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P. Santos (Toronto, ON)

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Fujifilm FU64-INSM9K100 Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic Camera and Film Kit, 100 Exposures (Black/Silver)
Fujifilm FU64-INSM9K100 Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic Camera and Film Kit, 100 Exposures (Black/Silver)
2 used & new from CDN$ 847.78

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great bundle, May 16 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I photograph regularly and I often use a lot of equipment in fairly elaborate set-ups. That said, shooting with an Instax Mini 90 is a whole other experience.
This is a really great little camera. The photos don't compare to those taken with a dslr but that isn't the point. They're instant, they're fun, they're experimental, and best of all, they're unique and irreproducible.. There are things you can do with this camera accidentally that would take a bit more thought to achieve with a digital camera.
There are many reviews of the camera itself on the camera page that detail the specs and functionality of the camera itself, so I will focus on the bundle for the sake of this review.
The bundle is great because it comes with 100 exposures (5 twin-packs), which when purchased individually cost a little less than the price paid for the bundle together. When you consider the cost of the camera alone on amazon, a bundle such as this one is a great deal. Unfortunately, since I purchased this bundle, the price has gone up significantly. However, it still costs less as a bundle than the camera and 100 exposures would when purchased as individual units.
I would highly recommend purchasing the bundle for anyone interested in interested in the Instax Mini 90.

Lonely Planet Japanese Phrasebook & Dictionary 7th Ed.: 7th Edition
Lonely Planet Japanese Phrasebook & Dictionary 7th Ed.: 7th Edition
by Lonely Planet
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 11.25
47 used & new from CDN$ 1.02

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This was a pretty useful little book on my last trip to Japan, May 7 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This was a pretty useful little book on my last trip to Japan. Really loved the shortcut phrases. The little dictionary in the back of the book was also a great little resource for things like making purchases and asking for directions.
My one quip, and it's a big one, is how the information is organized in the book. I found myself often flipping back and forth between sections to try and hold up a simple conversational exchange.
Overall a nice and handy (albeit small) resource to have when traveling to Japan, but fairly limited. The dictionary in the back was easily the most used feature.

Salad Samurai: 100 Cutting-Edge, Ultra-Hearty, Easy-to-Make Salads You Don't Have to Be Vegan to Love
Salad Samurai: 100 Cutting-Edge, Ultra-Hearty, Easy-to-Make Salads You Don't Have to Be Vegan to Love
by Terry Hope Romero
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 19.81
48 used & new from CDN$ 11.42

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful collection of recipes, but not entirely "easy to make", Aug. 7 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is a fantastic collection of salad recipes. I've long been looking for a salad book with vegan options since I am lactose intolerant and vegetarian, so the best menu options for me are usually vegan. Most of the recipes in this book are meal-sized recipes, often hearty enough to keep you full through the day without feeling bored at the idea of having filled up on vegetables. The recipes are arranged by season, so you'll know what vegetables and flavours you can expect to find in season and this is especially helpful for making budget friendly salads that don't skimp on taste or freshness. My summer favourites so far include the asparagus pad thai salad, couscous with snap peas and za'atar dressing, BKT, Mexican Roasted Corn salad with Avocado (seriously amazing). There is a plethora of flavours in this book and that's something I truly appreciate, especially in a salad cookbook. I don't want to eat the same salad dressed up 5 different ways. This book really does offer more unique salad recipes in one tome than any other comparable book I've come across to date.
Although I praise this collection of recipes to no end, I admit this isn't a cookbook for everyone. Many of the recipes have recipes within them, take longer than the estimated time because preparation usually involves making something else in advance (usually a dressing, a topping, or grilling/baking an ingredient, etc.) If you're looking for a cookbook to make fast weekday lunches every day, this is not it. Prepping certain ingredients in advance greatly speeds up the salad prep process, but these are not salads I want to prep from start to finish when I come home from a long day at school and work. Believe me, I would if I had the energy, all of the recipes I've tried are fantastic, but that just isn't happening. That said, substituting with store bought salad dressings or protein toppings (chickpeas, marinated tofu, store-bought tempeh, lentils, or pre-cooked chicken if you're an omnivore) is a viable option and should be considered for those of us who just don't have the 45+minutes every day to make a salad. If this isn't a concern for you, or if substituting is something you're open to doing to save time, then I highly recommend checking this out. If anything, try some of the recipes that are available via Look Inside on the amazon page (some of my favourites are available that way!) before committing, but I guarantee if you're looking for vegetarian/vegan friendly salads that don't skimp on flavour, you'll be impressed.
What this book does well is good, entrée salads for get-togethers, weekend lunches/dinners, in general when you have the time to commit to it. Every recipe I've tried has been worth the prep work, but even a substitution or two to speed up the prep process has resulted in flavourful lunches/dinners worth making again.

Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook
Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook
by Isa Chandra Moskowitz
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 23.35
54 used & new from CDN$ 11.20

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My go-to cookbook, April 19 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I've had this book for only a few months now but it's definitely one I come back to again and again. There are just so many ideas and the layout is fantastic. I'm almost tempted to give it five stars aside from the severe lack of photos. It's generally easy to find photos of the recipes in Veganomicon online though, because most fans take photos of the completed dishes and post them. Unfortunately, I don't necessarily want to do that. I'd like the photos to be presented in the book itself.
This is a small issue though, and what I have made, although it might not look as Isa and Terry intended, has been absolutely amazing. My meat-eating mom and boyfriend never complain, and those who do quickly change their minds when they actually start eating. This book doesn't skimp on flavor, and that's a good thing, but some recipes do require a little tweaking for my personal tastes. This also means that the ingredient lists can be somewhat daunting. For instance, the jambalaya calls for 24 ingredients. It makes a hefty amount and is definitely delicious to boot, but if you don't have packaged seitan available to buy anywhere nearby, know that you'll be making seitan before the jambalaya too and that's another 6-7 ingredients and hour's worth of prep time. That said, this isn't standard for the recipes in this book as only a handful of the recipes are this complex and intimidating. (I should mention that the jambalaya is fantastic and worth making at least once!).
My favorite thing about this book though is Isa's and Terry's list of menus. They've compiled a list at the back of the book based on flavors and/or ingredients that work together. For instance, the Rustic Goddess Menu includes the Tomato Couscous with Capers, Rustic White Beans with Mushrooms, and a suggested soup and dessert pairing of Broccoli-Potato Soup with Fresh Herbs and Berry-Coconut Crisp respectively. And it works extremely well! So if you're ever in need of serving guests and you don't know what to make with what, this little addition is just such a life-saver.
The book has an index of Soy-Free recipes, Gluten-Free recipes, Low fat/reduced fat recipes, Under 45 minutes recipes, and Supermarket Friendly recipes, so there's really something in here for absolutely everyone and every diet. I recommend this book to meat-eaters and non-meat-eaters alike. It's just simply my absolute favorite.

Vegan Yum Yum
Vegan Yum Yum
by Lauren Ulm
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 20.21
58 used & new from CDN$ 2.86

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars MOST of the dishes are fantastic.. layout could be better., April 19 2012
This review is from: Vegan Yum Yum (Paperback)
I've tried about a third of the recipes in this book since getting it and most were just amazing. Some of them are even weekly staples for me (the hurry-up Alfredo, for instance, gets made weekly). There were a few recipes I just didn't like at all and won't be making again, but the good far outweigh the bad. The recipes I enjoyed the most include the Stuffed Banana Berry French Toast, Sweet Chili Lime Tofu, Miniature Napoleons with Eggplant Creme, Moroccan Spiced Root Vegetable Home Fries, Smoky Miso Tofu, and the Blueberry Grunts. There were a few I didn't like too much, including the Nearly Raw Tahini Noodles (too earthy tasting for my likes), Baked Mac and Cheeze (there's a better version on her food blog called Mac and Cheeze take 2), and the Creamy Broccoli Dal (much better with a few tweaks).

Lauren has a vast collection of great recipes on her blog as well and most of the recipes that I've tried in her book are winners as well. There is a serious problem with the layout of this book. Some recipes span 2-3 pages, which can be a major hassle in the kitchen for those of us with only two hands. I make it a practice to read the entire recipe before cooking and make sure now that if ingredients and direction span more than one page to group the ingredients based on stages in the recipe to avoid any time wasted or mistakes. Hopefully if this book undergoes a revision for a future edition this will be taken into consideration. The physical book itself isn't very kitchen-friendly.

