don’t like Montreal chinese food so I didn’t mind it so much.

With that said, I am aware that for a congee restaurant, I didn’t have congee. We did have dinner but next time, if I was going for brunch or lunch, then that would absolutely make an appearance. Suffice to say, despite little things, Congee Queen is a place that I would go again when I head down to Toronto again.

Toronto Haul – August 2018

I go to Toronto more than I actually should. Actually this year was the exception to the equation. I usually just go about once a year or something unless something else comes up and well, something else came up. This past weekend was my best friend’s wedding. Her husband is from Toronto so they ended up holding their wedding there. I honestly think I’ve been to more wedding outside of Montreal than in Montreal. Its a weird thought and shows how many of my friends have moved away, I guess.

Either way, it was a really fun weekend. We ate some awesome food, tried out some new places: two of which I’ll do a restaurant overview for during this week. I’ll show more of the wedding stuff in the next Weekly Adventures, mostly because well, it seems we may have skipped the last one. I know I did and it was deliberate.

Before I jump off onto another tangent, let’s check out some stuff I got in Toronto.

Things I Bought Because I Was Forgetful..
Scarborough Town Centre – Yves Rocher & Walmart

Cosmetics and Lotion

First stop on Friday in Toronto was the hunt for everything we remembered that we forgot during packing for the wedding stuff. For myself, it was not exactly all forgot but I don’t use make-up a lot so a lot of mine had expired and I needed to get some new stuff. Nothing heavy since I don’t do eye make-up because it causes eye infections for myself so just some simple concealer to do the job and seeing Fantasia and work destroyed my sleeping schedule, I’m currently rocking some puffy panda eyes and I had forgotten my eye cream. A trip to Yves Rocher was in the stars and the closest we could find on the way to the hotel was at Scarborough Town Centre. I’ll share the eventful moment there in the Weekly Adventures but one of the great things was the great service at Yves Rocher but a lovely lady who gave me some really fantastic suggestions and actually suggested that I changed to the other skincare line as my skin had changed and its why I was having all the blemishes I’ve been having lately. I didn’t get the skincare line seeing as I was away and didn’t really want to spend so much just yet but I loved the service of just sharing the knowledge of it all. So I got some body lotion and the eye care gel at Yves Rocher.

At Walmart, I got a concealer and some nail polish. I actually ended up not painting my nails for the event but I did also pick up this interesting product called a blur stick which I’m still exploring whether its something I could use or not as it felt really oily. I’m not sure the texture works well for my skin type, so I passed on using it and am still researching. If you all know what it is and have any suggestions or dos and don’ts, please do share with me.

T&T Supermarket (2 Trips)

T&T Supermarket

Most of the snacks and such were bought on the first stop. We didn’t think that we would go back but we did end up going again on Sunday. Friday was to pick up a late lunch of dimsum, which I didn’t take pictures of. We stocked up on drinks which I also didn’t take pictures so and they are all consumed. I can tell you that I was on a semi caffeine detox since March where I cut tea out of my life completely. I don’t drink coffee so its a given, I suppose. Either way, this weekend, I drank all the tea that I didn’t drink in the last few months or at least it felt that way. However, the Vita brand which usually is known for its lemon tea and such actually has this Green Tea and Japanese Green Tea which both tastes fantastic and its unsweetened so its the legit ones. Going back to the picture, look at these flavors, its like a world tour of Lay’s flavors.

T&T Supermarket

During the first trip, we saw these pokemon Ocean Bomb sparkling water. Actually when we went back in the second trip, we saw one new one and lost two so I guess I shouldn’t procrastinate so much in buying stuff. Either way, that was a spontaneous purchase although I’m still fairly unsure about trying the Pikachu Cucumber flavor. We also saw this KIM brand drink for bird’s nest drink. I’m not sure how many people know about bird nest’s drinks. Regardless, the happiest purchase here is the black sesame stuff because I love black sesame paste. Its my favorite dessert. I’ve never tried this brand so hopefully it’ll be good. I ended up sharing the bag with my mom.

Big Apple & 401 Brewery

Big Apple

Our always must-stop location is The Big Apple. I love to grab a pie and strudel and my husband loves the brownies. It is quite amazing to see how this location as grown in size and variety of what they offer. I remember stopping there the first time and it was still known but not quite as popular as it is now. I kind of miss the quieter days but they have really diversified and made it a truly Canadian experience with what they offer also.

401 Brewery

In the building, they have the store for 401 Brewery. We’ve never had anything from there before. Seeing as we didn’t manage to pick up anything at LCBO this time, we decided to grab some ciders. We picked the traditional apple cider and then a peach cider and a pear cider to try. We also saw a sparkling oaked cider which seems like it could be a nice smoky taste sort of experience. We are looking forward to trying it out eventually.

That wraps up this shorter Toronto haul as I get things into order!

Toronto 2018: EGLX 2018

Enthusiast Gaming Live Expo 2018, aka EGLX ran from March 9th to 11th at The International Centre in Mississauga, Ontario. Game Warp didn’t quite meet the requirements so we didn’t bother to try to get the press pass. I might have just been busy and a little lazy. Either way, its nice to get back into the gaming expo coverage gear because I didn’t realize how much I did miss it especially since while there were a few familiar faces here from Montreal, a lot of games were fresh and new. Its nice to go to these expo also with friends because it gives so much opportunity to get into multiplayer games and there were a great deal of those.

If you want to see a indie game zone coverage, its over at That Moment In here.

EGLX is quite the fantastic gaming convention. Aside from the Indie Zone. There was a ton of cool stuff to look at. It was something like a ton of fests meshed together but balanced out to be a nice glimpse into the gaming world. Its always fun to jump into this atmosphere as its like being cut from the real world for a little while. I sometimes think its why I love gaming so much. The concentration and different worlds is such a nice escape.

EGLX 2018

A fraction of the indie games I checked out

EGLX 2018

Super Smash Bros Tournament

EGLX 2018

Giant Catan board

EGLX 2018

Nintendo booth

EGLX 2018

Cosplay (one of the many)

EGLX 2018

Furious Seas in the VR zone

There was some tech stuff from MSI and Microsoft and other hardware and other gaming-related gears. We went to try out some racing and gaming seats. Something we are definitely looking at especially myself  with my constant back issues. The effects of an office job and blogging and gaming after hours resulting in a lot of sitting time plus, my cat is destroying my current chair. Anyways, its an investment down the road. There was a lot of stuff going on that aren’t in pictures like retro zones and arcades, etc.

We wrapped up the day with the cosplay competition except this one is quite unique as its one where the contestants are groups that had a few hours with  designated materials like cardboard and whatnot to put together a costume while giving themselves a story and a special finishing move. There were four contestants and lets just say, it was pretty funny.

To see the EGLX haul, you can find here.

This wraps up the EGLX 2018 recap (as well as Toronto 2018)!