Saturday, 29 June 2013

Beauty Nerd

As the title implies, I’m going to write about make-up. I’m going to write about teaching, too, but, you know, you can run away now if you’d like.

While I have loved teaching in the past, I have been feeling more and more like this is no longer the career for me. Wha…? It is not my current position that has made me feel this way, but rather the last few positions I’ve had at teaching institutions. It’s not that these were bad jobs (the university being the exception). I’m just not in love with my work anymore. What’s the cause of this change? I’ve been trying to pinpoint what it is that has made me fall out of love with education and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s several things: the main reason is that education, worldwide, is not longer valued and I feel like I’m wasting my time and efforts. I absolutely abhor wasting time and energy; it’s actually a pet peeve of mine. What does this mean? That soon I will have to make some difficult decisions about my career.

Of the jobs I’ve had, working for MAC cosmetics was one of my very favourite! Although I’m not a fan of working in sales, what made my former position so much fun was playing with make-up and meeting tons of awesome people who helped me become a better make-up artist (co-workers and clients alike). I also loved that I was working for a Canadian corporation (MAC was founded in Toronto, something even some Canadians don’t know!). Although I only worked at MAC for a year, I have been doing make-up application for quite awhile. I have done special event make-up for graduations, weddings, parties, Halloween and even just to go out clubbing (in North America, of course).

I feel like a kid in a candy shop when I’m anywhere in Kuwait that sells make-up that I have a very difficult time getting in Canada. To make matters worse, I’ve heard that QVC and Neiman Marcus no longer ship to Canada (sigh). As difficult as it is to get my hands on some brands in Canada (Giorgio Armani, Bobbi Brown, Burberry, Max Factor, etc.), I can get them here in Kuwait-YAY!!!!! My current rule about buying make-up here is that I only buy products if I can’t get them in Canada or have them delivered to Canada, OR I can get them cheaper here. As a result, I’ve been doing some make-up shopping over the past few weeks. While some of the products cost a pretty penny, the damage hasn’t been too bad because I bought things over a long period of time after testing them out and deciding whether they were even worth buying. No, I can’t get Burberry lipstick in Canada, but do I love it/need it? Will I wear it or use it on someone else? Will it suit my sister, too, so she can help me use up the product? She takes all of my stuff anyway, so I might as well get something she can enjoy wearing, too, hahaha!

I’m impressed with the selection here. If you’re interested in more information, leave a comment. Here are the brands I’ve come across that I can’t get in my hometown: Tom Ford, Burberry, Max Factor, China Glaze, Inglot, Bobbi Brown, Giorgio Armani, Barry M and Soap & Glory. Now, I think that some of these I could get in Toronto (Holt Renfrew maybe?), but I haven’t looked into it.

As an aside, I don’t like every aspect of the beauty industry (animal testing, chemicals, the manipulative ads which are meant to make women feel badly about themselves, overpricing, the misleading/false ads, etc.), but I believe that there are brands out there that are trying to make positive changes and I want to support those as much as I can. As for my family and friends back in Canada, if you need me to do make-up, I’ll be home soon for a whole month!!!

My purchases (all done at the Avenues Mall):


