November 2010 Review

November has been another hectic month. On one hand, things were lighter as we wrapped up the last of the gardens still needing some work. On the other hand, administrative tasks and backburner projects have now come to the fore and are taking up a lot of my time these days.

It’s been good catching up on a lot of office work, and nice to know that I don’t have to be out and about as much in the cold weather these days. There’s nothing quite like a big, hot mug of steaming tea to keep you company while you go about your work day.

I’ve been thinking about changing around the stye of my monthly updates (again). A while ago, I tried inclulding more reflections on the months activities rather than just a summary of the activities, but found it to be very long and time consuming to write. While I want to continue writing a summary of the fun and interesting activities that happened over the past month, sometimes I feel this monthly review post isn’t the right forum for it. Some of the bigger events deserved a post of their own like the recent one I done on the CFSC conference (not to mention finding the time to write is always challenging) and some events which were really fun I find don’t always warrant a place in these updates. I have yet to figure out a good system or way to write these reviews, so if any of you have any suggestions, I’m all ears! For now though, I’ll stick with my trusty method of posting about the fun and exciting things this past November.


1. So You Think You(th) Can Cook Content
Through my involvement with the Toronto Youth Food Policy Council, I had the chance to act a judge for the 2nd annual So You Think You(th) Can Cook contest held at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair at the Exhbition Place. Along with renowned Toronto chef Brad Long, last year’s winner Hudson Bernard, and Jeff ODonnell of Foodland Ontario, we were treated to cooking demonstration of 3 young people and their original recipes incorporating Foodland Ontario products.

This was the first time I’ve ever had the chance to judge a cooking contest and was very excited for it. Each of the participants had 20 minutes to prepare one dish (prep work could be done in advance) for the judges to taste and assess out of a 40 point scale. 20 points went to taste, 10 points went to creativity and 10 points went to a third category – something about food knowledge or something like that.

Overall, it was a great event, with the 3 finalists cooking up 3 very different dishes. You can find a link to  the recipes and a video of the first part of the cooking contest.

There’s a lot more I would like to write about my thoughts and experiences (such as cooking styles, presentation styles, tasting notes, judging notes, and more on the contest as a whole, but in the interest of brevity, we’ll leave it here for now.



2. Foodie networking event
Near the beginning of the month, I was invited to a foodie networking event by Wayne Roberts. I forget the exact name of the event, but a whole bunch of people involved in the local food scene and eco-friendly scene were there. It was inspiring to meet and connect with some familiar faces, but also with a number of people I hadn’t met before. One person in particular who I had the chance to meet in person (we had emailed back a forth a couple times several months ago) was Candice Batista. It was great to connect with her, and that meeting eventually turned into another opportunity for me. Which brings me to item #3.

As a random aside, I’m not a big fan of the word “foodie”. I used it in this case more out of laziness, rather than spending the time to finding another suitable word.


3. My First TV Interview
After re-introducing myself to Candice, she mentioned that she was filming a tv episode the following week and was looking for local food initiatives to be featured in it. There was still a spot she needed to fill and invited me to participate. So the following week, I headed out to the local tv studio at recorded a short segment for an upcoming episode of @Issue, which airs on the television station iChannel (aka Intelligent Channel). While the studio was quite small and very unassuming, it was a fantastic experience and I saw a whole bunch of other people involved in the local food scene there for the taping as well.

While I don’t believe this program puts their program online, they did say they will send me a DVD copy of the interview and the tentative idea plan is for the piece to air sometime in the new year.


4. Feature in the Queen’s alumni magazine
This November, I was also featured in the Queen’s alumni magazine. They actually did a whole article about us for the online version of the mag, and a small text box/photo in the print copy. It was great see the article finally go live as I think we got interviewed for it during the summer months, and only now was it going to print.

I’m getting ahead of myself here, but my non-profit organization also was featured in blogTO: link


5. Remembrance Day
November 11 is Canada’s Remembrance Day where we honour and remember our members of the armed forces who have served on duty since WWI. I think I mentioned this briefly in another post, but every now and then, I stop and think about how lucky we are to live in a free and democratic society. It truly is a priceless gift for the countless opportunities we have and something we too often take for granted.


6. Tour of the Ontario Food Terminal
As a followup to the cooking contest, all the judges and participants had the chance to take a tour of the Ontario Food Terminal. The food terminal is usually closed to the public, and is the primary clearing house for fresh produce across Southern Ontario. While this was my second time here, this time, we had a chance to meet with the general manager and learn about the history, key statistics, challenges, environmental initiatives, and general story of the terminal. I’ve been meaning to put together a blog post on this (probably won’t happen), but you can see another review by another person here.


