Today, I want to write about my battlestation. A lot of my hobbies involve my computer and I spend even more time here than ever since WFH was mandated back in March. As with all things, i’m all about the aesthetics so when I moved in with Dustin, and he said that I could use the den as my office, the cogs in my brain started turning. I measured out the space and, to my dismay, every configuration that I came up with was about an inch too long to properly fit. This room is just the right size that any standard desk I was finding either wouldn’t fit or wouldn’t make efficient use of the space. I had decided that I wanted a rounded corner desk for my computer area and that posed yet another obstacle; the specific corner piece (Ikea LINNMON / ADILS Corner Table) that I wanted was no longer sold at Ikea Canada. I scoured Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace every day to no avail until I finally realized that I could just make a “Searching for” post. Within a day, a kind soul responded and sold me the piece I needed for only $20. The next step was to construct the rest of the desk. What I ended up doing was buying a rectangular LINNMON tabletop (also on Craigslist, for only $10) and cutting it into pieces to fill out the rest of the space. The challenge with this was that LINNMON is mostly honeycomb inside, with only solid areas at the parts where the legs get attached. Luckily my dad is a handyman so he helped me hammer some wooden planks into the now-exposed ends to serve as something for the legs to drill into. I already had two 2×2 Ikea Kallax units that I wanted to use as supports for the desk but unfortunately they were the wrong height to work with Ikea’s standard table legs. To solve this, I commissioned someone from Facebook Marketplace to make some metal hairpin legs, painted teal; I am really happy with how they turned out and I think they make my desk even more unique. I also got him to make some little miniature ones which I used to build a riser for the middle monitor.

Remember how I said that I had two 2×2 Kallax units? Well, I was wrong! It turned out that one of them was actually EXPEDIT, which is a little bit taller. It was about an inch or so shorter than the final height of the rest of my desk so I ended up putting it in the corner opposite my computer area to serve as extra table space. The 1″ height difference annoyed me but it was something I could live with…until one day, while wandering the Ikea as-is section, I discovered a shelf on sale for $5 that was the exact dimensions needed to act as a riser. I stuck it under the EXPEDIT unit and now everything sits perfectly flush! The EXPEDIT just feels like an extension of the rest of the desk now.

The area not occupied by my computer is my crafting space. It’s the perfect size for sewing, resin-crafting, or whatever other project I happen to be working on. I picked up a nice desk mat from Ikea to keep it clean and protected.

Once I had the desk in place, the next step was to decorate! I thought about going for the same cozy, airy feel of my last battlestation but decided to opt for something more neon. Cyber Tokyo by Alex Knight was my main inspiration but, being the sugar fanatic that I am, I also wanted to integrate candy somehow. Luckily, I found some neon lights on AliExpress, two of which are popsicle shaped! This was perfect because my mouse is the Mionix Ice Cream and I have the corresponding popsicle-covered deskpad. I also have a pencil case with popsicles on it that I picked up at Daiso during one of my trips to Japan. To go along with the candy theme, my favourite hand cream is the Skin Food Gummy Bear. The packaging is too cute to throw away and I haven’t found a way to refill them so I had just been stashing away my emptys. Since they’re purple, they matched my theme perfectly! I kept teal as a primary colour so I was able to use a bunch of things from my previous set-up. I ordered a bunch of posters from Society6 and put them up on the walls and got some coasters, also from Society6, to keep my desk white. I also picked up some LED light strips on Amazon where I can set the colour from an App on my phone and used those to add pink and blue back-lighting.

Overall, i’m extremely happy with how it all came together!

Now that the space is so cozy and aesthetic, the only issue I was having was the temperature; often it would be so cold that my hands would be too stiff to play games and with the built-in heating, it would usually warm up just about when I was done playing. Dustin solved this issue for me; for Christmas, he bought me a little space heater and did a bunch of research to find an awesome one that perfectly matches my space. It’s amazing; aesthetic, has a remote control, and, most importantly, warms me up super quickly!

P.S. here is what it looked like before

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Travel Keyboard

This post will be short and sweet. I just wanted to show off my beautiful keyboard. I have a Macbook but I hate typing on it so I wanted a 60% keyboard that would be easy to lug around with me. I was very tempted to try building my own but that seemed like a dangerous rabbit hole to go down, and would also have required investing in tools that I probably wouldn’t use for anything else. Instead, I decided to buy this keyboard with Cherry Browns from AliExpress. The posting shows it with black pudding keycaps but I messaged the seller and they were kind enough to swap them out with white ones instead. I ended up changing them with my NPKC Rainbow Keycaps but now I have a white set for if I ever get bored. It’s so beautiful and I love typing on it. Very happy with my purchase.

30th birthday

Back in January, I turned 30 and, thanks to Dustin, it was a celebration the likes of which I would have never even imagined. You see, I have always wanted a surprise party but I never thought it was something that would happen for me. At the very least, I thought that even if someone tried to plan one for me, that I would figure it out and end up just feigning surprise. December for us, and particularly for Dustin, was very busy. We visited his family in Edmonton and he spent the last week of December and first 2 weeks of January pretty sick. On top of that, when it comes to planning things, i’ve known him to be pretty last minute. For example, when we went to England in 2018, he booked his hotel room and exchanged money on the morning of our flight. With all of these things in mind, I didn’t think he’d have had the time or energy to plan an extravagant birthday for me but boy was I wrong…

About a week or so before my birthday, he casually asked me how I wanted to celebrate. I was kind of annoyed by this as he knows I hate planning things so I sassed back, telling him that what I want is to not have to decide what we do. He pointed out that there was a new exhibit at Science World doing a pre-opening adults night on the day of my birthday, featuring Lego architecture. Knowing that I like Lego and have a civil engineering background, he suggested that we do that and “all my drinks would be on him”. I grumbled and said “mehhhhh”, reminding him that “it’s not my 29th birthday and it’s not my 31st birthday; it’s my 30th birthday!”. I spent the rest of the night kind of annoyed but was over it by morning.