 The damage done at VaVaVoom (Burberry eyeshadow quad in no.6 Plum Pink and a whackload of lipstick, foundation and perfume samples! Thank you to the associates working at the Burberry counter!!!) 
 My new Inglot brushes (the 6SS and the 29PO) and shadows. By the way, if you spend 20 kd or more at Inglot, you can get a 4kd voucher!!! GO NOW if you're interested as you have to use the voucher before July 31st!
Inglot eyeshadows: although these don't look like much in the photo, they are gorgeous shades that are EXTREMELY pigmented! I'd heard about how awesome Inglot shadows are, and most definitely live up to the hype! The top two in the palette are...something that I can't read and 434P. The one on the left is a matte purple-pink shade. The two individual pots are 355 matte (cream colour) and 455 pearl (a more gold and muted version of MACs 'Satin Taupe'). 
These are more recent: Giorgio Armani's Lasting Silk Foundation in 5.5, Burberry Lip Mists in no.202, Copper and no.206, Blueberry and the Inglot brush 11S.
Out of the box :)
 A boat-load of samples that my Georgian friend got when she purchased Clarins products. This is a brand I really need to look into more! It's great!
Bourjouis Healthy Mix Serum in 52 Vanilla (shade no longer being sold here). I got this because Bourjois is quite expensive in Canada and here it's considered a lower end brand. I also picked up Rimmel's Apocalips in 'Nude Eclipse' (left) and 'Luna' (right). I think that they're only identified by numbers here in Kuwait. I have to admit that while I like the shades and pigmentation of the Rimmel Apocalips, I'm not really impressed with staying power. Plus, my tube of 'Luna' decided to explode on me randomly one day in my make-up bag. Since I've kept it standing upright I haven't had any more problems, but that means it's less convenient to take out with me. These aren't a standout lip product to me. Sorry, Rimmel :( 
This was not a necessary purchase since Guerlain is sold at Shoppers Drug Mart in Canada, but I bought it before I'd made some important career decisions. This is Guerlain's Rouge G L'Extrait Lip Colour in the shade M06 'Avarice'. I LOVE this soft, matte lip cream. It's pigmented, soft, long-wearing, light and looks beautiful on the lips! I want to buy other shades in this line, but they're on the expensive side! 

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

Dear Beloved Readers,

I have enjoyed many things about living in Kuwait, and despite the negative things about the country (every country has something going against it), I have tried not to let myself fall into loathing a place because of the negative aspects (on some days it’s easier said than done). Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely a negative person, but I’m holding onto to positivity for dear life! Although I know the following will likely cause some upset (especially amongst my family and friends), I wouldn’t be honest about what I’m experiencing here without informing people about what the climate is like at the moment.

There is some unrest in Kuwait. Okay, that’s not true. There’s a lot of unrest here due to the obscene amount of deportations that the government has initiated. The government has decided that there are too many expats in Kuwait and are now trying to get rid of many of us. Now, if people are here illegally, then of course they should not be allowed to remain; this I agree with 100%. However, the government is citing poor road conditions (bad drivers, congested roads, too many violations, etc.) as the reason to get rid of many expats. Is this true? Yes and no. Yes, the roads are congested and yes, the roads are horrendous, but is this all due to expat drivers? Well, if you could see me now, you’d see me laughing like crazy. Anyone who has been on the roads would know that that’s not true since it is not usually expats who are breaking the traffic laws. Sooo, the traffic claim is a nice guise. What’s with the mass deportations then? I’m not sure, but I do know that certain nationalities are being targeted more than others (westerners/Caucasians are usually left alone).

There are some Kuwaitis who are against these deportations and who have publicly voiced their opinions (such as newspaper reporters for the Kuwait Times). Has this public outcry helped? I’m not sure. I do feel like these deportations have not been thought through. Unfortunately, the more discriminated against expats are the backbone of this country. Now people are much more cautious (my manager actually advised me not to go out at all because people assume I’m Filipino which is a nationality that is being targeted). Police raids (on apartments/flats) are growing and the most recent notorious case is one where a Filipino woman was raped by two policemen and two Egyptian men (civilians): http://news.kuwaittimes.net/two-officers-held-for-raping-filipina/. Sadly, these stories are numerous and continual and not something that I feel this country wants to be internationally known for.

These kinds of incidents are deeply disturbing and disappointing to me because I know that Kuwait, being a young, rich country, has an unprecedented amount of potential. I have talked about this with numerous expats who are also saddened by what’s happening here. We, as expats, are here because of the salaries or because we are unable to even get decent jobs in our own countries; no one should deny that. I know that many expats care little for the countries that they live in, but I am not one of those people, nor are my friends/co-workers/acquaintances. However, I’m all too aware that I can’t contribute to a society that doesn’t want my input/effort/support/etc. It makes it less desirable to stay here for an extended period of time. Maybe this is what the country wants though. In that case, then power to it. 