7. Frisbee
Frisbee started again for me this month, and I forgot how intense indoor speed point can be. Even though our games are only an hour, I felt that I was running hard almost non stop. I’m excited for this indoor season as there’s a mix of new and old players on the team. In an interesting turn of events, I figured out where my indoor turf shoes had gone after I thought I had lost them many years ago. It turns out that when I moved out of University, I had left a whole bunch of things in my old apartment including my old turf shoes. The next tenants were friends of ours who also happened to play frisbee, and Steve (the new tenant) just so happened to hang on to the shoes, also happened to be on my team, bring them out to the game, and mention that he thought those shoes might be mine. It looks like the shoes are still in good shape as I don’t think he wore them much – not to mention that I don’t think they fit him all too well anyways. It’s like Christmas came early with an unexpected surprise


8. Chocolate fondue
I just had to write about this. I mean, who can’t resist a chocolate fondue – with all that melted chocolate-y goodness. I must have dipped anything and everything I could find in it including chocolate cupcakes (yum!), mixed fruit (double yum!), veggie sticks (not so yum), pretzels, marshmallows, graham crackers, and more. Thanks to Mike and Wing for hosting us that evening and setting up this delicious fondue.


9. YSEC Pitch Competition
On a bit of a whim, and as spur-of-the moment decision, I entered my non-profit organization into a  pitch competition. The competition was put on by a group called the Young Social Entrepreneurs of Canada (YSEC), whose mission is to promote social enterprises. A week or so after we applied, we were notified that we had been shortlisted as one of the final candidates and were invited to attend the final competition.

In total, 5 finalists were short listed to compete for 2 “prizes”. I put prizes in quotation because the winners end up receiving a $1,000 grant. It was actually quite nice knowing that when we entered the competition, we went in not having an urgent need for the money. Despite that, there were many other reasons why we entered into the competition

  • for the publicity and exposure (especially as a new organization) (featured in BlogTO and maybe another upcoming media mention)
  • for the networking and contacts we would meet (have arranged a number of coffee meetings as a result of the event)
  • for the practice (it’s always nice to brush up and practice your presentation skills)
  • and to refine our story (I can now give off a clear, concise, 30-60 second elevator pitch w/out hesitation)

I kind of gave it away already, but we were selected as one of the winners of the pitch competition. Ron and I went out to celebrate afterward, and it was a nice escape from all of the office/computer work I’d been doing all that previous week.

I’m sure more updates on this and other related things will be coming soon.


10. Speaking Engagement for Food Forward Event
Also a last minute event, I was asked to participate and share my thoughts on entrepreneurship and creating your own opportunities in the food world at an event put on by a new organization, Food Forward. I didn’t really have too much time to prepare, and ended up sharing a lot of my thoughts on entrepreneurship and why everyone should take this initiative. Again, it was a great opportunity, and chance to practice and refine my public speaking skills.


11. Meeting up with old friends
November was also interested in that I met up and saw some friends I hadn’t seen in a while – 1 since high school, and several I hadn’t seen in a year or a couple of years. In all cases, it was nice to catch up and hear what everyone is up to.

That’s it for now. There is probably a lot more I can write about, but I’ll leave it here for now


This month’s closing quotation is about one of my favourite topics: food.

To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art

-La Rochefoucauld

September 2010 Review

September has been a fun month full of social activities, mostly revolving around food. It saw the end of my summer ultimate season, stuffing my face on several occasions, hanging out with old and new friends, and seeing the weather transition into fall. Here’s a (not so quick) recap of some of the interesting things I did this September.

1. Pulled Pork and Sangria BBQ
For the Labour Day Weekend, I decided to host a BBQ at my place. Though no actual grilling or BBQ’ing took place, instead I ended up making pulled pork in my oven, and a creamy coleslaw (not in the oven) to go along with it. After a bit of research, I decided upon this recipe from the Food Network. Overall it was a good recipe, though if I were to make it again, I would probably lower the cooking temperature and increase the cooking time to get the meat more tender and juicy. When I cooked the pork, my oven has a fancy probe attachment that you stick right into the meat to determine the internal temperature and found that cooking at 300 brought the meat up to an internal temperature of 170 much, much faster than the recipe suggested (like 3.5 hrs vs 6 hours). The only other time I made pulled pork, I cooked the meat at a lower temperature for a longer period of time, and the meat seemed to be much more tender and juicy. I think the moral of the story is, low an slow for best results.

