Friday, April 29, 2011

McDonald's USA: Jalapeno Cheddar McChicken and Cherry Pie

There is a new burger for McDonald's that is not available in Canada: Jalapeno Cheddar McChicken.
The United States has always enjoyed a variety of Mexican food due to its border with Mexico and a larger Latino population.
This new Jalapeno McChicken is really good.
For me, it tastes like a McChicken sandwich with a twist with a slight spicy jalapeno flavour.

I love it even though I don't usually eat spicy food. My wife loves it also because she loves spicy food!

McDonald's new Jalapeno McChicken
We also ordered a cup of Mocha Frapp from the McCafe and two Quarter Pounders.
The Quarter Pounders was only for 3 dollars because it was buy 1 get one free promotion day.
We will never pay this kind of price in Canada!
3 dollars for 2 burgers?  forget it!  We will be paying 7 dollars at least for two quarter pounders.
Ridiculous pricing for many fast food and retail products in Canada.
McDonald's Jalapeno McChicken 2
 Price discrepancy in Sephora, Toys R US and products with two prices are just outrageous.
Why are Canadians paying so much more?
McDonald's cherry pie

Anyways, I tried the Cherry Pie for 50 cents.  Again, not available to Canadians and we pay 87 cents or so for a pie.
Cherry pie is okay.  I would give it a 6.  Peach pie or banana chocolate pie are better.

Eric Carle's Very Hungry Caterpillar Room (Wall Stickers)

During our visit to Target, we looked for wall stickers to decorate my son's room.
Originally, we wanted some Super Mario stickers but they did not have it.
However, we found the Very Hungry Caterpillar stickers for 15 dollars.

Very Hungry Caterpillar wall sticker box
For sure, Canadian stores won't have this kind of product until Target set up its stores across Canada.
It includes cute wall stickers of drawings from the famous child board book, "The Very Hungry Caterpillar".
Fruits, 2 caterpillars, a cocoon and all the food (chocolate cake, ice cream, pickle, cherry pie, lollipop, etc) he ate within the week and a butterfly.
If a kid loves this book, he or she would like these stickers.

We have decorated the wall of his room.
Along with his bedding, pillow and futon cover, etc, it has become "A Very Hungry Caterpillar Room".
We bought the bedding set in Superstore two years ago in Coquitlam, BC for the kids.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Walmart Canada: Hot Wheels for 1 Dollar: Infiniti and Lancer Evolution

Walmart Canada dropped its prices on Hot Wheels because of the high Canadian dollars.
It tries to match the US pricing but unfortunately, currently, the prices at Target is 88 cents.

I was a toy car collector since 3 years old and love cool cars ever since.
However, I do not have any luck in real life with cars.
My old, beat up, Honda Accord is hitting the 20 year mark with no end in sight.
It sounds pathetic and I envy the people with 2 nice cars....anyways....

Infiniti G37
I bought two cars last week:  Infiniti G37 and Lancer Evolution.
Lancer Evolution is one of Asian racing fan's dream along with Subaru Imprezza and Nissan GTR.
In US, I guess it is the Dodge Viper or Ford Mustang or Corvette, etc.
Lancer Evolution
When I was a student, the chance of me buying this car is 0%.
Now, with two kids and no money, the chance of me buying this car is still 0%.
Sadness of reality.  I will be lucky to get any car right now.

Trader Joe's Lobster Rolls (Sushi)

We saw "Lobster Rolls" in Trader Joe's and decided to try it because it looks somewhat interesting.

Okay, esthetically, it does not look as good as the really Japanese restaurant.
I mean the craftsmanship looks "iffy", but we decided to give it a chance.
It contains six sushi in a pack.

Trader Joe's Lobster Rolls
It has rice with black and white sesame at the outer layer and has "lobster" and Avocado inside.
The taste, in westerner's standard, is not bad. 
That is according to my wife, tastes like tuna sandwich.
It has a strong onion taste (like tuna sandwich) and has a faint lobster taste.
In fact, I am not sure if it is real lobster or not.
The rice is horrible comparing to real Japanese sushi.
Trader Joe's Lobster Rolls 2

In Asian standard, this does not really taste like sushi....
However, in order to get higher quality, I think it would cost more than 5 dollars.
(It is around 5 dollars.)
I would give it a 4 out of 10.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Auntie Anne's Pepperoni Pretzel

During our cross border shopping sting, we tried Auntie Anne's Pepperoni Pretzel.

