Thursday, December 29, 2011

Bureaucracy - as complicated as its spelling.

Is it just a coincidence that the word "Bureaucracy" kind of translates roughly as "Office-crazy" as in "Office" in French and almost the word "Crazy" in English? I think that about sums it up. As of February 16th, 2012 I will be on a one year leave of absence from my job at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at UBC and will be jetting off to live and work in Europe - mainly Germany and possibly a bit of a stint in Italy as well. My initial dream was of Italy....but then I experienced the world of Italian bureaucracy first hand and finally started to understand why Italians are famous for it.

I wanted to apply for the working holiday visa for 18-35 year old Canadians to work and travel in Italy (I highly recommend it if you are only going for a max. of 6 months). When I realized I would be going for a year I thought there may be a way around this. I decided to take a day off work to go to the Italian consulate since they didn't respond to any of my questions via email and didn't pick up their phones. When I arrived downtown Vancouver at the Italian consulate there were no signs directing you anywhere so I asked a random man where to go and he told me visas were the 7th floor but that I needed an appointment. I just smiled and nodded. Turns out he was working the reception desk there and had the strangest Italian accent I've ever heard. So I ask the woman at the reception desk if I can talk to the visa officer and once again she tells me I need an appointment to which I tell her that it doesn't say that anywhere on the website and no one responded to my inquiries. Finally she sighs and tells me to wait until after these other women are served and then she'll allow me to talk to the visa officer. I could tell she was less than impressed with me so far. After an hour of helping one person I finally get to talk to the visa guy. He told me he remembered getting my email but that the email didn't work when he replied. I just laughed to myself because my whole email address is in would be pretty hard for him to mess it up. Anyways, he told me that the visa is only for 6 months for all of Europe and that I'd have to leave Europe immediately after 6 months and have all my return flights booked in advance. Then he proceeded to tell me that the only way to stay longer would be to have an Italian employer offer me work, then I would have to return to Canada, apply for an Italian work permit and only then could I go back. Also upon arriving in Italy I would need to register with a city within the first 8 days and I still haven't been able to figure out if you have to stay in that city or if you are allowed to live elsewhere. The website says a different thing than he did, naturally. I have to say it was quite fascinating watching the various characters come into the consulate and chat about their personal lives in front of everyone (divorces, home ownership in Italy, and lots more). I could understand bits and pieces of it anyway.

Needless to say I realized that this was not a very likely scenario (getting a job offer and returning to Canada to apply for a permit, that is). Senore visa officer (who was actually very nice but not very informative) vaguely answered a few other questions which contradicted most of the information I got from the website again and then I sadly kind of gave up on the Italian visa idea. I still hope to possibly study Italian or work some English immersion summer camps in Italy (which don't require a visa), but we shall see. If nothing else, I will visit and eat good food and see my relatives and hopefully bask for a little while under the lovely Tuscan sun, see the magnificent David again in Firenze and of course enjoy the world's most beautiful language (in my humble opinion :).

The other factor in my decision of course is the state of the Italian economy right now...I think I'm starting to understand why it is the way it is. I decided to look into a visa for Germany (since my wonderful cousin Greg loves it there so much!)....and that will be my next blog post.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

6. Go back to Hawaii or somewhere tropical or "Top 10 reason I love Hawaii"

Aloha! Well, as my 101 list comes to an end this month I thought I should catch up with a few things that I actually did manage to do recently. One of which was to go back to Hawaii this past winter with my friend Michelle! I know that everyone who has been to Hawaii says they love Hawaii and it seems like such a typical tropical destination but here's the secret - it really is the most amazingly awesome place. I have only been to the island of Oahu, but I do plan on visiting other islands next time, but still I feel like I can speak for the general qualities that make this one of my favourite places.

Here is my top 10 list of reason I love this place -

1. People actually greet each other with Aloha and mean it.
2. People will give you the hang loose sign and mean it.
3. Despite the constant inundation of tourists year long locals remain friendly and welcoming to tourists (well at least all the ones that I encountered.)
4. The temperature fluctuates between perfectly warm and slightly warmer all year round.
5. The water is amazing and you can stay in it for hours.
6. There is a constant smell of flowers and other lush things in the air.
7. There are so many types of tropical fruit fresh and ready to be eaten all year round.
8. You can't help but be laid back, relaxed and just completely chill when you're there. It's practically the law.
9. You can wear whatever you want and no one will blink an eye (for example men actually wear Hawaiin shirts there as office clothing.)
10. You are guaranteed to always get "leid". (couldn't help myself ;)

Next stop....Maui! :)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Shooting with my new Canon Powershot G12