A couple days later, I discovered that I used the probe wrong by sticking it in horizontally into the meat. I was right in sticking it in to the thickest part of the meat, but I should have put the probe in vertically as the horizontal approach allows for more of the tender juices to leak out the side vs. from the top.

A huge batch of sangria was also made, which helped to balance out the rich and heavy feeling of the slaw and pork. Overall, I would definitely do this again. It was a simple meal to prepare, cook, and cleanup, the food was tasty, company was fun and entertaining as expected, the pork shoulders were a surprisingly inexpensive cut, and I ended up with some extra bottles of wine as well.

2. Hispanic Fiesta
Early in the month, I went to go and check out the Hispanic Fiesta happening at Mel Lastman Square ( Despite a threat of rain, there was live music from a variety of performers, interesting food from vendors featuring hispanic dishes (think lots of grilled meat, pulled pork, churros, grilled corn, etc).

3. End of the Summer Ultimate Season
September marked the end of the summer frisbee season with a day of playoff games early Saturday morning. While I was pretty disappointed that we weren’t seeded in the championship bracket (despite being ranked higher than another team who was in the bracket), it was still a fun day nonetheless. We ended up winning our first and last game, though lost our second one. I was a little surprised by the caliber of the Tuesday West division as it was much higher than the Tuesday East we normally play in. While the outdoor fall season has already started, I’m taking a bit of a break until the indoor fall season starts for me mid-November.

4. Pig Roast celebration
In honour of finishing another ultimate season, we decided to have a team pig roast after the tournament to celebrate. While I have to admit we didn’t roast the pig ourselves (we had a Philippino restaurant in Scarborough roast it for us), we did make sure the pig came whole for us to chop into individual portions. It was definitely a bargain too, weighing it at 40lbs and costing only $140.

The pig came stuffed with lemongrass, and a few of us spent some of the previous day preparing some other side dishes. When it came time to cut the pig, I “generously” stepped up to volunteer my services. I say generously because at first it seemed no one really knew what to do or where to start. Not that I knew any better, but I tried to look like I knew what I was doing and before long, individual pieces/portions started to get cut away from the back of the top. Now comes the generous part (though it really just happened this way and was not something I had planned at all, promise!). After everyone had gotten their first portion, I decided that it was time to get in on some of this little piglet for myslef and allocate some of the choicest cuts of pork including the belly, cheek, and ribs. Since we were cutting from the top (back) of the pig, and no one had requested any of the other cuts, all of the best areas were still ripe for the picking! Not wanting it to go to waste, I decided to scoop some of them up for myself. And man oh man, was it ever tasty! I can’t even find the words to do this justice in how good it was.

For fun, I also tried the ear (a little burnt on the tips and very fatty near the base) and the tongue (a bit chewy and actually very good). A couple other observations about the pork. The belly was by far the most tender and delicious. The cheek was not as tender as the belly, but also quite good. The ribs (and other bony areas like the shoulder legs) were meaty and delicious, though not quite at the “fall of the bone” stage of tenderness. Most people on their first serving got cuts from the back of the pig (blade end, center loin, and sirloin) which is much leaner than some of the other areas. I would say 90% or more of the pig was eaten that glorious and gluttonous night.

6. Orchestra Practices
September also marked the beginning of the orchestra season. I wrote about it earlier (, and forgot to mention that we’re also playing some music from “The Chronicles of Narnia” in addition to other Halloween-themed music. For anyone interested in coming to my first concert in probably 5+ years, book off the afternoon of Saturday October 30th for a goblin and fairy inspired music.

7. Gladstone Harvest Wednesday
Right in the middle of the month, I went to participate the Gladstone Hotel’s Harvest Wednesday event where executive chef Marc Breton takes fresh produce from local farmers and showcases it along with local meats, cheeses, wines, and beers from other local vendors. We setup a table there are participated in most of the samples, though I was a bit underwhelmed by the food selection (or maybe it was just that lots of people showed up and it was difficult to get some of the food before it was all snatched up). Either way, it was an interesting experience that I’m happy I had the chance to attend.

As I think back on September, it has really been a month of food. Unfortunately I missed the boat on mooncakes from Chinese New Year, though had a delicious Chinese banquet meal with my family and family friends to celebrate my Grandma’s 80th birthday to make up for it. Oh yeah, and if I haven’t talked enough about food, I wrote an article for Food Trotter that got published at the beginning of the month too. Did I mention I like eating food?

Alright, that’s it for this month and enough about food for now.In parting, I’ll leave you with this quotation by Virginia Woolf, the early 20th century British novelist and essayist.

