2018: The Year of Sunday Rest

If you make your way to the far side of the Toronto Necropolis, you will find a bench that bears a simple but deeply evocative inscription: “He was my Sunday rest.” It’s a sentiment that has so deeply resonated with me, and personally revealed much about the way I consider love and affection.

I am currently agnostic, but I was raised religious. The part of my family that raised my brother and I while our mother was working abroad was Pentecostal. For me, the term “Sunday rest” holds layers upon layers of meanings stacked together, like a mille crêpe, holding up my life’s deepest traumas and deepest joys. It has been quite the exhausting effort to reconcile these two, and so I only very occasionally take a close look at that part of my life. There is a harsh contrast between how much I valued my faith and church community when I was in my pre-teens up until my early twenties, and the sudden traumatic break from organised religion around the time that I moved to Canada. “Sunday rest” has many complicated nuances for me, as far as ideas go, but it also encompasses fond memories bathed in the warm glow of nostalgia: of my old church, bustling family meals during holidays, community events and celebrations.

Despite the trauma, I also still associate the feeling of “Sunday rest” with what is good and beautiful in life. I recently attended the book launch for Diasporic Intimacies: Queer Filipinos and Canadian Imaginaries, an anthology published and co-edited by three Filipino academics in Canada: Robert Diaz, Marissa Largo, and Fritz Pino. Robert is one of my supervisors, and of the experience of the launch, I told him, “it felt like going to church.” The space at 401 Richmond was celebratory and wonderfully supportive, and I was teary-eyed for most of it.

More recently in my adult life, though, “Sunday rest” has come to mean quiet time for myself, intended to be used as preparation for the coming week. As I get older, it has become more obvious that I am a person who thrives within routine: having a pattern in life allows me to keep my anxieties at bay enough for me to function, and hopefully function well. The importance of maintaining my Sundays as prep days, especially as I come into the last few months of my masters, cannot be overstated. Ideally, Sundays are when I organise myself into the person I aim to be at work, whilst nursing a giant mug of coffee or tea. Here are some of the things I always want to be able to do for myself on Sundays:

  • Planning: I absolutely adore the combination of a Monday-start weekly planner and a daily agenda. I prefer having calendars that begin on Mondays, as it lets me have a clear break from “plan day Sunday” to “begin the workweek Monday.” I am fully crediting Passion Planner’s Undated Monday Compact for sparking the realisation that this is how my brain functions optimally – thanks, guys! Towards the last quarter of 2017, I found myself gravitating towards and eventually exclusively using my giant collegiate notebooks to set up my weekly task lists. The right side is where I have all the to-dos by category, while the left side is for additional notes throughout the week. Recognising (rather belatedly in my academic career, hah!) that this is what works and that I should steer into it, I intend to keep using this system, at least until I finish this degree. To complement this, I downloaded the Business Calendar for Android on my LG G5, an app which allows me to (a) have the agenda view as a widget and (b) not have to carry the giant notebook everywhere I go.
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My giant collegiate notebook, which is serving me nicely as a planner!
  • Meal prep: I have been raised on the idea of meal prep from when I was a child! In the Philippines, almost everybody brings baon to school and work – baon is the Filipino word for “packed meal,” and it is so ubiquitous that food containers (Tupperware and the like), are called “baunan”, i.e., something you put your baon in. It is so satisfying to put away my baon for the week stacked neatly in the fridge, ready for me to pick it up and go. Last year I prepped a lot of simple roasted chicken thighs and steamed rice, but this year I need to incorporate more veg in there. Roasted asparagus is nice and easy, as are mushrooms and cauliflower.
  • Coffee: I have found my Contigo travel mug so useful that I bought two more and gave them away as Christmas presents. Mikaius bought me mine at Shoppers Drug Mart, but it is also available on Amazon! I was pretty skeptical when I first used it, thinking that my coffee couldn’t possibly stay hot for nine hours as is claimed on their description page. Imagine my shock (and pain) when I arrived at my 10am class after a two hour commute, popped the top open, took a sip, and promptly burned my tongue on near-boiling coffee. I have since learned to have “make coffee” be the first thing on my morning routine list as soon as I wake up and even before I shower, pour it into my travel mug as soon as it’s done, and leave the top open as I go about my daily prep. This way, my coffee is still hot when I get to class or to my office, but has cooled down enough to enjoy!