One of our friends had been hit by the car while biking and spent 27 days in the hospital so we had been trying to visit him as often as we could. The hospital he was at was downtown so we had been taking the SkyTrain and walking there. During one of our visits, we saw an ad at a bus stop for the Science World event and I was feeling more cheerful by then so I told Dustin that we should do his suggestion and celebrate my birthday there. It actually did seem fun and we had gone to a previous adult night there, which was a blast. Lame as it sounds, I was actually excited.

Dustin’s brother and niece had been in town so we had dinner with them a few times. The hotel where they were staying was right next to an amazing sushi restaurant called Miku. It’s one of the top sushi places in Vancouver and that’s saying something, because Vancouver has a lot of great sushi joints. Miku would have been my first choice place to spend my birthday but I didn’t choose it because Dustin is a vegetarian so it just didn’t feel right to drag him to a sushi place. One day, seemingly out of the blue, Dustin commented that he hadn’t been to Miku in a long time (since before he became a vegetarian!) and we should go. I was very surprised but wasn’t going to argue with that! He said he’d call and try to get us a reservation. I suggested that we also stop by Pourhouse afterwards to end the night with some drinks and he happily agreed.

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I have been wanting to try making chawanmushi for a long time now. For anyone who doesn’t know what that is, it’s a savory seafood egg pudding. Sounds gross from the description but it’s so good! It’s a dish that I love but have only been able to find at a few restaurants and it’s been pretty expensive. It seemed easy enough so I thought I would give it a shot. I actually ordered ramekins just for this! It turned out really delicious and was pretty quick to make. I used the instant pot on saute, with the steamer insert, to steam them. They did turn out a bit saltier than I would prefer so next time, i’m going to try diluting the dashi with water.

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  • Chawanmushi
  • The original recipe can be found here. I modified it a bit to suit my tastes. This recipe makes 2 ramekins worth.

  • 1 mushroom, chopped
  • 8 tiny shrimp, peeled
  • Shimeji mushrooms
  • 6 slices narutomaki
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup dashi
  • 1/2 tsp mirin
  • 1/2 tsp low-sodium tamari
  • Instructions
    1. Whisk the egg in a medium bowl. Add the dashi, mirin, and tamari. Mix well then strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into another bowl.
    2. Divide all the ingredients into 2 ramekins. Pour egg mixture in and cover with tin foil.
    3. Steam for 15-20 minutes. Use a skewer or knife to test the center to check that it’s done (it should come out clean).


    “Pita” Pizzas

    Last night, we made “pita” pizzas for dinner. I put “pita” in quotation marks because only Dustin uses pita bread; I prefer to use garlic naan bread for my crust. These are super quick and easy to make and they’re better for me than regular pizza because I am lactose sensitive. A while back, we found this awesome substitute called Okanagan’s Soya Co. and it’s super convincing! We always have a few packs of their mozzarella in the fridge. The texture and the way it melts is just like real cheese. Sadly we ran out of spinach but I guess it makes for a better photo this way….

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  • Pita Pizzas
  • pita or naan bread
  • pesto sauce (optional)
  • pizza sauce (we usually use Primo)

  • mozzarella cheese
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 2 cups mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 cup olives (optional)
  • capers (optional)
  • spinach (optional)
  • truffle oil (optional)
  • Kewpie Mayonnaise (optional)
  • Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
    2. Place bread on a baking sheet. Spread the pizza and pesto sauce on the bread. Grate desired amount of cheese over top.
    3. Optional: lightly fry mushrooms.
    4. Arrange toppings as desired. Cover with spinach. Drizzle truffle oil over top.
    5. Bake in oven for 8 minutes or until reaching desired crispiness.
    6. Top with Kewpie mayo.


    Instant Pot Spicy Thai Butternut Squash Soup

    On Thursday night, we made spicy Thai butternut squash soup for dinner. We used light coconut milk instead of full fat and we also skipped the onions so it turned out a little less creamy than the first time we tried it, but it still had a nice texture. Dustin found it to be pretty spicy but I thought it was a good level of spice. There’s no way I can make this recipe without his help because I have so much trouble slicing the butternut squash but if you’re stronger than I am, you should definitely try this recipe!

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  • Instant Pot Spicy Thai Butternut Squash Soup
  • The original recipe can be found here.

  • 1 1/2 tbsp refined coconut oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup red curry paste
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and roughly chopped (~4 1/2 cups)
  • 13.5 oz full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp low-sodium tamari
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
  • Instructions
    1. Select the Sauté setting on the Instant Pot, and after a few minutes, add the coconut oil. Once the oil is hot, add the onion with a pinch of salt and cook until starting to brown, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the curry paste, ginger and garlic; cook until very fragrant, stirring frequently, about 1 minute.
    2. Pour in the broth and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Add the butternut squash, coconut milk, cashew butter, tamari, maple syrup and salt. Stir to combine well.
    3. Once the timer goes off, allow a natural pressure release for 5 minutes and then perform a quick pressure release.
    4. Open the pot and stir in the lime juice. Using an immersion blender, blend until you have a smooth and creamy soup. Alternatively, you can transfer the soup in batches to a blender, using a dish towel to cover the blender cap to prevent steam from expanding.
    5. Once the soup is pureed, stir in the chopped cilantro. If desired, garnish with coconut yogurt, scallions, peanuts and sesame seeds.