Sunday, January 31, 2010

Tim Horton's Unofficial Olympic Donuts

Tim Horton's also released its Olympic related goods:  Donuts.

Lululemon Unofficial Olympics Products

Many non-sponsors are releasing the Olympic product lines in order to scoop up revenues during the game time.  Companies like Lululemon, Roots, Aldo, etc released new lines of items recently without violating the trademarks. Here are the pins and straps from Lululemon.  The price is lower than the official goods, but not by much.

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Coca Cola Corner at the Olympic Store

Today, we went to the Olympic Store again to check out the Coke corner and the pin trader section.  I traded for an Nagano Olympics Pin and will look for more next time.  I don't want to spend hundreds of dollar now because they are over price currently.  However, we did take pictures with the Olympic torch.
We also went to buy a bottle of coke again and tried to use the wrap machine to make our town wrap.  It is only 2 dollars for a fun experience and snack.  Why not?

Vancouver Olympics Artwork 2: Birdman

There is another interesting exhibit in the Taiwanese lantern section beside Vancouver Downtown's London Drugs on Granville Street.

Vancouver Olympics Artwork 1: Laughing Statues

Lots of artwork (statues, paintings, sculptures) have been set up and erected all around Vancouver, and I will go around and introduce some of these artwork.  As usual, this weekend, I went around downtown Vancouver to find interesting topics to post:
Laughing Statues at English Bay (Downtown Vancouver):

They look cute, funny and friendly and really make you laugh.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Musee d'Orsay

One of the best museum or art gallery has to be Musee d'Orsay.  It is famous but many people still do not know about it even when they are from Europe.  (Of course, everyone know about the Louvre)  It is located in Paris, easily reachable by Metro.  It has a large collection of the Impressionist paintings, and also has other styles of paintings including neo classical.  Work by Van Gogh, Monet, Renoir, Pissaro, Cezanne, etc.
The impact of real painting is always more mesmerizing than the textbooks.
The structure of the Museum is also wonderful:

If you ever visit Paris, you have to visit Musee d'Orsay.

Odd Japanese Pictues: Bike in the Air and Canada Fair

Here is another funny picture that I have decorated in my office space:
When I went to Fukuoka, I saw this bike hanging in the air, and I wonder why it was there and how it got there.

This is also from a few years ago (2002), they had a Canada Fair in Sendai, and I happened to come across it when I was backpacking in Northern Japan.

Pictures in Japan: Gundam and Ultraman Models

Continuing with my January flashback...
Here is a picture in a hobby shop of a Zaku (Gundam series) model with a snowboard, taken inside a Fukuoka shopping mall in Japan, called Candlecity.

Here is another picture for a Japanese hero, called Ultraman. Almost all kids who grew up in East Asia will know him.  It was first aired in 1966 and has continued since.  It is like the "Superman", "Batman" and Spiderman" in the western world.

Japanese New Year Memory Flashback

It is January still, so I had a flash back of my fun time in Japan. It is always refreshing to go window shopping in Japan because they have so much things on display and different varieties of products.
I have spent a few New Years in Japan before, and it is a busy time there because of "Hatsumoude" (First time visting a shrine or temple) and "Hatsu uri" (sort of like there boxing day sale on the first market opening day).
Here is a picture of the "zabuton" (Japanese seat cushion) during the New Year.

Here is a picture for “Hatsumoude” when people visit the temple or shrine for the first time during the Japanese New Year.  It is a crowded nation, but it gets even more crazy for any kind of events.  For many North Americans, this is something that cannot be overcome.

Hello Kitty Chinese New Year Decoration

The Chinese New Year this year will be on February 14th.  All Asian markets will be super busy soon for this cultural occasion.  We, being festive people, like decorating our place a little for these occasions. My wife and I both agreed that we have to find "cute" decoration that fits western apartment interior. Here is a Hello Kitty one we found that we like and bought.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Product Discovery: Sushi Machine

I happened to go to Metrotown's Home Outfitter tonight and discovered something interesting:  A Nigiri Sushi Machine? 
I am really not sure how useful this machine is for people.  (It is on sale for 50 dollars.)  It basically compresses the rice and lay the sashimi on top of the rice for you.  Does it really save people any effort and make the food good?  I will pass this time.