These events in Kuwait are occurring  as Canada is about to celebrate its 146th birthday (on July 1st, Canada Day). Now, for as much as the problems in Canada drive me crazy. I am not an anti-nationalist. If I didn't care about the problems that Canada is facing then I would consider myself an anti-nationalist, but I wish that Canadians would stop being so passive aggressive and begin to change their behaviours so that we could become a great nation (I just had an AMAZING chat with a brilliant acquaintance about this issue). I will be going back to Canada in mere days and I have a sneaky suspicion that going home is going to be sweet.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Busy Bee

I don’t know where nearly 2 and a half months have gone, and if I try to recapture my memories of that entire time I’m at a loss. How many weeks ago did my Lebanese roomie leave? When was my work party? Was it this month or last month that I went to the Georgian’s place for a nice, home cooked meal?? AGH!!! I have a sneaky suspicion that time disappearing has to do with my age.

I have been so busy at work that I dare not recite what I’ve been doing out of fear that I will exhaust myself. Yes, I am exhausted. I fall asleep pathetically early (my students laugh at me to my face about it), and my social life has fallen. Flat. Dead. Done and gone. The only thing that I can use as an excuse is that there’s NO nightlife here, so it’s not like I’m missing out on anything, hahaha!!! My low energy levels have no doubt been due to the amount of work I’ve been doing. Anywhooooo, no need to rehash that.

In other news (as if I really have any “news,” HA!), I got my test results back from the hospital and had to take two very strong meds. For some reason the doctors felt the need to stress that my condition was very serious. As I left the hospital a much poorer person (for the third time this month), I felt disappointed in myself because I knew exactly what was wrong with me (prior to going to the hospital), and deep down inside I’d known that I would have to seek professional medical care and was just too darn stubborn to go and get it. Why? The cost was the #1 factor. My lack of trust in the medical system here was the 2nd. Were there any other reasons? No. My family (both sides) are notorious for not seeking medical help when it’s needed and I don’t want to inherit that trait. It certainly hasn’t benefitted anyone. So? It’s time to make a serious change. I definitely heard my fair share of scolding from the doctors and the Irish chef and I felt like I was 12 years old all over again when I was sent to the principal’s office for roughhousing on the playground. Just to clarify, I wasn’t roughhousing; a boy was throwing chunks of ice at other students and I was trying to grab the ice out of his hands. So much for being a do-gooder, lol!

In food news (is there really any other news that matters?!?), the Irish chef and I tried a Mexican restaurant called Lita and it was okay. I wouldn’t call it amazing because between prices, quality and serving sizes, I was left scratching my head and thinking, “Is that all we got for 7kd??? Yikes.” I’d give it a 6 out of 10. I’m not sure I’d order from Lita again unless I was really craving Mexican food (although nothing I’ve had thus far has compared to the Mexican food I had when I visited L.A.). Lately, I feel like I’ve had better luck with the food that has been homemade. The Irish chef has been making salads that are DELICIOUS and easy to enjoy in the hot weather here (we’re hitting up into the mid 40’s now!).

 My SPICY beef chimichanga! The last time I had a chimichanga (in Victoria, British Columbia in Canada), I  ended up giving the leftovers to a homeless man who almost ran me over on his bike, hahaha!
 Chicken tacos. Mmmm, I love hard taco shells!!!
 Bean, cheese and potato flautas (which I actually think are taquitos, not flautas). These were awesome!
 Lita's menu

Talk about a blog post about absolutely nothing. Sorry everyone. Work has been filling my head of late and part of me wonders if that’s the way to go when you live here (keeping your head down, working and repeat every day from Sunday to Thursday)…Not ideal in my opinion, but I think that’s how it has to be right now.

Friday, 14 June 2013

The (Different) Architecture of Kuwait (Part 1?)