Together, meal prep and making my own coffee have allowed me to free up some wiggle room in my budget so that I can give to organisations I believe in and love. While I’m not donating life-changing amounts of money (let’s not forget that I’m a grad student with student loans looking at me from beyond my graduation day lol), I am able to save my coffee-and-lunch money and allocate it towards donations. Two that I’m currently giving to are Just A Story Pod through their Patreon, and Kapisanan Philippine Centre through the 13 for 13 #SupportK campaign. A burrito bowl at Sid’s Café is $11 (!!!) but if I shop at the local FreshCo or Price Chopper, that is about a week’s worth of hot lunches for me, if not more. Similarly, a coffee at Tim Horton’s or Second Cup goes for $2, but buying a pack of coffee is $7 at my local Winners and a carton of milk $4 at the grocery store, which lasts me for about an entire month.

  • Reading: I have really tried to incorporate reading into my personal calendar by doing the Stephen King reading challenge, a name which is turning out to be a misnomer as it is more of a “reading Stephen King’s books and watching the movies and miniseries inspired by those books” challenge. Maybe I should change the hashtag to #experiencingtheKing instead? More to consider as I head into the new year! I’m currently on the last story of Night Shift, which I was initially reading via an ebook until a friend gifted me a thrift store copy of the book for our annual Friendsmas! The copy he gave me is the paperback edition with the bandaged hand as a cover, which is one of my favourite tales in the collection. Thank you lots, A!
  • Art and culture: Over 2018, I want to indulge my love of museums and art galleries more often. For Christmas, I asked my family for memberships to the Royal Ontario Museum and to the Art Gallery of Ontario! I’m very excited to see where this goes, as both of these institutions are within walking distance of campus, and I have always loved spending time there – even after seven years of living in Toronto and many dates taking place at the AGO and the ROM, there’s always something new to discover.

Coming up now on 2018 and looking back, 2017 was rough. I was recovering from my *dad’s death, but had not quite come back from the abyss yet. I was in very wild depressive cycles, and my anxiety has never been so terrifying. But, 2017 was also filled with little triumphs and joys: I lived by myself, for the first time ever, and the experience taught me that I absolutely can take care of myself. It makes me feel better for future me, knowing that I can handle living alone and all the responsibility that entails.

I have also been sending out applications to fellowships and submitting my writing to various places, collecting rejections along the way rather like how some people string up Christmas cards over the mantel. I wasn’t too stringent about my submissions in 2017, and more than once whipped up an application two days before the submission date – which is not how my mind works at all and so I screwed myself in the process, ugh. I’d like to believe that I’m wiser now, for that experience, and will continue to work on my writing. I would like to submit not just more, but more polished.

Having said all that, I want 2018 to be my year of Sunday rest. I want to invest time in myself – to work on the skills that I want to be better at in order to get to the career that I want, to submit my work for publication, to actually build my portfolio (which I have, but, you know, it isn’t as clean and beautiful as I would like it to be), to take more photos, to learn to be comfortable in my skin. I think that most of all, I want to learn how to truly love myself, which is proving to be a difficult task. I have had to train my brain to understand that I don’t need to be perfect. The anxiety in the lead-up towards submissions and meetings when I am overwhelmed in obsessive thoughts has actually negatively impacted me and the work that I produce.

As a daily visual reminder, I put some stickers on my laptop that are imperfectly overlapping just to remind myself that it is okay, that it will be okay, that I am okay.

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Starkanine is actually killing me with the placement, but I want to remind myself that it’s okay to not have a perfectly planned layout for these stickers.

Being in my late 20s, I am especially cognisant of the fact that I am effectively already in my thirties, and so before time actually catches up with me, I need to be prepared. I want thirty-year-old me to look back at twenty-seven year old me and think, she did well. As this year ends, and as I interrogate more closely why I’m doing what I do, I want to look at myself in the mirror and have a clear vision of what I need to work on to be my best self. That’s rather abstract, I know, so I set myself five goals for this coming year, and I want to be able to tick off this list by the time December 2018 rolls around. Here are my resolutions:

(1) I want to collect rejections. I don’t mean to say that I will submit applications to be rejected, but I wanted a way to think about submitting grant applications and poetry and other things without the inevitable rejection letters being too hurtful. I want to take this year as an opportunity to learn how to write better applications, and how to be more effective at the many different kinds of writing that I had not tried my hand at before.