Restaurant Review: Kura Japanese Restaurant

Tonight, we went to a restaurant in Burnaby near Metrotown, called "Kura".  It is owned by and operated by Japanese people.  The chefs and waitresses are all Japanese people.  It is hard to find good authentic Japanese food unless you go downtown Vancouver, so we are delighted that a good restaurant is nearby locally.  My wife and I both think that the food here is excellent and has a variety of selection, not just your usual sushi and teriyaki place.  It serves sashimi, beef sashimi, motoyaki, asari, natto maki, umeshiso roll, dobinmushi, negi toro with quail egg...etc.  The sashimi (toro) was soooooo fresh that it melted in our mouths.  Beef sashimi is also recommended.
The price is also reasonable for a plate of good sushi.  10 dollars for a standard sushi set and 6 dollars for a small plate of beef sashimi.
 We also order natto nigiri sushi(sticky bean...common for Japanese people to eat), umeshiso roll (umeboshi...preserved salted plum), negi toro (absolutely my favorite) and maguro.  The maguro also melts in your mouth.


Metrotown the Bay Olympic Store

Today, I went to the Bay at Metrotown, Burnaby.  For introduction, metrotown is the biggest shopping centre in British Columbia situated in Burnaby (a city beside Vancouver, reachable by SkyTrain).  I was amazed at the collection they have in the Olympic store inside the Bay.  The size is only a little bit smaller than the one in downtown and has more variety than all other local malls.  It also has couple of giant olympic mascots.

Bento Lunch Box: Kiima Curry Bento

Kiima (Japanese pronounciation) means "ground meat" in Hindi.  Kiima Curry has less water moisture than other types of curry.  As most East Indians would tell you, "there is no such thing as curry powder".  They make curry by using own spices.  However, for convenience, we can get the western supermarket curry powder to make this.  To achieve the "no moisture part", she did not add extra water to the curry.  She used the moisture in the ingredients (vegetables) only.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Shopping for Cook Ware: New T-FAL Flexi-Grip Set

My wife cooks few times a day, so her 5-year-old T-FAL set had worn out and needed a new one.  Last month, we went down to Bellingham, Washington, USA to Target to look at some of the newest sets.  I noticed many new T-FAL sets are not available in Canada yet, and even if they are, they are priced double or triple what they are in the States.  (does not make sense)  I would recommend this product because:
1.  The new Flex-Grip handles are easier on your hands when cooking.
2.  The new hard anodized pans are environmental friendly, it does not contain BPA and is recyclable.

We used this set for a month already and are very impressed with it.  It sells for only 80 to 100 dollars US.

Restaurant Review: Krispy Kreme Doughnuts

It is Thursday night at home, and I am craving snacks such as doughnuts.  This reminds me of the doughnut shop I went past summer.  The shop's name is Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.  It is located in Delta, British Columbia and I think it is the only one in BC.  The doughnuts here are big, creamy and absolutely delicious compared to Tim Horton's.  Don't get me wrong!  I am a big Tim Horton's fan, but comparing to the size and selections here, I would pay 1 dollar for a bigger juicy doughnut any time in Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.  However, Tim Horton's does offer more of other breakfast and coffee products with good prices.
For doughnuts, I would highly recommend Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.

Bento Lunch Box: Croquette

In Japan, one of the popular western style dish is called "Korokke" (Croquette).  It is tasty and yet easy to make.  First, people usually mix ground pork, onions, carrot and potato together and fry them.  Then, we need to make an outerlayer by using flour, eggs and bread crumbs.  Last, you just need to fry it like a round ball to create a nice crust.  At the end, you can add some okonomi sauce or other on sauce.  If you want flavored Korokke, you can add curry or others when you mixed the potatoes with the ground pork.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Neutering for Chihuahua

My male Chihuahua dog went through the neutering surgery last month and is recovering from it.  He is almost 5 years old and we were worrying about getting it done, but considering several factor including benefits in future health, decrease in marking and mating season stress, we went for it.  It is rather a simple surgery for males, we went in the animal hospital at 8:00am and he was ready to go home at 5:00pm.  Chihuahuas are very cuddly and always want your attention.  After the surgery, he needs even more attention.  I don't know if it is because of the scariness of the hospital experience or it is the hormone level itself.
Here is a picture of my cute and adorable sleeping chihuahuas:


Bento Lunch Box: Sanshoku Don Bento

In Japanese, "Don" (donburi) means a dish on rice.  So, you have "kaisen don" (seafood on rice), tempura don, katsu don (fried pork donburi)...etc.  My wife made Sanshoku don (meaning 3-color-donburi) for bento box today.  It is very colorful and it makes your lunch box look good with good presentation.  As you can see, it has 5 layers with 4 colors.  From left to right, it has pork, egg, carrot, pork again and salad.  Yummy!

