Thursday, February 25, 2010

I have a job finally!

During the first week of January, my employee insurance claim ran out. I was not prepared for it as I thought it would be there till the end of the month. Don’t take me wrong. I am very obliged to the government of Ontario for having paid me employee insurance (EI) for 45 weeks on a bimonthly basis. It is a great benefit from the government for laid off employees. Both N and me happily survived on it for most of 2008 too. However, our backup plan of leaving to India was supposed to happen in the end of February. Once EI would exhaust in Jan end, having already paid our last month’s rent in 2007, it seemed like the right plan. Towards the end of the first week I got another reject letter from a company I was really hopeful of getting into. So, I was getting nervous all of a sudden. After all I even did a presentation there as a final step. The reason elucidated was that I was over qualified.

Somehow, I wanted to believe that reason and called the interviewer (B) and spoke with her. I asked if there was any other opportunity in the company she could refer me to. It was worth trying. If it worked it did, nothing to lose anyway. She asked me to speak with the HR about that. I did speak with the HR and got to know they had two suitable opportunities and so I simply pursued them. Eventually, B put in a word for me to the hiring manager and I got an interview call in the 3rd week of January. I just hoped for the best and did well. Another call and I was set for doing a second presentation, this time something more difficult on the consumer electronics retailing industry. The presentation went really well and I was beginning to be hopeful about it working out. N kept on telling me to start disposing our things so that we can leave sooner to India. It is not that I did not want to go to India, after all there were so many job opportunities there. I was just worried about N’s educational loans and thought the best way to finish it soon was to have a job here.

Fourth week of January came, and I received the good news from the HR that I finally have the offer. :) I was elated and could not believe it. Finally I got a job. After completing one year since I got laid off! The profile sounded great and my manager is the best. Market research and strategy support. I would work onsite for one of the biggest retailers ever. I could not have asked for anything better.

When everything was turning topsy turvy, I really believed that something would come up. After 12 companies interviewing me and going through endless job applications for one whole year, I got it finally! Entire credit for landing every single one of those interviews goes to N because he is the one who applied for me. As my expertise was confined to aerospace and defense research, my options were limited but nothing is impossible because at present, I analyze the fashion industry. That too, after not being a fashionable person at all. :)

I joined on feb 2 and it is going to be one month since I started now. What more can I say? I am loving every moment of it.

Thank you to all my readers for the kind support you offered me since I lost my job. All’s well that ends well. :)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

It was yummy!

So, I am late in posting again. Anyway, I completed the Buche De Noel and it was yummy. N helped assemble the marzipan mushrooms and I assembled the log and it was beautiful. The cake was really yummy and I am sure to make this again for next Christmas.

Check out the pictures!

Marzipan- Made from time, will buy from store! :)

Mocha Buttercream- This was for the frosting of the log. The buttercream was so tasty I could have that with some whipped cream as dessert anytime!

The génoise Sheet- The Cake immediately after removing from the oven. Moist and nice!

The génoise cake with cream cheese filling- This was decadent and yummy! I added a little bit of rum too for a nice flavour

The cake after it is rolled into a log-hmm took me some time to figure it out...but it worked out!

The cake in the log shape with both sides cut and placed! The buttercream acts as a gum for the cake to stick.

After frosting the log!

Marzipan decorations- N helped with the mushroom. I somehow managed the leaves-dont ask me how.:)

After the final assembly!

Yaay! Buche De Noel!

I have some good news on the job front! Post coming soon...Watch this space. :)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My experiments to create a classic French dessert!

So today I was determined to start with my Buche De Noel (Yule Log) project. It was postponed from the 24th because of my strained back. I am not sure why, but something about this dessert intrigues me. It is a very difficult dessert to tackle. More like a challenging task. Maybe, that's why I am hell bent on getting it right.

Lately, I have been baking a lot. I baked a Christmas cake and gifted it to my family on the 25th. I made a classic cheesecake, which came out so well that I called it little pieces of heaven. :) My molten lava cake experiment also turned out to be delicious, although I was skeptical about the chocolate oozing out. However, the chocolate did ooze out and it was like seeing a science experiment work!

Cooking is one of my passions and baking is something I can do all day and not get tired of it. Trying out new recipes is one of my favorite pastimes these days. I baked a loaf of French bread and made garlic bread out of it. Talking about bread, I always thought of it as one difficult item to make from scratch. Anyways, the taste of the garlic bread was good and I was happy. The confidence I got made me try rosemary breadsticks too, which also turned out to be tasty.

Back to the Buche De Noel, which is an important part of the French Christmas tradition. I have been reading about this recipe for about a month now. That's another part of my baking process. I like to do a lot of research before actually working on any recipe. This way, I will be prepared for any unforeseen problems and the final product will be edible and tasty. :) So, my Buche de Noel has five main steps to it.