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”

July 2010 Review

July felt like a long month. With all the hot summer weather and long days we’ve been having, it seems like there’s been time for so many different activities. And without further ado, here’s a recap of some of the interesting things that went on during my July.

1. Weilin Visiting from Australia
Early in the month, I had a friend from Australia come and visit. We had met a couple years ago from a cultural exchange trip to China, and it’s been nice to keep in touch (even if sporadically) over the years, and pickup our friendship and fun times from where we left off. It was also nice to have a chance to play tour guide and show off the fantastic city I get to call home. Some of my favourite experiences were going on a tour of the Steamwhistle brewery, riding the Maid of the Mist ferry in Niagara Falls, and taking lots of comical photos.

2. Swimming
This month, I decided to return to part of last year’s morning routine – which is waking up early to hit the pool and get some exercise. The schedule that I’ve set up for myself is to go on Mondays as well either Thursday or Friday. The first day getting back in the pool after a several month layoff felt quite rough. I was much more out of breath than I remembered and everything just felt awkward. On the bright side, by the end of this month, I feel like I’m really getting my form back and getting back up to where I left off. There are a couple of things I’m going to focus on for the next couple weeks. They are: balanc ein the water, stronger kicking, and more distance per pull. I think after that I’m going to seriously start working on my flipturns.

3. Celebrating Wing’s Birthday on Centre Island
Another highlight of the month was celebrating Wing’s birthday on Centre Island. I got introduced to a new frisbee-related game, got a chance to play some disc golf, and spend an enjoyable afternoon outside.

4. Biking
In the middle of the month, I finally got around to fixing the flat tire on my bike. I’ve had it since last fall, and unfortunatlely the first replacement patch that I put on the inner tube didn’t hold and then the new inner tube that I bought had a really slow leak that ended up not being very usable. Finally, I had enough of not being able to bike around and hastily one Saturday morning decided to finally get out and get my inner tube fixed. I was in a bit of a rush to get going, but luckily, I manager to swing by the bike store, get a replacement inner tube, rush home, and in 20 minutes flat change the inner tube, pump it up, and go for a quick test ride to make sure all was A-OK. It was a bit of a mad scramble, but it got done, and now I have a bike back in riding shape. Anyone up for a bike ride in August/September?

5. Rooftop tour of Royal York
As part of our non-profit organization YUF CSA, we organizaed a tour of the rooftop gardens of the Fairmont Royal York Hotel. They’ve got a whole variety of stuff growing up there, inculding lots of herbs, a few grape vines, and even a number of bee hives. It was really interesting to see what they’ve got growing up there, and it even gave me a few inspirations for things I’d like to try to grow in the future.

6. Crab Apple Cider
As another of my random summer experiments, I decided to try making crab apple cider. I picked about a quater of a bushel of crab apples one day and proceeded to spend the next couple of hours washing, coring them, and simmering them over water and a moderate amount of sugar. After the simmering, I strained the resulting liquid through a cheesecloth and was left with a beautiful pink coloured liquid. Because I didn’t add that much water when making the cider, there was a very strong astringent after-taste of the crabapples. Besides the after-taste, it is actually really tasty and refreshing. The way I ended up using it was to dilute it with water, and mix it with a cold-brewed pot of green or black tea for a refreshing iced crab apple green tea beverage.

7. Shiitake Mushroom Harvest
July also marked the month for my second harvest of shiitake mushrooms. After soaking the logs in ice water overnight (you need to literally add a bunch of ice to your container) and then “shocking” the logs by smacking each end with a hammer, each log produced a handful of large, earthy, beautiful shiitake mushrooms. They were probably the best mushrooms I’ve ever had, stir fried with butter, and a litte salt and pepper. Yum!

8. Strategic Planning Session
July was also the month where we had some time to sit down for some strategic planning sessions. We’ve got a couple of ideas we’re looking to implement going forward, so look for new things happening in the future.

9. CBC Metro Morning Interview
Right near the end of the month, I had a chance to speak again with Matt Galloway on the CBC Radio program Metro Morning. It was a fantastic opportunity to promote my business spread the word about what I do. Originally they wanted to do a program more geared towards the early harvest of the summer fruits, but since we don’t really have a focus on summer fruit, we ended up talking about the early harvest of veggies and how we help people in the city grow and connect with the freshest, locally grown food.