Panasonic Lumix Camera Olympic Edition

Panasonic released a new edition of Lumix with Olympic trademarks and camera case.  The retail price is 299.99 Canadian dollars.  Although it has 8 times optical zoom, I don't exact know the benefit of shelling out extra 300 dollars plus tax to buy a point and shoot camera if you already have one.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Vancouver 2010 Olympics Medal Predictions-Canada Looks to Dominate

Remember the Economics Professor, Daniel Johnson, who predicts the Olympics medal count with over 93% accuracy?  He actually did his analysis for this year's Vancouver Olympic Games and predicts that Canada will own the podium and dominate.  The interesting thing is that he actually grew up in Vancouver and will visit during the games...
Here is the news from Forbes:

For Olympics 2010 medal count, visit here:

Good news to Canadians!!!

Japanese Lunch Box: Pork and Onion "Shougayaki"

My lunch today was "Shougayaki", meaning "ginger flavored sliced and fried pork". It contains pork, onion and ginger.  Depending on the thickness of pork slice, you need between 5 to 15 minutes to use a fried pan to cook it.  The thick pork like this picture will need the 15 minutes to prepare.

Taiwanese Pineapple Pastry and Chocolate Manju (Manto)

My mom just came back from a visit in Taiwan and brought back some of its famous delicious pastries.  The first one is a total classic traditional one: Pineapple Pastry.  A great one should have a solid outer layer, not a soft powdery one we get in the mass produced packages.  Inside, it usually has pineapple jelly (hard to describe it). Recently, all traditional pastries including mooncakes come with a twist.  They have different taste of Pineapple pastries now.  ie. cranberry, etc.  The second box of gift I got is Chocolate Manju (Manto in Mandarin).  It is made by "Art Coffee".  A famous high end Taiwanese shop specialized in Coffee and pastry gift boxes.  The Chocolate Manju is absolutely tasty just like other Japanese style pastry and rice cakes.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Taiwanese Noodle with a Japanese Twist

My wife cooked dinner with her usual creative sense again, and she experimented on Asian noodles this time.  "Mienshien" is a kind of Taiwanese noodle that is commen sold in the night market, and people can buy it in the supermarket to cook at home as well.  There are several types of variation of "Mienshien" Taiwanese cook, and the noodle is actually available through T&T, a large Taiwanese supermarket chain in Canada.

This time, she used cooked "Mienshien" with a Japanese noodle based soup.  In Nagasaki, Japan, there is a kind of noodle called, "Chanpon".  It uses seafood soup powder to derive its unique taste.  "Chanpon" was derived when some Chinese immigrant opened restaurants in Nagasaki, and the noodle became popular among locals.  Within the soup, there was cabbage, corn, carrots, onions and shrimps.   Chanpon soup with Mienshien....a good combination to try.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Van Gogh Painting and Side Walk Sales

I like the Impressionists and Van Gogh's paintings.  I also like the side walk sales in the malls in BC.
  Last night, we found this book outside Chapters' side walk sale stand and it was a steal!  6 dollars for a brand new book for big Van Gogh illustrations.  I thought it was a great books because I am a fan of the impressionists paintings and have had chance traveling to France to enjoy them.  Viewing them in 3D is completely different than on paper.  The impact is amazing and indescribable.

Grocery Shopping in the States Part 3

Here is the third part of my series about my last grocery shopping trip to Bellingham, Washington State.  I mentioned that there are many products unavailable in Canada, and I will introduce a couple of them.  There are new types or new lines of detergent products that are not introduced in Canada yet.  For example, Dawn has a couple types of them.  One is a collaboration with Olay, the skin care line.  They claim that it can improve skin condition in five uses.  I am not sure if this is just an exaggeration, but we will give it a try.

Also, we found a new product of the dog snack "Milk Bone" in a big jar format.  Usually, this kind of new value packs don't come to Canada, so it makes my dogs happy if I make the trip down south and bring some goodies dog snack back.

Chihuahua and Dog FURminator

For those with dogs, I would recommend using the product "Furminator" to get rid off those annoying shedding fur.  At first, I did not believe spending 50 dollars on a shedding tool is any better.  I thought it was too expensive, but after get this PetSmart Limited Edition FURminator, my mind changed.  It was so effective on getting rid of the loose fur and it also has a eject button, so the user does not have to pick them out.  Now, I know what the buzz about this Furminator is about.

