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Adventure in Costa Rica with a horse named Kicker

When I was little I used to read a book series about a girl who got struck by lightning. But that’s not what fascinated me about the story, it was that she had a horse and knew how to ride them. I used to dream of someday being a jockey, possibly even own one. I dreamt of riding my horse down Rathburn to my best friend’s house, much to the envious looks of passerbys. Forget bicycles, motorcycles or cars. I wanted a horse.

I never did get a horse (surprise, surprise) and my fascination with horses was quickly replaced by hanging out at Square One, Falafel’s and Mikey’s (a billiard “dump”). But one day, a friend called me and asked me if I would be interested in going horse back riding as he was organizing a group outing. Are you kidding me? Of course I was! He didn’t know how much I loved horses or anything so it was pure coincidental. And so off we went to some ranch in burlington for our very first horseback riding experience. It was a bit cheesy since the horses trotted along a very short and narrow trail so slowly that a turtle could’ve easily passed us. But that didn’t matter. What mattered was, I rode a horse! Happy dance, happy dance! I still remember her, Peaches. She was a cream coloured beauty who I quickly got attached too during the 15 minute ride. I got my fill and I was good.

Fast forward years later.

Hubby and I went on a full-day excursion in Costa Rica that started off with a mud bath in the hot springs, followed by a 45-minute horseback ride up the mountains before ending the day zip lining down 10 lines. Yes, that’s right, horseback riding! Imagine my excitement. At first, they gave me a really big horse, my feet couldn’t even reach the stirrups, so I asked for a smaller horse. The guide reluctantly brought one out for me (apparently the last horse they had). At first, I wasn’t sure why he didn’t want to give me the smaller horse, but I soon found out.

Saddling up

Saddling up

We were all trotting across a wild field minding our own business when my horse decided he didn’t want to be one of the last ones, so he started galloping and pushing the other horses out of the way. Then he kicked the horse in front of me. Oh boy. What did I get myself into? That was when I found out his name meant “kicker” in Spanish. Light bulb went off! So that was why the guide initially gave me the bigger, apparently much gentler horse. Ding ding ding! I didn’t mind though, it made the ride very entertaining and fun. I didn’t want to go too slow, and Kicker made sure we didn’t. We galloped and kicked the other horses all the way to the top of the mountains, with me constantly apologizing to all the other riders. I did learn to control him a little bit by using the reins, petting him and changing his name (at least temporarily) to “good boy”.


"Good boy, Kicker!"

“Good boy, Kicker!”

That was a really fun day, one I will never forget. I got to ride a horse named Kicker, what more could I have asked for?

How about you? What was a really fun day for you? And did you ever dream of owning a horse? Or maybe it was something else – a monkey, an elephant or maybe a tiger?

Kopi luwak – to drink or not to drink?

I heard about kopi luwak (civet coffee) some years ago and cringed at the thought of drinking it. Why would I (or anyone in the right mind) want to drink coffee made of coffee cherries eaten by an animal (luwak), and then passed through the animal’s digestive track? Maybe if I were competing in Fear Factor and there’s a half million dollar prize at the end of it, sure.

Here’s what luwak, the animal looks like.


Pretty cute, right?

And here’s what the coffee cherries look like after they’ve passed through luwak’s digestive system.

Luwak droppings

I was surprised to see this is what the coffee cherries look like after. I thought they would look more like rabbit droppings rather than pebbles.

It was during our trip to Bali and a stopover at Dewi’s coffee plantation that  we learned how kopi luwak is produced. Apparently, luwaks are picky. They eat only the ripe coffee beans, the best ones. The luwak’s enzymes seep into the beans while in the digestive system. Then they pass through the intestines and are defecated. I know, sounds gross right?

After they come out, they get washed thoroughly, dried and then peeled. The peeled beans are then washed and dried again before going through the roasting process.

And the finished product is an expensive cup of coffee that’s at least 8x the price of a regular cup of coffee. The taste? Strong and tangy and not at all bitter (coffee should never be bitter anyway).

Luwak coffee

Yes, I did drink kopi luwak. Twice – once in Jakarta and once at the coffee plantation in Bali. I figured this would be the only chance I had to try it, so why not?

