Painting the Town Sparkly

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.

What Happens in Vegas Clearly Ends Up on This Blog. Sorry.

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.



I made this GIF to share my feelings:


And now, for the out of order Daytime photos!

How to Cook and Eat an Artichoke.

ARTICHOKES.

I love artichokes. They are some of my favourite things to eat. I do not do this often because, although they are vegetables, the traditional preparation and consumption of an artichoke requires some… additional calories…

Many times when I’ve spoken about my love for the artichoke, people will tell me not only have they never eaten an artichoke but they would have no idea how to cook or eat one anyway. Therefore, I share with you, the time honoured tradition of the artichoke: How to prepare and consume (Instructions are the photos below).

Prepare yourself. You’re about to eat an unhealthy meal. This is a treat. Like a 1,500 calorie Saag Paneer Roti from Ghandis. You know it’s bad for you… but sometimes you just have to TREAT YO SELF.

UGLY: Your face when you eat an artichoke. Just go with it.

AWESOME: The fact that you are about to embark on a journey that will leave you satisfied, knowledgeable and thirsty.

These beautiful babies are artichokes. And Imma eat them.
These beautiful babies are artichokes. And Imma eat them.
Get a big pot, big enough that your artichokes can sit inside with the lid on, fill it with water and boil it.
Get a big pot, big enough that your artichokes can sit inside with the lid on, fill it with water and boil it.
First peel the teensy leaves off the stem. Aint nobody got time for those.
First peel the teensy leaves off the stem. Aint nobody got time for those.
Cut off the stem, leaving a delicious half an inch poking out.
Cut off the stem, leaving a delicious half an inch poking out.
Plop your artichokes into that boiling water.
Plop your artichokes into that boiling water.
Put the lid on your pot and set the timer for half an hour (can be more or less depending on the size of your chokes). About half way through roll them around in case they're stuck with one side facing up.
Put the lid on your pot and set the timer for half an hour (can be more or less depending on the size of your chokes). About half way through roll them around in case they’re stuck with one side facing up.
While waiting for your artichokes to boil you can...admire your nails...
While waiting for your artichokes to boil you can…admire your nails…
...Look how nice they would look in a scary movie...
…Look how nice they would look in a scary movie…
...maybe read a book...
…maybe read a book…

Or you could dance around to Bollywood music.

Once a half hour is up, take a look at your gorgeous green broth.
Once a half hour is up, take a look at your gorgeous green broth.
remove the artichokes carefully (don't raise the choke above your hand or boiling water will drip into your palm like a handshake from Satan.
remove the artichokes carefully (don’t raise the choke above your hand or boiling water will drip into your palm like a handshake from Satan.
Admire your steamy wonders.
Admire your steamy wonders.
Take a stick of butter (don't judge me) and chop it up.
Take a stick of butter (don’t judge me) and chop it up.
Put it in a bowl.
Put it in a bowl.
Use your lazer beam eyes to melt the butter.
Use your lazer beam eyes to melt the butter.
PREPARE FOR EATING!
PREPARE FOR EATING!
You'll also need a big bowl for all your discarded leaf carcasses.
You’ll also need a big bowl for all your discarded leaf carcasses.
HOW TO EAT: STEP 1. Pull off a leaf from the outer most leyer.
HOW TO EAT: STEP 1.
Pull off a leaf from the outer most leyer.
Step 2: Dip the non-pointy end in your bowl of fat.
Step 2: Dip the non-pointy end in your bowl of fat.
Step 3: Scrape off the flesh from the inside of the leaf with your teeth and eat it. The smaller leaves (the beginning ones) will not have a ton of "meat". Wait till you get to the middle. You just wait.
Step 3: Scrape off the flesh from the inside of the leaf with your teeth and eat it. The smaller leaves (the beginning ones) will not have a ton of “meat”. Wait till you get to the middle. You just wait.
Step 4: Discard the pointy part of the leaf into your carcass bowl.
Step 4: Discard the pointy part of the leaf into your carcass bowl.
FYI, that's what it looks like post-scrape eat.
FYI, that’s what it looks like post-scrape eat.
FYI this is what it looks like when a monster eats an artichoke.
FYI this is what it looks like when a monster eats an artichoke.
Congratulations! You've eaten many leaves and you've made it to the heart of the artichoke.
Congratulations! You’ve eaten many leaves and you’ve made it to the heart of the artichoke.
Look at the destruction you left in your wake.
Look at the destruction you left in your wake.
OK, HOW TO EAT THE HEART: Pull off all the silly leaves that no one wants.
OK, HOW TO EAT THE HEART: Pull off all the silly leaves that no one wants.
All that will remain is the heart with some weird furry stuff sticking out. DO NOT EAT THE FUR.
All that will remain is the heart with some weird furry stuff sticking out. DO NOT EAT THE FUR.
Take a spoon and spoon out all the furry bits, while trying to keep as much actual heart as possible.
Take a spoon and spoon out all the furry bits, while trying to keep as much actual heart as possible.
This is the heart, post fur removal.
This is the heart, post fur removal.
Take that sucker and dip it in the butter like it's your job.
Take that sucker and dip it in the butter like it’s your job.
Put it in your mouth and thank the baby Jesus you have taste buds.
Put it in your mouth and thank the baby Jesus you have taste buds.
Give yourself a pat on the back. You ate an artichoke! And you gained 7 lbs. HURRAY!
Give yourself a pat on the back. You ate an artichoke! And you gained 7 lbs. HURRAY!

