Photolog 2019: Day 316 of 365

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

My Sephora package arrived just in time to cheer me up on this miserably frigid day. (Actually, it was pretty sunny out, but it was also -7°C and I only had 30 minutes of sleep before going to work for nine hours. And I had to drive through two rush hours. So yeah, miserable.) As with every November, the Sephora VIB Rouge sale started last week, so I took the opportunity to stock up on some staples: my beloved Kiehl's Ultimate Strength Hand Salve (really the only thing from keeping my hands being totally wrecked from so much hand washing and sanitizing), my new ride-or-die Shiseido Urban Environment Oil-Free UV Protector Broad Spectrum Face Sunscreen SPF 42 (this has officially replaced my face primer; it's ultra-lightweight, gives me a good amount of sun protection, and is literally the only thing I wear under makeup that can keep my face matte almost all day — seriously, I don't even blot anymore — and keep my foundation from oxidizing), Fresh's Lotus Youth Preserve Dream Face Cream (my favourite night-time moisturizer for winter because it's rich enough to keep my skin super-hydrated and soft in harsh subzero temperatures but doesn't feel greasy), the new Laneige Water Bank Hydro Gel (gonna try this out as my new day cream for winter 'cause I've always had good results with Laneige), and of course, my all-time MVP, Philosophy Purity Made Simple Foaming Cleansing Gel (which is been my go-to makeup removing cleanser for years). Along with last month's Sephora haul, I'm all set for skincare this winter. (Which is great, because there is a lot of BTS merch coming out over the next few weeks and I need to give them more of my money.)

Photolog 2019: Day 315 of 365

Monday, November 11, 2019

Good thing I gave myself a long weekend so I could hibernate today. 10 cm of snow over the course of the afternoon and early evening, which actually isn't a lot in the grand scheme of things, but many people haven't prepared themselves or their cars for snow yet, so there were probably quite a lot of accidents today. Still, I feel like it's quite odd for this time of year. I can't remember the last time we had a significant amount of snowfall this early in November.

Photolog 2019: Day 314 of 365

Sunday, November 10, 2019
My friends Chelsea and Ying took me out for a most glorious early birthday dinner tonight at Inspire. I hadn't been to Inspire in nearly three years, mostly because we had gone there so often before that we started to get sick of the menu, and partially because the majority of their original kitchen staff had left and the quality and creativity of the dishes didn't seem as good as it used to be. But they've revamped the menu and the space itself so we decided to return tonight... and wow, I forgot just how good Inspire can be. 

"Lettuce Pray" fried chicken lettuce wraps

Chicken & Waffles with ginger maple butter and berry compote

Dare I say that they have the best chicken and waffles in the Greater Toronto Area, with gorgeous golden crispy skin encasing the most impossibly moist chicken I've ever eaten (and yes, I'm talking about white meat!), paired with the most incredible berry compote that has just the right amount of tartness and sweetness, all sitting prettily atop perfectly fluffy-meets-crispy waffles. It's CHICKEN AND WAFFLES HEAVEN. If you've never been to Inspire before, the chicken and waffles is what you need to try first. It's been a mainstay since the restaurant opened, and for good reason. It has never disappointed. The same fried chicken is also used in their "Lettuce Pray" lettuce wraps, which were the perfect opener to our meal, one wrap per person. The (best ever) chicken is topped with Viet-style carrot and cucumber salad, and wedged between bacon and cheese, so if you think this is a healthy lettuce wrap, think again. But let me tell you, it is worth every fat gram and calorie. 

Seafood Udon with rare torched soy salmon

Likewise with the new seafood udon! They still have the old udon carbonara on the menu, but trust me when I say that the seafood variation is better. It's still rich in flavour and creamy in texture, and of course, the udon is still reliably the best noodle as it has the perfect width and excellent chew, but this has way more interest than the udon carbonara. It comes with two pieces of the most gorgeous torched soy salmon, and it is extra luscious if you get it cooked rare. Add to that the seafood, the sausage, and the massive plush mushrooms... It's beautiful

Hanoi Greens with medium-rare steak

We decided to balance out all the richness with a salad, so we chose the Hanoi salad with medium-rare steak as per Chelsea's recommendation, and it really is a gorgeous, complex salad with pomegranate seeds, beets, papaya, mango, greens, Thai chilis, toasted peanuts, potato strings, spinach, lychee, and mint all tossed in Nam Jim dressing. It's like a much more varied, flavourful version of Thai mango salad. It's sweet but tart but also spicy with a hint of nuttiness. And the steak adds a really nice savoury element to the fruits and greens. It's still hearty and satisfying without feeling heavy or greasy, which is a nice choice for those who might not want something so rich at Inspire.