I would definitely recommend this book to people who enjoy being in the kitchen and have the time. Most of the recipes aren't ready in 30 minutes, despite what the recipe says, but are definitely worth the extra time when dinner doesn't have to be on the table on such short notice. Those that are ready in less than 30 minutes definitely don't skimp on flavor. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone who is trying to go soy-free or isn't a fan of tahini as many recipes call for either or both. Substitutions can be made but I haven't made that many since everything I've made is fantastic as presented. This isn't a perfect vegan starting point, but it's a nifty addition to an experienced cook's library or for someone who wants to start incorporating more vegetables in their diet.

A Short Course in Digital Photography
A Short Course in Digital Photography
by Barbara London
Edition: Paperback
20 used & new from CDN$ 11.71

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not great., Jan. 25 2011
Disclaimer: I'm a dSLR user reviewing this book as a textbook.

The title of this book is true: it IS a short course.

I recently purchased this book for a class on introduction to photography and upon first glance was quite relieved that a lot of topics I had no idea about (setting shutter speed, how to use depth of field, what ISO means, and what to expect from different lighting) were covered in the book. What IS covered is useful. Unfortunately, it's just not enough. What this book tries to do is condense as much information as possible and kind of just makes you aware of its existence but doesn't go into enough detail for one to really understand the concepts.

This book really is for the "noob" to photography. A lot of the information found in this book could be found for free on the internet. There is nothing in this book that a week of internet surfing couldn't teach you. How does the sensor work? What is resolution and what do pixels do/mean? How do I import a photo to my camera? How do I edit colors/curves/lighting in lightroom/aperture? How do I use histograms and exposure meters? All of this is covered, but it's just glossed over to tell you how it works inside the CAMERA and the COMPUTER, not what it means for your photos. The book focuses mostly on the technical aspects of the camera, which is great, but if you have a manual for your camera or a Magic Lantern guide, there's really no need to be spending $60+ on this book. It would be much better spent on a book with more specific focus, like Understanding Exposure, 3rd Edition: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera or The Digital Photography Book, at a fraction of the cost of this book and with twice as much attention to details. Also, a better investment for technical working would be a book written specifically for your model camera.

London and Stone have created a wonderful resource for someone who is picking up a camera for the first time and who wants to take photographs, not snapshots. The most important thing is to learn to be comfortable with your camera and its settings, as this book does emphasize, but it skimps on quality of information for quantity of information and at only 220ish pages, there really is too much glossed over. Once you've got the basics down, this book is fundamentally useless and not worth revisiting because it will never teach you something new.

I'd recommend Brian Peterson's book and if you want to revisit those concepts on the go and are looking for a book to pop in your camera bag, get Bryan Peterson's Understanding Photography Field Guide: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera.

Happy shooting!

Ponyo [Blu-ray + DVD]
Ponyo [Blu-ray + DVD]
DVD ~ Cate Blanchett
Price: CDN$ 17.49
36 used & new from CDN$ 16.97

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ponyo on blu-ray, March 3 2010
This review is from: Ponyo [Blu-ray + DVD] (Blu-ray)
Having only seen the dvd version in its native Japanese with English subtitles, I was skeptic as to how much of a difference blu-ray would make to the picture quality.

Short answer: A LOT.

Long answer: The picture is phenomenal. As much of a pleasure Ponyo is to view on dvd, as are all of Miyazaki's other works, Ponyo on blu-ray is an incredible experience. The picture is sharp and there are a great deal many details in the blu-ray version of Ponyo that were missing or not as sharp in the dvd version due to the compression. The art is impeccable and there is charm in every character and environment. Unlike Miyazaki's previous works, Ponyo has a very childish look and feel to it, probably because (as Miyazaki says himself) the movie is aimed at 5 and 6 year olds, unlike his previous works. The environments are all beautifully rendered and looks great with the colored pencil feel. It looks excellent. And it looks even better on blu-ray.

The sound is lossless audio in English and in French, but I regret to say not in Japanese. This release would have been perfect if all the audio tracks included were perfect. However, I purchased this for the English audio so I feel that in itself is not reason to take off one star. However, it would have been stellar if all three audio tracks were lossless.

I won't go into any details about the story of the movie itself because other reviews have covered this to enough of an extent, but as someone who actually owns the blu-ray/dvd combo, here are my two cents on the product itself. If you have a blu-ray player, definitely purchase this version.

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