So why blog about the architecture in Kuwait, Mik? Well, I think that a lot of the homes are interesting. They're quite large, so much so that people in Canada might call them mansions. Now, not ALL houses are large, but most are. I'm told that the houses are so large because it's not simply ONE family that lives in the house, but rather several generations of a family all living under one roof. As I think about that concept I'm thankful that this is not the way we live in Canada. I love my family and it's not personal. On the contrary, I love the freedom and independence I have living on my own. As I've been exploring and wandering around Kuwait, I've captured pictures (not magnificent ones by any means-I'm sorry!) of structures here that are...Different from what I'm used to.

 In Kuwait City. This makes me think of elevators going up and down for some reason.
 This building looks like it has a fringe.
 A rather bright blue building that resembles the sky more than the surrounding buildings.
One building still under construction and the round cylindrical one beside it that looks like the top is a button you're supposed to push (I'm thinking of Family Feud). 
 A picture that reminds of one of the ways I see Kuwait: A rich country (represented by the Panasonic building) that is still very young and unaware (the old brown building in the forefront of the shot on the left). Yes, it sounds contradictory, I know...I think you have to know Kuwait to understand what I mean.
 The Irish chef and I passed this apartment building when we were going to Jarir Bookstore and look at that! There's a BOAT on that building! Yeah....Why is there a boat on that building??
 A nautical theme? The glass on the balconies look like water.
 I just can't get over the BOAT attached to this apartment building, ha!

Now maybe these aren't the best representations of Kuwaiti architecture. Both 360 (degree) Mall and the Avenues are beautiful buildings. Also, if you go back to the first few posts I wrote, you'll see the gorgeous buildings in Kuwait City. Canada DEFINITELY has a few eye sores itself: The NEW addition on the ROM is hideous as it completely contrasts with the rest of the building (photo below).

The LEFT part of the building is the original structure and the right metal monstrosity is the new addition. (Photo courtesy of: http://kamonohashikamo.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/webrom02.jpg)

So, there you have it. I will continue to collect pictures of buildings/homes/structures/etc. as I go along. By the way, I forgot to include this last photo that I took while at The Kuwait Bookstore. The Irish chef pointed it out to me and we had a good laugh at it:

Are they trying to say something about Japanese women? 

On a somewhat related note, I finished the Irish chef's copy of Paul Auster's novel Invisible and it was quite good, but I have to admit that it left me with more questions than answers and for me that's unsettling. Nonetheless, it was quite an interesting read and I would recommend it. Now I'm debating reading Atwood's The Blind Assassin. The ONLY thing holding me back from taking it on is that it's one loooooong novel, and I'm not ready to take on the challenge. Perhaps reading a few of the first pages will suck me in? We'll see! By the way, I'm homeward bound in less than a month-WOOOOHOOOOO!!! No, no, I'm not excited at all, haha!

Thursday, 6 June 2013

In Case of Emergency...Go to the New Alia International Hospital

The weather has quickly gone from warm, slightly humid and always sunny to very hot, dry and always sunny. I do LOVE this weather, but it’s taking its toll on my body: my face has decided that it will deal with this climate by breaking out…Lovely. As a result, I don’t stop drinking water. I have low energy levels and my desire to be outside has definitely waned. I’m not the only one to feel this way. The streets, which are usually packed with people, are almost deserted. So what is there to do in Kuwait when the weather is like this? Shop or be anywhere air conditioned! Many people are in the midst of preparing to leave for vacation and since Ramadan begins in the beginning of July and lasts until the beginning of August, I can’t imagine that there will be a lot of people in Kuwait during the summer. However, this weather never dampens the spirits for long! Last weekend my roomie and I went to a get together at my good Georgian friend’s place for good food, laughs and catching-up with my old co-workers. It was very nice!

