The Truth Behind A Baby’s Photoshoot

Dumpling is 1 years old! He can climb, walk, and has a arsenal of gibberish vocabulary but his favourite word is dad. Not mom, but I’m working on that.

We decided to get non-blurry, well-lit photos done for a change. My Google research landed on Elle Marie Photography because Lyndsey’s portfolio showcased exactly the right style that I had in mind. They was bright, candid, and captured personality. Plus, the price was right at $250.

In preparation, I put together a Pinterest mood board and planned the right outfits, props and ordered a smash cake. Seriously, when it came to photo day – planning can only get you so far.

The day of the shoot, Dumpling refused to take his morning nap. We arrived at Lyndsey’s new home studio with a cranky and tired baby. His usually happy demeanor was really hard to coax out of him even with all the special moves – funny faces, funny dances and funny noises like fart sounds.

Most of the time, we were chasing him around the room. Oh, and he is fast. At daycare, they call him a ninja (maybe there is an Asian reference there too).

Well, we tried our best and so did Dumpling. We can’t blame him, a photoshoot isn’t exactly the same as a day at Gymboree. Here are the highlights that came out of our session.
Family photoshoot Toronto
baby with mommy and daddyIMG_3519baby bubbles dog photoshootvery happy baby photoshootartistic baby photoshoot jeansproud baby with mommy and daddychristmas baby photoshootIMG_3720
Honestly, we are so happy with the photos. For the day we had, we still got a few pictures where he was smiling from ear to ear.

Some takeaways?

  • Be patient
  • Bring snacks for your child
  • Bring snacks for yourself
  • Keep the cake box – if any of it is salvageable, then you can bring it home to enjoy
  • Try bubbles
  • Bring a few favourite toys that will bring out your child’s playful side
  • Buy a cheap and colourful cake. We got ours from Metro for $7.49.
  • Again, be patient and have fun!

4 Reasons Why We Love Jamaica!

It started with meeting a friendly face when I subbed at floor hockey. Daisy was playing too, and we got along right away – friend chemistry! We went on to play ultimate and softball together with her S.O Walter and mine.

Fast forward, a few years and many bubble teas later – Daisy and Walter hand delivered the most creative save the date & wedding invite to us.

A wedding in Montego Bay, Jamaica! Reggae’s birthplace along with Walter’s.

We had to go, and we were so glad we did. We spent 5 days/4 nights in Montego Bay, and here are our FAVOURITE reasons why we loved our Jamaican trip.

DUNN’S FALLS IN OCHOS RIOS FOR A HIKE N’ BEACH TIME
baby on bus ochos rios columbus park ourtorontolife

The day before the wedding, the super organized bride and groom coordinated a day trip out to Columbus Park, and Dunn’s Falls. $20 admission gets you into oasis with a natural waterfall where you can hike up – water shoes, necessary! Most groups went up holding hands, and stopped along the way at the pools to take pictures.
n's falls ochos rios jamaica

dunn's falls group ourtorontolife
Or, you can spend time on the beach with the soft rolling waves and sandy beach. Dumpling spent some time digging around in the sand, and face planting in it at least once.
baby to do dunns falls jamaica ourtorontolife

SCOTCHIE’S FOR REAL JAMAICAN FOOD
scotchies real jerk chicken jamaica ourtorontolife

On the way back from Ochos Rios, we stopped off at one of Jamaica’s Scotchies. They are known for their jerk food cooked over pimento wood. Walter tells us that they are pretty authentic, but they have tweaked their recipe to also suit visiting tourists. If you like it hot, ask for the scotch bonnet sauce.

After sharing a group order, we can say that we liked it all. Besides the bammy, hardough bread, festival, rice & peas, and fish – we tried the must-tries, jerk chicken and jerk pork.

Jerk chicken: Definitely a leveled up smoked chicken with crispy skin
Jerk pork: Reminded me of Chinese roast pork, but with a smoky taste and no crispy skin

IBEROSTAR EAT, SWIM, AND REPEAT
We have to seriously thank Daisy and Walter for 1) getting married in Jamaica, and 2) organizing the whole trip in Jamaica including the stay at Iberostar. Food was good – there was plenty of it, and tons of variety for Dumpling. The suites were massive, and they had a lot of amenities that we didn’t take full advantage of (ie. entertainment, outdoor activities, gym etc).