I was always curious of why people are always lining up for Pretzels.
However, I soon realize that beside traditional pretzels, they also offer different kinds of pretzels to cater to different taste buds.

Auntie Anne's Pepperoni Pretzel
This time, we tried the Pepperoni Pretzels.
It does taste good.  However, it really does taste similar to a pepperoni pizza.
They also offer about 6 kinds of sauces to add to the pretzel's tastes.
Auntie Anne's Pepperoni Pretzel

I think I better try the traditional pretzels offered by Auntie Anne's to compare to the German pretzels that I have tried.

Overall, I will give the pepperoni pretzel a 8 out of 10.

Trader Joe's Roasted Seaweed Snack

We found this new Trader Joe's product on the shelf and decided to give it a try.

The funny thing is that the cashier says, "this is very good!  I recommend it."
We thought:  Okay, I will definitely try when we get home...

Then, after we tried it, we love it!! 
Even my son loves it! 

It is similar to Korean seaweed snack.  It is roasted with salt and sesame oil.
It has a very nice taste and is addictive like chips because my son just could not stop after the first bite.
We finished the first pack in no time.  It is only 0.99 US dollar.

We went across the border again to get more packs a week later.  We love it.

Trader Joe's Bath Set: Body Scrub, Body Lotion, Oil and Face Lotion

We found several interesting bath products in Trader Joe's last week.

We used it and they are great with good smell.  It is also the first time we used the face lotion.
It also teaches you how to apply and massage the face and neck, which is funny.

Trader Joe's bath set, lotion, oil, face lotion, scrub
Great value I would say for these products.  I just wish Trader Joe's is in Canada.

Monday, April 18, 2011

M&M Easter Egg Chocolate Dispenser

It is Easter soon, and all the chocolate makers are trying to grab kids' heart by releasing all kinds of chocolate products.

This M&M chocolate dispenser will dispense M&Ms if pressed by the user.
Actually,  we bought similar dispenser during Christmas time.
It was a Christmas M&M dispenser...

Another M&M collection for me and my kids.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Trader Joe's New Raspberry Macaron Cake (Macaron aux Framboises)

We went to Trader Joe's yesterday to check if they had anything new and interesting to try.

Trader Joe's has many innovative desserts, and we are always interested in trying something new.
We came upon this new product: Raspberry Macaron Cake (Macaron aux Framboises) in the frozen dessert section.
We also bought Bon Bon and the standard Parisienne macaron (because I just love them)
It is layered with raspberry in the middle and cake on the top.

Here is the description from the box:
"Light vanilla cream and whole raspberries are sandwiched between two layers of moist and soft almond-filled French "macaron biscuit".  It is the perfect size for a few people, or one very hungry person who enjoys the finer things in a luscious, not too rich piece of pastry."

It is supposed to served cold. My wife says that it tastes like ice cream sandwich or layered pie.
She thinks the balance between the sweetness and sourness is well taken.

Verdict:  My wife loves it (she is a raspberry lover).  She would give it a 7 out of 10.
I am not a raspberry eater, so I will give it a 5...although you can't trust me on this one.

Taiwan and Donations to Japan's Earthquake Relief...My rambling

Taiwan is a nation without identity.
It is often suppressed politically and virtually in all international organization and forum.
(Health organization, Olympic games, sports name it...even video game competition)

Everyone is afraid of China, so Taiwan and its people don't exist.
However, can the Chinese people, government or other countries' citizen know how the Taiwanese people feel? (Your homeland does not exist.)

Taiwan donated more money than any country in the world with 130 million dollars.
It is a super small nation.  China donated merely 3 million dollars.

Last week, the Japanese government posted a thank you note to 7 countries' newspaper, which included China, US, Korea and other G7 nations.

I think if the Japanese politicians have some backbones, they can think of alternative ways to thank the Taiwanese people rather than ignoring them.  They can send a small message using a third party organization with a thank you note.

The Japanese government's (politicians) doing in inexcusable:
When disaster hits, your closest friends will come to help.
Then, you should thank them from your heart.
As simple as that.

To ignore your closest friend's gesture is not the Japanese way I think.

