Learned a lot from today's garage sale...Getting other family  and friends involved; whilst it takes more planning; is more fun.  There're more things for sale and it helps to generate larger crowds.  Location, as always, is also key.  

Today, we had 3-4 families involved; took over one of the families' driveway (the one with the best location...Right off a main road); and planned a big BBQ.  Except it rained.  The BBQ was cancelled and we were kept busy moving tables back and forth between the garage and the driveway.  But it wasn't a complete write-off; believe it or not, people were still driving by and stopping!  Even when we decided to finally close shop for the day, close the garage and  retreated indoors to enjoy a pot of tea; people were still swinging by; one even walked up to ring the doorbell! 

Disappointed that the weather didn't cooperate (was supposed to only possibly rain in the morning); we did make some money and ended the evening with a great dinner.  

Keeping fingers crossed for better weather tomorrow. 


 
 
Markham Station on Urbanspoon
Frequently pass by the Markham Station diner near Markham Rd/Sheppard Ave.  But business must be good as it's been there on the corner for years and years.  But it is also opened 24hours and is an all-day-breakfast. So if you're really had a bacon and eggs or burger craving at 3am; there's a place to go.

We recently when there to try their brunch.  We got there in time to enjoy their before-11am price which started at $4.99.  This included 3 eggs, toast, homefries and choice of bacon, sausage and ham.  We decided not order a special each and opted instead to try pancakes and bagel.  The food tasted as it should...Homey and warm.

The diner is spacious and has a relaxed and casual atmosphere.  It was busy so the service was a bit slow but our host did come around to refill the coffee.  I think I'm enjoying this diner; Cora's nice and fancy and Panagio's is a specialized brekkie spot; but for if you're looking for good food and good price; I feel this is the better choice. 


 
 
C House Lounge Café on Urbanspoon
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I had made a deal with mom, for having her help out with the garage sale on Mother's Day weekend, I will treat her to tea.  A deal came up on-line for C House Lounge Café in Yorkville, high-tea for two for $29.00+ tax/gratuities.  Mom doesn't usually get to venture Downtown or the vicinity so I thought it might be nice...High tea in a fashionable neighbourhood and then interesting shops to browse around.

The place is nicely decked out with a reasonably spacious front-door bistro area.  White and black and mirrored walls lends an air of sophistication.  There were a number of smartly dressed ladies enjoying the high-tea on this sunny, hot afternoon.  The small cool flute of champagne that started off the high-tea experience was a welcomed drink indeed.  

The tea selection was minimal and as we were utilizing a coupon/voucher, we were told it would be a shared pot of tea.  This seemed rather unusual;  and the pot was quite a small pot though it was readily re-filled with hot water.  It really was just a teabag after all and it didn't seem like it would be that much more costly to have two small pots going.  Although I know I'm using a voucher, I expected loose-leaf teas...Something a little more classy to match the environment of the establishment.  The food started with finger sandwiches  (smoked salmon, salami etc.) on the bottom tier, flavoured French bread with three macaroons on the middle tier and four petit (one-bite) chocolate tarts on the top.  Funny things was, we were browsing at the Pusateri's fine foods store next door and saw the exact same flavoured French bread ($4.99).  While the food tasted ok and I did enjoy the macaroons, it seemed somewhat underwhelming.  I was a bit surprised that scones, a staple for high-teas, was not offered.

Was it good?  This depends on how one looks at it.  As a high-tea; the one I had a Royal York was so much better.  But then again, that was $35/person there.  Here, it's almost like a 2-for-1.  The food wasn't as fine but the ambiance and location was nice.  If you're after the real high-tea experience, then don't skimp, pay for the real deal at Windsor Arms or Royal York.  But if you're looking for a nice place to chill with a friend and have some light bites, then this was fine (just don't expect a true high-tea).  The host was attentive and the food; while nothing fancy; was fine.  On the way out, I saw an advert for Sunday Brunch  (buffet?), 11am - 3pm for $30/person...Might be nice to lounge in their outdoor area for a Sunday brunch if in the area.
 

Ribs!

05/28/2013

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Montana's on Urbanspoon
As it can be seen, people were in a meaty mood!  Here are ribs, wings and chicken tacos from Montana's!  Came with caesar salad, coleslaw, fries and cornbread too.  

Ribs were tender and the meat fell off the bone easily.  They were moist, big and chunky.  The wings seemed a bit on the smallish side though it would have been nice to have a dipping sauce to go with it.  I really enjoyed the chicken tacos.  It had some crispy bits (deep-fried pita bread strips?) that added a tasty crunch.  The chicken was grilled nicely; not dry at all. 

The Caesar had real bacon bits and there was a generous portion of grated Parmesan but seemed a bit too saucy...Am thinking of the calories here.  The cornbread was different...Don't often get the chance to eat it.  It was moist but I often find cornbread to be a bit too grainy for my liking. 

The restaurant had a nice ambiance; there was decked out with wooden furniture in keeping with the mid-west theme.  The servers were attentive and I enjoyed doodling with their crayons on their paper tablecloth while waiting for the food.  It's fun to get to be a kid every now and then :)
 
 
Been busy volunteering at the zoo as a Panda Ambassador.  Over 20 000 people visted the zoo this past Victoria Day long weekend.  The wait to go into the panda exhibit ranged from 1/2 hour to an hour...It was just one of those times where one had to excerise patience and tolerance.

As a volunteer sharing and talking about panda facts;busy days can be quite tiring; but on really quiet days, like today, it made the shift seem much longer.  Am happy to have experienced working under different conditions. 