Life is about experiences, and drinking coffee that has passed through an animal’s butt was a once-in-a-lifetime experience I just couldn’t pass up.

Reliving Amsterdam

As the 6 of us (plus 1) gathered around a picnic table at CNE, we started reminiscing about our trip to Europe in 2008, a trip that changed my perspective on life. What started this reminiscence was the new food truck at CNE called Dutch Frites.

The owner of this new player in town is an old friend of mine from high school. Although we haven’t spoken for many years, he is on my Facebook friends list, and so from time to time, we “like” and “comment” on each other’s posts and photos.

One day as I was checking out everyone’s updates, I saw his post promoting his food truck, Dutch Frites, and their debut at CNE this year. When we were in Amsterdam, we lived off Dutch fries and Wok to Walk, and so I was excited to learn that we can now get Dutch fries and kroket right here in Toronto.

So off hubby, our friends and I went to CNE to check out Dutch Frites and they did not disappoint. The only difference? We weren’t in Amsterdam. But it was nice to get a taste of it, even just for a moment. And it did bring us down a wonderful memory lane as we sat outside enjoying our Dutch snacks.

If you’ve never tried Dutch fries, you really should. When you think about it, it’s a simple concept. Fries and mayo. But for some reason, eating and dipping fries in mayo is just not the same as eating it out of a cone. Plus, Dutch Frites offers a variety of sauces in addition to regular mayo, such as garlic mayo, avocado mayo, curry ketchup, sate peanut sauce, sweet and sour and armageddon. And don’t forget the kroket and the stroopwafels!

What are you waiting for? Go to CNE and check it out!

As for us, reliving Amsterdam with our friends was a perfect way to spend the evening after a hard day of work.


I had a weak moment

I had a weak moment today. I was at Rexall with 10 minutes to kill, waiting for my prescription. So I walked around just looking at stuff and came across a bag of BBQ chips on sale for $0.99. My mouth started watering. But I knew I shouldn’t buy it so I walked away.

But having gone straight to Rexall after work, I was hungry and my stomach was growling. The chips were calling my name and so I walked back to the chips aisle, quickly grabbed it and paid for it before I could change my mind.

After dinner while catching up on the bachelorette, hubby and I decided to crack the bag of chips open. We ate about 3/4 of the bag (it was a medium size bag) and by the end of it, I just wanted to rinse my mouth with water. Those chips had way too much sodium that my mouth felt like it shriveled up and my brain was dehydrated.

After months of not eating chips, I can’t believe I broke our streak. This is what happens when I go to the store on an empty stomach. Never again.

So…because of my moment of weakness, hubby and I now need to go on a cleanse.

It’s not a cold, it’s just allergies!

Ever since the SARS outbreak, people have become super paranoid about germs. At the sound of caughing or sneezing, we cringe and we look around to make sure that person caughing or sneezing isn’t anywhere near us.

The other day, I was at the Dundas subway station and I sneezed. And of course I just happen to be one of those people who sneeze really loud. I try to keep it down but I just can’t. I’m always amazed at people, like my sister, who can sneeze so quietly, so subtly. I always tell my sister she sneezes like a cat and I secretly wish I could sneeze like her. But I can’t.

So this guy who was walking in front of me turned around and gave me a nasty look. Like I just did something horribly wrong. I mean, I didn’t sneeze on him or anything and I used my germ pocket. And he wasn’t even close to me. If I had sneezed like a cat I bet he wouldn’t even have noticed. Oh why do I always have to sneeze so loud?

I felt like telling him, “Buddy, chill out. It’s just allergies!

Damn allergies are causing people to be scared of me, like I’m going to give them kudies. These allergies are new, I recently developed them about a year ago and I haven’t got a clue what I’m allergic to. I sneeze constantly – at home, at work, in the car…everywhere. And I’m congested 24/7. It sucks not being able to breathe properly.

So yeah, I already have to cope with my new found nuisance, so please stop giving me the “I hate you” look every time I sneeze. Trust me, I don’t want to sneeze as much as you don’t want me to sneeze.