Step 1

Marzipan Mushrooms and decorations

Step 2

Mocha Buttercream

Step 3

Genoise Sheet

Step 4

Cream Filling

Step 5

Assembling the log

The Genoise sheet is the cake, which will be rolled with the cream filling inside and then frosted with mocha butter cream on the outside. The marzipan mushrooms and pinecone decorations will surround the final assembled cake. Today, I completed the first two steps. The mocha butter cream is set and is inside the fridge along with the marzipan. I am making this dessert one step at a time, so I don't injure my back again. Hmm, I can feel a pinch of pain in my neck already. Hope N does not read this. If he does, he is sure to get upset with me for not taking rest.

That reminds me, N Is not well and is down with fever. So, our Christmas feast and dessert is pushed to the 30th, which gives me more time for assembling the Buche De Noel. Hoping to finish the Genoise Sheet and cream filling tomorrow.

To be continued….

Monday, December 28, 2009

2010 Here I come!

So, here I am back again from a long hiatus. To sum up the events in the last 2 months; I completed my internship successfully. I attended some more interviews but have not received any offers yet. I applied for at least 50 jobs. I watched some interesting movies like ‘Avatar’, ‘Three Idiots’, ‘The Blindside’, ‘Julie and Julia’, ‘Inglorious Basterds’, and ‘Die Hard 1,2 & 3’. My Christmas was just okay due to a strained upper back resulting in excruciating pain throughout. Nevertheless, I still sat through ‘3 Idiots’ because of the amazing movie it is. My Buche De Noel (Yule log dessert) Project is still pending because of my back pain. Our Christmas dinner was postponed to 28-29 of December. I did not attend any of the Christmas family get togethers. In summary, I am still jobless and hoping for a positive New Year to change N’s and my fortune.

I have always been a very positive person, however, lately I am just getting tired of this job hunt. To go trough the entire interview, test, and presentation process and still not receive an offer is very much disappointing and frustrating. However, all these feelings change immediately when I get a call for the next interview. I am hopeful again and I do my best. N keeps telling me that whoever gets to interview after me, for the same job ends up getting the job because I change his/her luck. In fact if I look at the previous interviews I attended and lost, from the feedback received, maybe he could be right. If that is true, what an irony it is!

2009 was not a great year for N and me. There were downfalls, lessons learnt and misfortunes. Here’s hoping that 2010 would bring a new, better chapter in our lives.

I wish my readers and friends a very happy and prosperous New Year. May the year 2010 bring you joy and keep you in good health!

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

TIFF volunteering-an attractive option for moviegoers!

This post is the continuation of the previous one.

So, like I said the whole TIFF was a wonderful experience for me. I enjoyed watching the movies while volunteering and afterwards. I also met interesting volunteers. And, of course the celebrities. After getting to see them so closely, I realized one thing. It is a very difficult life for them. They are constantly on the receiving end of the media glare. They have to look good on the red carpet, dress well and even abide to the fans; sign autographs, watch the movie with the audience and finally answer questions.
However, most of them seem to enjoy it. They stay on the red carpet for a while trying to be friendly, enjoying with the usual massive crowd that gather hours before they actually arrive. Like one great example is George Clooney or even Rani Mukherji. As a volunteer, when I was assigned to the red carpet, I could feel the stares from the crowd. It is like I had won a lottery. :)

On my first night of volunteering, it was cold to be outside and I was tired since I went straight from work. I had no jacket and was shivering due to strong winds. I was almost beginning to regret being near the red carpet, when David Miller stopped by. He waved to us and had a quick chat too, after which he offered us chocolates. Well, I am not a big fan of the Mayor but when he stops by, thanks us for our volunteering services to the city of Toronto and offers chocolates, I think he has an admirer in me. :) I was given an opportunity to watch the movie since the work gets done before the movie begins. I opted out and went home instead happily clutching my first volunteer voucher.

All I had to do was four shifts. I am not sure what it was that made me sign for eight instead. Four shifts were mandatory to get admission to the volunteer party after the festival ends, which was rumored to be great. Anyways, on the days that I worked, I tried to do different jobs each day. Red carpet, anti piracy, balcony, mezzanine, ballots, rush line, reserved seating adds up to all the duties I performed. I ended up watching most of the movies while on duty except for few which were sold out. There was an odd policy at Roy Thomson Hall. The representative would not allow the volunteers to watch the first movie if the shift covered two movies so I missed out on some of the ones I was looking forward to. ‘The Invention of Lying’, ‘Love and its Impossible Pursuits’, ‘Cooking with Stella’ got great reviews but I missed out.

In terms of venue, the Elgin theatre was the best. I loved the volunteering experience there. The theaters, Elgin and Winter Garden are more than 100 years old. Both are beautiful in terms of grandeur and heritage. The Winter garden looks better as it really had a garden look inside with real trees. Last year ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ was screened in the Winter Garden Theatre and that’s when the movie received its first positive review and went on to later win the TIFF People’s Choice Award.

