Friday, November 30, 2012

Week Wrap-Up

Pictures from my week:

This freaked me out more than it should have - I actually gasped.  Out of the corner of my eye, it looked very realistic.
My most recent foray into the young professional volunteer committee was working on the GenNext My City Masquerade charity casino event.  It was a great experience and a fabulous party!  We raised a lot of money for United Way and the turnout and enthusiasm was like no other.  There were actually four tuxedos that showed up!  With men in them, of course.  My mask looked like a bad ass face tattoo.
I went a little bake crazy this week.  I was invited to an American Thanksgiving party and with also hosting a dinner party it lead to a full time oven.  So delicious.  Except for that one cake where I completely forgot to include the sugar.  Still turned out okay and now you're not a diabetic.  Uh, you're welcome!
I went for an actual hike.  It was a beautiful Sunday and I couldn't think of a reason not to get outside.  I haven't hiked much lately and certainly don't really know where to go, so I ended up wandering aimlessly around Dundas.  Webster Falls was an option, but I'm sorry, I have a serious problem with paying to hike.  It would cost be either $4 or $10 to just....walk.  Ridiculous.  So I found my own trail.  Sure, it seemed to be in someone's backyard, but it did the trick.  Brisk air, sunshine, hiking boots (yes, I own some) - perfect November afternoon.  Only one muddy dog jumped up on me and those berries turned out to be non-poisonous.

Parental date weekend - I went to see Argo with my Dad and had brunch with my Mom.  Argo was amazing - one of the best movies I've seen in a while. Even though I knew how it would end, I was still on the edge of my seat and it's so pro-Canada :)  Brunch was at Detour in Dundas, a place I keep hearing about for great (and massive) breakfasts.  Walking around Dundas on a Saturday morning is like being in a movie, of which I am the star. 

Winter 2013 Fashion Forecast:
It's all about the fur.  My dressing room looks like a taxidermy.  Although, they're mostly all fake, so like a teddybear taxidermy.

She does. So does he.

My best friend Naomi married the love of her life, Tim on September 22, 2012.  I was privileged to be her Maid of Honour and it was one of the best days of the year.  The wedding went off without a hitch, Naomi looked immensely beautiful, the party was fun, my dress was great and I wish I could live the day over and over.  And it wasn't even MY wedding!

I know it was a while ago, but sometimes I forget that Facebook isn't my blog, hence the neglect.

And look! I discovered how to make photo collages!


Congratulations Mr. & Mrs.!!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Documenting Documentaries

I've really been into documentaries recently - I think I've watched 8 in the last several weeks.  Along with my favourite French film, I'm turning into quite the pretentioso.  Pretentious people also make up their own words.

The World Before Her
This was a film I saw with a friend at the AGH World Film Festival and the trailer seemed pretty interesting.  The actual film was good, but I'm not sure it was a worthy use of one of the last sunny Sunday afternoons of summer.  The story followed two, of I presume several, paths Indian women can take - the beauty pageant contestant or the traditional militant.  Both were presented as different forms of brain washing and each party had very interesting reasons for their choices.  It was saddening to see the state of women's rights and particularly the situation of one woman, who initially was a comical villain-type was was actually someone trying to make the best of her unfortunate situation.  It was thought-provoking and cheerless.

The Cove
I had heard of this documentary long before Hayden Panettierre got a lot of press for getting involved and crying a lot.  (I am refraining from making a blubbering over blubber joke.  Oh look, I just did.)  Like everyone else, I know that dolphins are brilliant and need to be saved from all sorts of manmade evils that befall them.  But this documentary was so intense and distressful that I had to fast forward through some parts and I certainly teared up.

The one thing they mentioned that stood out to me was that the generation and era of activism has passed and there aren't nearly enough people taking on the cause as the warriors of the 60s and 70s start to age.  I certainly take for granted that the causes are being fueled and supported by others and my involvement is so far limited to signing online petitions and donating paltry amounts to charities.  But who is spearheading all these movements?  Who will in the next few decades?  Our generation is certainly more apathetic than those past and yet, my main thought right now is, "Was the use of the word 'spearheading' in poor taste?"

My Kid Could Paint That
This documentary was a welcome break from the heaviness and it was about a story I had heard in the news a few years ago.  A four year old girl's paintings begin selling for tens of thousands of dollars and appearing in prestigious galleries.  The art and media world went nuts.  Then came the backlash and a 60 Minutes piece suggesting that the father was, in fact, responsible for the paintings, at least in part.