My roomie and I didn’t want to show up to the gathering empty-handed, so we bought a HUGE chocolate cake from Mr. Baker (I like their desserts!). It seemed like A LOT of people shared our sentiments and we ended up with the chocolate cake, donuts, mini cakes and a homemade banana cake. We chatted, but after eating waaay too much and facing a bit of a walk home, my roomie and I excused ourselves and tried to enjoy the walk home. I didn't eat the chocolate cake or donuts, so I can't vouch for them, but the other pastries and banana cake were DELICIOUS! The banana cake was definitely my favourite!!!

 The cakes displayed at Mr. Baker!
 This was just a sample of the food my Georgian friend cooked! The lone dessert in the middle of the top row (the banana cake, which doesn't look like much, was awesome!).

This week has been absolute chaos at work as I have tried to prep lessons, prep quizzes, mark homework and write a reading and writing exam. I tried to squeeze five days of work into four (it’s a three-day weekend), quite unsuccessfully. Instead of leaving work at work, I ended up taking piles of it home and became irritable as a result. The Irish chef braved coming over for a visit while I was in my moody state and suggested I go to the doctor because he noticed I hadn’t been feeling well for the last week and a half. I honestly should have gone as soon as I felt sick, but I’m stubborn AND lack medical insurance. WHAT??? Yeah, don’t even get me started! Returning home permanently is VERY attractive on days like these.

I hauled my sad and sorry butt out of bed this morning at 4:30am when I couldn’t handle the discomfort anymore. While I had to pay a whomping FIFTY-SIX kwd to have tests done, I was in and out in less than 35 minutes. Say what?!? Yes. I swear, the hospital's parking lot is virtually empty on weekends and holidays, but on weekdays it's packed. Coincidence? Anyway, I paid through the nose (56kwd=200+CAD), but I had to go. As someone who has NEVER had to pay for healthcare I'm sure it's easy to understand why it was so unappealing to pay to go to emerg...The Irish chef coaxed me into going, especially since I know there’s something wrong with me. I have been losing weight rapidly and I haven’t been feeling like myself (crampy, no energy, no appetite, not happy in general). The female doctor was great and I didn’t have to argue my case to have her listen to me about what I think is wrong with me. Don’t get me wrong, my doctor in Canada is AMAZING! I love her to pieces and the idea of seeing another doctor is very undesirable, but I have heard horror stories of Canadian doctors not listening to their patients and, as a result, misdiagnosing them (I was a patient of such care as a child and almost died as a result. My doctor at that time and the hospital were never charged or even verbally reprimanded. Canada, I have mixed feelings about you sometimes.).

The doctor made me do some tests and, of course, it was just my luck: I had to do blood work. WTF??? Ugh, I didn’t know why I would have to do blood work and asked her why I should do this. She told me that because I have had the symptoms for over a week the severity of my problem could be quite high. Uh, what? I’ve had the same problem in Canada and NEVER heard this before…There wasn’t another doctor around to give a second opinion, so I dragged myself to the lab and did some tests. Thank GOD the needle for extracting blood was thin! The poor lab technician! She kept reminding me to breathe. WHO needs to be reminded to breathe?!? The test results will be back soon. In the meantime, I’m already taking meds…This is sooo NOT the way things would be done in Canada. Anyhow, I feel a bit better (I mean I’m blogging, aren’t I?), but my tummy is NOT a happy camper. So much for an awesome long weekend L  I guess for now I’ll keep reading (I finished all of my work on Wednesday after work). I may go next door to Toot&Mish (what kind of name is that????) for some juice. People love their juice here!


I apologize for not blogging much lately, but I really haven’t been feeling well and so I haven’t even been on my laptop much at all. Hopefully this health issue will all be sorted out soon!

"I Read For Pleasure And That Is The Moment I Learn The Most" -Margaret Atwood, Canadian author.

