Book Blogger Hop #16

Book Blogger Hop is a weekly meme run by Coffee Addicted Writer. Every Friday, a question is posted for the book blog community to discuss. This week’s question is…

Would you stop reading a book if an element of the plot strongly clashed with your personal beliefs, or would you continue reading until you finished the book?

I would definitely finish the book. At least, that’s what I think and hope I would do. As long as the book is good, I will keep on reading it. For example, I finished Jodi Picoult’s Songs of the Humpback Whale although the personal choices of the characters did not fit in at all with my moral values. It definitely made me like the book and characters a lot less, unfortunately, but I did plow through to the end because the book was still good enough for me to want to know the rest of it.

Most books I read nowadays are either very recent or classics. It’s easier for me to brush off elements that clash with my personal beliefs in classics because “that’s just how it was back then.” I still feel a slight offense but nine out of ten times, things are better now so there’s also a feeling of relief.

In terms of modern stories, I think most instances where this happens, it’s to demonstrate a positive message or to spread awareness.

So no, something must be very bad in order for me to drop the book.


An Hour at Cafe Blanca

There’s a cool hip place at the edge of Calgary’s Chinatown and across Eau Claire Market called Cafe Blanca. They’re most known for their Siphon coffee which I unfortunately did not remember to try. Instead, I ordered a plain normal latte and a cheesecake.

Now, I’m not cheesecake expert but I’m definitely a cheesecake lover. I got myself a mint chocolate cheesecake. It was extremely delicious. It was a little more cake than I prefer (the base was an actual chocolate cake and yes, cake, not brownie) and not as much cheese as I’d like. Still, very good.

I have a very love-hate relationship with lattes. Some lattes are great. All lattes will leave me with an upset stomach, which I somehow manage to forget every time I order one. This latte was simply okay. I don’t really know what I would expect otherwise. But it was pretty good.

The actual space is great. The atmosphere is pretty chill. The tables are long and huge which is great for big groups or activities like paint night or Meetups. There’s also spaces for individuals as well which are nice and isolated. I gotta give props for the music selection, I distinctly heard Joanna Wang playing at one point, Wild World is my guess.

My only hitch was I had no idea where to put my dirty dishes. I ended up putting it in a tub neear their counter. I hope that’s the right place to put them. I even turned to Google Images for assistance on the layout of the place. But that part of my visit is just the social anxiety talking.


Paint Nite Calgary at Yuk Yuk’s Comedy Club

One of the interns at my workplace suggested going painting as an activity that we could all do together. It seemed fun so we decided to give it a try! Paint Nite is a series of painting events held at bars, each session hosted by different people.

That day we went to Yuk Yuk’s Comedy Club which is a few minutes walk from Victoria Park Stampede. We were really confused about the food since there was no (or incorrect) information on the website. The food there is actually pretty good but definitely not enough to fill you up. Take “appetizers” literally. We ordered chicken wings, potato skins,and nachos. The potato skins were absolutely delicious but only around 6 slices were made.

The painting itself was a lot of fun! Our instructor that we had, Kim, was really patient, upbeat, and personable. She was certainly very energetic which I appreciated. Her instructions were extremely clear and I liked how she put a positive spin on everything.

What we were paitning was a moon looking over the ocean. It was fairly simple but we got the job done. This is was my painting ended up looking like at the end of it.

All in all, it was a lot of fun! I would definitely go for another day. It is a little bit pricy, $45CAD before tax not including the food and drinks. Coupons are readily available however but do save this for a special ocassion!


Art, Food, and Good Old Bowling

At the company where I’m doing an internship right now offered all the interns the opportunity to go to their downtown location and give us a tour of all the art. It seems a little weird to give art tours in an office environment but once we stepped into the building, it made sense. There was art on every single floor of the building (of which there are over ten floors) and almost every single wall has a piece of art hanging on it.

The art collection is unique in that all the artists are Canadian or, at least, immigrants who have spent most of their lives in Canada (almost all of Canada is made up of immigrants anyway).

When I think of Canadian art, the first thing that comes to mind are landscapes. I honestly find that to be a little bit boring and winter scenes get a little tiresome after a while. There was definitely no lack of landscapes in this art collection but a lot of them resonated with me in a way that I didn’t think they would.

Some of the paintings that I remember seeing off the top of my head are Christopher Pratt’s Driving to Venus from Eddie’s Cove East, a couple of paintings from Jack Bush, a painting from Marion Nicoll, a lot of William Kurelek paintings, a fascinating Jean-Paul Riopelle painting, and much more.

The art curator definitely enhanced the experience. She was filled to the brim with knowledge and had something to say about each and every painting. I was honestly so entranced by her. Although she was an older woman, she seemed to be very youthful while remaining very serious. I think I fell in love for a little bit. She had a sort of energy that I appreciate.