It was a really interesting film and if I had been watching it with someone, I would have turned to them afterwards and asked if they thought the father was 'guilty' because I found it to be very subjective.  All the evidence is there but no conclusion was made.  If you see it, let me know and we can swap answers.

This doc is about a doc who raised 9 children with his wife in a 24' trailer as they spent their lives travelling, surfing and staying out of the public school system.  It follows this family into their forties and my thoughts about the father's principles and methods changed throughout the film.  Half whack job with intense methods, half creative parenting with a noble motivation, he was an interesting character.

Ultimately, his children were ill-prepared for the world when they reached adulthood and I found each of them to be slightly strange.  But it was a weird and wild ride watching them go from hippie surf babies to hippie surf adults.

Of course, I had heard of this story, but the documentary was underwhelming.  I found I was more curious about things the film did not answer, such as how they organized their new "home", what sort of leadership formed, how they spent their time.  It seems that I was looking for an episode of Lost.  My mistake.

No Impact Man
This film followed a New York family who tries to have no environmental impact over the course of one year.  No trash, no fuel, no waste etc.  While it seems like a worthy principle behind the lack of toilet paper, electricity and restaurants, I couldn't see myself doing it and it seemed a little joyless.  They identified unexpected benefits and managed to do fairly well, but it was so extreme that it made me appreciate the small things I have in my life that, yes, do produce waste but make me happy.  You know, like cheeseburgers.  My list of eco-activism is currently exhausted at using reusable bags at the grocery store, turning off lights when not in the room, strident recycling and walking if I can.  Yeah, I could stand to step it up a little.

Man On Wire
This movie was shockingly dull.  The tightrope walker is so passionate and enthusiastic about his life's dream, but I think he forgot that this film was meant to be shown to an audience. 

Bill Cunningham New York
I had heard about this geriatric photographer is the iconic blue jacket who bikes around New York City and snaps fashionable and interestingly dressed people for the New York Times.  He's an institution and a very interesting man, but I found myself frustrated at the filmmaker's inability to glean any real information about him as a person.  He's very private and cryptic and seems to live in a storage locker of sorts.  He's adorable and unpretentious - I found myself wanting to learn more about him.

Overall, I think I would recommend:

- My Kid Could Paint That
- The Cove
- The World Before Her
- Bill Cunningham

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Writing's On The Wall

This graffiti is just lazy and opportunistic.  Step it up, hoodlums.

Really, Mom?

Most people recognize the hot pink Holt Renfrew bag as something that contains a luxurious treat, a gift that will elevate a birthday to another level, whose contents will bring a state of joy and excitement not possible by regular wrapping paper.  It's like the blue/green Tiffany box.  The heart quickens its pace.  The mind wanders to material fantasies.  The hands open it slowly to extend the pleasure.

And then.... pull out a pair of orthopaedic insoles.

Mothers.  Only they can get away with giving you a gift like this.  And so deceptively in a Holt Renfrew bag.  I pretty sure she thinks I was turning 71 instead of 31.

Book 'Em, Bloggo

Well, there goes my great book title.  Might as well pack it in.

Have you read "Gone Girl" yet?
It's so far, the best book I've read all year.

I'm halfway through "Triburbia" and it's pretty great too.

Just a recommendation from your friendly neighbourhood lapsed librarian.

Hats Off. No, really.

I was recently representing my organization at a national conference and I received a pretty great swag bag.  It was filled with make-up and skin care products...and this:

Seriously.  I understand the value of brand placement and marketing, but who would ever wear this?

Chicago = "meh"

Due to the facts that I love planning things, enjoy urban travel, have friends who are game and have a name that lends itself so wonderfully to a pun, Melebration is my birthday tradition that took us to Chicago this year.

I have been to Chicago once before, but it was for a winter church missions trip that was full of soup kitchens and painting apartments in the projects.  This time the trip would be extremely different.  Besides the obvious lack of tenements, it was summer, I am no longer 16 and my main goal was to experience the best of the city with fewer guilty pangs.

Ryan, Julie, Elo, and Paul joined me on the adventure and we spent 4 days in what I was expecting to be "New York City Lite".  Not so much.

We did all the expected touristy things - ate at the Cheesecake Factory, went up the Hancock Building, took the highly recommended architechture boat tour, shopped the Magnificent Mile, toured around Navy Pier and eventually made it to the beach.  But somehow, for me, Chicago just fell a little flat.

Once I realized that Chicago wasn't really doing it for me, I purposely struck out on my own to find the cool pockets and interesting neighbourhoods I had heard so much about.  Little did I know that to get to supposedly eclectic Wicker Park, I had to take a long taxi ride along underpasses and highways and was very disappointed to find nothing of note there.