(2) I want to go to the Philippines, once, before I commit to a life as an immigrant. My family has something planned, but we’ve not had a good track record in committing to it – myself especially! I have been intending to go home for a few weeks since 2015, but then graduate school happened and I wasn’t able to leave. I think that I need to be home one more time before fully accepting that while I will always consider myself to be Bacolodnon, home as I know it is no longer there. I cannot plant roots where I am not.

(3) I want to decide if I am to pursue a PhD or not. I jumped into my masters straight from my undergrad, without a break, and knowing now what was to happen in 2015, I would have been much better off had I taken a year off. I was so absent my first year due to grief that I didn’t get to make friends or interact more with my colleagues, and I dearly regret that. I want to be certain that a PhD is what I want to commit my life to, before I write my applications.

(4) I want to learn how to make bread. I’m already starting this! I made a basic white bread last week and Mikaius really enjoyed it, so that was fantastic. It does feel good to be baking again, honestly, and bread is something I had always been slightly afraid of. What is the wizardry of yeast? Why are people so obsessed with bread? I don’t know, but I have a bunch of recipes lined up and I can’t wait to learn more about it!

(5) I would like to be more productive with this blog! Instead of writing when I feel like it, I have created a schedule, a calendars, and planned activities. From around October 2017 onwards I started jotting down ideas for 2018, and I now have a pretty good chunk of the next calendar year planned out. Blogging has been a constant for me since I was in high school, but I think 2018 will be a good year to see if I want to take it towards something more involved than memory-keeping.

And with that, thank you for hanging around and reading this. May your holidays be full of warmth and feel-good moments. See you next year!

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Summer Favourites: Food!

As has been tradition since Summer 2014, Mikaius and I went exploring for more food places that we can add to our favourites list! While our busy schedules don’t allow us to write detailed reviews of each place like we used to in years past, here is a list of the new favourites that we discovered during our walks around the city. Forgive my food photography, I never did quite learn how to take fantastic pictures of food.

New Favourites:

  1. Beachside Grill | Website
    Mikaius and I both fell in love with the Beaches neighbourhood last year and we made it sort of a mini-mission this summer to wander around the area a little bit more. One day in early June he took me out on a date to explore the area and we started our day with brunch at the Beachside Grill. It was lovely! The lobster mac and cheese was so rich and creamy, and the corned beef hash with the poached eggs, while not as good as the pasta, was delicious! We still talk about that mac and cheese and how tasty it was. Mmm, lobster, pasta, and cheese.
  2. Frankie’s Diner | Website
    We came upon this place in a state of real hunger, and even with that in mind, Mikaius almost couldn’t finish the pulled pork sandwich that he ordered and I also wasn’t quite able to finish my breakfast plate. The servings are massive, delicious and very filling. The service was a bit slow, though, so I was glad that we didn’t have anything urgent to hit up after that late lunch.
  3. The Rec Room | Website
    It was a rainy day in the city when we decided to finally check out The Rec Room, and since it was so rainy out, we spent quite a bit of time in the arcade (playing, yes, but also trying to figure out how to work those bracelets). We had a light lunch at Three10, since we weren’t that hungry, and to be honest it is probably what we should be doing anyway because our eyes often want more than what our stomachs can hold. We split a pizza (the Butcher’s Daughter) and a dessert (chocolate cream pie), both of which were omg-mmm-inducing servings of deliciousness. The pizza was delightful, with all the ingredients playing in harmony together, and the dessert was something I could probably have eaten five of but shouldn’t. I would definitely go back again!
  4. Bang Bang Ice Cream | Website
    Bang Bang is close enough to my place of work that it is dangerous to my wallet. I love ice cream, and I love that they have flavours like Totaro and Soursop, which are definitely not flavours that I see in regular ice cream places!
  5. Tinuno | Website
    Tinuno is within a comfortable walking distance from my flat, and while we were having brunch there I was repeatedly asking myself why we hadn’t made that walk earlier in the year. Their Kamayan feast is so good, and a steal at only $15 per head! We were so full, and we even had delicious leftovers to take home from the restaurant. Oh goodness, I haven’t had squid and shrimp that good in years – it really and truly did taste like home.
  6. Sunnyside Café and Pavilion | Website
    We came across Sunnyside when we were having a wander. We had started our day with High Park, enjoying the sun, the breeze, and Grenadier Pond. It was our second time at High Park, first time alone together, so when we inadvertently came out on the other side of the park and saw how close we were to the beaches, we just kept walking. We ordered a pizza and drinks at Sunnyside – we split the Chicken Supreme pizza, he had the Arctic Mudslide, and I ordered a piña colada smoothie. While I wasn’t too impressed with the smoothie, the pizza and the Mudslide were both big wins – we are already planning on going back to enjoy the beach with our friends!

