I feel like I have way too many things to share. So many exciting things have happened in the last little while! Or at least it feels that way (I just tried listing all the things and in total, there were 2 items…). I guess it just feels like I’ve been doing lots of exciting things lately even if they are perhaps abstract things that are maybe only in my mind. Sometimes I accidentally count things like “Internally becoming excited for Christmas” as actual events.
Especially SNOW! DID you know it’s snowing in Toronto now? Historically speaking, I’m a little late for my annual “OMG SNOW” post, but it’s because I’m maturing, guys. (Don’t worry – Sparkly Christmas Decor post is coming soon!!!).
But let’s pretend that actual events are defined as real places I go with other people outside my head: A couple such events have occurred recently! My friend, Kari and I went to see Swan Lake at the National Ballet of Canada and it was incredible! It was also the only pre-performance talk I’ve ever attended and I thought it was very insightful and not at all boring (the speaker was a very attractive former male dancer with a faint Swedish accent). I actually really liked hearing the synopsis before the show because I had never really bothered to find out the exact story line of Swan Lake. And if you’ve ever seen a ballet, you know that it’s not always easy to decipher what’s happening in the plot. All in all, a very classy night with a lovely lady in a very classy building (so sparkly).
Then, last weekend I went out with the gang (and wore my sparkly shoes out on the town for the first time) to the Royal Ontario Museum where they hold weekly parties on Friday nights called Friday Night Live. You basically get to check out exhibits, eat yummy food provided by various food truck vendors form across the city and have a couple drinks to wash down all the dancing and culture. I will say this: For the love of all that is warm and fuzzy, by your tickets online beforehand. And you have to do this like a week in advance. If you don’t, you have to buy your ticket at the door, but before you even get to the door, you have to pass the sacred test of worthiness entitled: You VS. The Line: Death Match to Hypothermia. We may have won this time, but it could have gone south very quickly. After the hour of waiting in the line to get in, the line for coat check and the line to buy your ticket (grumble grumble, flu season, etc.) it was a very nice time! I had mushroom and goat cheese buns from HotBunzzTO (Same people from La Carnita I think) and Delicious pierogis from The Saucy Pierogi, I didn’t see too many of the exhibits (they close at 9:30) but I had several white wine spritzers which helped me to put my sparkly shoes to good use on the dance floor.
I definitely felt like a city dweller these past few weeks – seeing a ballet at The National Ballet of Canada and drinking and dancing at the ROM are not things everyone can do on a whim. Feeling very lucky to live here and with such great people so close by 🙂
UGLY: LINE-UPS GOOD LAWD (read: not being able to feel your ankles)
AWESOME: Finally knowing the plot to Swan Lake (Don’t worry – NO SPOILERS). Also: My shoes being so dang sparkly.
Last Weekend, Jamie and I celebrated our 8th Anniversary! It’s hard to believe it’s been so long. When people ask me how old we were when we met, I think about it in my head and then immediately discredit my memory, because clearly it’s not possible that we were THAT young when we met. But it’s true, it just surprises me every time. We met while we were both going to school for Film Production at York University in Toronto. Even though we had known OF each other since the first year of the program, we only really started talking in 3rd year. Which means that I was 19. This baffles me because I remember our relationship starting while we were mature, responsible adults, but that’s impossible if I was 19.
Jamie has been extremely busy lately so we thought the perfect getaway would be one with as little stress as possible. So, we made a simple plan which we could execute fairly close to home to reduce travel time. We found the perfect place in Niagara on the Lake called The Pillar and Post. It’s a very picturesque hotel and spa. It’s got a fantastic restaurant inside the hotel and a dreamy spa underground – it feels like you’re in a very fashionable cave.
When we arrived, the entire hotel was covered in Christmas decorations, all the fireplaces were lit, and it immediately stole my heart. The space is quaint and rustic but also kind of grand in a way. Our room was lovely and we had our own fireplace and every night, we found a new rose on our pillows.