This week I’m sending off my roomie…Again. The Lebanese lady has been attending an abundance of “good-bye” parties and bringing home waaaaaaay too many leftover sweets (I’ve been declining to attend most festivities because I've been exhausted and feeling under the weather). Yes, the cupcakes were tasty, and apparently so is the huge chunk of leftover cheesecake, but I’m sick of sweets, hahaha! I’m very aware that this is my second send-off in six months, but in all fairness, the Lebanese lady sent me off first, so it’s only fair that I do the same for her. I’m not looking forward to it. I know that it will be tough and I’m trying not to think about what she’s going home to: an ever-growing hostile situation in Lebanon and, in spite of her extensive experience and brilliance, no solid job prospect. No, I’m not happy about it and yes, I’m definitely worried. The only thing that makes me breathe easier is that her sisters live in Dubai and Qatar and so if she needed to get out of Lebanon fast, she could. Another chapter is closing for us both.

I’m thankful that the Irish chef will be around still. Man, that guy is travelling to Serbia and Vietnam this summer! YES, I’m VERY jealous! He and I have been hunting for the ultimate bookstore in Kuwait-not an easy feat. We have read blogs, asked locals (our students, hahaha!) and googled a ton of words and phrases to try and find a decent bookstore. Here’s what we’ve discovered thus far:

#1-The best used bookstore is Better Books and CafĂ© in Salmiya (ph:66637351, betterbookskuwait@hotmail.com, open from 10am-8pm 7 days a week,  http://betterbookskuwait.blogspot.com/) Directions available at blog website.
Now the Irish chef had heard about this place from a colleague at AUM and told me all about it last fall. He visited it on his own once before and loved it. I really like the owner and the fact that they have a buy back policy. Alright, why be modest? I LOVE that they have a buy back policy! I’m all for recycling and sharing with the book-loving community in Kuwait! The owner, Maxine, remembered the Irish chef and quickly made me feel at home. Although she was playing some sappy, romantic music, I just felt like my mom was in the room with me, so it gave the whole place warmth that I didn’t expect, or think I’d enjoy. We didn’t take up her offer for complimentary tea or coffee, but that’s okay because The Coffee Bean was close by and while we waited for our driver, we sipped on ice coffee-mmmmm!

*NOTE that I heard from someone that the police closed this place down, but that the owner, Maxine, is used to this and will re-open soon. Apparently the police closed her store down because it was selling inappropriate reading material (believe me, no worse than Jarir and the Kuwait Bookstore), and because her shop houses yoga and salsa classes where “women leave scantily clad and with men late at night.” Another little bird told me that this is a regular occurrence and that re-opening depends on financial bribery. Lovely. Maxine has been in Kuwait a loooong time. A New Yorker, she has definitely done some amazing things for the expat community here! A big thank you for the hospitality and huge selection of Canadian authors!*
While the Irish chef opted for travel books (not travel books for specific countries or regions, but travel narratives/stories), I chose a Margaret Atwood novel (The Blind Assassin). Say what? Yeah! Seriously, there was an alarmingly high volume of Can lit. there! Woooohoooooo! I saw Margaret Atwood, Carol Shields, Guy Vanderhaeghe, and even Eden Robinson?!? I LOVE IT! I am DEFINITELY going back to trade any unloved books in!

#2-The best multi-purpose bookstore is Jarir Bookstore in Hawally which is literally INSIDE an amusement park. Located within the confines of Hawalli Park, Jarir was a recommendation from a student of mine. Info: http://www.jarirbookstore.com/html/showrooms-kuwait.asp. The Irish chef and I thought going on a Friday morning would be a good idea. However, it wasn’t. The shop didn’t open until 4pm. Durrr! We thought we’d simply grab a coffee at Al Muhallab Mall (mall info here: http://kuwait.nmapworld.com/shopping-malls/al-muhallab-mall). It wasn’t as simple as we’d hoped and not only did we leave Hawalli bookless, but I was irritable because I didn’t get a decent cup of coffee (my first of the day is the most important). We ventured back that evening after 4pm when it WAS open and I was pleasantly surprised. Although this place is mostly books, only about half of the books are in English (the other half are in Arabic). Although books are a clear feature of this place, so are cell/mobile phones, electronics, stationary and gift wrap/cards. We didn’t spend too much time there (just over an hour). The Irish chef and I were debating whether to purchase travel books (about Vietnam and Turkey. Turkey is a potential holiday spot I’ve been thinking about for the Eid holiday in October), and I was also looking at ESL books. We ended up with a tiny English map of Kuwait, a book by Julian Barnes titled, The Sense of an Ending and the Irish chef picked up a Paul Auster novel which was a recommendation that he got from a Kuwaiti girl who saw him looking at it. This was a pleasant surprise for both of us since Kuwaitis are not known as being avid readers. The girl saw the Irish chef looking the book over and told him she’d read Paul Auster and that he was a great writer. He returned the favour by recommending a Jonathan Franzen novel (what? Jarir had a Franzen novel???). I saw her take the Franzen novel J