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Sundate: Trinity Bellwoods

This past Sunday, Mikaius took me out on a walking date, which is my favourite kind of date. The sun was shining, it was a warm +22, and Torontonians were out in full force enjoying the first really good day of spring. It felt like summer.

First on the list was the Sunday Antique Market at St. Lawrence Market, at the Esplanade. I had so much fun, I forgot to take photos. The vendors were selling all kinds of interesting stuff, ranging from Canadiana, old postcards, jewellery, knives, to vintage TMNT and The Beatles action figures still in their packaging. It was a madhouse, but the kind of organized chaos that I truly enjoy. I fell in love with this obscenely large costume ring — a chunky gold number featuring a lovely purple gemstone and two CZs that I’m pretty sure are glued in. It was a fantastically gaudy number, and Mikaius, seeing how much I enjoyed the bauble and because (oh rare moment) it fit me perfectly, bought it for me.

Mikaius then decides to present the ring to me at the crosswalk, going down on one knee and saying, “Will you do me the honour of being my wife?” I had such a visceral negative reaction to this that Mikaius laughed his ass off and decided to hold the idea of a public proposal over my head for the rest of our lives. What made this even more hilarious is that (a) he and I are already engaged, and I was actually wearing my ring that day, and (b) I had thought that I would love a public proposal… but obviously I don’t.

Anyway, after lunch at A&W, we went to The Paper Place, which is one of my favourite stores in the city, and shopped around for wedding inspiration. We’ve decided on a “rustic winter vaguely Christmas” theme, which is going to be interesting as neither of us are religious, but my family is church-going. Weeeeelp. We found this gorgeous paper for invitations that he fell in love with – Tairei Ginfuri, cream speckled with silver – because it reminds him of mithril

We had also brought The Well Tempered Heart for me and Prisoner of Azkaban for him so that if we found a sunny spot we could sit down and read, and when we were done browsing we crossed the street to Trinity Bellwoods Park. It was bustling with people and dogs (there are areas in the park that are designated leash-free zones), and we had a grand time pointing out all the fluffy puppies that had come out to play. The tree we chose to sit under also had a nice comfortable curve, and instead of reading his book, Mikaius took a nap. He said that it was the most restful nap he’d taken in a long time, and it was probably made even better by the fact that the winter semester was over.

He then treated us to ice cream cones for the walk back to Bathurst Station (twist cones for us both, chocolate-dipped for him!), and that concluded a lovely day. The day didn’t end there, not really, we  watched The Prisoner of Azkaban as soon as we got home, but sunshine and warmth in Toronto means that summertime is just around the corner, and I cannot wait to see what it brings.

Toronto Bites: The Good Fork

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Dani: For me, The Good Fork will always be the restaurant that I associate with the sensation of starting to feel like a grown up. I got us a lunch reservation as soon as we discovered this place, and remember feeling exuberant when I got the confirmation. I was so excited! This date was also a pleasant moment to look forward to for us both, since we’re in the middle of a crazy hard semester. I think the only downside to The Good Fork is how out of the way it is for us -Bloor Street West was an hour and fifteen minutes of commuting from North York.

Mikaius: Despite the commute, it was absolutely great going to The Good Fork. What a feeling of “realness,” to have a reservation, and keep it! Not just keep it, but be an hour early!