After the art tour, us interns made our way to a drink and bowl bar. There wasn’t another lane until 9pm so we opted to eat a little before heading downstairs to the bowling lane. And by “a little” I really mean a lot. I ordered fried chicken and biscuits because I was totally craving biscuits. The chicken were huge and I got three pieces of them. It was honestly delicious. I also bought mozza sticks which were amazing. Of course, drunk bowling isn’t real drunk bowling without a couple of drinks. I got a orange ginger beer and an alcoholic strawberry lemonade drink. All very yummy.

Once we went downstairs, the bowling ensued. I haven’t bowled in years. It was the first time I used the bigger bowling balls. They were so heavy that when I threw them, they slowly rolled down the lane.

Overall, it was a good and fun night. Honestly, the highlight was the art tour. It’s nice to stop and appreciate creative works once in a while. I hope that I can put as much passion into my own career as these artists do.


Where Can I Get Coffee After Five in this City?

I found myself in downtown with cancelled plans the other day. I didn’t have to be home for another two hours so I decided to try a new coffee place. It was around five in the evening. I pulled up Google Maps and searched for coffee.

Scrolling through the list, I found that most of the coffee places closed at 5:00PM or 6:00PM. I needed a place to sit and blog hop for a little bit so that was no good. Even Starbucks closed pretty early!

From the list, I picked a couple of the coffee shops that were still open and just a 15 minute walk away from my current spot. When I went up to them, I discovered that they were actually closed for the day or closed for forever. Great.

In the end, I just went to the mall that had a Tim Hortons that was guaranteed to be open past 7pm. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the vibe I wanted as it was crowded with strangely energetic construction workers who just ended the day but it did the job. I could sit down, drink some coffee, nibble on a donut, and comment on some blogs.

I wonder why some places close so early? I read somewhere that Calgary has a horrible night life and I just might have to agree. Downtown is honestly the last place I imagined to have places closing up early. In fact, I would have assumed the opposite!

My SO and I actually ran into similar problems during Valentine’s Day. We didn’t want to go to a restaurant but instead wanted to go do something. There were a couple of galleries we wanted to go to but they all close at 5:30pm. We would never make it there on time.

I know people want to go home to their loved ones at night but what about night owls like myself who want to put off going home but still enjoy a nice and quiet atmosphere? Okay, maybe I’m asking for too much.


I Joined a Gym

In an attempt to do more things in my free time, I decided to join a gym. My original plan was to go to my university gym however since I am on co-op, I no longer have the discounted membership included in my tuition. Instead, I opted for my local Fit4Less. It is an extremely more convenient location, significantly cheaper, and a good “introductory” gym for those who are just starting out. An added bonus was having a friend who had a membership at the same gym so I had a gym buddy!

Today was my first day working out with him. He was a little late so I walked on a treadmill for around fifteen minutes. Once he arrived, we got on another cardio machine. I don’t really know the name but we spent a good 30 minutes there talking about how life was going. I got a little out of breath but not really so maybe we weren’t doing it right.

Afterwards we went on the lateral row machine. I could only do three sets of ten with 50lbs. A little concerning but I’m really weak and I guess you gotta start somewhere!

It was just a quick session because it was getting late and the roads were pretty bad (half the office was working from home today). My mom was worried so we went home. It was a good solid hour spent there and we got to use the massage chairs at the end.

Hopefully we continue going!


Cookie Icing Charades

The Game

Take turns to ice an object or living being onto a cookie. Everyone guesses what that person iced onto the cookie. There are no winners, just a bunch of people having fun and joking around about their lack of (or possession of) artistic ability.

The Background

Over the holidays I was baking brownies and cookies with my cousins. The brownies had left over frosting so we decided to ice the cookies with cool designs. I attempted to ice a snowflake onto my cookie and my cousin asked me incredulously what the heck was I doing. When I told him that I was frosting a snowflake, he laughed and wanted to try to ice something as well. It quickly turned into a game where we tried to guess what each other made.

The challenge was the fact that the cookies melted the frosting, the frosting was runny, and we weren’t professional cookie decorators. Nevertheless, it was a fun little baking session and there was a lot of laughs!

Our Cookies

Here’s what we came up with. In case you can’t figure it out, here’s a legend (left to right, top to bottom): test (AKA nothing), test, snowflake, wreath, baby Jesus, present, candles, Santa hat, manger, sleigh, Christmas tree, bell, glass of milk, candy cane, holly, Santa, snowman, star, angel, elf, stocking, poinsettia, fireplace, cookies.

Yes, those are pre-cut cookies

25 Before 25

New Years Resolutions are no longer the in thing. I recently turned 22 and it feels like my life is whizzing by now. I’ve been thinking about my goals but there are just too many that I have for one year and a couple that will go beyond 2017. So I figured a 25 before 25 would be appropriate.

1. Graduate from university
I’ve been in university since I was 17. Five years later and I’m still here. While I do love the academic environment, I seriously can’t wait to graduate. It’s about time that I move on from school, even if it’s a little scary.