But, we definitely made sure to use the lazy river and infinity pool with…a swim-up bar! It’s kind of cheesy, but it’s fun. iberostar jamaica lazy river infinity pool ourtorontolifebeach jamaica iberostar jamaica ourtorontolifeThese pool pictures? We didn’t really lounge around for too long. We were glad to steal moments here and there to go out since Dumpling napped REALLY well – good 2-3 hour stretches twice a day, so we hung out as a family in our suite a lot.

DAISY & WALTER’S WEDDING @ WHITE WITCH GOLF COURSE
white witch wedding jamaica ourtorontolife
waltdaisyland jamaica white witch wedding ourtorontolifeThe best part of the trip, the wedding! CONGRATS DAISY & WALTER! Icing on the cake: Cy and I got a babysitter towards the end of the evening. Bye Dumpling, hello dancing the night away!

One thing to mention, the catering chef was a complete con artist – BOO Chef Collin Brown! How disappointing for the bride and groom who planned and received far less than what they discussed and paid for. Bummer, and it wasn’t fair to Daisy and Walter – but, seriously, they had a beautiful wedding and kept the mood UP the whole night. KUDOS to them.

CHEERS to Daisy and Walter. We wish you both a lifetime of giddy happiness, sporty adventures that open your eyes, and many more extra large bubble teas with just-the-right tapioca pearls.

<3 you guys and <3 Jamaica

 


We are having a baby!

It’s been awhile, I know. The last 9 months, I’ve been growing this baby bump. Cy and I are expecting a boy later this month. We are a mixed bag of excited, scared and farts.

Did you know? Pregnant women fart more and sometimes they smell like funny eggs.

We are having a baby Judy Cyrus OurTorontoLife

We are having a baby Judy Cyrus OurTorontoLifeWe are having a baby Judy Cyrus OurTorontoLifeWe are having a baby Judy Cyrus OurTorontoLife

OUR FAQ

How do you feel? Pretty good. No morning sickness, and now it feels like there is a bowling ball in my tummy.
Do you have any cravings? No, how boring!
Have you finished the nursery? We are now! We turned the office into a nursery. Out went the desks, and in went the crib, change table, baby stuff and a forest curtain on a steel rod along the glass wall.
Do you have a name? Yes, we will share that once the little guy is born.
Are you ready? We’ve watched Youtubes, downloaded the apps, and read articles. Last weekend, we just finished our child birth classes where we learnt about everything from dealing with contractions to cuddling your baby. We may or may not be ready, but we will try.

Special thank you to Anooja, Sagar and Sandy for the special gift of a maternity shoot – and a newborn shoot! 

 


Happy Mother’s Day + Contest

Mothers are superheroes. They are strong, fearless and put up with us through all the good and bad. For example, Cy’s mom supported us in words and actions when we made our big move to Toronto after our wedding. There was a lot of packing involved there!

Gelaskins Mother's Day Contest

This is what Cy had to say about Mom:

Her Super Power:  Muscle mimic. She could see something, and then pick it up easily like piano, arts & crafts, cooking, kung fu and tai chi.
How are you most like your mom? She is always happy and tries to look for the best in all scenarios.
My Favourite Memory: As a kid, she would tuck me into bed and tell me that I was the best. She is the best too.

I have to add that she really is great, and she has a wonderful way of making you feel comfortable.

This year, Cy and I chose to do something different for Mother’s Day. Flowers die, and chocolates are old. She has an iPhone 4S, and a new case to match her style would be something that could brighten up her Mother’s Day and everyday when she uses it.

We asked her to pick a case, and the selection is the best – yes, it really is. This isn’t the kind of case design or quality that you will get at some cheap Asian mall.

She picked her top favourite designs, and Cy and I picked Mandevilla Flower because it was vibrant like her.

Gelaskin Mother's Day Iphone Case

CONTEST

Win $50 towards any Gelaskins product like an iPhone case, iPad skin or fine art print for your mom. Enter by posting a comment with your name, email and what your mom’s superhero power is.

The winner will be drawn by random end of day on May 8th.