Dani: The service was great! We were seated immediately at a window spot, where we could look out at the slushy Toronto sidewalks. Don’t get me wrong, I love window tables even on slushy Toronto days: basking in sunshine while eating delicious food is one of my ideas of heaven. The décor was beautiful, the interior was spotless, and our server was super attentive.

Mikaius: Dani’s right! We walked in, and we were seated right away. This nice little cozy spot, right at the front window. I felt so comfy looking at our slushy Toronto, with the sunlight pouring in on us. I can’t speak much to the aesthetic, as I spent my time ogling at Dani and gazing out the window.

Dani: For myself, I got a cup of coffee and the Good Forkin’ Morning with peameal bacon, which included: two eggs any way you liked them, which I ordered poached; home fries; a slice of Fred’s bread, blood orange sections, and of course the peameal bacon. The coffee was alright (the chocolate caramel cookie flavoured brew I have at home might be affecting my judgement), but it was the meal that really stood out. OH. GOD. The eggs were so beautiful I Snapchatted the moment I broke open the ooey-gooey golden yolk goodness, and how I wish I had saved that little four-second video. The bread was tasty, and the little tots were so flavourful I ate all of them even though my tummy was begging me not to finish my plate. The peameal bacon was also so tasty, and went so well with the rest of that beautiful plate.

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Mikaius: Every. Damn. Thing. That I could have wanted from “Spanish Hash” is what I got. Absolutely delicious chorizo with a little bit of spice, poached eggs to pop with gooey-goodness, tiny little home fry-tater-tot-things and roasted red peppers. Absolutely delicious, and piled on top of that black bread, was indescribably fulfilling. I couldn’t even finish the whole thing, and had to take it home to finish off. Adding bits of Dani’s peameal bacon to it all was just the icing on the cake. I recently “discovered” pea meal from a sandwich at St. Lawrence Market, otherwise I’d never really paid attention to it before. Pea meal bacon is a godsend!

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Dani: I would happily recommend this to anybody who was thinking of doing it. Just be mindful of how far the place is, especially if you need to be somewhere else right after

Mikaius: Recommend, recommend, recommend! The cost of a meal at Cora’s basically, except with a focus on more savoury foods, more unique dishes than you’d receive at Cora’s. I still prefer Cora’s, but the savoury goodness at The Good Fork has to be tried at least once!

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It’s our third anniversary!

Mikaius and I quietly celebrated our third year of being together this February, and what an absolutely fantastic three years it has been! I spent the months leading up to our anniversary racking my brains, wondering what to get him that he would both love and use daily. Since he started reading the Harry Potter series last year (he even wrote a post about The Philosopher’s Stone!), I decided to get a metal bookmark stamped with a personalized message.

I’m so proud of how I managed to sneak an opinion out of him regarding what material he preferred: I pretended that I was getting a gift for a close friend of ours and showed him the sample photos that Anice Jewellery sent me of their bookmarks, asking him which one he would prefer if he were the giftee. He picked the brass-toned one and off-handedly said, “If I was commissioning one for myself, I would add a little brass feather on the end of the cord.” Bingo! The only question left unanswered then was, “What the hell should be stamped on it?”

Very helpfully, and again, unknowingly, Mikaius gave me the answer to that, too. He has been trying to learn Tagalog for about a year now, and so he’s picked up on the basics (pero, alam ko, gutom na ako, hindi, oo). Because he’s trying to keep the words fresh in his memory, he oftentimes speaks to me in a mix of Tagalog and English. He also has a slight tendency to misuse some of the words since (a) he’s still learning, and (b) Tagalog is a very situational language.

One day after we had been talking about Star Wars, the following exchange ensued:
Dani: “Love kita.”
Mikaius: “Sige.”

Tagalog speakers will know that sige was used incorrectly here, but since he had initially learned the word as “okay,” we both cracked up and moved on. That little moment stuck with me, especially since it echoes Han and Leia’s iconic “I love you”/”I know” exchange. I think you know where I’m going with this: that short conversation was what ended up on Mikaius’ bookmark, and you can see it in the header photo for this post. That, and I made sure to include the little brass feather that he wanted.

I am proud to report that the bookmark was both a success and a surprise, but less proud to report that I actually gave it to him three weeks early. Don’t judge me, he was having a bad day, the bookmark was in my bag, and the look on his face was so worth it. Mikaius loves it, and I am the queen of gifts!