Old-Fashioned Banana Coconut Cream Pie

Finally, dessert! We used to go to Inspire just for the dessert. Even if we had dinner at another restaurant, we'd forgo the dessert at that restaurant and head over to Inspire instead to end our meal. They've revamped the dessert menu since then, but man, it is just as good as I remember it. There are three desserts to choose from, but since we aren't as ambitious as we used to be, we decided to share two of them. But the owner, Vanessa, who has known us for years now, ended up giving us all three desserts (two of which were on the house because SHE IS AN ANGEL). First up was the old-fashioned banana coconut cream pie, with homemade banana coconut creme in a beautiful graham crust and topped with toasted coconut topping. This is probably my new favourite at Inspire. I didn't even know I liked coconut cream pie, but it somehow married banana and coconut together without being overly sweet or artificial-tasting, and had just the perfect creamy texture that wasn't too thick or too runny. The crust is what won me over, though. Thick enough to hold all the glorious creme but not so thick that it's hard to cut through, and actually tasted with graham crackers, cinnamon-y but not too sweet. Even Ying, who doesn't like coconut-flavoured desserts, ended up loving it.

"Mystery Cone" Cookie Dough Ice Cream Sandwich

The "Mystery Cone" cookie dough ice cream sandwich is their revamped version of the old Banana Bread Ice Cream Sandwich (which was my go-to at Inspire). The new version is presented in a chocolate-coated waffle cone with cookie dough waffles, ice cream, peanut cereal crunch, and Nutella banana creme. You can't really go wrong with this one, though I do prefer the old version more. Not only in presentation, but I also preferred the banana bread waffles as well as the ice cream they used to use (peanut butter fudge). My personal tastebuds just prefer the peanut-butter-and-banana combo more, whereas this version has peanut and banana flavours as an afterthought, so it's much more subtle. Still, this is the crowd-pleaser of the three desserts. Almost every table we saw ordered this one, and you really can't go wrong with it.

Cardamom Pistachio Panna Cotta

Finally, the cardamom pistachio panna cotta. A cardamom-infused whipped panna cotta, soft and velvety smooth, reminiscent of chai. It's topped with a pistachio granola and homemade meringues to give it a crunchy texture contrast, but the pistachio flavour specifically pairs really well with cardamom. A very nice, light, not-too-sweet dessert option that's great for those who want to end on a sweet note but don't want something overly heavy, especially after a rich, fat-laden meal (which, let's be real, is kinda what Inspire is known for).

Honestly, I had such a great time at this dinner. Not only because the new menu is so good, but also because the service was impeccable. Even though we hadn't been back in years, they were as welcoming, accommodating, sincere, and kind as ever, greeting us like old friends. I will definitely be making return visits. I don't know how I went without them for so long.

Sunday Video Love: Make It Right (feat. Lauv) [Acoustic Remix]


The emo kid in me is fucking LIVING for this remix. I've literally been playing this on repeat for two days straight.

Photolog 2019: Day 313 of 365

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Hibernation day means sleeping in until 2:00PM and playing The Sims 4 for eight hours straight. I'm taking a 15-minute Shin Ramyun break (my first pack of instant noodles in eight months, are you impressed?), and then getting back into the game. Hope y'all are having a good Saturday!

Photolog 2019: Day 312 of 365

Friday, November 8, 2019

To celebrate the beginning of my long weekend, a late-night dinner with Maegan and Jason at Go For Tea: spicy sautéed lotus roots with garlic and popcorn chicken with rice. (And a lychee green tea, but with half-sugar and no tapioca. Despite being cheat day, I still have to be somewhat responsible with my sugar intake, you know...) And now I'm ready to go into hibernation mode for the next three days.

Friday Five: Bad Mood Food

This week's Friday Five:
  1. What are you most likely to reach for when you stress-eat? I actually don't stress-eat. When I'm stressed, I get a cup of coffee, go for a smoke, and watch BTS content.

  2. When were you last disappointed by a meal? I wasn't disappointed by the whole meal, but both the honey butter fried chicken and the kimchi bacon cheese fries I had at Mr. ChiMaek the other day was somewhat disappointing. The honey butter fried chicken was powder-coated instead of sauce, which I wasn't expecting. And the kimchi bacon cheese fries weren't hot enough so the cheese wasn't melted. And there also wasn't enough kimchi.

