Friday, January 30, 2009

Maryland Institute College of Art Halls

If my dorm looked like this, I think I would never want to leave my room. This is a 99000 sq-ft student residence hall designed by young architects from London for the young residences. I love the idea of having a courtyard in this circular structure. Not only does it provide more sunlight into the rooms, it provides an area where students can idle around, sipping lattes in cafes.  The courtyard also encourages the use of green space. I personally love big windows. I love glass. I love how the reflections of images and colours on the glass can mix to create a beautiful allusion. 

The design is very modern. Like most efficient buildings, and as I believe how condos and apartments should be, this structure has integrated commercial space with housing. Some people believe that these two should be separated. I live where I live. I work where I work. I shop where I shop. With climate change being such a heated issue in our world today, it is important to encourage the goal of working close to home or, living in the city. 

I used to want to live in the rural area because I loved the nature, the serenity of the breeze and sunlight and the absence of noise. However, the fast-paced part of me hoped to live in the city, to feel integrated with the community. It is important to be part of something because you develop more knowledge and it is just more convenient. There is no reason why you cannot have both. Our society is so fast-paced that we need to make wise use of our time and live as efficiently and as comfortably at the same time. 

I digress. 

My point is, my parents have conservative minds. They seem to think that you cannot integrate your home, your study area and recreational area. I realize that this isn't the first project ever built that integrated commercial space and housing, but I am using this project to emphasize my point. I believe our world is progressing faster than ever before and I believe that we will only design more sustainable, more beautiful and intelligent buildings in the future. 

Carmen at Queen Elizabeth Theatre

On the 27th, Mother and I went to an opera show at Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Georges Bizet's Carmen is the most performed opera in the world. It is widely loved and I guess because it is so well known, people expect a lot out of it. 

Carmen is Bizet's last work and it is based on a novel by Prosper Merimee. It premiered at the Opera Comique in Paris in 1875 and did not receive the popularity it does today. 

This is my first time going to Queen Elizabeth Theatre. We didn't have great seats so I feel like both the vocal and the orchestra weren't projected out to where we were sitting. 

Carmen's voice didn't strike me as much as Don Jose's, who was played by David Pomeroy. His voice was full,  warm and rich. I was very impressed with his performance. During the intermission, I overhead people commenting on how they had liked Pomeroy better in a previous opera performance. I would love to see him in other operas. 

Micaela was played by Mariateresa Magisano. In the first number, I didn't think her voice was very engaging. The main reason was that I couldn't really hear her in the first song. As the show went on, I was more and more impressed. Her voice was so pure and so heavenly. There were moments during the performance that I felt teardrops appear by my eye ducts. Her voice made me sit up in my chair and lean forward with my eyes wide open, asking myself how this is humanly possible. 

But each to their own. I really enjoyed Pomeroy and Magiasano's performance in Carmen. I wish to see more performances.

Images via Vancouver Opera

Ottavio Cafe in Oak Bay

Last weekend when I was back in Victoria, mother and I decided to visit this cafe in Oak Bay that we've heard so much about. Ottavio is an Italian Bakery and Delicatessen located in the Oak Bay village. I must admit, I never go to the Oak Bay village. It's quite a ways away from where I live and it would require many transfers to get there by public transportation. 

We had grilled panini that were very delectable. I love the atmosphere and the things they sell there. There's bread, cookies, baked goods, salamis, cheeses, imported crackers and sauces, freshly made dips and spreads. I love everything about it. I like it almost as much as pure vanilla. Pure vanilla is a little smaller and doesn't sell as much stuff, but it is cozy. The food there is delicious, especially there panini, soup and salad. The selection for baked goods is smaller but all the baked goods are absolutely beautiful. The patio at the back and the interior both look very inviting. I haven't been for awhile, but I'll make sure to take some photos next time I go. 

 I should try some sometime

they look absolutely delicious

The brioches they sell looked absolutely yummy but I was way too full to eat another one. And when I've decided that I'm going to buy one to bring home, they were all gone...