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The end result is a beautiful, sturdy bookmark, perfect for constant use. I can’t quite capture how great it looks in person, as the colour is deeper and the letters stand out well.

On the day of our anniversary, we met up after class to go to St. Lawrence Market. Neither of us had ever been and since we both love adventures, especially ones that involve food and walks, it was the perfect date.

The food was excellent! Between us, we had: (1) a peameal bacon sandwich on crusty bread from Carousel Bakery, one of those things that you just have to try as a Torontonian, (2) spicy Portuguese chicken with corn bread from Churrasco at St. Lawrence, because we’re always in the mood for some chicken, and (3) Apple-Cinnamon Cheesecake from Eve’s Temptations as neither of us can resist a good cheesecake. Oh. Dear. Lord. I begin to drool when I think about that day. I think my favourite thing of what we tried that night was the cheesecake, but oh boy — that peameal bacon was succulent and flavourful, and paired great with the crusty bread, and that chicken, woof. The chicken was moist and tender, and the sauce that comes with it was so goddamned delicious that Mikaius slathered it onto the peameal bacon sandwich as well. The ginger ale we had to wash the food down with was the best palate cleanser ever.
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We capped the night with Kung Fu Panda 3 at the Rainbow Cinemas fronting the Market, and it was a nice, quiet note to end our date on. How was the movie, you ask? It was beautiful. I marvelled at how good the animation was in that movie, and was often looking back at Mikaius with this incredulous look on my face going, “Did you see that?”

One of the lines that I really enjoyed came from Mr. Ping, Po’s Dad, as he spoke to Li Shan, Po’s biological Dad: “I was worried you’d steal Po from me. That was crazy. Having you in Po’s life doesn’t mean less for me. It means more for Po.” My heart. I was constantly on the verge of crying, and was enjoying myself so much I didn’t even really care that the lady in front of me was effectively blocking half of the screen with her hair.
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Here we are, three years later, still madly in love. I’m going to end this post with this:

Dear Mikaius,

It’s been three years since the first date that went from 10AM to 10PM, when we kept suggesting things to do after the museum because neither of us wanted the day to end. Three crazy, wonderful, happy years. I hope we can have all of our years together, adventuring like lovestruck fools, because you’re my happy ending. 

To the prettiest man I’ll ever lay eyes on, happy 3rd anniversary, mahal ko💕💕

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Toronto Bites: Sushi on Bloor

Mikaius and I have been looking for a new favourite sushi place since Akabane closed; as broke Uni students who adored sushi, we would often raid that joint for their $11 AYCE lunches. If we were going on Tuesday dates, we would settle in for a leisurely sushi lunch there, then walk down to Silver City Richmond Hill to catch an early movie.

In our search, we asked a lot of people what their recommendations were for cheap but delicious sushi restaurants, and one kept coming up: Sushi on Bloor. We never really had the time to check it out over the holidays between our work schedules, but we had a few hours free last week after school. Since we in the throes of a pretty bad sushi craving PLUS Sushi on Bloor was only a short 15 minute walk away from the St. George campus, off we went.

Dani: The decor wasn’t spectacular, but it was perfectly clean. The restaurant was full and there were, I think, two people ahead of us in line. This was on a weeknight at 8:30PM, so I took that as a good sign.

Mikaius: It was a small place, but like all the good places, it was longer than it was wide. There is something that is incredibly appealing to me about a long-way restaurant.

Dani: Between the two of us, we ordered the sashimi set (more for me than for him), the BBQ set, shrimp tempura, crab meat nigiri, spicy scallop nigiri, karaage chicken.

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By the end of the meal, I could have done without the sashimi or the BBQ set – both of which were delicious but not exactly what my tongue wanted to taste. The karaage chicken, the shrimp tempura, and the spicy scallop nigiri, however, were winners for me! I would happily order those again the next time we drop in!

Mikaius: I’ve never managed to get familiar with the various terms around sushi. So when I ordered the nigiri, I had no idea what I was getting in terms of presentation. Loved the crab meat, but I really don’t like roe and the scallop (though delicious itself) was covered in it. I cannot abide the weird crunchysaltiness of roe!

