I’m very excited for this post as it’s the first in a new blog series I’m embarking on, called “Strolling With My Homies” based on the “wildly popular” book series by Nathalie Prézeau, “Toronto Urban Strolls…for Girlfriends”. I happened upon this book in my local Chapters and decided I would go on every one of Nathalie’s 28 Toronto walks stopping at every one of her suggested pit stops. SUMMER GOALS!
For this experiment, every stroll I go on must include a girlfriend or suitable alternative. Otherwise, what am I really doing here. On stroll 1, I was accompanied by one of my most favourite people, my friend Kate! She was the perfect partner for the first stroll because she has the same love for exploring that I do, and the same ability to pause reality for a few hours to pretend that the places we are visiting are not ones we see every day, but fresh new places like we are tourists in an exciting foreign city!
Stroll 1: Downtown
Full Loop: 4.6 km (1 hr, 10 minutes, but it took us 5 hours because we ate and gossiped and took elaborate photo shoots also)
This stroll starts at Roy Thompson Hall, goes east along King St. then takes you down through the Courtyards in and around the Financial District, spitting you out near Front St. near the Esplanade, where you walk back West towards the CBC building (which is perfect because Kate HAPPENS to work at the CBC and gave me an exclusive tour of the building).
LET US BEGIN. (Story told mostly through photo captions because I don’t have all day!)
“Toronto Urban Strolls…For Girlfriends” Where it all began…
#2: “Don’t miss the shiny arrow”. We did not.
#1: Roy Thompson Hall
#4: St. Andrews Church
Caitlin stops to smell the flowers
#5: Toronto Dominion Centre. Joe Farad’s “Cows” in the middle of the financial district…yeah we didn’t quite get it either.
TULIPS! What a beautiful spring day.
weird broken bouquet of roses strewn across the steps of the TD Centre
#7: Brookfield Place
Also: ART HOMAGE
This is a nice old building inside Brookfield Centre. Vair pretty.
#8: Commerce Court – CIBC Building
Elephants in the financial district…makes more sense than cows? We don’t know.
Planking on Madame Elephant.
KATIE MAE IS ADORABLE.
#9: The big waterfall painting in the Scotiabank Plaza
Friends floating on clouds.
#10: Cloud Gardens, where a lovely bridal party was taking their photos!
Who knew this exotic tropical greenhouse existed right in the middle of all these skyscrapers?!
Taking a break. First day removing my sweater. SPRING.
LUNCH. This was not on the official stroll, but Nathalie’s suggestion of stopping at Marché did not work for us as there were too many actual tourists there being loud…does that make us bad honourary tourists?
I’m so excited be eating on a Patio!
Fish and Chips and a Mushroom thingy on potato rosti. DANG.
#11: Metropolitan glass labyrinth
Help me I’m trapped in this glass!
#12: Court Square. It was meh.
On our way to #13. I’ve walked past this building a thousand times. But on a STROLL you can pretend you’ve never seen it and be touched by it’s quaintness for the first time!
#13: Front St and Berczy Park
After a brief stop at C’est What for a tea and a brownie to escape the rain, we’re back on the trail heading west on Front. Hello old friend.
#14: Royal Bank Plaza with these weirdo smushed people sculptures…
#15: Fairmont Royal York was soooo beautiful. I’ve never been inside.
There is so much fun history literally lining the walls in this building.
Chef Staff – Christmas 1948
#15a: Kate adds an art stop for this cute mural at Front and York
This is a spitting image of my BFF and her wife. Shout out to the Hodgson-Beautistas!
#16: CBC courtyard – Aluminum Mountain by Anish Kapoor
🎵”It’s the cliiiiiimb”🎵 – Miley Cyrus
That’s Kate’s office up there!
Hangin out with Casey and Finnegan in their treehouse. Where Mr. Dressup at.
Kate on top of the media.
Shout out to when Nathalie suggested we stop at a Second Cup patio to “feel the urban vibe”. Maybe another time, Nathalie. Maybe another time.
Stroll 1 of 28 complete!
