Wednesday, April 30, 2014

My Thoughts | Dark Table

Have you ever heard of the restaurant downtown called Dark Table? Neither had I - until my momma bought Edwin & I a Groupon for Christmas this year! Wait until you read about it. It's a restaurant where you dine entirely in the dark. Edwin & I went last Friday night and let me tell you, it was quite the experience! It was dark. Like pitch black darkness. I cannot even begin to explain how dark it was - we could not see ONE thing. I could close my eyes or have them open and see the exact same thing.

Let me back up a bit pre-darkness. When you get there, you are in a lit area where you are given menus and order your drinks, appetizers, entrees, and desserts. (or any combination of the above, but you order it all at once is my point) Then, they call your server out to the lit area, and the servers are all blind or visually impaired. Your server is your guide for the night. Elias, our server, instructed me to put my hands on his shoulder and then for Edwin to put his hands on my shoulders. We then walked to our table, and he helped us sit down. It is amazing how much you have to feel and touch your surroundings when you cannot see them. Also, you can really hear everything that is going on around you quite well. Your other senses definitely kick in when you can't see. And again, I need to reiterate to you just HOW dark it was. It was BLACK. I actually found that I kept closing my eyes, just at random times for quite a while, and I'm not sure why. It just felt normal since I couldn't see anything anyways! Also, it felt quite straining since I was trying to see something, anything, with my eyes open; but never could.

Elias brought us some bread to start, and Edwin and I had to find our butter and butter knife to butter our bread. (it's really quite amusing buttering bread in the dark...) Then, we got a starter, which turned out to be a salad. They tell you at the beginning that it the starter is a surprise, so I had to clarify with the hostess who took our orders initially that it didn't include meat. The whole time we ate the salad, we kept trying to figure out what was in it. I think there was some quinoa in it, and maybe some fruit? There was definitely tomatoes in it, and the dressing was a vinaigrette of some sort. I really enjoyed it! Every time Elias brought us a new course or a drink, he would guide our hands to where it was. It was a strange feeling having my hand touched so often by my server - that is not something you are used to when you are not visually impaired.

I had ordered the garlic prawns with a lemon risotto and seasonal vegetables; and Edwin had ordered stuffed chicken. When the entrees came, we both felt like our physical plates were very large. I'm curious if they actually were larger than average plates, or it was just us noticing their size upon not seeing them. I really enjoyed my prawns and risotto. It was awkward finding each item on your plate, since you don't know where they are, and you never quite know what you will be eating next! I have to admit, I ended up using my hands a bit to find things or to tell if I was done my meal. I was quite proud of myself for not spilling the whole time, but upon exiting the restaurant I learned that wasn't the case sadly...

Overall, this was a very, very unique experience and I think that everyone should experience it at least once! I do feel like once you experience it once, there isn't a need to go back since it's hard to justify mentally that you are eating in the pitch black as opposed to a "normal" lit restaurant. It is really somewhere to go for the experience and make a night out of it. Plus, the menu isn't very large. Again, the experience was totally, totally worth it, don't get me wrong. It really makes you recognize that we take for granted our vision. I can't remember where I read this, but I read that the unemployment rate for visually impaired people is 70%. That really surprised me, and again really makes you realize how for granted we take it that we can easily get jobs comparatively.

You should go!

If you want to see some photos, read here for a review on

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

our new home

I am VERY excited to tell you that Edwin & I bought a home!

It is a townhouse in Fleetwood, very close to our favorite grocery store - Two EE's. My favorite part of it is the brick exterior. It really makes for a very home-y feeling! We don't move in until the end of June, but that is okay with us as it gives us some time to buy furniture, plan, etc.

I'm very excited to have a beautiful, granite coutertop kitchen with cupboards galore. I'm excited to have tons of spices in a cupboard that is specifically for spices and cook big family dinners there. I'm also excited for the above photo - double sinks in our master ensuite! (a girl's dream!) I'm looking forward to our first Christmas tree as well. (we already planned a location for it)

It's definitely been a learning process so far - this home ownership thing. We have learned a LOT in this process and I am sure will continue to learn a lot as we go. Also, it will be an adventure for Edwin and I together to choose furniture for the house - how would I have known he wouldn't like a grey couch?!

There will be many more photos to come once we move in at the end of June. I'm sure there will be many stories as well! I am looking forward to creating our new home very, very much.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Guest Post | Heartbleed Bug

I feel very excited to say that I have a guest blogger today! The topic is on the all-controversial Heartbleed bug that happened a few weeks ago, and the guest blogger is my lovely boyfriend Edwin. I heard about it on Twitter and on the news, but have to admit I didn't read much into it. Here, my tech saavy man discusses the Heartbleed bug in depth and I have to admit, not only does it now make sense, but I've realized that I am very non-security minded. For example, if you know one of my passwords, you probably know them all! This might be a good eye opener for me to start get more security aware of my personal accounts...

Happy learning! Oh, and check out some of the links - there's some cool info there!

