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Pretty Wall

alley walk in TO: great memories, great art, great city

CNE or The Ex

rides and fun and laughs and long exposure more here

Old lady

Cuba is a great place to take pictures of people

Fall. Colourfull boots

Always go for colourfullness!

After rain

After rain haziness effect is pretty!

9:55 PM

Crochet craft experiment

So what does procrastination combined with dedication, insomnia, stress and a bundle of colourful yarn make?
Well I didn't think I'll be crocheting anytime soon, neither did I think that I have enough patience to make anything wearable.
But here. I started about 5 days ago and spent cumulatively about 16hrs on the project below.

Is started simply with this:

and ended up with a circle scarf and a slouch hat:




Both are based on this youtube tutorial video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-CnU0C2WKw. Slouchy hat is basically a smaller version of the scarf and then tied at the top (so it ended up with a hole up at the top.... but since it's slouchy it's not really going to expose my head)

In time for the fall.... well for these few leaves that are still hanging on the tress.

5:00 PM

facebook

I love how sometimes facebook wall gives these random posts in such an order that it creates either funny images or somehow conveys a hidden message.
Here are a couple of examples:
Left - interesting combination of images that almost creates a full image on its own

Right - interesting combination of status updates: 2 couples followed by an article about being single

Below - maybe it's due to upcoming halloween but it's hillarious: adult witches and a baby witch. hahaha

=)

2:57 PM

comparisons

I like how without even living your own city you can do all these comparisons between the cities. Potentially between your current city and the city you want to be in in the near future.
So yea I compared TO and Mel and well they're not that much different=)

so this is more statistical based and compares living costs which are updated pretty regularly
http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/comparison.jsp

and this one just compares some random facts that seem to be out of date in some points
still a fun read=)
http://www.versus.com/en/toronto-vs-melbourne

10:58 PM

Latte Art

I bumped into this article and somehow got hooked on the idea to check some of these places and see if they can actually make some decent latte art.
I'm failing at my crusade a tiny bit as I am not consistent with taking evidences in forms of photos. but that will be fixed. So far two places have been checked.

my reviews are of course on Yelp but here are few more notes:

1. Bulldog coffee
somehow I expected way more out of this place... it closes at 7pm that's already a minus... but oh well. What I wanted was the bulldog face in my cup! but I guess it only happens to the lucky few who get served by the owner... the two student looking servers who served us didn't look too experienced in latte art so I just got a simple heart (was so sad that didn't even think of taking a photo)

2. Manic coffee
mmm the ice cream
and this place by far exceeded all my
expectations! hipster atmosphere was in the air with tons of people working on their macbooks (ok there was one dell owner...) but what surprised me is stand with a huge variety of ice cream made on the spot... the only few words that need to be said: chai latte ice cream....mmmm.....
also photos! my cappuccino came with a cute art on it and the cups are designed in such a funny way=) I just want this set at home!=)

squirrel!

7:58 PM

Medicine infused week

I'm going in full-speed in preparation for THE trip. This week can get archived under folder - Medical checks.
On Monday I got lucky when called my family doctor in the morning: I got my appointment with her immediately on the same day. I told her about the trip and since she couldn't really provide any consultation regarding vaccinations I might need she directed me to 3 travel clinics and warned me that I have very little time for some vaccinations to take place and it's sometimes hard to get appt with a travel clinic doctor right away.
That got me immediately stressed so I sat down in the lobby of the clinic center and called the first travel clinic on the list right away. I guess it's the name of the doctor that played the charm here - it was Dr. Gamble=) ahaha! He later told me that he is not related to the Gamble of P&G =)
Anyway I got the appointment for the very next day which is today. After the consultation with the above mentioned doctor I was appointed to take booster tetanus/diphtheria/polio shots but no vaccinations.
He told me to use mosquito repellent to make sure I don't get malaria or dengue.... scary

He also made a funny note on my vaccination travel report:
Travel Details/Itinerary: Going to Australia but will also be travelling to Bali while in Australia and that is a good place because there is no malaria in the resort areas - day trips outside of the resort.
I guess Bali is a good place=)

On a side note: I learned that some vaccination shots are extremely expensive. E.g. Japanese encephalitis $230 per shot (series of 2), Rabies - $220 per shot (series of 3), Meningococcal Meningitis - $140 per shot, Yellow Fever - $130 per shot...
man.....