And I swear, it’s not a cold, it’s just allergies!

Spring forward

*Yawn*. I am still half asleep as I’m typing this. Why? Because I just lost an hour of sleep.

It would be okay if I had nothing to do today and I could just sleep all day. But it’s Sunday and that means Church. So even though my clock said 10:00 am, in my head it was 9:00 am and my body and mind struggled to get up.

I know, some of you are probably thinking, “What?! You sleep in until 10 on Sundays?” And my answer is, “Yup, the beauty of not having any kids.”

Actually, I usually wake up around 7:30 am to feed the cats and then back to bed I go. But this morning, 7:30 was already 8:30 and so in an attempt to maximize my sleep time, I didn’t get up to feed them. What a bad mom I am. But trust me, if they wanted to eat that badly they would have woken me up. Since they didn’t and seemed perfectly content, I thought they’d be okay waiting a few more hours for breakfast. And they were. Thank you Nikki and Puzzle for letting me sleep!

So what does Spring Forward mean for me? It means I’m going to have an even harder time getting up in the morning. It means I’m going to walk around like a zombie all week. It means I’m not going to be as sharp as I need to be at work and if I have any meetings I might be tempted to close my eyes and sleep (which obviously is a no no at any meeting). It means I’m going to want to sleep as soon as I get home.

It’s crazy how losing 1 hour of sleep can have such a profound affect on my mental and physical state.

I often wonder why we even have daylight savings time. I mean, I know it has to do with the days getting shorter during the winter season but sometimes I wonder if it’s better to just let nature be?

Someone posted this video explaining the history of
daylight savings time which is quite interesting, but I still don’t like the fact that I have just lost an hour of my life. I guess Fall Back can make it up later by giving that one hour back. And of course I love Fall Back. But for now, if you see me grumpy you’ll know why. Losing one hour of my life is not anything to celebrate about. But well, that’s how life goes. The good thing is, spring is just around the corner and this weather we’re having is a mood lifter!

You know you’re a ‘valued’ Rogers customer when…

From Pintrest - this is what the Rogers customer service rep is thinking...

Thinking of switching to Rogers? Are you sure you really want to be one of their valued customers?

I found the above image from Pintrest and I think it describes the attitude of Rogers’ customer service reps quite accurately. Hubby and I’ve had our cell phone service with Rogers for over 15 years and having longevity with them means we’re truly valued by them.

Here’s what it’s like to be a valued Rogers customer:

  1. After you negotiate or “re-negotiate” your plan with them, your next 4-5 bills after will be completely screwed up.
  2. When you call customer service to resolve your billing issue, you end up talking to at least 3 people (sometimes as many as 6) in one day.
  3. You have to take a day off to talk to customer service at Rogers because guaranteed you’ll be on the phone with them for hours, and you end up wasting your day because your issue is still not resolved by the end of it all.
  4. When you call to resolve your billing issue, no one ever believes you because the reps never actually record your conversations in their notepad, so the answer is always, “I don’t see that in the notes”. When you ask them to pull the voice recording they refuse to do so.
  5. Quotes are always inconsistent between all the different reps and managers you talk to. And when you try to tell them about a quote that you got, you go back to #4.
  6. You get charged for services you never signed up for. And then they give you a hard time for “cancelling” when there should have been nothing to “cancel” in the first place.
  7. After you get off the phone with them you feel completely defeated and your issue is still not resolved. Your anger is masked by total exhaustion.
  8. You’re tempted to pay the $500 penalty just so you can get rid of them. But then again, $500 is a lot of money and are you seriously going to let Rogers run off with your money?
  9. You’re not sure why anyone would go to the “Ted Rogers School of Business” just so they can learn how to provide horrible customer service.
  10. Every time you hear the word “Rogers” you get anxiety.

I know there’s probably about 2% of the population who have never experienced what it’s like to be a valued Rogers customer and for that, they are very lucky. Unfortunately we’re not in that 2%.

If you’re wondering why we’re still with Rogers – well, it’s like having a monkey on your back. Monkeys are cute until they steal something from you. As for us, we fell for Rogers’ feigned “niceness” once again. And now we are back to #1. It’s a vicious cycle.