**Special thank you to Casie Stewart of Gelaskins for sponsoring this special giveaway contest**

 


Do’s and Don’ts for Ice Fishing

Spring is almost here. I’m so glad because there was a lot of winter time for the past few months. I mean, just look at our backyard here.Lake Simoe Ice Fishing WInter OurTorontoLifeJust kidding, we don’t have teepees in our backyard. Earlier this year, Cy and I were invited out by our friend Richard to go ice fishing on Lake Simoe. Our first time! I felt extra Canadian that day.what to bring to ice fishing ourtorontolifeMinet’s Point’s ice fishing was your basic, no frills experience. You get your teepee with a metal heater, 3-legged, foldable chair, and a stick wound up with string and hook. The bait was an extra $10. Even with the basics, we caught tons of fish – the kind that had to be thrown back, herring.Ice Fishing Catch OurTorontoLifeRichard caught tons of herring, and my friends Heather, Andy, Susan, and Jeff caught a few too. I caught one with the help of Richard at the end of the day.

Since I was the worst at catching fish, I don’t have tips to share. But, I have ice fishing tips from my own experience.Ice fishing Minet's Point Toronto OurTorontoLifeDo’s

  • Bring friends of all ages (baby Tiffany loved it)
  • Double up your socks to fend off toe freezies
  • Bring a cutting board and knife for when you do catch a fish you can keep
  • Bring hot chocolate, everyone will love it and you
  • Cheer loudly when you catch something
  • Book a cabin instead, the teepee is neat but that’s it

Don’ts

  • Buy a BBQ, they won’t even heat up a grilled cheese sandwich
  • Move carefully in the teepee, you might slip on the slippery ice and really hurt yourself
  • Leave your hook unchecked, no bait, no fish!
  • Pee near your teepee, you know why
  • Keep any herring! There is a big fat fine if you do

I’d do it again, and my hopes are still high to catch a whooper of a fish – if not then a Filet-O-Fish at McD’s after works for me.

 

 

 


Our One Week Without Power

The power of the recent ice storm left most of the GTA in the dark. And, Cy and I even laughed about freezing rain in the forecast – ha, it’s nothing! We are from Vancouver, no problem.

But the city was encased in ice and there were a lot of problems: No lights, no heat, no Internet (!), no more Christmas party and one fallen tree in our backyard.

fallen tree ice storm toronto ourtorontolife

It was seriously destructive and beautiful at the same time. For one week, we didn’t have power and it became unbearable to live in the house. We tried for 2 nights, but it felt like we were camping…indoors.

cyrus ice storm toronto ourtorontolife 2

How can I describe it the whole thing? Now, I look back and I think about all of my favourite moments:

  •  Multiple meals of bacon cheeseburgers, McChickens and poutine (it’s so so) at the local McDonalds – and taking full advantage of their free wifi and outlets to charge up our nearly dead phones
  • Better meals than McDonalds at places that deserve repeat visits: Yang’s Dim Sum, Pho Mi Asia and Hakka No. 1
  • Chats with old ladies and men over lattes about the big ol’ storm in ’98 while trying to get work done remotely at a coffee shop
  • New introductions to friendly neighbours that we catch glimpses of before but now can say we know each other better now
  • The honour of the introduction to John who gave up his Christmas and demonstrated that the true power behind the generator was his heart – he was even featured on CBC here
  • One-sided ping pong matches with Cy dominating but I slowly got better and now, I understand the sound of a good forehand serve
  • True gifts of Christmas spirit and generosity from  friends and family who have offered their help, homes and hearts to us – and special thank yous to Deena, Ray & doggie Poppy; Heather, Richard & bebe Tiffany; and Uncle Andrew, Auntie Ann-May, Marcus & Rhyan for lending us warm places to stay

friends ice storm christmas ourtorontolife

In between all these moments, we kept checking on our house to see if power came back. On day 7, the green trucks came by. INSERT: celebratory music.

one week without power ice storm toronto ourtorontolife

Despite working long shifts, the crew were good guys with real pride in what they did for the city. In no time, they were able to correct the blown fuse.

We had power! We had lights, heat (warming up), Internet(!) and experiences that has left us with a greater appreciation for the power of our friends, family, strangers and free wifi.


How to Make a Turducken

Happy Thanksgiving How to Make a Turducken Recipe OurTorontoLife

Cy and I have a secret handshake when we celebrate small and big things. After we pulled off this turducken, we must have done this handshake like 100 times. I mean, we had to pull this off. We didn’t want to disappoint ourselves and the friends that we promised to feed.

So, this is how we did it!

Buy all of these necessary ingredients: Whole turkey, whole chicken and duck breast. Meatballs are optional.

Buy or make your favourite stuffing.