This clinic also has a very good site with vaccinations needs listed per country http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list

And to end the story of this medical labeled week - on thur I have my dental cleaning and on monday 21st and 28th I have porcelain crown installation on my tooth that was broken a while back in Vancouver.

phew. and after all that is done I'll be ready to go as a new born human with new immunity and new clean teeth=)

11:13 PM

Sometimes I cook

Seeing that I spent most of sunday at home I decided to experiment a bit with few recipes that I was looking into for a while. Here is the result:
Chickpea Flour Socca with zucchini:
I slightly adjusted ingredients mix vs the original recipe from Healthful Pursuit as below:
  • 1 cupchickpea flour
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper powder
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini 
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 1 tiny tomato sliced

then I followed the same instructions as on the Healthful pursuit: Mix flour with pepper powder and salt. Add water, and two tablespoons of oil and mix until all lumps are eliminated. Let the batter rest for an hour or so. Preheat oven to 500F. 
Let the skillet warm up in the over while it's preheating. Once the oven is ready, take the skillet out pour about 2-4 tablespoons of oil into it and swirl around so it covers the bottom and the sides. Place oiled skillet back into the oven to warm up the oil. Shred the zucchini and add it to the batter together with the cumin. Mix well and pour into the skillet. 
Let it bake for 10min. then add sliced tomatoes on the top and broil for 5-10min. then take out and YUM it's ready and delicious!

And for the dessert I made raw banana-cashew ice cream cake. Didn't really taste like an ice cream or a cake but it was yummy. 

I took the recipe from Southern in-law but I didn't have 2 ripe bananas ready. and the only one I had was smaller than medium. So my ingredients got adjusted to the following:
1/2cup raw cashews
1/2cup pitted dates
1 small ripe banana
2 tablespoons of applesauce

mixed it all in the food processor (starting with cashews and adding dates, then banana and applesauce)
then freezed for 40min and tada - easy dessert is ready. it was gone in 2min.... yes I counted...

10:39 PM

Nuit Blanche

IMG_0130_1IMG_01351IMG_0143_1IMG_0144IMG_0147_1IMG_0149
IMG_0155IMG_0160IMG_0168_1IMG_0163IMG_0173IMG_0175
2013.10.06 Nuit Blance, a set on Flickr.
ok so this NB was really not as great and impressive as the one year ago and two years ago. We started at 2am (perfect timing to avoid insane crowds) and few of us lasted until 5am.
Few of the installations that we visited:
Metro Square:
Tanks

Nathan Philips Square:
Forever Bicycles by Ai Weiwei
The Rose is w/o why

Along University avenue:
(X)Static Clown factory
My virtual dream
A quack cure
Hybrid Globe

Bata Shoe Museum:
Ad Astra
Light Scape
RevitaLight

While in line for Virtual Dream (we didn't have enough energy to stand in the "participants line" that was averaging 2hrs wait time and went into "observers line" instead that was about 30min wait) we chatted with few guys in front of us and they apparently did a very thorough research on the topic of this particular installation and while they didn't believe that actual "brainwave reading" technology is used for the installation they did share interesting for me information about existing toys that read brain waves.
Just watched this video and it's pretty impressive - Mattel's MindFlex toy and it's 2009 video?... man we do live in the science fiction future...

