8 Years and Lots of Wine

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.

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!

It’s Not Delivery, It’s Delissio!

Since my last post was a literary extended journey through my hopes and dreams, I thought I’d give your eyeballs a break with this post. On the weekend, we celebrated Danica’s birthday as well as Halloween and fast food. (There were a strange number of greasy themed costumes this year).

We had a grand ole time hanging out at Danica and Chris’ place and then ventured to Queen for their friend’s Halloween party. We’ve been to this party before and it is so epic. I’ve proven my lack of photography skills with this post because the pictures below don’t do this place any justice at all, whatsoever. They plaster their walls with Halloween decorations, their bathroom is spattered with fake blood (and a torn up shower curtain complete with victim in the bathtub), and the place is always completely packed with the best costumes you’ll see all year. Unfortunately I captured 4% of this mania with my camera. I guess I was having too much fun Pizza dancing on the dance floor.

I hope that this will motivate me to take a million pictures in Vegas (where I’m going on Thursday!!!). I swear to capture as much generic and non-personally identifiable shenanigans as is allowed by “What Happens in Vegas” law.

UGLY: My photo journalism skills.

AWESOME: I get to wear my Sexy Pizza dress again in Vegas!!!

FORT FRIGHTENING TIMES OF SCARY THINGS!

When I went home for Thanksgiving last weekend, my family and I embarked on what has become a hilarious annual tradition. We attend Fort Fright at Fort Henry, where my Dad and I enjoy being mildly startled and amused and my mom practices deep breathing so as not to have a panic attack. Great fun for the whole family!

Fort Henry on a normal day is a pretty cool place where you can walk around the fort and dress up in guard’s costumes and watch the pretend soldiers re-enact the Sunset Ceremonies (where they fire rifles and cannons and march and play drums and flutes and whatnot). Educational and amusing. Good times. Anyone born in Kingston has been there at least once, most likely on a school field trip. But the BEST time of year at Fort Henry is October when they put on the best “Haunted…Fort?” I’ve ever been to. You walk around the grounds and inside the old rooms, exploring the already creepy fort, walking through scary displays with scary sounds, etc. But the scariest part is the actors walking around that stare at you or scream really loud when you walk by. Sometimes, they’ll be hiding around dark corners waiting for you so they can move in an ominous manner. For most people, this is creepy and startling and fun. For my mom, it is the worst invention of all time. She comes with us because she wants to make us happy, but truly, this is not her scene. This year, a zombie scared her so bad, she ran into a wall and lost her shoe. That is le fact.

So, if you’re looking for a super fun night time family outing, head on over to Fort Fright. And just remember: they’re not allowed to touch you.

UGLY: The clown zombie.

AWESOME: The father/daughter zombie team. She was 8. It was adorable and terrifying all at the same time.

Locks, Turkey Stocks and Two Soaking Bales (of hay).

Most of you know that I have a slight affinity for the autumn season. It has always been my favourite season, and I don’t believe this is an accident. I believe that I was raised with a healthy appreciation for the fall time.

When I was a kid, we used to go to my grandparent’s house for Thanksgiving. The drive from Kingston to Almonte was rife with auburn, red and golden leaves and even after we had arrived at our destination, we would set out again with my extended family for a “fall leaf drive”. This would result in an accumulated several hours of driving around for the express purpose of gazing upon the beauty of the season. Even after we began spending Thanksgiving at home, we tried to keep the tradition alive.

The fall leaf drive has evolved over the years – my dad and I head out for the drive early Thanksgiving morning, and at some point my mom decided she would rather stay home and make the Turkey soup (which we are forever grateful for). I’ve also become more prone to car sickness over the years so what once was a full day activity has been pared down to the better part of the morning. It’s one of the only traditions my dad and I have for just the two of us, so it’s a special event I look forward to every year. It usually involves coffee, nice radio music, a walk around somewhere lovely and contraband snacks like Ruffles chips and maple candy.

UGLY: Having to avoid winding roads for fear of barfing.

AWESOME: Maple sugar candy and the smell of wet earth 🙂

Turkey Time!

Yesterday was Thanksgiving dinner with the fam and it was such a gorgeous day out. I don’t remember the last time we had a Thanksgiving dinner where we spent half the day on the porch.

It was the perfect combination of lazy do nothingness, book reading, dinner making and dinner eating. My grandma brought over a book of old family photos and after dinner, we perused through the old photos. I had never seen some of them – of my Great Grandmother, Great Grandfather, lots of really classy looking people who came before my time. I’m going to do a whole other post on how cool my family is, so for now, enjoy the following pictures of Thanksgiving Day and half-eaten festive treats.

Happy Thanksgiving Everybody!!

UGLY: The current diameter of my stomach.
AWESOME: Turkey soup, turkey sandwiches and…The Moist Maker.

Porch Envy.

Fall stuff all over my house! Fall stuff in the bathroom! Fall stuff on the porch! I want to roll around in ALL THE FALL STUFF.

So, I decorated my house for fall this week. I’ve been looking forward to it forever. However, I did NOT decorate for Halloween yet, guys. Even I have boundaries. Let the harvest have it’s moment. Then we’ll kick it into Halloween mode when it gets chillier.