Here is a picture of my Chihuahuas sleeping in front of the heater after the Furminator treatment.

Grocery Shopping in the States Part 2

I am still playing with html and trying to refine my blog and I need to get better at it.
Here is the second part of of my grocery shopping post.  I bought my son a cute Paul Frank monkey swimming pants.  It is only 6.99 on sale only at Target.

We went to a local buffet and they have Mexican foods that is not available in our Uncle Willy's.  I am not too familiar with Mexican food, but here is a picture of it.  The food quality is only okay.  However, the cost is
6.00 dollars at Bellis Fair in Bellingham, WA for breakfast between 8-11am.

Chihuahua with Olympics Character Plush Toys

Here is a picture of my Chihuahua with Vancouver 2010 plush toys:  Miga and Sumi.  He is always so innocent and adorable.  He really likes being in the pictures.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Grocery Shopping in the States

Saturday, we went to the States to a town, Bellingham, near the border of USA/Canada for some usual grocery shopping.

Because of their size of the population, we have always enjoyed shopping for their different variety and the cheaper prices of products.  eg. detergent, dog food, fast food, toy, coffee, even drinks...etc.  Here is a picture of the Pizza Hut menu in Target, which is not available in BC:

Canada has a relatively small population; therefore, the products are simple and less diversified, and of course, new products come to Canada after it has been introduced in the states.  Even today, I can spot many things that Canada does not have in this small border town.  For example, McCafe are in the town of Bellingham and many parts of the world, but it is just slowly crawling its way to Canada (at least to Vancouver area).  Pizza Hut has different and better menu in the States.  The Thomas Train toys are way cheaper to buy it in the States than in Canada.  (price difference is 50%).  They have more kinds of detergents in the US.  eg.  Dawn has two lines of products including collaboration with Olay.

Here is a picture of the iPod vending machine in Macy's:

Even though my 2-year-old son cannot endure a ride more than 1 hour, he sure enjoys cross border shopping for new toys in the United States.  I also buy different kinds of dog products and snacks for my two chihuahuas because the volume and variety of dog food is just amazing in the States.  It is definitely worth the drive.  Besides, the gas at the border is also 35 percent cheaper than the Vancouver Region.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Unagi-don Bento Box

Today, my lunch was Unagi-don (Cooked eel on rice with egg and vegetable) along with some broccoli and wieners.  Normally, Unagi-don does not come with vegetable (green onion), but my wife added it in to boost the presentation, which she does often to make lunch boxes look nicer.  Frozen Unagi packs can easily be bought from Asian marketplaces in Canada.  (Places like H-mart and T&T)

home made unagi don bentou box

Thursday, January 21, 2010

My cute kid with Olympics Outfit and Characters

Hello all!  Here is a photo of my kid wearing the olympics clothing (hoodie and pants) sitting on the sofa with the Olympics official character plush toys (Sumi, Miga, Quatchi and Mukmuk).  Excuse me that I had to block the face for security.

Marinated Teriyaki Chicken Bento

My lunch today is marinated teriyaki chicken with salad and egg.  The chicken leg retained all the teriyaki sauce smell and taste, and it is absolutely terrific!

teriyaki chicken bentou marinated

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Some Links to Free Olympics Events

Here are couple of the links for free events for people to enjoy the atmosphere of the Olympics coming to Vancouver area:

They have good tips and information for people without a ticket but want to enjoy the occasion.

ps. For those who follow Japanese entertainment news, the NHK Olympics announcer this year will be "Becky"

Lunch Box: Deep Fried Tofu Pouch Filled with Egg and Vegetables

(Fukuroni) Here is the lunch box my wife made today.  She made the dish "Fukuroni" in Japanese.  It is made with deep fried tofu pouch with egg fillings mixed with carrot, seaweed, mushroom and green onion.  She had learned this healthy dish from her mother in Japan.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Excited About Olympics Coming to Vancouver

We are very excited that the Winter Olympics is coming to Vancouver.  Although it was extremely to hard to get any tickets, we managed to get couple of Ladies Moguls tickets.  We are looking forward to going to the events, venue, celebration or even the visitor houses.  Many people are complaining about the inconveniences (I don't like crowds, either), but I just want to enjoy this once a life time occasion.  You only live once, right?

French Onion Soup and Egg Bread Dinner

My wife made this wonderful-taste French Onion Soup tonight.  It is made with long-cooked onion, beef broth, cheese and bread-crumb.  It tasted less salty than the Tim Horton version because they add a bunch of salt when you eat outside.