I almost forgot to mention this. I stood right next to Rani Mukherji when she came to the Mezzanine C2 pod to watch her movie in Roy Thomson Hall. She looked great but kind of shorter and thinner than how she is in the movies. I was working in Mezzanine that day and was happy to see her. In the whole 15 minutes I was there with her, I wanted to talk to her but did not want to look unprofessional since I was working.

The extra shifts left me with one voucher that I could not use before the festival ended. I missed the volunteer party because I could not collect the party ticket due to excessive shifts and also I totally forgot. :) So, next time I have got to make sure that I work only maximum 6 shifts and I attend the volunteer party too. I am glad that I volunteered for TIFF as it really was fun and enjoyable. All in all an amazing experience and I hope to definitely do it again. :)

Monday, September 28, 2009

September-One eventful month..

The month of September passed so fast for me. It was a busy month, with me juggling work, events and job search simultaneously. We celebrated Onam in the first week of the month. I volunteered for the 'Toronto International Film Festival’ for the next two weeks and in the midst of all this, continued my internship too. That reminds me, I will complete two months in my internship in few days and I just cannot believe it still. Time just flew. One more month to go and I am already feeling nervous. Hopefully I will end up getting a full time job somewhere soon.

Onam was as usual. Getting together with family, ofcourse there are lots of them; mainly my extended family. I wore the traditional Kerala sari and also savored the Onam Sadiya. The best part was eating it in the banana leaf and serving the food items to the elders, once all the children were finished with eating. You see, I am still considered a child and seated with all the children. :)

The best part of the events was the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). I never imagined the vast extent to which it is popular and prestigious to Canada and the entire film fraternity. The festival started on September 10 and lasted for 10 days. During the course of the festival, I volunteered most of the days at Roy Thomson Hall, which was the most prestigious venue for TIFF. On the opening night ceremony, it struck me. I was from then onwards going to not only be able to watch some of the best movies but also see international celebrities, and have fun and enjoy.

Each time I volunteered, I received vouchers as reward points. Sometimes I even got more than one depending on the number of hours, which could be redeemed to watch movies in TIFF. N made the best use of the vouchers. He watched almost 10 movies. The movies I watched are Agora (Spain), Soul Kitchen (German), Dil Bole Hadippa (India), Cracks (Ireland), The Waiting City (Australia), London River (France), Rec 2 (Spain), Whats your Rashee (India), Road Movie (India), Precious (USA), Enter the Void (France). Out of the list, I really enjoyed Soul Kitchen the best. I watched it with N and both of us were glad that we went for it. It is a German movie about a chef trying to manage his restaurant in his most troubled times. The best part of tiff movies is the variety of movies you can get exposed to. These foreign movies do not get a theatrical release here and very rarely gets a dvd release too. And the part I cherished was watching all these movies on the big screen in the most beautiful theaters for free. :)

To be continued….

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Another birthday passes by

On August 14, I turned 27. I remember last year, I was feeling uncomfortable and jumpy about turning 26. However, this year I am very much enjoying the aging part. As long as I look and feel younger than my age, does anything else matter? :)

I did not have to go to work as I work only from Monday to Thursday. It was a nice day, well spent with family and I enjoyed every bit of it. For lunch we went to Moxie’s. If you ask me one restaurant where we have frequented the most, it would be Moxie’s. It is a nice fine dining place, where you get amazing steaks and service according to N. Whenever we are there, he orders the blackened New York steak and I order the chicken tenders tangi thai style. After I lost my job, we stopped going there. That itself is a big achievement staying away from the one restaurant we both love to go.

The server gave my favorite dessert ‘white chocolate brownie’ complimentary after knowing that it was my birthday. Check out the pictures.

In the evening we went to my dad’s place. He was having a barbecue to celebrate my birthday and that was really fun. Check out the picture.

Now coming to the most important part, which is the cake. I know this might sound a little odd but I baked my own birthday cake. It was a vanilla sponge cake with a butter cream frosting. Actually that cake was for my sister too since her birthday was on August 6. So there you see. :)

The cake came out well. Even the frosting part of it tuned out to be a success. I even decorated the cake. The credit for the sponge cake should actually go to Jenny field. Her emphasis on the creaming method really made a big difference, when it came to getting the moist and tender texture that melts in your mouth. A single slice was so light that I did not even feel conscious of having such a big piece. And the credit for the success of the frosting should go to Ashley. Her upside down frosting technique really made the cake look professional. However, I guess the cake shifted and lost a little bit of the decoration on transit from my place to my dad's. Check out the picture.
I wish I had a better picture to post. After all that work on the cake, I was exhausted and forgot to take any pictures.

It took me long hours to have the cake ready but everyone loved the cake and I was showered with compliments. Well, who does not like compliments? :)