Families bring their children to the cafe, each with their own toques and scarves. They were adorable. It was these little angels who were munching on the brioches that I wanted!

I liked the crow

This little store besides the cafe looks equally inviting

There is another cafe that I want to try in Victoria called Cascadia Bakery, which I heard it one of the best! I don't know when I'll go back to Victoria again, but I intend to discover more delicious places in Vancouver, which I am sure there are many. 

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Addicting Roasted Pecans!

Roasted Pecan!, originally uploaded by broiche.

I came home to Victoria for Chinese New Year and mama made Roasted Pecans!! They are absolutely delicious and addictive. You cannot help eating a second one after you've eaten the first; and so forth. Basically, you cannot stop eating.

When you buy pecans in a pack from the grocery store, they feel hard but they aren't crisp. People often use them in baked goods, which is fine. When you are eating them by themselves, this is definitely the way to go.


Preheat oven to 200F
Wash a pack of pecans with cold water and drain
Bring 1/2 cup water and 1 tsp salt to boil. Pecans should be placed in some sort of strainer. Pour salty water over it. Swish it around and drain them really good
Bring 1/2 cup water and 2 tsp sugar to boil. Pour over pecans and drain.
On a large flat pan/cookie sheet, put a piece of parchment paper. Spread the pecans on the parchment paper. Let them roast for 20 hours. Yes, 20 hours. Stir a couple of times during these hours.

and yes you can leave your oven on over night when it is at 200F!

The reason for roasting them this long is to make them flavorful and crisp all around. If the heat is too high, they will get crisp unevenly and may even burn.

My mama is a huge fan of nuts with the exception for peanuts. When she goes out, she often gets mixed nuts from Purdy's for snacks! This is such an easy, though time consuming, way to roast pecans. It's unbelievably wonderful.

Sunset from the strait

Sunset from the strait, originally uploaded by broiche.

This is the first time that I've been on the Coastal Celebration since its first sail sometime in late October or mid November. It's a very nicely designed ferry. There is a lot more seating spaces and the seats are more comfortable too! The cafeteria and the buffet are located at each end of the ferry to avoid chaotic lineups that form in the old ferries that block other passengers walking by. The outer deck is located on the highest deck and there is a huge open space to walk around, as well as seating areas with patio furniture at each end of the ferry.

I took the 5pm ferry and was lucky enough to see a serene sunset. Because it was extremely windy and cold, I got a lot of blurry photographs.

I like this photo because the ocean looks so surreal and the colours are very soft. You can even see a bright star, perhaps Venus, at the top.

It is kind of nice to observe all these things by yourself. You reconnect with yourself in a bizarre kind of way.

The sign of spring?

I was sitting in my room yesterday and felt a gentle warmth on my face. I looked out my window and couldn't believe how beautiful the day was. The sunshine was hinting that the warm seasons were about to commence. This is better than good news. I have had enough of the cold, bitter winter Vancouver has been getting. 

I made this bookmark couple of days ago at the SUB during a session of UBC Beads and Crafts Event. I like the colours, but the silver wire wasn't my original choice. One of my clovers looks funny because near the end of my project, one piece broke off. Since I didn't have enough wire to make it all pretty again, my clover leaves aren't all the same sizes. 

I am finding time out of my busy engineering school work to do a lot of arts stuff, such as photography, sketching, fashion drawing, crafts etc etc...

I like the colours of this picture. The blue is so mesmerizing. 

Friday, January 23, 2009

New Year Resolution

Curiosity, originally uploaded by broiche.

2009 is the year for change. On January 20th, Barack Obama not only made the american citizens proud, but he also brought confidence and hope to people all over the world.

Optimism spreads from word to word, mind to mind, and from will to will. This is the year to reinvent and redefine ourselves. With all the possibilities of opportunities and challenges ahead, we must remember to keep our backs straight, our heads high and march forward with a determination for victory.

Reality can sometimes be cold and harsh, and we are forced to stand in the same spot. We must remember how we were as children, who seek possibilities with imagination. We look. We explore. We discover. And that, is my new year resolution.