10. Eat-in at City Hall
Also at the end of the month, I went for an “eat-in” event at City Hall. Designed to bring people together to talk about food as an election issue, it was a nice chance to network and meet with other people involved in the local food scene. As a bonus, it also drew out a couple of the mayoral candidates and/or their representatives.

11. Frisbee
As many of you know, frisbee is one of my favourite sports. And July just seemed to be the month where my throwing game has really started to tighten up and become more consistent. While I’ve usually been one of the main handlers on my Tuesday team, it’s been nice to be able to step up my game for my Wednesday team as well when some of the other guys haven’t been on top of their game.

After many years and thousands of throws, my consistency and accuracy has gone way up, I’m comfortable hucking the disc my game-time throwing decisions have improved, making a variety of break throws aren’t anything to get nervous about, and being able to place the disc in the hands of the receiver at the right speed, at the right angle, and right place has also improved as well.

That’s it for this July update. It’s been a busy, but good month.

April and May 2010 Review

**So I had this update written for the beginning of June, but just forgot to post it. Here it is, a month late, but better late than never.**

Another month has passed and it’s time for my monthly review. Since May of last year (2009), I was on a pretty good streak of keeping up with these updates, until this past April when I was just too busy to even think about writing an update. So here goes a double header update for both April and May.

April Review
Lots of things were happening, with the majority of my time focused on my business in terms of going out on sales calls, prepping materials for our upcoming jobs, and networking within the local food community. It was a busy month

1. Elected to be a member of the Toronto Food Policy Council
First up, I got nominated to become a member of the TFPC. This is a volunteer council, though there are a couple paid staff members, which is part of the Toronto Board of Health, that advises the city on food policy and related issues. The council is primarily made up of people who have been involved in the local food movement for many years now, and have lots of experience in a whole variety of sectors. I had a chance to skim some of the bios of the other members, and they have a long list of accomplishments which I think seriously overshadow some of the things that I’ve done in the past. Despite the wealth of experience of council members, they are bringing in some more young people to voice their opinions, and it is through the relatively new Toronto YOUTH Food Policy Council (which I am also a member of), I got nominated to be one of the two youth representatives on the council.

More information on the council canbe found here (, though I’ve been told the website is many, many years old and is not regularly updated

2. Spoke with Matt Galloway on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning
Towards the end of the month, I got a call from one of the producers of Metro Morning asking if I’d be interested in going into the studio to speak about my involvement in the local urban agriculture secene. Not wanting to turn down such a great opportunity, I accepted wholeheartedly. It was a whirlwind experience where everything happened very quickly. I got a call on Monday asking to see if I’d be interested in participating, got a call back the next day to confirm the time, then on Thursday morning, I found myself sitting in the studio with Matt Galloway as well as with another urban farmer Daniel Hoffman. The interview took place early on Thursday morning (around 6:45am), I arrived at the studio around 6:30, the interview lasted less than 10 minutes, and then I was out the door and on my way for the rest of the day right afterwards. It was a cool experience and I’m happy to say that we got some more business for both the CSA and our private service out of this interview.


3. Grant approval for our non-profit
One of the most exciting news to share this month was that our non-profit Young Urban Farmers CSA got approved for a grant from the Big Carrot. Lots of time and effort went into preparing the application, and this wouldn’t have been possible without the help from many of our great volunteers. I know I definitely breathed a sigh of relief knowing that we have some funding to help sustain our operations for this year. As with most non-profits, funding is always an issue and it’s nice to see that all of our costs will be covered through our shareholders and this grant for this year.

4. The Drake Hotel
Another piece of exciting news was that we landed a pretty high profile commercial account. While the garden that we set up for them is tucked away in a back alley behind the hotel and not very visible, it is still a great opportunity for us to expand to more commercial customers in the future.

5. Online store sales orders

Back in March, we launched an e-commerce store as a way to help get our brand out there and service more people than just in our current geographic reach of the GTA. Not really expecting too much, I was pleasantly surprised as many people somehow were able to find our website and placed a couple orders with us. No SEO or web optimization or anything was done (which is on my to-do list once things start to settle down) to draw people to our site, and some of these customers mentioned that they found us through a simple web search. Maybe this is just one successful example of the phrase “build it and they will come”.

6. Easter
Easter was a bit of a low-key time of year for me. My parents were out of town, but I had the chance to be there for my friend Derek’s baptism. It was also great to see a bunch of old Queen’s people I hadn’t seen in a while too.

That about sums it up for the month of April. I’m sure more things happened that I’ve forgotten about, but that’s all for now.

