I get excited every month when my Loot Crate arrives. It will be the closest thing I’ll ever have to Christmas in July (or every month for that matter). This month’s theme was Varsity
Star Wars headphones from Jazwares came at random. I got Darth Maul but other characters included Darth Vader, Yoda, and C3PO. Let’s be thankful Jar Jar wasn’t an option.
This month’s crate was in partnership with Video Game Highschool. Therefore, it was quite appropriate to include the 2 disc DVD of Season 1 and a pencil for back to school sake.
There was also this VGHS button set.
The stickers this month included a storm trooper + VGHS mashup and the Rocket Jump logo.
I totally forgot PEZ existed. What a blast from the past! Loot Crate randomized the MARVEL edition of the PEZ dispensers. I got Thor. Anybody want to trade for Wolverine?
Lastly there was this Sonic air freshener with a smell appropriately labelled “Sonic Breeze”.
Loot Crate is like a nerdy box of stuff delivered to your mail box every month. I do buy all my crates and it’s a little bit pricier in Canada ($29.99) as opposed to the US price of $19 (shipping included). If you’d like to sign up for Loot Crate, please use the referrer link below: http://mbsy.co/lootcrate/176357
Last week before the El Catrin launch party (I didn’t think there would be so much food) I had dinner with my blogger friend, Melody at Rock Lobster on Queen West where Shanghai Cowgirl used to be. The Lobster Poutine ($13) had a lobster bisque gravy, fresh lobster and of course cheese curds and fries.
Melody had the Lobster Taco ($5). I assume it was delicious because she ordered a second serving.
We also shared these Bacon Wrapped Corn Dogs served with mustard and a sort of hot sauce. I can’t refuse bacon wrapped things. It wasn’t too heavy either.
By far my favourite thing was the Rock Lobster Ceasar ($12). I regularly hate ceasars but this one was perfectly seasoned and spiced. Oh and of course the fact there was a lobster tail in it, which I dipped in the drink for extra deliciousness.
I’m already thinking of going back just for the drink…
Me and Nash went back to Rock Lobster and had these delicious scallops on the house! We originally ordered Devilled Eggs and I guess they ran out and forgot to tell us. So we were rewarded with these divine scallops instead. We didn’t even complain or anything. This is customer service at its finest.
I first learned of the Konstruktor’s existence via Laughing Squid. The idea of a DIY camera was so cool so I ordered myself one from Lomography. It’s basically like the IKEA version of a camera. The camera light chamber comes premade but there are instructions on how to build it if you ever feel like taking it apart. The body is plastic and most of the parts you have to twist from the plastic moulding. It also came with a screwdriver and stickers for customers to add their own personalizations.
The box claims that the camera can be built in 1-2 hours. However, it took me 15 minutes to distinguish the screws the first time I built it.
The instructions for the most part are pretty clear. The diagrams are easy to follow but must be looked at carefully. The first time I missed an arrow pointing from end of a spring to a little nook.
The reason I had trouble building it the first time was a defective light chamber. The springs were not strong enough to activate the shutter. I spent 6 hours thinking I built it wrong before considering that it was defective. Luckily Toronto has a Lomography store and I ended up exchanging it. It was a little bit of a hassle to do that though because in-store they claim their inventory doesn’t have any affiliation with the online (even if it was shipped from there).
Anyways, the second time around I built it in 45 minutes.
Here is the camera decorated! I was a bit sticker happy…
I’ve never really owned an analogue camera so the thought of not being able to see photos until later is so nerve racking. I bought some ISO 800 film from Lomography but right now I’m purposely experimenting with (unopened) expired film I found around the house. I made a couple of film winding mistakes in the beginning so it will be interesting to see how those turn out. I’m hoping that having to think more about composition will make me a better overall photographer!
Despite the weird mishap, I do recommend the Konstruktor if you’re interested at learning how cameras work. The top placement of the viewfinder is a cool experience. I can’t vouch for the quality of photos though because I have no idea yet! Don’t worry. I’ll definitely be posting some scans when I get the film developed.
Thanks to The Mint Agency, I attended El Catrin‘s media launch party.The Mexican restaurant, which is located at the heart of the Distillery District (where Boiler House used to be), has one of the most beautiful patios I have ever seen. The new renovations also made it appear more welcoming to a wide variety of patrons. Inside it was colourful and inviting.
We were treated with an endless supply of margaritas. I usually think margaritas have way too much salt, but these were perfectly balanced!
Various hors d’oeuvres were served. There was enough that I wish I had not eaten dinner before hand. One of my favourites were the fried fish tacos with salsa roja. There was another taco with shaved pork, axiote, pineapple, cilantro and onion that was also quite good.