Fortunately, we had a special staff viewing day prior to the grand public opening and so we didn't have to deal with the crowd.  However, the pandas were sleeping with their backs to us and so we didn't get many great photos.  Today, being a much quieter day (it even stormed on us!), I was able to run over for a sneak peek.  They truely are very adorable animals!
 
 
Wow.  I don't even know where to start with this one.  I hope I'm not the only one who has this problem...A blackhole of a garage.  But it unfortunately sometimes seems so especially when I walk pass neighbours who happen to have their garages open; shelves neatly lining the walls with labelled boxes or containers...Empty space in the middle for parking the car...My own family garage?  It looked like a storm or the road runner made a visit and decided to stay.  

For the longest time, we could only access the very front of the garage where the garbage and recycle bins were kept; we couldn't get in due to the clutter.  Over the years, it became a storage area where things were just shoved in and overtime, people forgot what was actually in there.  I'm sure there were times where multiple items were purchased simply because the first one got lost in the garage and it was far simpler to go out and buy one than to try to locate it. 

Thinking to help clear some stuff and make a little pocket money, I decided to do a garage sale.  It took me about 2-3 weeks to sort out the items, clean and price them and then a day or two to make signs and posters.  Some of the larger items were posted on-line and the very first items sold included: rusty old wheelbarrow ($15); canopy ($80); computer desk ($40) and lawnmower ($65).  Those first few sales helped power the project on as it did get rather tiring and daunting...There was just so much stuff and I got weary of making little price stickers and sorting out the 2/$1 pile, the $1 pile, $5 pile etc. 

Originally, I wanted to do a weekend garage sale; Saturday and Sunday.  However, the weather was grey and miserably that we held it again the following week.  In the much was cleared and a couple hundred dollars was made making the whole garage sale; as tiring as it was; worth te effort.  However, there's still much that didn't get sold and I'm still, to this day; finding things that I can sell if I had another garage sale.

I think doing garage sales is a great learning experience for kids; the parents always felt it was tedious and too much work so we never had one when we were younger.  A few years ago, during one of my summer visits from HK, I got the family do the very first one where we sort of accidentally sold Dad's old lawnmower.  With the money we made, we bought him a new one...Which was sold at this garage sale.  So yes, garage sales can be a lot of work but worth doing if you've got lots to clear out. 
 
 
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This was quite an interesting experience.  In HK, Hakka food is most definitely Chinese food.  Here, it's taken an Indian twist!  We were the only Chinese customers in the restaurant!

The menu had a spicy edge to it; there were many Szechuan dishes.  It wasn't that the dishes weren't good; it just wasn't to my pallet.  The spices were too strong for me and the dishes; although Chinese in appearance; did not taste the way I expected them to.  

I learnt from a recent conversation with a Sri Lankan zoo volunteer that there's a sizable Hakka presence in parts of India and Sri Lanka and the Hakka food there has been tweaked to suit their tastes; it would come across as being spicier.  

The restaurant does appear to be quite popular with south-Asians and the fried noodle dishes seemed popular choices.  However, this place wasn't for me. 

Below on the left is the spicy crispy chicken.  On the right is a stir-fried curry vegetarian noodle. 


 
 
Was in the mood for something different and this versatile dish nacho dish made for an easy quick meal! 

INGREDIENTS:
-Package of Nachos (original)
-Grated cheddar/marble cheese

-sour cream
-1/2 can kidney beans
-shredded lettuce
-cubed tomatoes
-lean ground beef
-1 jar/can salsa

Optional Ingredients: corn, cubed cucumber, onion, black beans or remove beef for vegetarian option.

DIRECTIONS:
1. Brown lean ground beef in a pan.  When mostly cooked, add kidney beans.  Stir to prevent burning/sticking. 
2. Add salsa sauce and continue to stir. When fully cooked, set pan aside. 
3. Arrange on a plate; Nachos, lettuce and tomato.  Add generous helping of salsa/bean/beef mixture.  Sprinkle cheese and add a dollop or two sour cream on top. 

                                        **ENJOY**




 
 
Do you see anything interesting about this tree?  It was pink when we first planted it many years ago.  Some time ago, it must have crossed pollinated with another one and we've got a two-in-one tree.  

It's a beautiful time now, cherry blossoms, magnolias and other flowering trees have blossomed or budding tender green leaves; all creating a delicate canopy against the blue sky. 

I've been doing a little bit gardening; transplanting some fo the spring flowers from crowded flowerbeds to other parts. I've planted some of the leftover poppy and strawberry seeds and have been watching anxiously for the first leaves. 

Here's an update pic on the poppy and strawberry seeds a planted a week back. Strawberries on the left and poppies on the right.  Still so small!  I wonder if I'll have strawberries to eat this year. 
 
 
My volunteer position with Evergreen Brick Works involves supporting the volunteer recruiting team and one of the projects I've been working on involves the promoting of student volunteer positions.  We have been making good use of job fairs and volunteers fairs. 

On a recent Saturday, a volunteer fair hosted by City Youth Council of Toronto in honour of Global Youth Service Fair was held at City Hall.  I hadn't been inside City Hall in a while, let alone the upstair's 'Memebers' Lounge' where mayor Rob Ford holds his council.

As an environmental organization, we kept our flyer distrubution at a minium, but I did eye the colourful booths of my neighbours with some apprehension.  They were giving out freebies and sweets! 

However, I was kept busy enough; it is heartening to see youths interested in getting involved with the environment; it is also terrific to see parents coming along with the younger students and encouraging them to contribute their time and energy towards community projects and/or work.