2. Move out of my parents’ house
It was only until recently that I resolved to move out and move out for good. When I was young, I happily accepted the fact that my parents would like to live with me in their retirement. Not anymore. I’ve learned a lot about myself and my boundaries towards my parents. I think it would be best for all of us for me to move out.

3. Max out my TFSA
One of the biggest steps towards responsible personal finance is maxing out my tax free savings account. As of 2016, my total contribution limit is around 30k. As the years go by, that will only increase. Hopefully I can do it.

4. Open a RRSP account
The only reason why I don’t have one yet is because I don’t have a permanent job yet. I simply don’t make enough to warrant an RRSP. However, if I want to retire gracefully, an RRSP is essential.

5. Get a full time job in my field
Every graduates worst nightmare is to leave university only to land a part time job at the grocery store. I’m hoping to land a job in networking or program development. It doesn’t have to be right away, I can stand working retail for a couple of months.

6. Read 150 books/50 books per year
Every year I want to read at least 50 books. I’m an avid reader. This year I managed to make it work so I’m hoping I can continue to make it work for the next couple of years.

7. Finish the Dragon Age series
One of my friends joke that I’ve been playing the first installation of Dragon Age for years. So far I’ve clocked around 100 hours and I’m definitely nowhere near done it yet. It’s those side quests that sidetrack me, I swear.

8. Make my own TCG
A couple of years ago I started working on a TCG but it fell through the cracks. I’d love to take up that project again and finish it. I love TCGs so it would be a fun endeavor.

9. Finish my Pomodoro app project
Yesterday I started making a small Pomodoro app. I’m making decent progress but it’s nowhere near polished. It would be great to finish it.

10. Make a book review website
Another project that I’ve been working on for a while. I keep starting and restarting it. I don’t want to rely on GoodReads and I fancy the idea of having a local copy of the books I’ve read.

11. Get my driver’s license
22 and without a license. I feel like a burden asking my friends for rides everywhere. I do like walking around everywhere because I desperately need the exercise. However, the city I live in is not really commuter friendly so a car would make things extremely easier.

12. Make friends outside of the tech bubble
Many of my friends are alike in that we are all tech geeks. From gaming to building PCs to programming, you name it. I think it would be nice to make friends who aren’t necessarily into the whole tech thing. Different perspectives is essential for a well-rounded world view. Plus, I’d like to be introduced into something that isn’t, well, tech.

13. Get fit
I envy those who can lift and run and be athletic. I’d really love to lose some weight, cut down on the body fat, and not be struggling for air after walking three flights of stairs.

14. Floss more regularly
My dentist always begs me to floss but no matter how many horror stories she gives me, I just don’t do it. I know I should. I really have to.

15. Drink. More. Water.
I’m dehydrated 24/7. I’m convinced that I have years shaved off my life purely due to the fact that I do not drink enough water. I don’t notice my thirst cues very well until my head is throbbing, my lips a cracked, and my throat is parched. Dangerous.

16. Learn how to actually cook
If I want to move out, I should probably learn how to cook. And not just making sandwiches. I’d love to be able to make pasta.

17. Travel internationally without family
I’ve traveled to another country without family once but it was a school field trip. I would love to go to Japan but that’s expensive. Maybe I’ll just cross the border down south again?

18. Konmari ALL of my things
I started the Konmari process but have yet to progress past my books. It would be beneficial to accomplish this before I move out. Less stuff to pack!

19. Get drunk for the first time
I had my first alcoholic beverage this year. I’ve never been black out drunk before and I think there should be a first time for everything. Hopefully I don’t spiral from there.

20. Get my CCNA certification
I’m about halfway through my CCNA course so getting my CCNA is totally on the horizon.

21. Attend Zoo Lights
Zoo Lights is a local festival that happens every winter. I’ve never gone before because my parents have been paranoid about my being out in the cold at night. I think it would make for a good future date.

22. Get a grasp on my depression
Oof, it got heavy suddenly. I’ve been struggling with depression for a couple of years now. I think I’ve identified some sources and I’d like to come up with a plan to combat it.

23. Continue my pen pal relationships
I have a pen pal whom I haven’t written to in months. Well, I sent him a quick Christmas card but that doesn’t count in my opinion. I’d love to pick up the pen again as I do miss his correspondences!

24. Go to a concert
I haven’t been to a concert since my very first concert (My Chemical Romance, RIP). I have a couple of bands and artists that I’d love to see live but it’s just a matter of if they come to Calgary! But it would totally be cool to take a road trip outside of the city to watch some live music.

25. Make a dent in my to-watch movie list
There are too many movies that I have not seen before. Just to name a few: V for Vendetta, Clueless, Pulp Fiction, Schindler’s List, Singing in the Rain, Princess Mononoke, Gone Girl, Akira, The Princess Bride…