Other samplings included tamatillo and cilantro marinated shrimp; seafood ceviche; pastor pork quaesadillas with pineapple and gouda cheese; and more. Dessert included a mexican take on crème brûlée and a bacon topped fudge, which was like heaven in my mouth.
Everything I sampled was full of flavour. I looked into their menu just now and it looks reasonably priced. I will definitely come back to eat the full-sized versions!
There was a huge selection of food including a raw seafood bar, dessert tables, soft-serve ice cream, made to order pasta and kalbi ribs. The food was decent but occasionally I’d pick up something pretty and find there was too much wasabi in it.
The best part was definitely the dessert tables. There was a donut fryer, cakes, cupcakes, brownies, a chocolate fountain and more. If you’re looking for something slightly more up-scale than Mandarin, Spoonful is a good place to go.
Brightly coloured signage made Maroli restaurant standout from the other restaurants in Korea Town. I was drawn in by their promise of exotic spices.
The Malabar Chicken ($11.99) is their signature dish. It’s a deep fried chicken with 16 spices and might actually be my favourite fried chicken in Toronto. The chicken didn’t feel heavy, yet it was crunchy and flavourful.
The other thing we ordered was the Shrimp Malabari ($14.99). It was a lovely coconut curry much like the one I had at Banjara.
To accompany the curry, we had some Garlic Naan ($3.25) and Maroli Special Naan ($3.25). The latter had cheese, garlic and crushed chillies.
The service was very helpful in explaining what everything was. I was happy the place has free delivery (up to 5km) on their website. I’ll eventually make my way through their entire menu!
The July Lootcrate is almost on its way but I didn’t have time to talk about the June one until now. June’s theme was “mashup”; the joining of two separate ideas.
My favourite item in June’s crate are these 8-Bit sunglasses. Mine came in Loot Crate’s orange and black colours but apparently some people got plain black ones in their crates. They are also selling pink and white ones in their gift shop. I’m super tempted to grab a pair of those too.
This sticker Harebrained shows two classic characters helping each other out.
It’s a pen. No, it’s a stylus. Wait, it’s both. The 2 in 1 pen from Bic is a smooth ball point pen and stylus in one. I hope I don’t actually use the wrong side on my iPad.
I haven’t decided what I want to use these sticker anagrams for. What would you make? My imagination can only think of boats.
Loot Crate got mashed into this a robot on this sticker from Danger Brain, a really cool company that makes logos.
I was so excited that this crate had a T-shirt which was totally worth the price of the box. The design (from Graphic Lab) mashes up antihero Deadpool with Kool-aid to make DEADPOOL-AID.
Lastly, there was a golden ticket for Stan Lee’s Comikaze. It’s a coupon where you have a chance to win admission or a percentage off. Personally, I don’t have much use for the item but I think they just added it as a bonus in the crate.
Though there were a lot of stickers in this month’s edition, the T-shirt and the sunglasses more than made up for the price! Next month’s theme is VARSITY. If you’re interested in subscribing use the referral link below:
Last weekend was the inaugural Toronto Urban Roots Festival. If you’re interested in the music portion of the festival, you can check out my reviews here. This, however, is a look at some of the delicious food options that were available.
Collective Concerts did a great job organizing the event. They hired mom and pop restaurants instead of chains like Pizza Pizza. Environmental Defence was a sponsor providing free filtered water via Event Water. Nestea and Vitamin Water were also on-site giving people an unlimited amount of free drinks. I have to say this was one festival where I hardly saw any garbage on the ground. All the patrons were very courteous and thoughtful of the environment. Per Se Mobile
I ordered their Short Rib Sandwich ($9). There was a generous portion of meat with cheese, arugula, pickled red onions on a fluffy bun. There a chipotle-esque flavour in the sauce. Kettle-chips were included with the sandwich.
This place shares my last name, so it only seemed fitting to try them. I had 6 dumplings ($8) and told them to mix it up. Vinegar was sprinkled on them. I’m not sure what kinds I had, but they were all moist and delicious. Pricing wise, I thought it was a little expensive at more than $1 a dumpling.
Manual Labour Coffee
I had seen the adorable Manual Labour truck on the grounds on Thursday and Friday night. I was really excited to have them Saturday morning since the festival started bright and early that day. However, they were not set up until 3:30pm that day. What a missed out business opportunity! Anyways, they seemed to learn their mistake because on Sunday they came much earlier.
A popular option was the Coffee Pop. ($2.75) It was a carbonated expresso drink. I added some liquid honey in mine to taste. It was a bit weird. One sip would be bitter than the next sweet and tingly with carbonation. It was definitely something unique!