6:45 PM

It's in you to give

Finally I donated blood! After few failed attempts few years ago and being discouraged because of that I finally made it to the donation center.
It was a busy place. I came in under #67. Had to wait for quite a bit. Then got a low blood pressure according to the results and had to sit down, eat sodium filled snacks and drink high sugar juices in the resting area. While doing that saw my colleague who told me that he has been donating non stop since he was 17 and has made about 80 donations so far. My second check showed normal blood pressure and I went into one of these comfy dentist-like chairs.
Somehow I expected the experience to be more painful, I expected to have dizziness, to feel sick or have some other issues. But it was super quick and in 4min I gave my 500ml.
Chatted with few volunteers and they all told me that they can't donate due to anemia. Which is low iron in the body. That is something I was worried I'd have since I'm a female (monthly loss of blood is very not helpful) and a vegetarian (no carnivore iron full diet) but I passed that test easily.

As a first time donor I was stickered with that title and got my 1st time donor pin. Next pin I was told is given at the 3rd session and then 10th, 25th and so forth. And then there are plaques and certificates... this is a cute way of making people feel important and valued.

7:38 PM

Weekend with Red Cross

So this weekend I spent very efficiently.
Both sat and sun were dedicated to learning first aid and CPR techniques.
Reasons that made me go for this:
- I discovered that my PWA (Personal Wellness Account) covers this course and I want to use up all the money I have there (ski boots covered most of it)
 - After the course is completed (successfully) you get a certificate in FirstAid/CPR that might be needed when considered for hiring (e.g. work with kids (can't imagine doing that but who knows))
- Generally a great knowledge to have in life to be able to safe people around you.

We started the sat session by introducing ourselves and giving reasons for taking this course. out of 17 people only my friend and I were doing it not as a requirement of our current job but just for our own knowledge. That somehow immediately put us in good books of our instructor. Both of us were also the most positive charged in the room (w/o constantly complaining about the length of the course and without constant boredom written across of our faces) and we were also the most involved in the course (we would volunteer to show things explained to us, speak up etc). Anyway our instructor definitely loved us as she kept on joking with us from time to time when we were working on hands-on assignments.
Some people were...mmm... strange. Some answers they were giving to questions asked by the instructor were crazy (or so it seemed to my friend and me). E.g.:
- at what age can we consider a child to be developed as an adult so the same CPR techniques can be applied as to a full grown adult? Answer: - 2 years old. (mmm...really?)
- what are some examples of emergencies when EMS should be called? Answer: - Ocean (mmm ocean what?....)

there were tons more but these are the only few I actually remembered as they shocked me.... ahahaha

some comments during the break behind the door were bizarre as well:
 - in response to multiple complaints that this course is too long: - she [the instructor] could have adjusted it to one day long but she just doesn't want to (mmm.... it's a standard 2 day long course, people designed by red cross or EMS or whoever but not her personally)
 - a comment about how the final test will be organized: - it will be an open book test and we will be answering the questions in groups (mmmm... honestly do you want a person who might later someday save your life to be certified based on the open book test assisted by another 10 dummies around him/her?[I might have actually asked this rhetorical question out loud... which might have caused a very awkward silence...])

We ended the course with a 50 multiple choice questions test that took two of us (and few other people) only 30min to accomplish (I ended up making only 1 mistake) the rest of the group stayed behind....
The only thing I hope for is that most of these people will never ever have to save my life... judging by how much they were interested to learn the material I really wouldn't trust them with my life...


6:54 PM

Bike sold - success!

YAY! Sold my bike for the price listed on Kijiji.
that's one success and few more to go.
I'll miss it a tiny bit. but not much.

I still have my faithful supercycle which traveled with me for many and many kilometers! Major trips that were accomplished on my $100 supercycle: TO-NF (about 145km), NF - TO(145km), NF-NiagaraOnTheLake-NF (50km), TO-Port Credit-and partially back to TO (200km), few rides on DVP (50km and 75km), and tons of city cycling. It was tuned up with thin road tires, had issues with brakes and wheels... but it's still here and performing well=))

9:28 PM

Getting rid of stuff

Berlin by Neesa R.
Berlin, a photo by Neesa R. on Flickr.