May review
May has been a hot and dry month. I was able to get my farmer’s tan on, setting up a ton of gardens this year (I’ve actually lost track of how many I’ve put in so far). I’m glad things are starting to slow down a bit more as I can’t keep up the same pace of work for so long.

1. Three Feature Articles in The Globe and Mail
Over the past year, we’ve been very fortunate to have a number of high profile media outlets speak and profile us in their publications (Toronto Life, Toronto Star, CBC Radio). This month, several opportunities came up where YUF was profiled in the small business section, I was profiled in the May 24 gardening special, and our CSA was also talked about in the same paper on the same day as well. I know it’s been huge in terms of generating awareness and will only help business in the future.

2. Selling Seedlings at the Withrow Farmers Market
Also in May, we had the chance to sell lots of seedlings at the Withrow Farmers Market. Not knowing what to expect, I would say we did quite well selling lots of plants each time we were there. We definitely learned a lot being at the market as well. And it was more of the little things that we learned like arriving early to setup, having a banner and some sort of tent cover to help protect us from the elements, knowing which plants to bring, and more.

3. Avoided 2 parking tickets
There was one day during the middle of the month where I almost got 2 parking tickets. In both places, I knew I was parked in a spot where I shouldn’t have been, and both times I was getting back to my car just as the parking officer was showing up to write a ticket. One of the parking officers was really nice about it, and the other was a real jerk about it. I know they are just doing their jobs, but unfortunately they’re in probably one of the professions where most people don’t like it when they do their job well.

4. Start of the Ultimate Season
May also marked the start of our frisbee season. I’m playing on two teams again this year (Tofuriuos and Slam Dunks) on Tuesday and Wednesday night. I forgot how much I missed playing frisbee until I stepped on the pitch for the first time this season. There’s been a bit of turnover on both of my teams, but there are still lots of fun people on both teams that I know it’s going to be a great season!

5. Felix and Boris back in town
Coincidentally, two of my high school friends were back in town in May at the same time and I had a chance to catch up with both of them. It was nice getting together and going for a delicious Chinese vegetarian dinner

6. TFPC retreat and strategic planning session
After being elected to become a member of the TFPC (Toronto Food Policy Council), I had a chance to attend my first meeting with the group and it was a strategic planning session. Surprisingly, this was the first time in the council’s almost 20 year history. I had the privilege of meeting many of the esteemed members of the council (people who have definitely been around the food world and done lots of great things) and contribute to the future vision of the council.

Also, for the first public meeting of the council in June (on Wednesday), I’ll have an opportunity to be a part of a panel discussion about the future of the Food Connections Report recently passed by Toronto Public Health and which should be moving on to the main city council for a vote in the future.

7. Interesting Plants
This year, I’m trying out a number of new and interesting plants. As with all plants, it’s about experimenting and seeing what works for you and what works in our Toronto climate. Here are some of the interesting ones that I’m growing this year:

  • Purple snow peas
  • French lavender
  • Ginger mint
  • Globe basil
  • Thai basil
  • Cantaloupe
  • Tomatillo
  • Climbing nasturtiums
  • “Curry” herb (smells just like Indian curry!)

Looking forward, I’m sure June will bring more interesting events (I’m never one to just sit idly around) and more things to write about. I want to take some time to reconsider the direction of the blog as there hasn’t been any plan or direction so far. All of our gardens should be wrapped up very soon, and it’ll be time to start reaping the rewards of the harvest.


September Reflections

September has been a month of transition – a month of new beginnings, a month of recharging, and a month of possibilities. A number of interesting things went on in the month I’d like to take a bit of time to share some of the things that went on for me in September.

1. More Publicity
First off, my business got some really great publicity from The Toronto Star, one of Toronto’s most widely read newspaper and one with a fairly large national following (I think) as well. We had been in contact with a journalist there who was interested in doing an article about us, one thing led to another, and before we knew it, we were featured on the front page of the Living section. If you’re interested in reading the article, you can find it here

2. Experimenting with Herbs
Also this month, I had the chance to get a hold of a couple of really good books on growing and utilizing herbs. As I learn and start incorporating some of this stuff in the business, I had the opportunity to try some of the things first hand. These included drying a variety of herbs, creating a mint sugar, a rosemary salt, and some candied mint and candied basil leaves. I’ll create a post about it soon!

3. Weekly Sunday Review
Also this month, I had the chance to start implementing a new weekly review. I’m using a template that I found here, and so far I’m finding it quite valuable as it’s forcing me to focus and plan my life on a more detailed level on a weekly basis. Combined with my monthly reviews, I’m finding that I’ve been better able to track and stay on top of my goals and priorities over the last little while.