We had extraordinarily bad food luck and never really found an amazing restaurant, the weather was kinda of crummy all weekend and I can only do so much shopping, so I didn't fly away thinking that Chicago was anything special.

In talking to people afterwards, it seems to be a city where you need to visit someone who lives there and who can direct you to (and make advance reservations for) great restaurants and who can show you amazing neighbourhoods.  It's not like New York where you can spend an entire weekend walking around and hit a dozen different neighbourhoods and countless magnificent places.

Chicago is not "New York City Lite".  It's it not even in the same realm as NYC.  It's very "meh".  I'm sure that I will give it another try and some point and maybe see a completely different side of the city - it's got such a great reputation! - but for now, while being with my friends was, of course, the most fun, Chicago is not for me.

But, now, enough belly-aching (that was reserved for the deep dish pizza) - onto the pictures!

 On my last day, I got up very early in one last attempt to find redeeming qualities about Chicago.  I went to Lincoln Park, the zoo and the beach.  The beach was glorious and I concede that this is one thing Manhattan does not have.  I wish it had been a warmer weekend and that I had discovered it sooner.

 Cloud Gate (aka The Bean)
 Finally a genius answer to the table waiting game.  Sure, it will be a 45 minute wait, but you place your order ahead of time and when your name is called, your pizza is ready.  Why hasn't everyone thought of this?
 The pizza was quite good and the drinks even better.
 Ok, whoa, it looks like my right cheek is about to burst off my face.  It's like a tumour!  Given my plate, it's probably filled with pizza.
 A girl and her boy friends.
 Taxicab confessions: we're all hungry.
 We had a surprisingly sweet hotel room that was huge!
 Aw, our cute and small friend Julie.  She's so wee!  With 5'10" and 6'4" tall dinner companions, she wasn't even given a chance.
 Finally, sunshine!  At the Lincoln Park Zoo and Observatory.
 You'll notice 6 tickets in my hand (and a bald creeper) and yet one of us slept through it.  Guesses?

 ...and Ryan's interpretation of art.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Love This

"No feeling is final."
Encouraging in low times, but saddening in high times. Ah well, such is life.
These words have stuck in my head all day.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Autumn Fridge

It's that time again - when I tire of seeing the same memories on my fridge and need to change it up a bit.

Here is the old Summer Fridge:

And here is the new Autumn Fridge:

It seems to indicate that I need one of two things: a larger fridge or a smaller ego.

In the meantime, this fridge edition highlights several photos of my friend Naomi's wedding to my dodgeball teammate Tim, Melebrations in Chicago and New York, random trips west and dancing at an 80s party.  Each one of these pictures make me smile and reminds me of a wicked good time.  Do you have to be from Boston to say "wicked good"?

What's Best?

 I recently started reading Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, which is one of the most influential books of the 20th century, according to Indigo.  This is obviously a tactic to get us to purchase old books - ha!  My library card and I showed them.

So far, it's the tale of the writer and his son taking a cross-country motorcycle trip and his observations and wisdom throughout the ride.  I'm only as far as the fifth chapter, but this nugget really stood out to me:

"'What's new?' is an interesting and broadening eternal question, but one which, if pursued exclusively, results only in an endless parade of trivia and fashion, the silt of tomorrow. I would like, instead, to be concerned with the question "What is best?", a question which cuts deeply rather than broadly, a question whose answers tend to move the silt downstream."

I really love this.  As normal, functioning adults in society, we likely ask the "What's new?" question several times a week as a foray into idle chit chat or to catch up.  But I love the idea of cutting through that all to get to the gist by asking "What's best?"

Isn't that a better way to make people think about what really is good that is going on in their lives and to evaluate?  For me, right now on a Monday morning, this is what's best:

- My lunch - a bacon and spincach quiche I made from scratch
- Not running out of gas or suffering any car failure on the trip to and from Ottawa this past weekend
- Several friend dates scheduled for this week with dear people I haven't seen in a while
- The adrenaline high I get from dodgeball, even if we lose

What's best with you?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Summer is officially over.  I know this because I have started wearing socks to bed (sexy!) and I turned the heat dial in my car to the red part.  However, I have not turned my furnace on yet and, handy landlord tip from me to you: it is not legally required to do so until October 15.

I actually really enjoy autumn, and it's not just because the outfit options are the best of the year.  First, the activities - where every day spent outside is considered a valuable treat and not just another sweltering day like every one that month.  Late afternoon sunshine in October hitting the vibrant leaves is one version of heaven on earth.