PS - just to prove my point, I originally called this post "Heartbleed Virus" but was quickly informed it is NOT a virus, it is a bug. Whoops. My bad. Updated! 

It’s been two weeks since a security flaw in the OpenSSL cryptography library (commonly used to encrypt traffic over the Internet) was made public. The security flaw received the sinister name ‘Heartbleed’ and is referred as perhaps the most serious security problem ever affecting the commercial internet.

According to our good friends of Wikipedia, Heartbleed “is exploited by sending a malformed heartbeat request with a small payload and large length field…” that would allow attackers gain access to 64 KB of server memory being used by OpenSSL, potentially obtaining the server’s private master key and allowing the attacker to either decrypt stored traffic, or decrypt live traffic through (almost perfectly secret) man-in-the-middle-attacks.  

And unless you’ve spent an uncommon amount of time understanding computers and the internet and you blatantly admit to being a geek, the above two paragraphs haven’t helped a bit (pun intended) to have an idea of what the problem is.

In plain English, the Heartbleed bug is a problem affecting over half a million servers on the internet supposedly “secured” to exchange sensitive information.  This information most commonly represents username/password combinations to login to a website, emails, apps, cloud services, etc.  This means that an attacker could get access to your email, company’s network, payroll system, private network of cameras at home, your phone, online files, banking services, and virtually anything using the internet.  

Reputable sites as Google, Yahoo, Wikipedia, Twitter, CRA, etc. have acknowledged they were affected and corrected the issue on time. It is estimated however, that over 20,000 websites remain vulnerable.

While the entire ramifications and consequences of Heartbleed remain to be seen, it helped me realize that even though no attacker would find anything valuable in my email accounts or in my less-than-often used Facebook account, I’d be in trouble if my identity got stolen and suddenly realized I had my bank account emptied, or credit card maxed out, or even a second or third mortgage! 

Here are a few yes/no questions that can help you analyze your online presence risk level:

  • Do you use the same username / password on all sites?
    • For a moment assume that your username and password are compromised. What information will the attacker get access to? Just to the one website or to the entire suite of sites where you use the SAME password for (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, Gmail, online banking, iTunes, etc.) Do you think you can’t remember all passwords? You can use free password vaults where you can store all your passwords using a master password. 
    • Interesting fact: a recent survey of office workers regarding passwords revealed that half of the employees write their passwords down, while a third share their passwords. 
  • Do you use two step authentication? 
    • 2-steps authentication is a neat feature offered by most big online providers (Gmail, Hotmail, Facebook, several banks, etc.) that require you to authenticate using your username + password + a security token generated on your smart phone. 
    • If you are one of the 70% of North Americans with a smartphone, it’s highly likely you can integrate 2-steps authentication for many of your internet accounts. 
  • Do you use a specific credit card / payment wallet when buying online? 
    • Using only a specific credit card for online purchases will help you make sure your level of risk is reduced if your card number gets compromised. Several financial institutions offer Visa / Master Card debit cards for online purchases. You can have a special checking account tied to the card and transfer money before the online purchase. 
    • Alternatively you can use a payment wallet such as Google Wallet or Paypal to -relatively- safely store your credit card. When using one of these wallets on eCommerce sites, your credit card number is never shared with the website. 
  • Do you check your bank accounts and credit card statements regularly? 
    • A lot of credit card frauds can be initially recognized by small charges (typically under $5) made by a scammer to confirm that credit card number is “alive” before being sold in the black market. 
    • Personally, I’ve been able to confirm that after two weeks, I can’t remember what most of the charges on my credit card are. If I see a $4 charge on my credit card I’ll probably assume it’s a charge in a coffee shop I don’t remember.
  • Do you check your own credit score periodically? 
    • When you run a credit check on yourself, you can not only see how worth of credit you are to lenders but you can also see if there are any outstanding uncollected debts from you –or someone pretending to be you-.

In conclusion: 

The Heartbleed security bug has recently demonstrated that even the strongest sites on the Internet can be affected by security issues and it’s impossible to be totally protected against fraud and other risks caused by software vulnerabilities on the internet (even Google had another recent intrusionto their production servers due to flaws on their own old software).

Keeping that in mind, it is possible for us to take measures to protect ourselves. Tools like 2-steps verification, password vaults, payment wallets, pre-paid credit cards, and others can let you reduce the level of risk you are exposed to on the Internet. 

Random fact of the day:
The random fact of the day goes to the Walkman that turns 35 this year! Pretty cool eh!?  Do you remember when they were the trendiest and coolest thing in the world and you would be carrying your set of cassettes with you?  I do! But it looks like kids nowadays have no idea how to operate one! Don’t blame them, digital music has made life much easier and changed the world!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

recipes galore

As you know, I enjoy food. I love cooking and I also enjoy eating every now and then! It is really fun for me to find cool recipes online, and then add them to my "to make" list in my phone. I also really enjoy reading recipes just to get ideas in my head to create my own meals!