On Saturday, we had a Charles Dickensian breakfast (I can’t explain this – it’s just how I felt about our breakfast), and I went to get a massage in the spa. The spa is all natural browns and beiges and dim lightening and tiny Christmas trees. It was heaven. I’ve also never drank so much free peppermint tea in my life. Jamie met me after my massage so we could go for a dip in the Hot Springs – it was this outdoor hot tub that’s made to look like a natural waterfall in a tropical paradise. It was probably my favourite part of the weekend. It was very private and serene and it was just so relaxing.
That afternoon, we took a trip to Megalomaniac Winery, did some tastings and then went across the street to our old favourites, Tawse Winery. Back on our 5th anniversary, we visited Tawse and I ended up loving the Tawse Riesling so much, we bought a case. This time, we did not get so carried away, but still left with some great wine. We went to dinner at The Cannery restaurant in the hotel that night – It wasn’t the 5 star food I was hoping for, but the atmosphere and service was great and I loved dressing up for a quick trip down the stairs.
Our last day there, we had another great breakfast, did a late check out, threw our bags in the car and went back in to spend another few hours lazing about the Hot Springs and the various pools and indoor hot tubs. This was nice because most people had checked out and left so we practically had the place to ourselves. On the way home, we drove through the largest full Rainbow I’ve ever seen.
UGLY: The Yorkshire pudding. This was my only complaint of the entire weekend. You can’t get a lady excited about Yorkshire pudding and then deliver a sub-par, gravy-skint hockey puck. Everything else was delicious – it will always be a mystery to me why the Yorkshire pudding was so bad.
AWESOME: Christmas festiveness, alone time with Jamie, relaxing, reading books, seeing a rainbow that obviously represents the power of our love.
Last weekend, I participated in a time honoured rite of passage for modern women – a ladies weekend in Vegas.
I put on the heels, I squeezed into outfits too tight and my friends showed me how to do makeup properly (actually they just did my makeup for me…this man still can’t fish).
For one weekend, I transformed into “Toni with an I”. I was classy, put together and I liked to party. A lot. I learned so much about the underbelly of the Las Vegas club scene – for example, did you know that if you have breasts and know how to talk politely to strangers on the street, you can get into to all the clubs for free and also mostly drink for free too?! CRAZY, I KNOW! It all sounds very shady, but my lady friends were Grade A negotiators and knew how to make deals with the club promoters. The deal being, we show up – we get in for free. I bet you thought we’d have to do more, didn’t you? Nope. This is why I loved going with these girls – they knew the way. If I had been there alone, I would have payed full price for a “ticket to the club” like a chump, not knowing any better. (This reminds me of the time someone called in to my friend who works at TIFF and asked for “One ticket to Yorkville, please!”) Well, now I am experienced – a lady of the land, if you will. Let me take you through a brief (I’ll really try hard…) account of how I came to be such a wise and tenured Vegas soul.
On Halloween day, we arrived in beautiful Las Vegas, and we head over to our hotel, The Aria. I’ve stayed here before for work, so I feel like I’m getting to know my way around this part of the hood. We grabbed a quick bite to eat at the pizza restaurant where we did an official Vegas cheers and Monica ate a pizza with clams on it. Then we set out to the strip to stock up on necessary items for the weekend: wine, pre-mixed margaritas, hard iced tea, bottle opener, cashews and gatorade. And a toothbrush. Back at the hotel, we twerked around to hip hop and started getting ready for what would be the first of many late night excursions to “the clubs”. Halloween night, donned in our costumes (my “Sexy Pizza” dress) we went to Hakkasan at the MGM Grand where Calvin Harris was playing. We also witnessed a costume contest with a $10,000 grand prize. This was my first time in a club of this epic-ness. It was big and crazy and the lighting was awesome and there were SO many people there, I felt like I was in a sardine can full of sardines at a costume party. We danced and danced and then cried cuz our feet hurt (or was that just me…) and then we stumbled back to the hotel for sleeps. By that time, with the time difference it would have been about 6am Toronto time. It’s a miracle I’m still alive. (Also, in my mind, I’m 90 years old).
