Happy Valentine’s Day!

Life, Uncategorized
image of two hearts
Love is in the air?

For those of you celebrating Valentine’s Day today…

Whether you are celebrating the day with a new or old partner – remember that sometimes, it is just the little things (like a nice gesture: scraping off the snow on your car windshield) that make you feel special and cared for. Sure, flowers may be REALLY nice…hint, hint!

Anyway, still busy putting the final touches on my book…

Wishing you renewed love and friendship!

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Where did Monica go?

Events/Shows, Self-Publishing (books)
illustration from winter moose visits alberta book
A little sneak peek of one illustration from Winter Moose Visits Alberta

Hi everyone! Hope you didn’t forget about me. I haven’t written much on my blog lately – but that’s because…

I have been a very busy bee, preparing for the launch of my third book, Winter Moose Visits Alberta. The book was on my back-burner and I wanted to complete and publish it this year, but of course, things happen and now I am pushed to wrap things up in a short period of time.

Following up with my Chapters’ contacts has paid off – I will participate in a couple of in-store books events this coming March.

I will be posting more information soon on my website as well:

www.CanadianAdventureBooksbyMonica.com

Reason for my push

Did I mention that I have two (yes, not one but TWO) book events scheduled at Chapters? I will be in person at the Chapters Newmarket on Saturday, March 16, 2019, and Chapters Markham (Woodbine/Highway 7) on Saturday, March 23, 2019. I will post details with address and time details once I submit my book for printing!

I am so excited! I thought what better opportunity to launch my third book than at my upcoming book events.

I hope you will be able to make at least one of the events. My sister, Juliann will also be promoting her book at the same time. Some come out and have some fun!

Happy Chinese New Year!

Life
May the Year of the Pig bring you happiness and most of all good heath!

Today, February 5, 2019 marks the Chinese Lunar New Year.

This is year of the Pig.

For those of you that are not familiar with the Chinese horoscope, it is made up of 12 animals (I have listed them below, but they are not in order) which rotate over 12 years:

  1. horse
  2. rabbit
  3. snake
  4. dog
  5. pig
  6. dragon
  7. rabbit
  8. ox
  9. rat
  10. sheep
  11. tiger
  12. goat
  13. bear (haha! got your attention – there is no bear)

So for example, if you are born in year of the monkey, the next year of the monkey will be twelve years later.

Check out www.chinesenewyear.net to find out what this year has in store for you!

Celebration

The Chinese New Year follows the lunar calendar, and is a well-celebrated event in Hong Kong and China. I heard that they have at least a week long celebration. Makes you think, we should celebrate more!

Love of animals

We often characterize ourselves based on the behaviour of animals: “fierce like a lion”, “sweet like a lamb” and create a set of characteristics that describe each of us based on the horoscope animal that we are. For example, someone born in the year of the sheep is known to be mild tempered and a dog is loyal.

We “love” our animals so much. So, it may not seem auspicious to write this on Chinese New Year, but what better time than to celebrate all living beings on earth by not eating and torturing amazing animals – GO VEGAN!

I have been losing sleep lately thinking about how to help save our animals. It is really tough once you make the connection about where our meat comes from, because you feel pretty helpless about where to begin.

In this thing called life, if you believe that what comes around goes around, we really have something coming to us.

Vegan product review: Nona Vegan Alfredo Style sauce

Food Product reviews

I used to occasionally enjoy eating my pasta with alfredo sauce or pesto sauce. The thing is: normally alfredo sauce is made with milk ingredients and pesto is made with parmesan cheese.

Label reading

So here’s the thing, being vegan forces you to take a closer look at what you eat. This means looking at labels and determining if a food can be eaten with a smile (makes me happy knowing that what I am eating did not require the torture or death of animals).

I have finicky taste buds though, so I read the Nona packaging a few times before buying. It is very handy to have in the fridge because it has a few month shelf-life.

Ingredients directly from the label

“Water, cashews, sunflower seed oil, arrowroot powder, basil, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, sea salt, ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Xanthan gum.”

Consistency

A bit thick, so I added some water. Similar to a condensed soup in texture until you add a bit of water.

Taste and Smell

Not bad overall. Smell – fine. Similar to traditional alfredo, it doesn’t smell that good from a package/jar.

Dish created (pictured top right)

For last night’s dinner, I quickly made the sauce more liquid, threw in some enoki mushroom, pea sprouts and lastly added some cubed tofu. Black pepper for taste. Then poured on top of pasta.