Mario and Luigi Plush Toys

My son loves Super Mario Brothers just like when I was a kid.

Now, he goes everywhere with it and sometimes rest them on a chair or sofa when he can't bring them with him.
Kids are so cute that way, and I find it really funny.
Mario and Luigi Plush
Here, he set them on the dinner chair.

Lego Mini Figures Collection

Lego has been releasing the Lego Mini Figures series since last year.

So far, they have released 4 series already.
Strangely, I can't seem to get the figures I want...
My Lego mini series collection
I like to collect characters with ethnic clothing but they are hard to get.
My wife did get a Hawaii character for me:

Hawaii mini figure Lego
We were happy to get this one!
I will try my luck once a while if I have spare change after the Easter long weekend...

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Blog Milestone Reached: 5000 Views

My weblog is still small, simple and immature and often meant to be a personal journal.

However, it has reached its small milestone of 5000 hits (views).
I was surprised after people actually go through my site (most of them went through image search I think).

Thanks to my family, friends and everyone else!
I can find more motivation to go on and write more!!

Tim Horton's New Strawberry Banana Donut

Tim Horton's has released a new donut, called "Strawberry Banana Donut".

It has a faint banana flavor and smell with sweet strawberry jam inside the donut itself.

box of Tim Horton's Donuts: maple, strawberry banana, strawberry vanill
In the picture above, strawberry banana donut is the one in the lower center.  (below maple dip)
Actually, in a sense, strawberry banana donut is similar to the strawberry vanilla at the left top corner.
They all have sweet strawberry jam inside.
I like the banana taste with the donut but the strawberry jam is too sweet (I don't things too sweet) and generic.
It is not bad.  I would give it a 6 out of 10.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Fresh is Best Salsa and Company: Tortilla Chips and Sauce

A friend from Kamloops introduced us to products from a chips company, called "Fresh is Best Salsa and Company".  They produce all kinds of totilla chips and fresh salsa sauces.
Fresh is Best Tortilla chips

The sauces are very fresh and are usually refrigerated in the supermarkets.
They taste different than the traditional sauces (you can feel the fresh vegetables.)

This can serve as an alternative to other big brands' tortilla chips and sauces.

Post-it Notes: Apple, Heart, Dog with Computer

My wife started her own cute Post-it collections.
I was told that Japan has more kinds of cute post-its such as Mickey Mouse. 

The ones below were bought from Walmart and Staples.

Post-it Notes: Apple, Heart, Dog with computer

Monday, April 11, 2011

Tsunami Video Links: First Hand Video from CNN and Youtube

Lots of good videos can be found from CNN about the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
Here is one of them (commercial precedes video):

This one is also amazing.  It is shot by a firefighter on duty on the actual moment when the wave crossed a well engineered dyke.  They drove to escape but the wave still just right behind him.  (can see at the end)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

McDonald's Canada: Buffalo Chicken Wrap

We saw the menu item "Buffalo Chicken Wrap" in McDonald's and decided to try it.

Not only it looks like a chicken wrap, it tastes like a spicy chicken wrap.
I can't taste or see the "Buffalo" anywhere.  Is it a marketing gimmick?
In the States, at least you get real Angus Beef when you order Angus Beef.
This is nothing special.  I will give it a 4.5 out of 10.

Walmart: Mario Kart

Walmart has good selections of reasonable priced Mario Kart goods sometimes.
My son has already broke the back engine. usual.

Toys R Us Canada: Thomas and Friends Event 2011 Day of the Diesels

Every year, for 1 or two days, there will be a Thomas and Friends events for kids.
It is a good time to promote products and for kids to get new free toys and posters.

This year's spring date is on April 9th, and because I had an important errand to run, my wife walked a long time to get to the event with my kids.  This year, they did not have much posters and crayons to give out and had a limited amount of toys.

However, luckily, we did get a free Megablok Percy and a book, "Ultimate Diesel Guide".
It is a promotional guide book for the new movie "Day of the Diesels".
As expected, if you are a parent of a Thomas fan, you know that the new main story will be about Diesel 10.
It is a small book with 10 pages to introduce characters.

They also introduced a few new characters:  Sidney, Norman and Paxton.
All the books were gone in 5 minutes.  What are they gonna do for the whole afternoon???
Toys R Us has to do a better job than that!!