Everything was spot on, though. Nice bowl of miso soup as a palate cleanser, and that tempura was as fluffy as clouds. The karaage was absolutely fantastic, and incredibly large for a simple $5 plate. The BBQ set was good, but nothing particularly outstanding. The hit of the night for me was the simple tempura and karaage, hands down.

Dani: I would highly recommend this place! The line up should tell you all that you need to know: it’s a popular place known for good food, and the prices won’t kill your wallet.

Mikaius: Absolutely would recommend! Well priced, well placed, and hits just the right spots. The only negative I can think of is that they had a rather select set of sushi makes, compared to places with all kinds of RainbowGreenMagicalDragon sets.

I want us to be the love story my parents never had the chance to be.

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“And I want to know that fifty years from now when you’re in a hospital room
getting ready to die, when visiting hours are for family members only,
I want to know they’ll let me in to say goodbye.
‘Cause I’ve been fifty years memorizing how the lines beneath your eyes form rivers when you cry and I’ve held my hand like an ocean at your cheek saying, “Baby, flow to me.”
‘Cause fifty years I’ve watched you grow with me
fifty years of you never letting go of me,
through nightmares and dreams and everything in between.”
– excerpt from Andrea Gibson’s I Do

Baby, I am so in love with you. It’s been two years and then some of adventures and food and books. I love you, I love you, I love you. 

Our Summer 2015 Part I: Mikaius

(The next group of posts will be a 5-part series from Mikaius. Learn a little more about the city of Toronto, student life at UofT, and how it feels to eat your way through the summer from CSDD’s reclusive editor, Mikaius!)

From April 2014 to May 2015, I was stuck in purgatory. I had graduated from Seneca College’s little diploma program of Liberal Arts, without any intention of carrying it further. After graduation, I tried getting into trades and figuring out what I wanted to do, but I spent a year in that stateless way, not knowing what the status of my application was. In the end, I decided to carry my diploma further. May 2015 marked my return to school: I was now attending the University of Toronto at the St. George campus, taking some Classics courses as a visiting student.

Before my first week of classes, I was able to get a few days of Dani to myself. These kinds of sleepovers are always the best. If we can swing them, we get an empty house to ourselves, and we cook and cuddle to our hearts’ content. She had just finished a four month Hell-semester at school, though, never getting the sleep she needed. So for the first day of our long weekend, I put her to bed and left her to nap undisturbed while I went out with some of our friends to watch Age of Ultron. The next morning, we made ube French toast! It was amazing. (05/05/15)

 

Beginning of the Summer
Taken on our walk to find my classes.

 

The week after, as I said, my classes started. Nothing complicated this time, just a 100-level Classics course. Not a single new tidbit of information for me, but it was what I needed, something I could breeze into and through as I got back into academic-shape. Dani has always made sure to show me the buildings where my classes are on campus. UofT used to seem so big and intimidating before I started there. I wouldn’t say I know it like the back of my hand now, but I certainly know it well enough to walk end to end quickly and know which subway stop pops up where. That first day of class, I took a looooooooong route to where my building was and kind of wandered off track, back and forth. Google Maps wasn’t working well and without it I have the navigation sense of a deaf bat.

I’ll be frank, I hated that class. It was summer, it was 100-level, no one taking it knew a damn thing about Antiquity, and it was all things that had for so long been known to me, that I can’t help but think of it all as “common knowledge”. The better part of taking this course, however, was it was only three days a week, and campus is close to where Dani was doing work with the Kapisanan. This meant that after my days of class, on absolutely beautiful and stunning Toronto summer days, I’d get to waddle over down College Street to Augusta Avenue and pay her a visit (along with paying a visit to all the delicious food places there). The two months that I took this course gave us tons of days together, just walking around and visiting places. (11/05/15)

During that first half of the summer, Dani and I got to go for a nice little walk over at High Park for Victoria Day. All in all, it was a good day, we walked through the little wooded area before meandering off to Ten Editions just off St. George campus, and concluding our day after riding up and down Spadina on the street cars. We went to a little book store called Ten Editions for a bit, walked around that area for awhile. I think we got ice cream, I can’t really remember what we ended up doing around there, just remember riding the street car. (18/05/15)

 

High Park
Preparing the cookies and walking around High Park.