Here are some delicious looking recipes I've found recently:

1. lemon & feta dip

2. white pizza grilled cheese (oh. my. gosh. this looks amazing)

3. goat cheese & brussel sprout skillet pizza (I've never made pizza in a skillet - interesting concept!)

4. anything from this blog, really.

5. I always see portobello mushrooms at Two EE's but am not really sure what I would do with them. So I googled it. I'm going to try some grilled 'shrooms on burgers soon maybe?

6. lastly, our friends at White Spot have a cookbook. This is definitely on my wish list!!! (Zoo sticks? Yes please!)

And, just for fun, check out this commercial. I laughed out loud when I saw it! (that was about 4 minutes ago...)

Friday, April 18, 2014

egg weekend

What are you up to this long weekend? Our office was closed today, but since it has been very busy lately, they said we could work if we wanted to. So, I figured working on a stat holiday was a good idea! I just worked for 4 hours this morning and was extremely productive, which felt nice.

I am hanging out with Bailey at my Aunty Coralee's house this weekend. I'm working on getting a photo of him and I together, but he is busy sun bathing on the porch right now.

My parents are off visiting my sister in Regina this weekend. I wish I was there so badly!! I can't WAIT to see my sister in August. 6 months is far too long for sisters to go without seeing each other. Face Time just isn't cutting it! I know she was super excited to see my parents so they will all have a great weekend. Pants is left doggie-sitting Odie this weekend. He was pretty bummed that he wouldn't get an "official" turkey Easter dinner, so I've volunteered to make some turkey for the boys. It may not be a fancy, basted, and oven roasted for 8 hours turkey, but it will be turkey nonetheless!

Here are a few others things I've been up to these days:

Edwin & I saw Aziz Ansari at the River Rock Casino a few weekends ago. He is hilarious! Check out one of my favorite segments of his. Don't worry - there's no profanity or anything! This is why I like him. I like a comedian who doesn't have to swear and talk about yucky things to be funny.

The next weekend, we went to the Vancouver Auto Show. I told Edwin the only way I would drive a minivan is if he bought me the one with the vacuum in it. (because how convenient is that?!)

We have been having Sunday dinners with my family every week lately. (Sorry, little sister...we started after you left...) This was one of my requests to my mom: tortilla pie. It's almost like a tortilla lasagne - tortillas layered with beans, vegetables, and cheese. The recipe is vegetarian, but I am sure you could add ground beef or chicken and it would be yummy too. I love my momma's cooking.

Plus, we get to see Odie all the time. This is me and him taking a selfie together. (at his request, obviously)

I was housesitting last weekend for Sam & Ben - two kitties. This is Sam posing at the fireplace for me.

Ben & Edwin got along quite splendidly.

Apparently I really enjoy taking selfies with animals! This is Ben & I - his eyes crack me up in this photo!

I got this super cool postcard from my sis in Regina! It's always fun to get physical mail that is not bill-related.

Edwin & I went to the last Canucks game of the season. We are both proudly rocking our Canucks shirts as we are such hardcore fans! ;)

I took a panoramic photo on my iPhone! I think I need to practice more.

This was at the Craft Beer Market in Olympic Village. On Mondays, the fleet of 6 beers is only $7! They are obviously smaller than regular pints, but you get a decent amount of beer for $7, plus you get to try a variety of beers.

I had the fish tacos. They were pretty good, but what was REALLY good was the mac n' cheese I got as a side dish! I didn't realize it bacon in the mac n' cheese, so it's a good thing Edwin was there to eat it all up for me. He ordered a burger (you can see it in the background!) with poutine and it was some GOOD poutine.

I made boerenkoel for dinner last night using this recipe. My Opa used to make this and I loved it!! I have to admit, I had NO idea it was just mashed potatoes with kale in them. My aunty Coralee has also made boerenkoel before and it tasted really good! Mine, however, seemed to just taste like mashed potatoes with kale it. Did I make it wrong? Did I use wrong potatoes? Did it just not taste the same knowing what was exactly in it? Have I not had it in this long?! My aunt said she has bought spices from the Dutch store before to put in; maybe I'll try that next time. Oh well, it still tasted good, just not as special as I thought it would. After dinner, I ate spaekalaas. It was a true Dutch evening! (also - this was a good use for the 1 lb of kale I bought on sale at Two EE's last weekend!)

Have a great long weekend! Happy Easter!

PS - Read this. Signs you grew up in Surrey in the 90's. Too funny. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

another thing post

First things first here: Dairy Queen now serves blizzards in a waffle cone. Could there BE any better dessert?!

Next: Have you heard of Foodini? I don't get it. I also like preparing food myself, and this only appears to make things fancy and not actually cook them. Am I missing something?!

Amazing: a 14 year old could save the US government a ton of money just in font type! 

Coming: the REAL Wolf of Wall Street. How intense would this be!

Interesting: the median family income in Canada is....

Help: I bought a giant bag of kale at Two EE's this week (it was cheap) and promised Edwin I'd eat it all. I need kale recipes stat!

Yum: green curry fried rice.

Have a great week!!