A New Year’s Recollection.

Hi Strangers!!

Sorry it’s taken me so long to update! Now that it’s been so long since I wrote anything, I feel like I have so much insignificant/very important information to share! In an effort not overwhelm myself and my memory, below is an account of some things that have occupied my brain since my last post:

– New Year’s Eve happened! Jamie and I were in Kingston and we had a lovely dinner with Brodie and Ashley followed by dancing (specifically dance battling).

– My Mom’s Birthday! Happy Birthday mom!

– I took down all our Christmas decorations and have been having fun thinking about normal house decorating. Wish I could visit Houston – a blogger lady who I’ve been following for years just opened a new store called Biscuit full of awesome junk: www.peppermintbliss.com
I’ve been getting inspired by all her crazy colour combos.

– I cut my hair real short and bleached it all! I’ve been thinking about making a change for a while (I’ve had basically the same hair for the past several years) so this weekend I took the plunge! It’s still a teensy bit yellow (we couldn’t do the toner because my scalp was unhappy with me), so I’m going back next week to make it even whiter! Betty White will be so jealz.

– Dance class! After the break, my super friend, Kate, told me about a dance studio near both of our houses. We tried a ballet class together which didn’t work out so great (the teacher was…unstable), but since then I’ve gone to a contemporary class and a Lyrical class which I love! I’m jumping in with both feet and joining the performance class so I’ll have a recital in April. Personal goal of the year: Try to take it seriously and not make fun of it. It’s really hard, though. There’s lots of “emotion”…

– I went on an amazing Value Village shopping spree. Among other things, I bought a Cristian Dior skirt for $6 and a sweater that has a bedazzled satellite on it…probably the best thing I’ve ever purchased.

Well, I guess that’s it till next time! I’ll try to post more often and with less weirdness…

UGLY:
My mom bought me an electric toothbrush for Christmas which is awesome, but it does not match the stylings of my beautiful peach and blue bathroom.

AWESOME: The DIY Electric Toothbrush cover that I made out of a can of cashews…That’s right, I’m crafty!!! So proud of myself…

The day I saved Sherry and John from the apocalypse.

So last week I got to do some fun things.

Friday night, we celebrated Emily’s birthday at Bambi’s. Lots of sweaty dancing followed by terrible snack decisions at 7 Eleven. As I recall, I ordered a hot dog and so did Celeste. When my hot dog came, I put an enormous amount of ketchup on it. Except it was hot sauce. Celeste offered to trade hot dogs so I wouldn’t have to throw mine out. But it turns out hers was not so much a hot dog but a cheeseburger rolled into a hot dog shape. For some reason, this story amuses me.

Then on Monday, Ryann and I went to West Elm in Liberty Village for a book signing. Ryann got me on to this blog a couple years ago called “Young House Love”. It’s written by a funny and endearing couple, Sherry and John Petersik and it’s all about them renovating and redecorating their house. They have a fun style which I like and their posts are full of knowledge and funny business.

While we were standing in line for them to sign our new books, the West Elm employees handed out post-it notes, telling us to write down what we wanted our inscription to say. Basically, we were only really supposed to write our names down so they would spell them correctly, but the instructions made it seem like we were supposed to write our own inscription. My inscription from Sherry and John says “Dear Caitlin, Thanks for saving us from the apocalypse. You rule.” so I think I used the situation to my advantage in the end. Anyways, it was a super fun outing with Ryann, complete with yummy dinner after a the Brazen Head and it was fun to meet bloggers in real life who you follow so frequently that you forget sometimes they don’t actually know you at all. That’s kind of my goal in life. To be internet famous enough that someone will say to me one day “I feel like I know you but you don’t know me at all”. ARE YOU OUT THERE, BLOG FAN?! I LOVE YOU!