Where to buy

So far, I have only been able to find this product at Sue’s Market (Major Mack. East near Bathurst, Richmond Hill).

www.suesmarket.ca

Would I buy it again?

Yes. Was thinking about serving it at my next pasta party. Of course, I would not tell my guests that they are having ‘vegan’ sauce until after they eat and compliment my dish. Because as you probably know, eating choices are at least 1/2 psychological!

Searching for love on Facebook

Life
image of two hearts

This post is dedicated to those searching for love.

Lately, I have been getting a lot of friend requests on Facebook. I am fine to accept such requests, because I am naturally curious about others around me and the world. But lately I have been seeing a trend.

The trend

Treating Facebook (and other social media) as an online dating site.

Tough search

I totally understand that it is hard to find someone to form a meaningful relationship with. You might feel alone and don’t know where to start. It is definitely convenient just to start a chat from your phone.

I really like to help people, so I write this post based on my own observations.

Finding someone special may be especially difficult when you have finished school and there are no interesting contenders in your workplace. You might have to rely on friends, family, social or hobby clubs, work-related events to network and meet new people.

I did most of my “searching” in University. Dated many people. Went on dates, blind dates with people I met online (yikes!), even tried set-ups (yikes!). It may seem like a waste of time, but I believe it is necessary to learn about yourself through the experience.

I am definitely not a dating expert, but I do have a few comments that might help refine your approach or narrow out the people that are NOT suitable for you.

Top 5

  1. Use your common sense. Know who you are dealing with. It may seem obvious, but take a quick look at someone’s posts. If the post contains photos of a man and woman holding hands/hugging or children, and content contains references to a husband/hubby – just stay away.
  2. Can’t force friendship. Whether you are looking for a platonic friendship or a love relationship, you cannot demand it from someone. Resist asking someone if they will be a very good friend. I would expect that most people would find this too aggressive and unappealing (turn-off). If it is meant to be, friendship will come by itself.
  3. Refrain from asking for a phone number. This is a bit creepy coming from someone you don’t know at all. So I believe social media etiquette is not to do so.
  4. Be yourself. Even if you are just typing online, you can get a sense of who you are chatting with.
  5. Glance at the “where you live” part of people’s profile. If you are really looking for someone to have a meaningful relationship with, it would be good to at least start in the same country. Honestly, it is not practical to begin your search across the world.

Online dating services

I have many friends who met their significant others through an online dating service. You might be wary and think it is not traditional, but at least you can put yourself out there and try to find someone similar to you (i.e. shares the same love for hiking, watching movies; has the same life philosophy, etc.). Sometimes you have to think outside the box. In my opinion this is way better than copying and pasting information about yourself through a FB chat. Also, I have many friends who found love late in life, so don’t give up!

In this thing called life, don’t lose faith. Just keep your heart open to a relationship and hopefully one will find you. Be yourself always.

I am super lucky to have found my hubby. And no, I do not want a BF.

Life’s too short

Life, Uncategorized

From egg to flying bird in just a few weeks

As I get older, I really appreciate that our time on earth is limited. This time is further limited because of disease, environmental toxins, work-related accidents, road accidents, etc.

The lifespan of birds is generally shorter, but nature has a way to speed up development for survival. For example, the beautiful blue robin egg and baby birds (pictured above). The eggs hatched and within a few weeks, the baby birds learned to fly. The robin built this beautiful nest in my blue spruce tree in my backyard last summer. Just a peer between the branches and we could capture one of mother nature’s most beautiful creations.

I reflect on life every day and have compiled a list of top 6 actionable things (some of them may seem similar, but it is the philosophy/attitude behind each one that makes them different)

Top 6

  1. Live every day like it’s your last.
  2. Live with no regrets. If there is something you want to do, just do it.
  3. Don’t think. Just DO!
  4. Carpe Diem (my fav latin phrase) – Seize the day!
  5. Don’t make yourself an overwhelming list of to-dos. Just complete one thing at a time so you feel like you have accomplished something.
  6. Do something that inspires you.

In this thing called life, time does not go backward, so make every second count.

Movie review: Glass

Movie reviews
glass movie poster

Cast

The movie has a wonderful all-star cast, James McAvoy, Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis. I love Bruce Willis, especially in the Die Hard movies.