Product Review: Starbucks Petites

Yesterday, we tried Starbucks' new menu: Starbucks Petites.

These are snacks - bit sized under 200 calories, well, still quite high but very tasty.
They said it is made of natural ingredient - no artificial transfat, dyes or high-fructose corn syrup as they say.

We bought the Tiramisu sticks and Chocolate Marshmallow sticks.
Both of them are well made with quality, worth the 1.60 per stick.
(3.00 for two sticks)

We will try the other desserts when we encounter them.
I still find these small petite expensive.  Well, Starbucks is not a low end fastfood chain after all.

We also tried the Mocha Light Frappuccino.  It taste different and I guess it is the sugar?
Not bad...but I think I prefer the normal one for now.

Kids Lego Block - Like Candy

Recently, you can buy these Lego block-like candies in the super markets.

My son immediately started building things with it (even though it is suppose to be candy.)
He enjoyed it and built his first project: a dog.

I think it is a nice way to let kids play or eat...good idea!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Bento Lunch Box: Asparagus Wrapped by Meat Patty

My wife created a second version of asparagus lunch bento.

This time, she made a long meat patty roll and inside, she put asparagus in the roll.
Once the meat patty roll is cooked, she cut it into 6 pieces evenly, just like sushi rolls.

It taste good with rice and veggies on the side!

Britax Stroller Sale: Double Stroller

Britax Strollers are on sale all across North America.
You can get them at Target for 20 percent as of last week.
Or, you can get them in Canadian Toys R Us and get the second seat for free. (159 dollars in value)

I got the second seat for free and made the Britax stroller a double stroller for my two kids.

Now, it is going to be more convenient because I can seat both of my kids.
My older kid still does not walk fast or long, so it is going to help my dreadful shopping routines.

The stroller is so strong and solid but very heavy and bulky with big wheels.  (stable though)
I guess you cannot make it compact but I wish it is lighter than what it is.

I am liking it so far....

Clever Cupcakes in Coquitlam, BC

We went to a small, new cupcake shop nearby Coquitlam Centre to try the cupcakes.

The prices are high, typical of these kind of specialized shops.  (comparing to bakeries)
However, the taste is quite good, a bit too sweet though.
The owner and the lady in there were friendly and gave good service on that day.
Expensive snack?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

McDonald's France: McCafe Macaron

France's McDonald's is way better than North America's.
I personally experienced that many times two years ago when I was there:  better service, better selections.
Some things I missed are their coffees and macarons.

France Macaron McCafe Ad
I kind of missed eating French macarons.  They have those everywhere in France, even in McCafe.
Typical French Macaron in France

Their McCafe is also a lot better than here.  Lots of different dessert with selections.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

McDonald's Canada: Chocolate Coffee Triple Milkshake

I could not wait to try the new Chocolate Coffee Triple Milkshake from McDonald's.

However, it was a disappointment.  The coffee taste was so faint that was overshadowed by the usual chocolate milkshake taste and the incredible unnecessary amount of sugar that McDonald's usually put it.

I could only stand the sugar for 5 sips...
My verdict:  Too sweet, no coffee taste, not worth the money at all.
I will give it a 2 out of 10.

New York Fries: Braised Beef Poutine

New York Fries rolls out this new menu item: Braised Beef Poutine.

It actually tastes pretty good just like home made beef stew with beef, carrot, cheese and gravy.

I would say it is worth a try because New York Fries with just fries is just too plain and oily for fast food.

I actually like the butter chicken poutine better.  I would give the beef poutine a 8 out of 10.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

McDonald's Canada: New Peach Pie and Cadbury Creme Egg McFlurry

McDonald's Canada launched two new menu items recently:  Peach Pie and Creme Egg McFlurry.

I would recommend peach pie because it has a better and different refreshing flavor than apple pie.
This is good for people looking for small snack options other than small fries and apple pies.

Creme Egg McFlurry and peach pie
The Creme Egg McFlurry is sweet as usual (not as sweet as Oreo McFlurry).
However, I like the simple vanilla flavor with some chocolate egg inside.
It is not bad at all but I do wish there are more twists to it.

I will give the Cadbury Creme Egg McFlurry a 5 out of 10.
I will give the Peach Pie a 7 out of 10.

New Lego Set: Ninjago Series

Lego finally came out with a set of Asian theme:  Ninjas and Japanese dojo.