Ugly:
My completely transparent desperation to have internet fans. Even just like 5 of them would be cool…

Awesome:
The photo of Sherry, John, Ryann and I throwing up yuppie gang signs. Dream Come True.

Oh Hi, Ohio!

Congratulations Liz and Trent!!!

We have just returned from an amazing weekend in Columbus Ohio, where we were lucky enough to celebrate the wedding of Jamie’s cousin, Liz and her new husband, Trent.

The wedding was gorgeous, the reception was very lively and went on into the wee hours of the morning and the entire weekend gave Jamie and I a chance to hang out with his family – something we don’t get to do very often and always ends up being super fun.

We didn’t get to see too much of Columbus, save for the Marriott where we stayed, the First Congregational Church where the ceremony took place and the beautiful Franklin Park Conservatory where the reception was held, but the church was beautiful, the Conservatory was a pretty cool, unique venue and the Marriott was…a Marriott.

Both drives, the one to Columbus and the one back, were harrowing journeys through pouring rain, and I’m happy to now be relaxing and watching football on my gigantic couch – I need all the rest I can get after all that dancing.

Ugly:

This concludes our 2012 wedding season and I’m kind of sad. I’ve been to more weddings this year than in my entire life and I’ve really had an awesome time at all of them…I’m going to miss them…

Awesome:

Loved celebrating something so personal and special with two lovely people and their lovely family.
Also – Looking forward to a fun girly Halloween hangout on Wednesday and a romantic getaway next weekend with Jamie for our 7th anniversary. Fun things!!!!

Total Eclipse of The Heart

They’re here! The photos of the actual wedding have arrived!

Now that I look back at them I realize that potentially I was having such a good time I may not have stopped to take as many detailed shots as I should have, but what I do have, I love!

Kari and Will were married on May 19 at Chateau de Roussan in Saint Remy. That’s right, they got married in a castle. And it was just as incredible as you might imagine.

Although I didn’t capture as much as I should have in pictures, I’ll give you a brief play by play of the day. The guests arrived at the Chateau by way of a magnificent driveway lined with gigantic trees that appear to be hundreds of years old. At the Chateau, everyone mingled in the gorgeous lobby and on the grounds until we were ushered towards where the ceremony would take place. The chairs had been set up on this little plot of green garden beside the chateau. It had a stream running behind it which was home to swans. SWANS.

The ceremony was beautiful. It was very personal and their officiant, Karine, told the story of Kari and Will as if it was a fairy tale, using each of their unique perspectives to pepper the story with plenty of real life quotes and confessions. It was actually very entertaining to listen to, unlike several other wedding ceremonies I’ve heard (on TLC…). There were also readings from Will’s best man, Rory and Kari’s Maid of Honour, Laura.

After the ceremony, we took pictures in front of the Chateau and let Kari and Will go off to take their own pictures while the rest of us sipped on Pink Cava and stuffed our faces with amuse-bouches (which included mushroom, green bean and tomato mousse in shot glasses…YUM)

Then we filed into the reception area which was a lovely outdoor tent behind the Chateau with a dance floor and a French band that sang classic love songs and French diddys. We had a delicious dinner which was Kari and Will fancy (super fancy) and yummy dessert all the while being entertained and touched by speeches from various loved ones, a photo slideshow made by Kari’s sisters and a very sweet video made by the best man, Rory (with help from his lady, Brandy). They also played the shoe game where the Bride and Groom sit with their backs to each other, each holding one shoe from the Bride, and one from the groom. Then they are asked questions such as “who does more housework” and “who hogs the sheets” and they answer by raising the shoe of that person. It proves to be quite hilarious.

After lots and lots of wine, the dance party began with the traditional first dance between Kari and Will. They were so wrapped up in their own romance that they didn’t even notice the disco ball had been set to flash multicolour lights around at a much faster pace than the slow song they were dancing to. It was almost as special as when the French Band/ DJs played Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” during the throwing of the bouquet. These were my favourite wedding moments. The dancing went on laaaaaaate into the night, and I believe I can speak for everyone when I say the whole night was pretty awesome. Will and Brodie even performed an encore performance of their man dance. The icing on the cake, however, was the late night cheese table that came out with crackers and baguettes and every kind of cheese imaginable at around 2am.

Jamie and I rolled ourselves into bed around 5am, with our alarms set for 7. The next day, we would be racing to the airport to catch our flight to Barcelona, Spain.

Ugly:

Absolutely nothing. Except the sunburn I got yesterday but that has nothing to do with the wedding.

Awesome:

Everything about the wedding! It was so lovely and I feel so lucky to have been a small part of it. Thanks Will and Kari for asking us to be a part of your day (week)!!