Rating

Overall rating: 6 out of 10

Took my daughter to see the film on the weekend following its release (Jan, 2019).

The concept of Glass is interesting because it ties together the films, Unbreakable (year 2000) with Bruce Willis and Split (year 2017).

In a nutshell, Glass is about three ‘normal’ people who believe they are Superheroes. They are real people and not comic book characters. Samuel L. Jackson’s character, Mr. Glass is an individual with extra-ordinary intellectual powers. It has been a while since I watched Unbreakable but he was the super-brain behind the train wreck that left Bruce Willis’ character with his own superpowers. Side note: Mr. Glass was born with ultra-fragile bones that would crack upon minimal impact. But don’t underestimate him! Anyway, Mr. Glass was institutionalized after it was discovered that he was behind the train wreck.

Next, you have Bruce Willis’ character, David Dunn, who appears to be a normal guy. But he is super-strong and has a sense of people just by touching them for a second. He plays a vigilante fighting the bad guys in the city. He helps to locate the latest victims of the “Beast” (played by James McAvoy), gets caught by the police and ends up being taken to the same mental institution as Mr. Glass.

Then, there are James McAvoy’s multiple characters (he plays many characters, as he has a split personality). In the movie, Split, you get to meet all of his characters including but not limited to a 9 year-old, an intellect, a kind soul (Kevin) and the Beast. The Beast is super-strong and can scale walls. He searches out humans that are ‘not pure’ and kills them. Of course, at the time David tracks down the teenager hostages in a factory/warehouse, the “Beast” is also caught and brought to the mental institution as well.

At the institution, a psychiatrist specializing in treating individuals who believe and act as superheros, begins treatment of her new patients. As part of the therapy, she decides to have the three characters sit together in one room for a session. She tries to break them.

Mr. Glass uses his intellect to get out of his isolation room and enter the room of the Beast. He tries to conspire with the Beast to escape the institution, while taunting David to escape from his room to ‘save the world’ for the Beast.

Commentary

Overall, the movie was quite “light” (unlike Split) and entertaining, but I could only rate it a 6 because it was very unrealistic that three patients would be treated together.


In search of plant-based restaurants: Wutai Vegetarian Restaurant review (Dim sum review)

Uncategorized, Vegetarian/Vegan Resto Reviews

Wutai Vegetarian Restaurant located at 8425 Woodbine Avenue, Markham, Ontario. As I mentioned before, it is not a vegan restaurant but does have a wide selection of vegetarian dishes without any meat or meat by-products. It is a good idea to quickly double-check the ingredients with the waiter/waitress before ordering.

Overall rating:

Food: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Price: $$$-$$$$ out of $$$$$ (depends what you order)

Ambience/decor: 3 out of 5 stars

My fav dish: Everything that we ordered. But I especially enjoyed the Fried Tofu Skin Roll with Homemade Sauce (although I didn’t eat the sauce, because not sure what it was made of); and the Singapore Style Sauteed Turnip Cakes.

I mentioned in a previous blog that I would try out the dim sum (served 10:30am-3:30pm). What a treasure! We enjoyed a wonderful dim sum lunch with my dad yesterday.

How does dim sum pricing work?

If you haven’t had dim sum before, you normally pay by the size of the dish. So for example at Wutai, an “S” would be a small dish ($3.19), an “M” a medium dish ($4.19), an “L” a large ($5.19) and “EX” and extra-large ($6.19), plus they have additional chef’s specials with the price indicated next to the dish.

Discount

However, Monday to Friday (if you pay by cash) (excluding Chinese and Canadian holidays) if you order before 12pm, you can have a S, M, L for the price of a small ($3.19).

Chinese food

The restaurant has a great variety of dim sum menu items. Very beautiful dish presentation as well (for example the cute pear dish pictured above). Everything you could eat at a ‘regular’ dim sum, you can enjoy without the meat here.

Other products

Dinner is a la carte regular dishes only.

Loyalty rewards

None here.

No surprise that I over-ate. The food was so wonderful. My dad said their fried vegetarian noodle (called Lo Han Vegetarian Fried Noodles on the menu) was the best fried noodle dish that he EVER had! That is quite hard to believe, as he has eaten noodles for probably 50-60 years!

BTW – I didn’t eat the fried noodle because it was probably an egg noodle.

Defininitely worth checking out!


Garden worm (poem)

Uncategorized
What has thou in thy tiny hand?