1) Preheat the oven to 375 Fahrenheit.

2) Debone the chicken – yes, the chicken first before the turkey! You can “practice” on the chicken, and it doesn’t matter if it looks “bad” since it goes in the turkey. Use a sharp knife – we didn’t have a filleting knife, so Cy used both a Chef’s knife and utility knife.

Cyrus Turducken OurTorontoLife

3) Debone the turkey.  If you are using a frozen turkey, make sure that it is completely defrosted!

4) Remove the duck skin from the duck breast.

5) Brine all the meats overnight. Use 1 cup of salt, 1 cup of brown sugar dissolved in 1 gallon of water.

Turducken Turkey Chicken Duck OurTorontoLife

6) Remove meats from the brine, and start the meat layering! Open the turkey breasts, and place stuffing inside. Then, layer the chicken, and duck on top.

7) Sew up the turducken. We MacGyvered it, and used the twine we had at home. Once sewn up, we stuffed it with meatballs to “fill it up”. Tie the turducken so it holds it’s shape – across it’s “waist” and from “head” to “butt.”

8) Season the turducken however you want. We used a mixture of rosemary, garlic powder, basil, freshly ground salt and pepper. Plus, we added garlic slivers in the skin.

9) Slather the turducken with melted butter, and cover it in foil. Throw it in the oven, and baste every 30 minutes.

10) Remove the foil with 1 hour left to brown it! 25-30 mins/lb of turducken.

How to Make a Turducken Layers Turducken OurTorontoLife

Slice, and serve! And, secret handshakes.

*Happy Thanksgiving to everyone*

First and last picture by Susan – thank you for being our star photographer!


The Cottage Isn’t The Cottage Without…

An escape from the city was needed. Toronto makes me rush all the time –  to work, at work, and after work to get to whatever sports game that I have that night. It’s the same thing for Cy, and sometimes the odd night in is a relief – this means lying on the sofa and playing Candy Crush or Plants vs Zombies.

Judy and Cyrus 5 Reasons to Cottage in the Fall OurTorontoLife

While the drive up to the cottage was long (holy 4 hours), it was completely worth it. We are serious about our cottageing, and it was going to be a stress-free, make up-free, and carefree kind of weekend in Tobermory with our friends, R, O, C, and D.

Cyrus 5 reasons to cottage in the fall ourtorontolife

Look at Cy run, jump and climb his away around Tobermory!

5 reasons to cottage in the fall ourtorontolife

Besides all that running around, we were also able to slow down. Our cottage weekend was made up of so many simple pleasures, like these:

  • Waking up to a sunny day and fresh coffee
  • Hiking around Bruce Peninsula National Park and seeing The Grotto for the first time
  • Eating countless handfuls of chips while watching satellite tv (we don’t have this at home)
  • Gazing at the dark skies full of countless stars
  • Sharing hot chocolate and popcorn around a fire

And, all of the above is better shared with friends. After all, the cottage isn’t the cottage without friends.


FYI: There are wineries outside Niagara On The Lake

Judy Cyrus Grange Prince Edward County Winery OurTorontoLife

Pinterest was invented for pictures to be taken at The Grange of Prince Edward, a winery about 2 hours east of Toronto. Cy and I snapped away as we enjoyed our “Day in the Life” tour as part of our fun times to celebrate our 2-year wedding anniversary. Really, it felt like yesterday when Cy was doing cartwheels at our wedding reception!

Rustic Grange Prince Edward County OurTorontoLife

After a breakfast fuel up for our tour (and cartwheels), we were led outdoors to get started. You would think that the owner would be way too busy to take a small tour of four people (Cy, me, and our new and charming friends, T and D) for an entire morning and afternoon. But, no. The Grange of Prince Edward is run by Caroline Granger who is so hands on with her operation of the estate vineyards and winery. She gets and respects the field-to-table mentality with a sustainable spin on it all.

For example, all wine is produced from the on-site vineyards grown free of nasty pesticides – nature helps nature with alfalfa plants used to attract insect pests away from the grapes.

Blended Wine Grange Prince Edward County OurTorontoLife

After touring the lush vineyards, we went to an organic chem. lab. Well, it felt like it with the beakers and graduated cylinders when it came to the blending exercise with white wines including Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and Riesling . After three tries, we perfected something that actually tasted sweet, light and didn’t burn our throats! Caroline said that it was a “racy” wine blend.