#3-The largest bookstore we checked out was the Kuwait Bookstore. Seriously, check out the “Expat and the City’s post about this place: http://expatandthecity.blogspot.com/2011/11/book-candy-largest-book-store-in-kuwait.html. The Kuwait Bookstore is located in the basement of Muthanna Complex across from the Marriott Hotel in Kuwait City (another blogger’s opinion: http://248am.com/mark/kuwait/the-kuwait-bookshop/). You’d think we’d learn from our first trip to Jarir (which is not open on Fridays because of Friday prayer), but nope, we went on a Friday morning only to be extremely disappointed. I had a gut feeling it’d be closed. Anyhooo, we DID find coffee this time at the Swiss Bel Hotel. We also discovered a Korean restaurant there: Arirang. http://www.bananaq8.com/food/arirang-the-first-korean-restaurant-in-kuwait/. OKAY, so the trip hadn’t been a complete waste! We returned the next day for books and food and did we ever get books and food! I picked up a book called This is not the end of the book and I LOVE how it’s arranged. Written by Umberto Eco and Jean-Claude Carriere, I started to read excerpts in the bookstore and began laughing out loud. I’m very excited to read it! The Irish chef picked up cookbooks and an academic text centralized on how to write fiction. We were super happy and then after lunch we were stuffed and happy!

I have finished the Japanese crime/thriller Out by Natsuo Kirino (it was INCREDIBLE! Disturbing, but incredible!), Julian Barnes’ novel was also good, but couldn’t compete with Out. Now I’m reading a YA novel on my e-reader and next I’m either going to steal the Irish chef’s Paul Auster novel, or read the Eco novel and the Atwood simultaneously. I’m obsessed with reading. The Irish chef was immersed in Battle Royal all weekend last weekend (been there done that!).

My new books!!!
COFFEE!!! It was VERY good coffee, too!
Although this place was empty (probably because it was "too early" in the morning), it didn't fail to impress!
 The Korean restaurant across from the cafe was delicious!!!
 A mix of Korean, Chinese and even Japanese appetizers. LOOK! KIMCHI!!!
Dolsot bibimbap (rice, meat and veggies in a HOT stone pot): The before picture.
 Dolsot bibimbap: The after picture.
The Irish chef's spicy kimchi and tofu soup with sticky rice!


It hasn’t ALL been about bookstores. Last weekend I went out with former colleagues from the university, the Lebanese free spirit and my Lebanese friend who’s married to a man from my hometown in Canada. We went to P.F. Chang’s (not my choice), and it serves good ol’ fashioned, greasy, junky, unauthentic Chinese food. Our service was quite poor and we spent waaaaaay too long at the place. It was packed (it was a Saturday afternoon) and too noisy. I’m not a fan of the Avenues as it is, but I was excited to see my friends and we had a blast! I really enjoyed meeting my colleague’s husband-he’s a Canuck (slang for “Canadian”), and said “eh” like it was a normal thing for him! I was shocked when he gave me a hug and kiss on the cheek in the open mall area. I thought I’d be arrested on the spot, but nothing of the sort happened, and I was once again reminded that the enforcement of such “delinquencies” can be superficial and represent a means of showing power/enforcement instead of actually believing that a crime has been committed. Incredible, isn’t it?