Such is the life of a valued Rogers customer…

You know you’re a Bikram newbie when…

A friend sent me a link to a blog post titled, “Are you a Bikram yoga addict?” a couple of weeks ago as food for thought for my practice.

I couldn’t stop laughing throughout the entire post. First, I could totally see truth in everything that was listed. Second, I’m so far from it I actually do the exact opposite of what an addict does.

So I thought it might be appropriate to post what it’s like to be a Bikram newbie.

  1. You bring 2 bottles of iced water to class.
  2. You can’t wait until the first four poses are done so you can take your first water break.
  3. You take large gulps of water in between every posture.
  4. You use words like ‘brutal’, ‘torturous’, ‘killer’ and ‘painful’ to describe Bikram yoga.
  5. You miss Moksha yoga.
  6. You swear under your breath every time you lose balance or can’t hold your pose anymore.
  7. Instead of feeling good after your practice you feel completely drained and unable to move or do anything else.
  8. You need to eat a chocolate – just one small piece – to get your energy back after your practice.
  9. You have a love-hate relationship with Bikram yoga.
  10. You dread your next class already even though it’s one week away.

Now you’re probably wondering why I even torture myself with Bikram yoga. Well, I believe in the health benefits it claims to have. I believe that this initial phase of “newbieness” will pass and that I will eventually start to feel pleasure instead of pain after each and every practice.

I do this because I refuse to give up. Every pose is a challenge that I have to overcome. The feelings of mastering a pose is truly indescribable. I do this because it teaches me patience. And it teaches me to push myself but also to know what my limits are so I don’t get hurt.

I do this because it’s good for me. I do this because I have to lose 8 lbs. so I can fit into my skirt.


Cauliflower bacon quiche

This is one of my favourite meals for 3 reasons:

  1. Cauliflower is my favourite veggie
  2. It’s super easy to make with only 15 minutes of prep time
  3. It’s delicious

Originally a broccoli recipe, I substituted it with cauliflower simply because I’m in love with it. If you prefer broccoli, feel free to switch it back.


  • 4 slices of bacon (or more – it’s really up to you)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese (or any other type – cheddar, marble, mozzarella)
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp. lemon pepper
  • grated cheddar cheese (optional if you really like cheese)

Preheat 350F.
Cook bacon until crisp, set aside.
Coat cauliflower with grated cheddar cheese (optional).
Beat eggs with milk and cheese.
Stir in cauliflower, salt, garlic powder and lemon pepper.
Crumble bacon and stir half into egg mixture.
Pour mixture into a baking dish.
Bake for 35 minutes or until knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Top with remaining bacon.

Being Asian and all, I eat this with rice. But really, you can eat it on its own or with dinner rolls, or whatever else you want.


Coco got violated

Poor Coco. She didn’t do anything wrong. If anything, I did. I’m just not sure what.

Coco is 9 years old but she looks great for her age. She takes me from point A to point B and she runs as smooth as butter. Coco is an Acura 1.7EL and she’s sexy.

As usual, I left her on the street just outside of my work’s parking lot. She waited patiently for 8 hours until I was done. When I came out, my heart dropped. It looked like a group of birds decided to use Coco as a party venue. They partied hard, leaving a huge mess everywhere on her. It wasn’t just one or two droppings on her hood. There were splatters of evidence all over the roof, trunk, both sides of the body, windshield, rear window and side windows. They were everywhere!

I looked at the other cars who were parked around me, in front and behind. Not a drop on them. Hmm, what a strange predicament. Did I do something to the birds? Did I run over a baby birdie accidentally? I hope not. The thought of having done that sickens me. But I must have done something to those birds. Coco certainly didn’t. She’s innocent, that much I know.

Well I wasn’t planning on taking her for a wash until winter is over but I could not let Coco drive around all winter looking like she had just gotten violated. Poor Coco. What would all her car friends think?

So yesterday I took her for a car wash at the Auto Salon across from where I work. The guy did a great job. She was hand washed and hand dried in about 10 minutes. And she looks like new again! I feel better now and I’m sure she feels great too .

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