 

Later in the month we finally did something we’d been toying around with, in part because it was relevant to my courses, Friday Night Live at the ROM. What a wonderful night! We got there good and early with our pre-bought tickets (we even got to be front of the line!), so it was like our own private night there. We tried on some armours and outfits, dug up some dinosaur bones and strolled around the Hellenic and Italian ancient art exhibits. When the place got loud, we got out, and concluded that wonderful night. (22/05/15)

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Ceiling of the ROM near one of the entrances.

 

 

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Inside the ROM, enjoying the Greek collection.

Saturday Afternoon Walks

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It rained pretty hard this morning as I was headed to my shift as a fast food slave. Rather inconvenient, but makes for an interesting picture. This was taken at the Bathurst and Steeles bus stop at 7:45AM.
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James, Bryan, Kevin and I had dinner at Maroli’s, an amazing Indian restaurant near Bathurst Station. I had the chicken tikka masala, which is the one on the bottom of the photo. It was absolutely delicious  In fact, I am having the leftovers as I type this out. The other dish in the photo is butter chicken, which was Kevin’s pick.
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Afterwards, James steered our little group to Midoco because he needed a card for Mother’s Day, and I internally freaked out. I love notebooks! If I ever had a spare $100 it would most likely go to stationery.
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More notebooks! Although I love me my big Moleskines (whose covers I collage before using them), I do want to try other brands, as well.
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Multi-pack notebooks are my absolute favourite kind. Mikaius and I are definitely checking this place out. 
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We went to a park for a bit after eating and walking around. This is from the book I am currently (re)reading, Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber.


Toronto Bites: Kenzo

Interior - Kenzo
Kenzo’s cosy interior! Let me tell ya, it was a welcome reprieve from the biting cold.

In the category of late posts in CSDD, this is probably the latest one. Mikaius and I went to Kenzo in late February, when snow and slush was still on the ground, and now it’s May! That doesn’t change the relevancy of this post though – ramen is always, always relevant.

Read on for a short review on one of our favourite ramen places, Kenzo!

Mikaius: Dani prefers Ajisen for the more spacious area, the different noodles and the presentation of the dishes. I like Ajisen, too, for their variety and location, but Kenzo never lets me down. They don’t have as many options, and the restaurant is slimmer, but I am good and comfy in those little booths.

Dani: Mikaius is right – I do prefer Ajisen for the general lay-out of the space, but also because it’s so much more accessible to me especially when I’m headed back down to North York from St. George. That isn’t to say that I wouldn’t go to Kenzo, though, because I absolutely will. I love their rice bowls!

Spicy Ramen - Kenzo
Spicy Orochang Chicken Ramen! Mikaius says he enjoyed it quite a bit.

Mikaius: The Spicy Orochang Chicken Ramen was what I wanted. The broth was spicy, but not overpowering, and I was able to gobble up most of it without a second thought. The presentation may not have been regal, but I always like a solid melange of colours, the peppers gave a good crunch and a good display to the dish. With the flavour, the chicken cuts were gloriously soaked by the time I got to them in the bowl. Dani’s ginger beef also went really well with the broth!

Ginger Beef Rice Bowl - Kenzo
The presentation on the Ginger Beef Fried Rice was absolutely gorgeous, and a welcome change from seeing greys and whites in the winter. 

Dani: I was pleasantly suprised by the Ginger Beef Fried Rice in two ways: the bowl was beautiful, and it tasted amazing! The delicate taste of ginger complemented the beef and rice, and the miso soup was the perfect accompaniment to it. I was not a fan of the salad, although that may also be because I’m not a salad person in general. I also tried a little bit of Mikaius’ ramen, and it was delicious! A flavourful kind of spicy, not  one of those mindless burn-your-tongue-off-without-tasting-the-flavour kinds of spicy.

Mikaius: I’d absolutely recommend Kenzo. It’s fair to say I recommend most places, because you’d have to pour my food over my head in order for me to not like food. However, Kenzo really is a great bit of ramen that gives you the flavours you want, if not the presentation you want. Thumbs up!

Dani: 3/5, but of course I’d go back again. Only if Mikaius wants to, though, because Kenzo is a bit out of the way for me.

Overall: Would visit again!

Click here for Kenzo’s website!