Black earth uncovered.
A worm wiggles.
A cautious giggle.
A curious stare.
A touch if you dare.


A tip of your hand.
A return to the land.

-Monica

I was suddenly thinking of my son’s first discovery of a worm. He was not so interested in touching the worm, but I held the worm in my hand (of course, I am wearing garden gloves!) to show him. He was very curious about the worm and wanted to observe as he carried the worm around the backyard in a shovel.

As I wrote the poem, I could picture us in the backyard on a warm summer evening – myself digging in the garden with my son next to me. It is so calming and enjoyable being outdoors.

Through this poem, I wanted to capture the innocence of children when they discover everything new about the world.

In this thing called life, you just gotta take the time to enjoy the little things.

Darkness (a poem)

Uncategorized

Type-2 diabetes

Type-2 diabetes is one of the modern-day major diseases known to mankind. You are not born with this type of diabetes (versus Type-1), but rather develop it from poor health and diet. I have first-hand experience with the disease because of my mother. She had diabetes for at least a couple of decades but it was left untreated until about 5 years ago. After she retired at a young age of 52, she sat on the couch and watched TV and ate unhealthy restaurant food. She is now on pills for the rest of her life because she does not want to change her eating (high carb diet) and physical lifestyle (ugh, sitting on the couch).

When she moved to Toronto, I ‘forced’ my mom to undergo a series of medical testing (including a head scan, despite her telling me she doesn’t need it). Even after her mini-stroke, she did not get any treatment so our family didn’t really know what had happened to her when chatterbox mom suddenly stopped talking completely one day.

Well, at her visit to the optometrist, she was told that diabetes had gotten “into her eyes”. This means that many blood vessels had burst in her eye, causing loss of vision (at that time, going blind in her left eye). The whole time, my mom thought it was just a bad eyeglass prescription needing a change. OMG!

She was referred to a retina specialist and was told she had major damage causing blindness and if left untreated would ultimately lead to blindness in both eyes. Her eye blood vessels were highly inflamed, so the course of treatment was some sort of anti-inflammatory needle in the eyeball. My dad broke into tears and sobbed deep from his gut watching a needle being inserted into her eye. It had gotten so bad. Without this treatment, I believe things would be way worse today. For now, she can still see the TV. But who knows for how long without any treatment?

Needless to say, after one round of treatment (she is supposed to do follow-up every year), she has not seen the optometrist in years. She refuses this along with just following up with blood work at her doctor’s office. She even wrote a note to the doctor! Telling him that she is not agreeable to do blood work more than once a year.

My mother is not alone

I also know others with this condition as well and it is frightening – diabetes is not just in our heads. It is in our blood and out to get us – our eyes, our feet, etc.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is basically when your “pancreas cannot produce enough insulin or your body does not properly use the insulin it makes” (www.diabetes.ca). So basically, your body cannot properly breakdown sugar in your blood, so your blood sugar levels become very high. Diabetes first attacks the smallest vessels in your body first – so your eyes. I also read about blood circulation issues in the feet. My mom’s feet are icy cold, so I am very scared for her. Those are the most common areas that are affected. You have probably heard of people needing amputation of their feet because the blood circulation becomes so limited and the body part is not receiving sufficient oxygen.

Prevention

Prevention is so important. Go see your doctor and optometrist. Don’t ignore. I never really thought about it before, but there are advantages of wearing prescription glasses – you are more likely to visit the optometrist frequently.

I share the story of my mother because it is real. The damage caused by diabetes is REAL. A good friend of mine did not know she was diabetic until it was too late – she now needs frequent follow-up with her specialist for her eyes.

Resources

The answer to our problems is not always medication. You have probably heard stories of ‘recovery’ from conditions (such as diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.) after people began to watch what they ate.

If you haven’t already, I highly recommend THE MAGIC PILL film (on Netflix and probably other media) and Diabetes Canada website:

www.diabetes.ca

I wrote the poem below hoping to bring awareness to diabetes and eye health. It is so important not to ignore. Seek advice and/or treatment as soon as possible before it’s too late. Type-2 diabetes IS preventable.

Darkness

Darkness is closing in around me.
I am scared.
Angry.
Born with the gift of vision.
Reluctantly have to give it away.
Vessels burst. Degeneration fast.

I saw you not long ago.
An image of you I must now recall.

Please hold my hand as my vision fades away to 
black...
-Monica

In this thing called life, we need to look after ourselves first.