I also tried their Ice Break (not on the same day). They described it as a take on an Australian frappuchino. It was sweet so no additional sugar needed and cold enough for the hot day.
As per a security guard’s suggestion, I ordered their Smoked Meat Sandwich ($8). It came with a pickle and there was a variety of mustards to choose from at the truck. I went with a simple honey mustard. I thought I may have been lacking vegetables during the festival so I had a small order of potato salad ($1).
My favourite food item at TURF was probably Bacon Nation’s Porkfection ($8). It was a spectacular sandwich with pemeal bacon, pulled pork and crispy bacon strips that were actually crispy. It was worth the messy fingers.
To limit my amount of caffeinated and vitamin filled drinks, I decided to buy a classic lemonade.
For $5 I had a slice of their Mexican pizza. It was just okay that day. It was a little dry from sitting out in the sun.
On Sunday it started raining really hard during dinner time so I forgot to take photos of food. But I did have Kanga’s delicious meat pie and blueberry iced tea!
Overall, I thought there was a fantastic food selection at TURF. There was a very homey and family atmosphere to the entire festival and I quite miss it already!
In The Power of Habit, Chris Duhigg looks at how the smallest act of habit can have a huge impact on our lives. It also delves into how businesses build marketing plans around our studied human habits. For example, when you walk into a grocery store the first thing you see are fruits and vegetables. They are purposely arranged this way so that we will buy healthy things first and can later convince ourselves to buy junk food.
He also looked into how Febreeze began from failure to a now conscious habit as well as how Target knows what you want to buy, before you even do. There’s plenty of unlikely anecdotes from Starbucks to Martin Luther King Jr and the Indianapolis Colts.
At the end of the book, there’s an appendix that teaches the reader how to integrate some new habits in their lives. There are 4 overall steps:
Identify the Routine – Look at any bad habits you want to change or a good habit you want to add in your life
Experiment With Rewards – Why did you do the bad habit? Did it give some type of satisfaction? Identify how to gain that sensation another way, or to replace it with another reward.
Isolate the Cue – What makes you keep up the habit? Perhaps a friend? Location or time of day? State of mind (ex bored)?
Have A Plan – figure out exactly how you are going to rid a bad habit or add a good one. When will you start?
To celebrate Canada’s birth I headed down to the Harbourfront Centre, mainly to eat bacon.
For $7, Barque Smokehouse offered a plate of bacon samplers. There was a mini smoked pork belly with pineapple skewer, peameal bacon taco, a smoked tofu with lettuce, bacon wrapped sausage, nachos and lastly a root beer float with candied bacon. To be honest, I was a little underwhelmed. It was too bite size to really give you a bacony kick. I think I would have preferred to pay more to have a full-sized version of each of these things made in less of a rush.
Luckily, there was plenty to eat at The Harbourfront Centre. There were many vendors around and some worldly offerings at the World Cafe. Maybe since it was Canada’s Day, two corners were occupied by our country.
A beaver tail felt like an obvious choice considering it was Canada’s birthday. In case my American readers don’t know, it is deep fried dough (sort of like a churro or fountain cake) in the shape of a beaver tail and served with a variety of yummy toppings. They are usually quite rare in city and are mainly found out East or at ski resorts. Anyway we chose a light offering of apple cinnamon.
To wash it down, I had a fruity alcoholic drink called Krazy Kool-Aid. It was sweet and refreshing despite not having any actual Kool-Aid. We enjoyed some tunes from The Toronto Mambo Project as we enjoyed our drinks.
We returned a little later to the World Cafe to sample the other Canadian offering Portobello Burger which had various vegetarian dishes on the menu. We ordered the Tasty Tacos and the Portobello Burger. The tacos had black beans & garbanzo beans, sauteed in onions and cooked in a tomato sauce. It was served in hard corn tostados with a traditional Mexican salsa and topped off with an old cheddar cheese. The cilantro was generous and even though it was a hard shell taco, it wasn’t messy at all. The portobello burger was served on a whole grain Ciabatta bun. It contained chipotle mayo, lettuce, tomato, onion, sweet red peppers, and goat cheese melted into a portobello mushroom cap. For a vegetarian burger, we ate it before remembering to take a photo of it.
When we were not eating, we explored some of what Harbourfront Centre had to offer. We were quite entertained by some hilarious karaoke rap. I totally should have busted out some Eminem but I thought that was not clean enough for the diverse audience. We ventured into the buildings to see what was in them and discovered an Architectural gallery as well as another with Inuit art. At Paws Way they celebrated Canada’s Day with a presentation of Canadian dogs and cats. Here are some random photos:
Harbourfront Centre’s fireworks had happened on Sunday so I headed home to see some with dad at Mississauga Celebration Square.