Check out our bottles with our homemade labels – Cy and I created the ones with the castle die cuts (such keeners).

Lunch Grange Prince Edward County Winery OurTorontoLife No Filter

Next up was lunch! Chef Kyle prepared a too-cute picnic basket packed to the brim with goodies like with egg salad sandwiches (the eggs were freshly laid earlier that morn!) rainbow beet salad, Seed to Sausage meats and desserts – maple brioche “tim bits” and pear cheesecake with fresh cheese.

Caroline Grange Prince Edward County Winery OurTorontoLife

The tour continued with a view into the entire wine production process and a wine tasting! I recommend the Grange Fumé Blanc for it’s smokey and fruit taste.

After everything, we were pooped! Thank you, Caroline for your passion for honest-to-goodness approach to “craft” winery that turns the other cheek to the “corporate” ways of producing delicious wines.

NOTE: Cy and I were lucky to have enjoyed this experience as affiliate bloggers for Buytopia! Thank you to Melissa and her team there.


Girl Geeks Toronto | To Infinity and Beyond: The Next Generation of Space Travel with Talmon Firestone and Natalie Panek

Sourced from http://wallpapers.bhist.com Girl Geeks Toronto To Infinity and Beyond The Next Generation of Space Travel with Talmon Firestone and Natalie Panek

In this blog post, I want you to put yourself firmly into the shoes of your 5 year old self. Dreams were boundless then. What did you want to be when you grew up? If you asked me, I would have said artist because I loved drawing especially animals (then, I became a marketing professional).

Maybe you would have said something like doctor? Or maybe teacher, marine biologist or astronaut?

If you didn’t dream of being an astronaut, have you ever been fascinated by the night skies? They are full of mysteries besides the illuminating stars, planets, and suns. It’s even an entire Hollywood genre with the biggest and baddest movies Star Wars, Star Trek, and Space Balls (this was just bad).

I was lucky to have the opportunity to learn more about space at the latest Girl Geeks Toronto event. Caroline McGregor, Lindsay Munro and Tutu Ilelaboye presented the space aces, Talmon Firestone and Natalie Panek. In their separate conversations, they introduced the ideas and concepts around aerospace that once started as someone’s dreams.

Talmon Firestone from RE-Labs, Emerging Technology Entrepreneur

Astronomy 101 changed his life. It was easy because he was passionate about it like these big names: Richard Branson, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Robert Bigelow. These big names came with big pockets, and their respective projects in suborbital travel  have garnered attention around the globe. Some of them competed for the Ansari X Prize, and won.

For the space noob like me, here are some definitions that came from Wikipedia.

Suborbital travel according to Wikipedia: A sub-orbital space flight is a spaceflight in which the spacecraft reaches space, but its trajectory intersects the atmosphere or surface of the gravitating body from which it was launched, so that it does not complete one orbital revolution.

Ansari X Prize according to Wikipedia: The Ansari X Prize was a space competition in which the X Prize Foundation offered a US$10,000,000 prize for the first non-government organization to launch a reusable manned spacecraft into space twice within two weeks.

How do you get involved?

@GirlGeeksTO: Seems the best way to become a millionaire in the space industry is to start by being a billionaire. #girlgeeksto

Natalie Panek from MDA Space Missions, Robotic Operator and Aerospace Engineer

Solar Cell 101 changed her life. She studied solar cells, devices that convert light energy directly into energy. In fact, she was part of a team that built a solar-powered car from scratch. That ride was raced across North America, and it sparked some thoughts.

@lizoke: #solar #cars could become mainstream soon en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_car #GirlGeeksTO

From solar-powered cars to space, Natalie works on the next generation of the Canada Arm. Did you know that  the delay of the arm control from Earth is only a few seconds?

Mind blown? Here is the team that did that for me. Presenting from L-R: Talmon Firestone, Lindsay Munro, Natalie Panek, Caroline McGregor, and Tutu Ilelaboye.

 Girl Geeks Toronto To Infinity and Beyond The Next Generation of Space Travel with Talmon Firestone Natalie Panek Caroline McGregor Tutu Ilelaboye Lindsay Munro

Thank you to Girl Geeks Toronto. Not only do they fill your brain with possibilities, you also get fed at the same time. Sandwiches, yummy Holly Lew cookies and drinks! The next event? Find it here.

Until the next event, keep dreaming.