Even though it was designed with a Lego twist, I like the new idea.
I will wait till it is on sale because this set is 75 dollars.
Lego Ninjago set
It also features dragons and demon's castle (kind of like a western version of castle).
I am kind of disappointed that it did not release Japanese building (temple, Japanese castles)
Perhaps, the type of design won't appeal to kids here?

I would disagree because Anime is so popular here.  The designs would have been accepted.
Lego Dragon Ninja
I still welcome this idea of embracing other cultures and producing sets other than movie sets (star wars and harry potter ).

Monday, April 4, 2011

BC Translink's Wasteful Promotion: "Compass" Buttons

BC Transit Authority (Translink) is promoting a new charge card similar to London's "Oyster" Card or Tokyo's Suica Card.

They chose the name, "Compass" and they are starting the promotion. (card not available yet)

They made a few simple button and expected people to use them?
What a waste of tax payer's dollars and very unenvironmental.

If they want to advertise, they can use posters or give practical things like shopping bags or pens.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Cirque Du Soleil: Cavalia (Vancouver Olympic Village)

Okay, this is the first time I have been to a Cirque Du Soleil show, so I am still a newbie.
However, I think this show is worth every penny whether you like horses or not.
This is the first time that Vancouver has two shows on simultaneously.
One is Kooza and one is Cavalia.
Cavalia is a different kind of shows involving 49 of the company's horses, and I decided to try it for my first time with my 3 year old son.

Now, we enjoyed the show but we could not take pictures or videos during the show.
It is the nature of business.  They make money from the show and their dvd (and merchandise).
Luckily, I also got a free pen with the purchase.  (45 dollars for a book!)
I immediately bought a copy of their dvd for Cavalia because I know it is not available anywhere.
stage before the show
I could take a picture before the show.

The stage was brilliantly design with technology with lighting, laser, computer projection, wiring...etc.
It has different levels of staging and as story progresses, the stage will change and image projection also changes.

The horse trainers are also acrobats/performers and they are incredible atheletes.
They are good looking guys/ladies with superb balancing skills and muscles.
(They flip, jump, fly on and off horses, balace beams........long list goes on and on.)
All their performances awed all the audiences in the two hour show.
The horses were also well trained and I was impressed with their intelligence.

I enjoyed the show and my son really really had a good time.
I had to watch my son but I thought it was awesome.

I look forward to another cirque du soleil show in the future.

Product Review: Lindt Caramel Sea Salt Chocolate Bar

Lindt is known for their delicious quality chocolate.
I love Lindt myself and I often enjoy trying out their different flavors.

They get very creative on inventing the flavors.  We bought this Caramel and Sea Salt flavor to try.

It is delicious as usual.  However, I can't really tell the sea salt or the saltiness.
It is sweet with some red crystals (I assume that is sea salt?).
Overall, it has an interesting taste (good taste....super tasty...not sure).
I will try something else next time.

Idea for Parents: Eric Carle Caterpillar Crafts

Here is an idea for parents out there if they want something to do with their toddlers.

All parents are familiar with Eric Carle's Caterpillar book, right?
My wife has this idea of doing easy handcrafts for my little kid to present to class.
She used the colored felt board you can purchase in dollar stores to make the cute butterfly and caterpillars just like the story book!

Eric Carle caterpillar and butterfly
I think she did a wonderful job!
She also made a keychain for my kid:
hand made caterpillar keychain
She attached it to the lunch box.  haha.  Very cute isn't it!

Thai Express (Burnaby Lougheed, BC)

Last week, we went to try another new store, Thai Express, in the food court.
As the name suggests, it is Thai food. 
I had the suspicion that it is not proper traditional Thai food, but still tried anyways and I was right.

We ordered a dish of green curry and Pad Thai with shrimps.
One is combo with drink and one small spring roll.  One is just Pad Thai.

The Pad Thai is so bad that I will not call it Asian food.
The green curry is good I would say, but not worth paying 10 dollars.
Total cost with tax is 22 dollars, which is ridiculous in the food court.

To put it into context, a meal in other store (KFC, McDonald's, Fresh slice) with or without coupon, the meal per person should be 5 to 8 dollars.

A good meal in standard Thai Restaurant in BC during lunch hours is less than 10 dollars including tax and tip.
So this place is outrageously bad.