Second, the holidays - two amazing days that focus on food and candy without the stresses of gifts.  As I write this, I am eating candy corn and, I'll admit, I've eaten so much that I feel some gut rot or a cavity coming on.  But, with some self-control, particularly on November 1st, the food is the most spectacular part of this season.  Root vegetables are so much more forgiving and it's not a race against the clock to use them up, like the high maintenance summer berries.

I can't remember where I was going with this post - a likely sympton of candy cornitis - but in any event I'm going to turn it around and look back fondly on the summer past.  For me, it was a phenomenal one. The fact that each thing I look back on was the best of its kind is something that I am most grateful for in my life.  My life is forever improving. 

It was August before I even realized that I had amassed a collection of "Summer Lap" shots - which sounds perverted, but it's not.  It is simply a view of the summer from my perspective.  Lap it up:

Flight to Banff, Alberta - Always a treat to get the emergency exit seat.  And yes, I'm quite confident in my ability to push open the door and inflate the slide, or whatever.  But I'm even more confident in my ability to get into a sleeping position here, usually a plane impossibility.  (note the light reading about Luka Rocco Magnotta - "The New Face of Evil")

Canada Day post-beach - Enjoying a mojito and key lime pie with my namesake friend on the porch after a stunning day at Crystal Beach (one of the best in the province, although they check your bag for bottles).  I remember feeling so content and happy about the day and the summer ahead.

Blake's trailer - My first trailer experience with great friends, bottled soda called "Spritz Up!", birthday wine for Ryan called "Birthday Cake", and an 80 year old poolside deejay called "DJ Snowbird". And by the end of the weekend, I almost completed the Saturday crossword puzzle - a major feat.

Naomi's Birthday BBQ - You gotta love a wealthy uncle who opens his home to their niece-to-be and her motley crew.  This is where I learned to dive and spent the rest of the time tending to my waterlogged lungs by lounging on cabana chaises reading about Kate Middleton's fashion choices -a pretty sweet afternoon.  One of my favourite things to do is just hang out with so many of my friends together in one place.

Lazy Day - Possibly hungover after Dan and Blake's (Blan's) Christmas in July party, this was one of those perfect days in the middle of a perfect party-filled weekend.  Every night for four days straight was some sort of epic festivity - I could barely keep up.  Which is why I spent the daylight hours refueling by watching Project Runway on the couch.

Jason Mraz concert - This was my first time at the Molson Amphitheatre and it was exactly the scene I had expected - communal, relaxed, smelling of pot, and the perfect way to spend a Sunday night with friends.  Jason Mraz is awesome, albeit pretty hippie-dippie, and it's impossible not to feel like you're experiencing magic and love sitting under the stars listening to him.  This could be because I have strong, positive associations to his music or maybe it was the adjacent aromas. 

Our cottage in Muskoka - the 2nd Annual Little Clam Bam Thank You Ma'am...or something like that.  We keep messing up the name.  This was such a great weekend, with typical cottage stuff - epic Jenga tower, my first introduction to pulled pork sandwiches, Swim Challenge 2012 and an unfortunate fire ban and lots of lazy dock time.  This weekend is definitely one of my favourite traditions of the year.

Melebration Chicago - I remember this moment so vividly (ok, so it was only a month ago, but still...) as I had gotten up before anyone else on our last day and taken a cab to the Lincoln Park neighbourhood to discover something I could connect with in this city.  So far, I had been disappointed, but on this sunny morning of my 31st birthday, I found Chicago's redemption.  I spent the day at the zoo, the conservatory, the beach and the Greenwich Village-esque neighbourhoods, gleefully reading texts, emails and Facebook birthday wishes from loved ones back home.  Perma-smile.

Christie Antique Sale - I love any opportunity to wear my Wellies, especially when it's not cold out.  They seemed to be a pre-requisite for the crowd that day and as we slopped through the mud, it made my incredible mink muff seem even more of a luxurious find.  You heard it here first, I will be the one to bring this forgotten accessory back this winter.  If you don't know what I mean, and are thinking something dirty, this is to what I am referring:

The fur handwarmer thing Jackie O is sporting here. (Never hurts to show Jackie O when trying to resurrect a lost fashion trend.)  Mine has a wristlet and a handy cell phone hidden pocket.

So, that was a snapshot of my summer.  Sorry, a lapshot.  Nope, strike that.  It sounds bad.

Onto autumn!!