Speaking of Halloween, I’m GOING TO VEGAS ON HALLOWEEN. With all the crazies! I’m so happy to be with my people! I’ll be sure to document the crap out of it, because there will be much to see, my friends. Maybe I’ll see a bunch of celebrities but I won’t even know because they’ll be in costumes. Speaking of which, costume wise, I think it’s illegal in Nevada to wear a costume that does not begin with word, “sexy”, so I’ve been trying to think of hilarious “sexy” costumes… Sexy Lobster. Sexy pumpkin. Sexy Vacuum. These things make me laugh. I think I’ll just go as the Long Island Medium.

So, on top of decorating my house this weekend, Jamie and I also dug up all our herbs and planted them in a big giant wooden bucket to be hauled inside by 7 large men for the winter time (It’s very heavy…). We also went over to Jamie’s family’s house for dinner only to find that Jamie’s mom had broken her OTHER arm and was at the ER with Jamie’s dad. That’s two arms in 1 year. Worst luck of all time. So we tried not to let her delicious meal and lovely decor go to waste and had a lovely, but bittersweet dinner. Get better soon, Nancy!

UGLY: All the arm breaking!

AWESOME: fuzzy sweaters, pumpkins, apple cider, nutmeg. red leaves, the smell of fireplace, pretty sunsets, re-using all my dollar store decorations because I’m thrifty.

CATS who read.

Happy real and actual autumn!

This weekend was so full, I didn’t even get to my treasured fall decorating. I didn’t even attempt to pull the box out of the closet.

Friday was planning an upcoming Vegas Trip with some lovely ladies. I’ve only ever been for work, so I’m pumped to go for fun. We drank wine and ate pizza and decided who our alter egos would be. I’m Olga, a Russian veterinarian who sells horse tranquilizers (don’t worry, they’re just Mentos). I’m excited to shed my nerd persona for a weekend, break out the old content lenses and buckle up my stilettos. It will be a strange and exciting change of pace.

Saturday, we celebrated my lovely friend, Cristina’s housewarming in Guelph. I ate too many chips and dip and little hotdogs wrapped in bacon. I love finger food. Her house is amazing and it makes me feel like people my age are becoming real adult people and it is terrifying. But it also makes me excited for future things like houses and spaceship washing machines and “Guest Bedrooms” (whodathunk).

Saturday night, I went to Jamie’s office (Aircastle headquarters) to watch a screening of the documentary they’ve been working on for the past couple years. I think it came out great and I’m so proud – it’s called Amin Amir and it’s screening on September 29th at the Edmonton Film Festival. If you live in Edmonton and love AWESOME STUFF, you should go see it.

Sunday was a chock full day of activities. First, brunch at Brownstone with Kari, then off to see CATS on it’s last day of performances (Did you know it’s based on a book of poetry by T.S. Eliot?!). I had never seen it before and Kari was melting with nostalgia so it was good fun had by all. Then we went on a bit of a walkabout and found ourselves accidentally in the middle of The Word on The Street festival. Last year at the festival, Kari was reading aloud from her amazing novel, Margaret And The Moth Tree. This year, we pretended to be Shakespearian characters and received free naughty novels from the Toronto Romance Writers (SAUCY).

So now I’m at home after a sweaty at-home TWERKout, about to enjoy some Football and Indian food with Jamie WHO IS ACTUALLY HOME BEFORE 2 IN THE MORNING OMG (It’s been a busy couple of weeks).

UGLY: My non-seasonally decorated home!!! 😦

AWESOME: I bought a pair of 10 lbs weights so my at-home workouts now consist of me becoming A BOSS.

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!

Bushels & Bouquets

Hello there!

Leave it to me to ignore my blog for 6 months only to begin again with a fall-time post. It is my curse and my saviour. When it is fall time, I want to write about it and take pictures. It’s in my blood.

But since I’ve been on a blogging diet of wilted spinach and lemon juice, it would be irresponsible of me to jump back into things with a T-Bone steak and a side of mashed potatoes. So, I’ll start off slow with this dry toast and chicken broth of a post: My jaunt around town on a brisk fall day (yes, I realize fall does not begin until September 22, but in my heart, it begins the first day I need a scarf). Also, I’m now very hungry.

It began at Rebel House, with a delicious brunch with my autumn muse and fellow fall worshiper, Kari and continued to a feminine paradise, Putti in Summerhill (so many sparky things). I stopped by The Harvest Wagon for a couple of artichokes which I plan on consuming later and ended with the purchase of some mums for the front porch and a lovely autumn bouquet for my living room.

Usually, I’d be cuddled on the couch watching football right about now, but Jamie is super busy lately and it’s just not the same without him. So I blog and eat artichokes and read books while it gets gusty outside. Which is a perfect Sunday in my opinion.

UGLY:
The number of boxes I must remove from the closet in order to reach the one full of fall decorating supplies which I will need for next weekend…

AWESOME:

It’s time for fall decorating! I can’t wait! I’m reusing all my Dollar Store purchases from last year, so at least I’m being frugal 🙂

Also artichokes…which makes me think a possible artichoke instructional blog is required…PLOT.