You would think getting rid of things is a pretty easy thing to do. But it definitely isn't so when you're actually trying to get rid of things fast.
Well in my case I actually am trying to sell some stuff I haven't used ever or used few times knowing that when I'm back in a year I probably won't suddenly start using that particular thing and I better off having some cash now vs useless apparatus in a year.
So a list of things I posted on CL and Kijiji:
- bicycle
- tent
- ski boots
- camera lens & camera bag

Somehow I was sure I'll get a ton of response for the ski boots.... but it's all quiet... I guess people are not in winter mood yet, eh?... the only item that actually stirred some interest is the bicycle... and while one person already bailed (after we spent time exchanging 20 text messages back and forth trying to organize a meeting just for him to realize that one can't take a bike on the subway during rush hours and then that person wanted me to deliver this bike across the city at 8am???) and the next one is tomorrow.... fingers crossed I'll get rid of the bike.

But if in my case the pricing might be what holds people off jumping and tearing things our of my hands, in my friend's case, who came here just for 10 days or so to clean up her storage, the stuff is FREE! She's giving most of her stuff for free in hopes to get rid of them faster. She posted that on CL/Kijiji/FB and not only people didn't flock to that immediately .. they were actually bailing.... this is mindboggling.

Now.... what else should I get rid of?....

8:44 PM

How to lose and gain faith in humanity in one day

It's interesting how in a span of a day your perception of humanity might change drastically from completely negative and to absolutely positive.
I read this article earlier and was shocked at what some people can do to those around them. to those they supposedly promised to love and protect for the rest of their lives together.
And I especially don't understand when evil things like what's described in the article happen to kids. How can anything be their fault if they are not making any decision yet?...
and I'm referring to this acid attack in iran here


But then at the same time there are people who make me proud being a human being. These are shots taken all over Russia from driver's POV.

And even more faith in humanity I have after reading this about adopted kids. And of course this is only one side to the whole adoption situation and there are kids who are molested or abandoned after they're adopted.... but does that mean adoption has to be banned?....

Faith in humanity remains... for now....




9:09 PM

IT ARRIVED

IT ARRIVED!!!! Came home today to face a fat brown envelope, stuffed with my medical/travel insurance policy, tickets booking confirmation, an Australia magnet and Australia bookmark and a thank you card from my travel agent Ryan=)
IT IS HAPPENING!!!! ta-da-da-da!

Few words about the travel agency. At some point of my Oz research I found this website that connects you with country specilized travel agencies near you. If you pick TO there are only two agencies that are located here and specialize in Downunder. I contacted both, but the quote sent by Downunder Travel was considerably cheaper.

Here is the list of agencies I contacted and round trip fare offered to me with a one week stopover in LA:
Downunder Travel $1845.34 + $75 service fee + $250 fee for a date change on the return ticket*
Vision 2000 Travel Group $1756.94 + $25 ticketing fee + $425  fee for a date change on the return ticket
Aspire Downunder  $1753.43 +$300 fee for a date change on the return ticket
TravelCuts  $2196.51 (didn't even ask about the fees... too expensive as is)

*Note from the travel agent: Now since you are flying with Qantas and we have a great relationship with them there is a very good chance that we can get the $250.00 waived and you would only have to pay the $75.00 (plus any change in fare/upgrade).

So if I'm actually going to have the date change fee waived (all saved in emails and I'll fight for this!) then I got myself the cheapest possible option flying Quantas both ways!

And then there were of course all these amazing search engines:
Google Flights
Kayak
Skyscanner
Fly.com
and bazillion of others but I decided that it's just less stressful to organize all the tickets with the stopover via one agent and also easier that way to change the return date so it will be them working out all the connection routes for me.

Oh yeah, I also got medical insurance with the same travel agent. All of the above offered approximately same price for medical+travel insurance for a year - of about $700-750.