4. Pear Pick
At the beginning of the month, I had a opportunity to volunteer my time to go on a fruit pick with an organization called Not Far From the Tree. They connect homeowners (who have fruit trees they are unable to pick) with volunteers to pick the fruit and donate part of the harvest to local food banks and charities. I think it’s a great initiative and was happy to volunteer a couple hours on a warm September afternoon.

5. Scally’s Cup
As the summer ultimate season wound to a close, I was asked to represent the Thursday competitive division in playing in the Scally’s Cup, hosted by the Toronto Ultimate Club. It was great playing again at a more competitive level, and for the first time in a while I got the chance to cut on the field instead being in a handling role. It was a humbling experience to see that my fitness definitely needed some work if I were to be a full time cutter, but also reassuring that I was able to be a strong influence on the field scoring a number of points for my team.

6. Recruiting
September means the beginning of recruiting season. And while we were a little slow in getting our act together, we are well underway, having posted our jobs opportunities at a number of schools. If you’re interested in a potential opportunity, let me know!

7. Day Trip to Niagara
One of the most memorable events this month has been a day trip to Niagara on the Lake. I had a chance to visit a number of interesting food places along the way and in the area including Upper Canada Cheese Company (featuring local cheese from local Guernsey cows), Olson Foods (featuring local food from the Niagara region by chefs Anna and Michael Olson), Inniskillin winery (which has delicious and outstanding ice wines – try the sparkling ice wine), Sunnybrook Farms Winery (which specializes in producing only fruit wines), and the quaint little shops right in the heart of Niagara on the Lake.

9. Books:
If you haven’t guessed already, I love to read, and really enjoy the time that I set aside with a good book. And though most of my reading has been directly related to business in the past couple months, I really enjoy these kinds of books. Ideally, I’d like to broaden the scope of my reading, but there’s only so much time in each day to devote to stuff like this, it’ll have to wait until the lighter (I think) winter months. Some books that I’ve read or are reading currently include An Incomplete Education, Duct Tape Marketing, A Whole New Mind, Groundswell, and The E-Myth Enterprise.

The end of September means it’s another year older for me, and hopefully another year wiser. I’ve been doing some recent introspection, and I think that I’ve really grown and changed over the last little while. The new weekly Sunday reviews that I started doing are really focusing my daily and weekly efforts and I realize that one thing I want to focus more on and define in more detail is my long term plan and long term goals.

In tandem with this, the weekly reviews (and these monthly reviews) have really shown me that what you think about and focus your energies on really shape and determine your reality. I firmly blieve that if you have a clear idea of exactly what your goals are, and what you’re working towards, you are much more likely to achieve them instead of having a vague and nebulous ideas what you want in life. The clearer and more difined they are, using as much detail as possible will help you to focus your efforts in working towards making your vision a reality.

Looking forward, October is going to be another busy month, but it should be a fun and rewarding one. I’m hoping to be able to announce another big venture that I’m working on, and there should be more exciting things to share as well.

Life is good, and I’d like to leave you with this parting quotation:

“People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them.”
– George Bernard Shaw

elderbery black_beauty flower

The Busy and Interesting Month of May

May has been an extremely busy time for me and a whirlwind of new and interesting experiences. I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to experience all these new things and hopefully will have many more interesting experiences to share in the future. And so without futher ado, here’s a brief recap of some of the interesting and unique experiences I had over the past month

1. Ontario Food Terminal
This was almost a surreal experience paying a 5am visit to the Ontario Food Terminal which is Canada’s largest wholesale fruit and produce terminal. This is where all the restaurants and grocery stores go to buy their produce, and where convenience stores, nurseries, and other retailers go to buy their flowers/plants. Apparantly all the action happens around 2-3am for the big buyers and it’s just a hive of activity, produce, and plants. Thanks to some inside connections, I was able to go and pickup some plants for my business.

For more info, check out

2. Visit to a local flower/vegetable farm
Not many people know this, but farming runs in my family. My mom grew up on a farm up near Newmarket and today my aunt continues to run the same farm growing flowers and vegetables. With several HUGE greenhouses, it was incredible seeing rows and rows of flowers and vegetbles as far as the eye can see. I had the opportunity to go and visit my aunt’s farm a couple times this month to pickup most of the veggies and plants needed for my business.