  3. What food are you sad you can't get anymore? Vanilla-chocolate twist soft serve at McDonald's.

  4. For what food will you make an exception to a personal rule? My personal rule is that if I can make it at home, I won't order it at a restaurant. An exception to this is the grilled cheese sandwiches from All-Star Wings. I literally go there specifically for grilled cheese even though it's a wings restaurant.

  5. What's something you really like but would never order while dining out because you have it at home all the time? Eggs and toast.

Photolog 2019: Day 311 of 365

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Well, good thing I got my snow tires yesterday.

Photolog 2019: Day 310 of 365

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Just got my new winter tires installed, so now I'm feeling really poor. Here's hoping I get some birthday money. I have BTS things to buy. 🤞🏼🤞🏼🤞🏼

Run BTS! 2019: Episode 89

Tuesday, November 5, 2019


Photolog 2019: Day 309 of 365

Rice Powder Korean Fried Chicken

Honey Butter Korean Fried Chicken

Kimchi Bacon Cheese Fries

Had a BTS day with my fellow ARMY friend, Ying! Basically, we hunkered down in my house to watch The Wings Tour: 2017 BTS Live Trilogy Episode III in Seoul on DVD, which is a three hour extravaganza in itself, plus the commentary, interviews, and special features, which is another two hours. So it pretty much takes up a whole (glorious) afternoon and evening. Of course, by the time it was over, we were starving. And a BTS day wouldn't be complete without having Korean fried chicken. So we went to Mr. ChiMaek and got an order of half and half chicken — rice powder fried chicken and honey butter fried chicken — plus the kimchi bacon cheese fries. The rice powder fried chicken is, as usual, a very reliably delicious choice, but the honey butter fried chicken was actually somewhat disappointing. I was expecting it to have sauce, for some reason. (I think the word "honey" tricked me into thinking it'd be more like honey garlic wings...) Instead, they use the same powder that you'd find on Honey Butter Chips, so it has that savoury sweetness to it that I love in chip form, but not so much on chicken. It was decent, but I probably wouldn't order it again. The kimchi fries also aren't my favourite here because the cheese isn't melted enough and there's not enough kimchi, but Ying wanted them so I agreed, 'cause in the end, they're still fries and I love fries. But I would get the tteokbokki next time as my choice of carb. (Also 'cause tteokbokki and fried chicken just go so well together.) Still, I'd say our BTS day was a success. We're thinking of having one every month now which, quite frankly, is a splendid idea.

Photolog 2019: Day 308 of 365

Monday, November 4, 2019

Went to the mechanic shop to get my tires changed today. After about ten minutes, one of the mechanics brought out one of my tires to show me a massive bump in it, telling me that it's dangerous to use because it could blow while I'm driving. They said they could still put it on for me, but that I'd need to get a new tire ASAP to replace it. So I asked them how much it was to replace it, and they said they'd see if they could get a new winter tire for me at a good price. But then they checked the tread on all of my tires and said there was barely any left and it would cause slip while driving in the snow or on ice, thereby rendering my winter tires useless. So basically, I had to replace all four of my winter tires. I have no choice to believe them because I know nothing about cars or tires, but my winter tires are about six-years-old now, so realistically, I know it's about time to change them. I had just hoped they'd last one more winter. Still, they looked in their database and found a set of four "excellent quality" tires to fit my rims that were decently priced. And that's how I found myself going into the mechanic looking to spend about $40 for a tire change, and coming out with a bill for $640 instead. To console myself, I went for brunch with my friend Ying at Elephant Grind, and got myself an Americano and the Char Siu Pulled Pork Eggs Benedict. I'm still annoyed about the unexpected expense of having to buy new tires, but the Eggs Benedict were excellent.

Photolog 2019: Day 307 of 365

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Monthly pizza night! 🍕🤘🏼🍕🤘🏼🍕

Sunday Video Love: Make It Right (Vertical ver.)


THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS TOO MANY VERSIONS OF A BTS SONG. (Also, this and the version with Lauv makes me tear up every time so I can't watch this in public. Or when I'm wearing makeup.)

Photolog 2019: Day 306 of 365

Saturday, November 2, 2019

My brother and sister-in-law went on a trip to Ireland recently and surprised me with a package from there. As it turns out, they sent me a bottle of perfume from The Burren Perfumery called Aran, which is described as, "A fragrance for men and women. A modern fresh sea cologne with a citrus top note and woody base notes of the mosses, lichens and barks of the Burren." It reminds me so much of Chanel's Allure Homme Sport Cologne (which I wore for a year straight) that this is basically my new favourite scent.