I feel very poor now

8:48 PM

Winter elements

I might say this a bit too often... but I LOVE WINTER! yes yes yes it wasn't a typo. Winter is when I ski! when I fly down a mountain/hill with adrenalin rushing through my blood and endorphines popping up in my brain. With all that said introducing my new awesome piece (or rather two pieces) of winter equipment!
they are called Dalbello Krypton Lotus and I'm in love officially!=)
Isn't it nice when your company covers your sports equipment purchases?.... I will miss this side of working here... oh well...
It's a bit sad to bid adieu to my old faithful pair of Rossignol XenaX8 but they served me well since the winter of 08/09. they went with me to Quebec and Banff, they were worn in rain and on ice, they took me through races and to half pipes. it's time for a change....
also great review of my old boots HERE. My skies are now in tune up and rossignol boots are on sale online. I'm all ready for winter.... which I will have to miss.... mixed feelings...

4:08 PM

Rainy Day

night TTC by Neesa R.
sometimes rainy day turns into a photographic treasure. mistiness left after all the moisture in the air. a bit of darnkess combined with long exposure. fast moving lit up objects and a bit of patience.
this photo wasn't taken today. but today definitely was a loooong rainy day. because of that my so expected trailblazer club's ride in barrie was cancelled. We were supposed to ride 75km along the abandoned railway tracks http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Simcoe_Railtrail

I joined the club just last week but it was on my to-do list for aaaages ever since few friends who are captains there told me about it. This is a great incentive. It allows vision impaired people learn and enjoy cycling and is a great social club in general. Really hope I can make it to the Rouge valley ride on the 5th of october!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=006AqhjV9XQ

9:38 AM

Talented kids

I've always wondered how do some kids get so seriously amazing in sports. I watch kids on ski hills and they are usually doing great. some of them are performing mindbogling tricks with jumps and backflips at the age when I didn't even know about skiing. I see kids rock climbing and some of them are superstar monkeys that can hold onto anything and swing their bodies in a way I didn't think is possible. Then there are few amazing kids in capoeira that I saw perform tricks that only experienced capoeira instructors do.
and then there are dancing kids that dance so perfect that it takes your breath away. and this video of B-Girl Terra who's only 6 years old is what reminded me of these thoughts
http://colorlines.com/archives/2013/09/meet_b-girl_terra_the_flyest_pre-school_dancer_around.html
And when I see these kids I always wonder: is it something they actually like to do? do they have silly childhood like we all have? is it something their parents force them to do to piggy back on their child's potential fame?
Or are these questions irrelevant and it's just great that they're so amazing in what they do never mind the way  they achieved it?
I don't have the answers to any of these but I do somehow always feel a bit sad (along with amazed) for these kids because I feel that they are missing out on childhood the way childhood should be - silly, reckless, happy, no 9am-5pm trainings, etc etc etc

but anyway. the video of this girl dancing is just mindblowing!

3:00 PM

back?...

soooo.... last post over a year ago... is that how consistent I can be? I'm sure I can be better.... now my mind is consumed with the ideas of creating a travel blog. I also need to make sure that I will update that new blog on a regular basis. Which bring me to a question: will I have enough of something to discuss on a regular basis? will that be interesting to anyone to read? will that be useful for the humanity (ok that last one is only a side wish... I doubt I can create humanity changing blog) anyway this post caught my eye recently and I want to experiment making cookies too

9:07 PM

Getting prepared....


so what have I been reading for the past few days? oh many interesting books. and all of them are about Australia, Oz, DownUnder=)
these travel guides are full of useful information. Most of them I took from the library. and one I borrowed from a good friend.
So here is what I am reading:
1.
Australia gap pack : all the facts and expert advice for gap working in Australia. 2006 
2.
Gap years for grown ups New ed., rev. & updated. 2006 by Susan Griffith
3.
Work your way around the world 15th ed. 2011 by Susan Griffith 
4.
Lonely Planet Guide: Australia 15th ed 2011
5.
Rough Guide Special: First time around the world

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