3. The inaugural Lemon/Herb camping trip
This trip can be summed up in two words – epic failure! Our reliance on only a flint/steel, fishing rod, and our wits for dinner on this camping trip ended up in failure. Granted we didn’t really do any research before attempting to fish, it was our first time attempting to fish, and we were using my dad’s 30 year old equipment which wasn’t in the best working order, we weren’t really setting ourselves up for success. We did manage to get and keep a fire going despite a massive downpour, but the fish and our lures were not cooperating. Despite that, it was an awesome trip and great chance to spend a weekout away from the city out in the woods.

4. A 10 hour teeth cleaning experience
And before you get too shocked, the entire 10 hours isn’t spent cleaning my teeth (my teeth aren’t that bad – promise!). One of my friends is in training to become a dental hygienist and needed some volunteers to help her get some practice and experience. And despite the extremely long time commitment (which isn’t finished just yet), it turned out to be the most thorough and comprehensive oral checkup and assessment I’ve ever had. I learned alot about my teeth, proper brushing technique, and a whole slew of technical jargon that I didn’t really udnerstand, but seemed interesting regardless.

5. Leading a focus group
I had the chance one weekend to lead a couple of focus groups for my business and it turned out to be a very interesting experience. I learned alot about moderating, leading and guiding a discussion, and soliciting input from a variety of different types of people. Thanks to Yafa for the help in creating the discussion guide and general tips on leading/moderating.

6. Visiting a friend’s photography gallery
The month of May was also home to month long Contact photography festival. It features local photographers to showcase their stuff and one of my friends hosting his own gallery during this festival. He’s got some amazing work and I had the priviledge of going to check out his gallery on opening night. Unfortunatly the gallery is wrapping up tomorrow, but you can go and checkout his website here.

7. Spring kickoff BBQ
Spring is in the air and that means BBQ season. It was great having some friends over, sharing some good food and good company. With that being said, I think I’ll host another BBQ in the future.

8. Start of ultimate season
While not so unique, frisbee season has started – and for those who know me, know that I love to play frisbee. It’s a great chance to get some exercise and hang out with friends after a hard day’s work. It’s a great sport for veterans or for beginners and I encourage everyone to at least give it a try!

9. The JC Iron Chef competition
Right at the beginning of the month, I battled Jing in a cooking duel a la Iron Chef. The secret ingredient: BACON! The unexpected dish that I served to wrapup my meal – bacon ice cream! Yes that’s right, bacon ice cream. And it was delicious. Please allow me to explain. It’s not bacon-flavoured ice cream, it’s ice cream with bacon bits in it. Here’s the rationale. You start with your smooth, cold, and creamy ice cream (I used a base of vanilla ice cream). Add in some homemade shortbread cookies for a bit of chewy-ness and a change in texture, and to top it off, finely chopped bits of crispy bacon for an unexpected sweet salty surprise. Sure you may think it sounds unappetizing, but tell that to everyone present who decided to try it and like it enough to finish the entire bowl!


That’s all for the interesting/unique things in May. We’ll see what June brings in terms of more interesting/unique experiences.

A Few Things I’ve Been Up to These Days

I’ve had a lot more free time these days and thought I’d write a brief update as to some of things I’ve been up to.

Rubix Cube
I borrowed my cousin’s rubix cube a couple of weeks ago and have been fiddling around with it for quite a while. All I can say is that it’s a step up from the 3×3 and really stretches your mind as you try and conceptualize how to put the cube back together. And for those looking for something even more hardcore, try solving a 20×20 cube (see the youtube video of it here)!


Nerdy Computer Things
As if solving a 4×4 Rubix cube wasn’t nerdy enough, some other things I’ve been up include taking apart old computers and setting up a home server. Of particular interest was extracting the hard drive out of my old original bondi blue iMac. This was buried deep within the case and involved some intricate maneuvering. For those interested, I took some pictures while taking it apart for you to see what the inside of an iMac looks like.

On another note, another project I’m in the middle of is setting up a home server. I pulled my old PC out of storage, reformatted the hard drive and am in the process of installing Ubuntu linux onto it to use as a home server. It should be really interesting as I’ve never used Linux and am looking forward to the challenge of learning to use a new OS.

Reading More
My love of reading has been invigorated since getting back and having more time to read some captivating books. Two authors in particular I’m reading more of are James Clavell, author of Shogun and Noble House, and Bill Bryson, author of The Short History of Nearly Everything, and Shakespeare – the world as stage. All these books I would recommend to those looking for a captivating read.

Other books I’m looking forward to (or currently) reading include:
4 Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
Don Quixote by Cervantes

Ultimate Frisbee season started about a month ago and it’s been great to get back to the game and running again. A few things I’m trying to work on and improve this year include layouts, defense, and fitness.