The next day, we explored the Las Vegas strip – we walked up and down, stopping in to various fancy hotels (and not so fancy hotels…Pink Flamingo) and basically just took in all the giganticness and impressiveness that is Las Vegas. I think my favourite indoor parts of the strip are The Venetian for all it’s fun indoor gondola rides, etc. and the Bellagio fall display which had a talking tree for goodness sakes. That night, we had DJ’s Taco’s for dinner – a favourite of mine from the ole working days. Consistently delicious. We then prepared our faces and feet for another amazing evening. First we went to a Cirque Du Soleil show, “O” at the Bellagio. It was awesome, but (and I feel like a terrible person saying it) I was not as impressed as I was with KA. But people tell me it’s because Ka was my first Cirque show ever. Could be true. One of the promoters we met earlier in the day, got us into a club, “Surrender” at Encore for free and also set us up with a booth, bottle service and open bar for a couple hours. It was my favourite because there was sitting (I am 90). It was my favourite though, I think because it was easier to talk to each other and have fun with each other. There was a costume contest here as well, although I think the prize was a measly $5,000. Hardly even worth it. By this time, however, we were sick of Halloween and were dressed like normal night people, not zombie night people. That night was my most memorable and my favourite of the trip – We danced, we befriended a group of 21 year old cats, we met the Spice girls, I sat on a piano while a lounge singer serenaded a room. All in all, top Vegas memories all around.
Saturday – This day was reserved for shopping. We went to the Fashion Show mall and perused the sparkly things until I found the one and only souvenir I bought for myself – a pair of Kate Spade sparkly, gold Keds. I love them. When I look at them, they cry Vegas. And my feet cry with happiness because they’re super comfy too. That night was all about STK. It’s a steakhouse at The Cosmopolitan hotel. We had read really things about it, and we were not disappointed. It has a very young vibe – a DJ was playing and everyone was kind of half sitting/half dancing at their tables. The atmosphere was great and the service was great. Especially one very attractive employee in particular who had no real reason for coming to our table so many times except to flirt with everybody and dance to N Sync. But none of that compared to the food which was heavenly. I got the beef carpaccio, skirt steak with truffle butter and a side of carrots which I could only eat 4 of because everything was GIGANTIC. It was one of the best meals I’ve ever had in my life. I definitely want to go back there again. At 10:30, the DJ announced that since it was 10:30, that meant free shots for everyone at the restaurant! The girls and I think this should be implemented at all restaurants and will now be celebrating “10:30” on a regular basis. And then it was off for our last night of rambunctiousness at Marquee at the Cosmopolitan. This club had kind of an indoor/outdoor thing going on. There were heaters outside by the pools so you could hang out there, or you could go inside to dance and generally get pushed around by all the people who are bigger than you (I stayed outside most of the evening). On our way there, a guy on the street had told us DJ Pauly D from The Jersey Shore would be at our hotel that night, so we left Marquee early to fist pump and get spray tans. The spray tans was a lie, but we did fist pump to DJ Pauly D like a true Italian American. And to be honest, I really liked the set he played – it was diverse and I had a great time there. Although, that also could have been my delusional euphoria after having removed my heels in favour of flats I hid in my purse, but who’s qualifying?
On our very last day, we took advantage of our hotels’ gorgeous spa, complete with outdoor hot tub overlooking the “common people” pools, indoor hot tubs plus a “cold dip” pool to refresh yourself. It had a steam room, a sauna, a hot stone room and a Himalayan salt room. I really have no idea what most of it’s supposed to do for you, but it doesn’t really matter – we stayed there most of the day and became utterly relaxed. Then we hopped on a red-eye to return to chilly Canadia. I slept most of the morning we returned, worked from home for a bit in the afternoon and then did what all people must do when they belatedly appear in Canada after November 1st – I went to Starbucks to order a Cranberry Bliss bar and a Peppermint Mocha in a red cup …WINTER IS COMING.
Ugly: My feet look like someone stabbed them several times and then sewed them back together only to slowly crush them in a pasta maker.
Awesome: This weekend fulfilled my annual quota for partying. It was exhausting, but it was so much fun. It was such rare treat that I could only have done with these special ladies who lead me through the looking glass to a strange world of House Beats and Body Shots. Thanks girls.
P.S. There are 4 galleries below, plus videos! Don’t accidentally get to the end of the first Gallery and stop. That would be a mistake.