After a few years of being frustrated with the slow shutter speed of my camera I finally got a new one and I'm loving it so far! It's the Canon Powershot G12 with 10 Megapixel resolution, a 5 x zoom and all sorts of cool gadgets including high definition video shooting. I've been having tons of fun with it lately and here are some of the shots I've taken so far. I think my buried photography passion is rising to the surface again! :)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Vancouver 2010 Olympic Anniversary

Happy Olympic Anniversary! Was it really a year ago today that the torch was lit and the rockin' street party in Vancouver began? What a wonderful month it was in this city. The constant sea of red and white on the streets, the incredible Canadian spirit, finally winning so many gold medals in our own contry, the incredible athletes, the free live music everywhere in the city and of course the final Gold medal hockey game. It was the highlight of 2010 for me and I feel proud to have been living in the host city. There were ups and downs, from the death of the Georgian luger to the embarrassing incident in the opening ceremonies where the arm of the cauldron wouldn't rise, to my own experience with hypothermia up at Cypress, but overall it was an amazing event. Here are a few photos from those incredible weeks.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

87. Try 12 New Recipes a Year

I originally set a goal to try 12 new recipes a year, but in 2009 I more than doubled that and in 2010 I tried 36 new recipes. I guess you could say I have discovered a passion for the culinary arts! Here is the list of new recipes that I tried with my star rating (5 stars being the best). Many of these recipes I adapted in my own way so I may do more posts on individual recipes, but for now here is the full list.

1. "Livin' on the Vedge": Roasted Veggies with Lemon Couscous from Eat, Shrink and Be Merry***
2. Lemon-blueberry Muffins (used chocolate chips instead of blueberries) from Cooking Light.***
3. One Bowl Brownies from I made these for my co-worker's birthday and they were so delicious that she told me I should go into catering. I think she was just high on the chocolate and sugar. I added chocolate chips as well in order to make them triple chocolate. :) *****
4. Rasta Pasta from ****
5. Buttermilk Oatmeal Muffins from ***
6. Garlic Potato Wedges from ***
7. Peruvian Chicken Braise from Chatelaine.****
8. Roast Chicken - a variety of recipes including and lots of tips from friends. I'll do a separate post about this one!****
9. Baked Salmon Fillet - recipe from Genevieve! May do another post about this one too.****
10. Three Bean Veggie Chili from Chatelaine Magazine. **
11. Sweet and Sour Indian Veggie Stew from Chatelaine. ***
12. Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Muffins from ***
13. Key Lime Pie VII from Did not turn out! Must try to make kep lime pie again! *
14. Mediterranean Quinoa from ** Was a bit too watery!
15. Spicy Chicken Fried Rice from Chatelaine Magazine. Yummy! ****
16. Red Thai Curry - combination of Holly's recipe, package instructions and my own inventions.****
17. Sour Cream Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting from Smitten Kitchen. Can you say the most amazing cake ever? Here it is! *****
18. Classic Banana Bread from Cooking Light. ***
19. Roasted-potato, Red Pepper and Chorizo Hash from Chatelaine. My favourite hash browns ever! ***** The sausage is optional.
20. Tuna Noodle Casserole from Cooking Light. I adapted this a bit, but overall it's a great recipe. The perfect comfort meal! ****
21. Carrot Salad with Harissa, Feta and Mint from Smitten Kitchen. First time using harissa...scrumptious! ****
22. Bruschetta I from ****
23. Congo Bars from Basically the cake version of chocolate chip cookies. ***
24. Lemon Loaf Cake from ***
25. Holly's Banana Bars from Holly...not sure where she got the recipe but it is AMAZING! May have to blog about this one too! *****
26. Classic Cheesecake from Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. ***
27. Apple-Blackberry Pie - combination of and my Dad's pie crust.***
28. Peach Crisp from Chatelaine.***
29. Chicken Cacciatore from ***
30. Peanut Butter Banana Bread from Chatelaine Magazine.
31. Parmesan Chicken from **1/2
32. Melt in Your Mouth Afghan Cookies from Afghan Cooking Unveiled. The baking temperature was far too high (should be more like 325) so I burned some of them, but they still were delicious! ****
33. Dark Chocolate Orange Cake from This is a tricky was yummy, but didn't turn out quite right. ***
34. Sour Cream Chocolate Frosting from ****
35. Chew Chocolate Chunk Ginger Cookies from Chatelaine. This recipe was also a bit tricky and many of the cookies burned, but they were still delicious. ***
36. Black and White Striped Cheesecake from Tomato Fresh Food Cafe's Cookbook "As Fresh as it Gets"