Ugly: I guess I’ll say that the construction downtown in this area at the moment was not the greatest, but then again, looking back over the photos, I don’t notice it at all. Also, it did rain for a hot minute but that wasn’t even bad because it forced us down into a warm and cozy pub for brownies. Can’t actually see the downside there…
Awesome: I just really loved this day! Most of these routes I’ve walked a thousand times in the 14 years I’ve lived in Toronto, but this was a great way to prove to myself, there’s still so much I walk past but take for granted. I flipped a switch in my brain this day to really look around and take things in – the landscape, the atmosphere, the architecture, the art and try to experience it like it was brand new to me. And I was surprised by how many things I’ve never noticed! Also Kate was the perfect stroll companion and I hope she will do many more strolls with me!
Here we arrive at part 3, the final contribution to my Iceland saga! If you missed Part 1 or Part 2, check them out!
On the 7th day of our trip, we woke up in our favourite campsite, Kirkjubæjarklaustur to the sounds of sheep bleeting and children yelling to their parents about how high up they’ve climbed the mountain behind us. And the craziest thing happened. I listened for rain and I didn’t hear it. I felt for the howling wind pushing our van around and I didn’t feel it. For the first morning since we arrived, I opened the van door to shining sun! This made for a good morning as we ate our Skyr and granola and set out to find our free coffee at the gas station down to the road.
We were heading west this morning, on our way to The Blue Lagoon which we would be visiting later in the afternoon. We planned to stop at a few places on the way back, the first of which was Hjörleifshöfði, a supposedly haunted hill just east of Vik. The legend goes that the hill’s namesake, Hjörleifur Hróðmarsson was a Nordic viking who settled on the hill, building a farm, during the winter of 874 with his Irish slaves. Within a year, the slaves had killed the Viking. His brother, Ingólfur Arnarson, (who because of Hróðmarsson’s death became known as the first Nordic settler in Iceland), sought revenge on the slaves and killed them one by one. Ever since, this hill is said to be haunted, the tomb of Hjörleifur sitting at the very top, overlooking the Ocean.
After climbing the hill, visiting the tomb, signing the guestbook (weird…), and walking through some farm ruins (not the original farm…a more recent farm), we got in the van and drove towards Vik to fill up on gas and chocolate.
After surviving the insanity of a rare gas station on a lonely road on a Sunday afternoon, we drove to Reynisfjara Beach to check out the basalt columns (the black rock that looks like cubes stacked on top of each other), the big cave and of course, the black sand. This is the most famous of Iceland’s black sand beaches, and it’s got the tourists to prove it.This was a beautiful spot and the islands jutting out of the ocean are cool to see in person. If we had more time, I would have liked to hang out more here, but we had a plan! There’s a restaurant called Black Beach restaurant which we considered eating at, but instead decided we would hit up the Fish and Chips truck we saw earlier in the trip at Skogafoss.
So back we drove to the Fish and Chips truck. Let me tell you, on a long, mostly desolate road, seeing this bright red, adorable Fish and Chips shack seems like a gift from the heavens. But in all honesty, although the owners were lovely and there was nothing really wrong with our meals, I was hoping to get a bit more out of this. Back home, chip trucks are where you get the most delicious, fresh french fries. These fries were very clearly frozen McCain or similar. The battered fish was yummy and filled us up. But for both of our baskets which each contained 1 small piece of fish and a handful of fries, the $40 didn’t seem worth it. I would recommend trying out the Skogafoss restaurant or the Black Beach restaurant instead.
Then it was my turn in the driver’s seat, taking us the rest of the way to The Blue Lagoon. This was by far the most recommended experience in Iceland – everyone asked if we were going, everyone wanted to make sure we had booked in advance (we booked a spot in the pool a week in advance but were too late to book massages – some people book 6 months in advance for this). I had a perception of this place before we went that it would be a very serene, spa like experience. And to a certain extent it was – there were luxurious change rooms to get into your bathing suits (with futuristic lockers that were hard to figure out), then you go through a door to the indoor co-ed hot tub entrance. Once you decide it’s time to venture outside, theres a half-underwater door that takes you through an “informational cave” that has a recording of the facts about the Blue Lagoon (it’s man made lagoon that’s full of natural mineral-rich water that comes from underground – the minerals in the water are said to have many health benefits). And then you just float around in the warm water! You’re also encouraged to get a free mud mask, so when you look around it’s just a sea of people with white goo on their faces. There’s a nice section that has a dry sauna, a wet sauna and a steam room like other spas I’ve been to. But unlike other spas I’ve been to, this one also had large groups of tourist children on school trips. Because although this is spa-like it’s also a very popular tour destination. So while I might have expected a quiet, float around the pool, I didn’t expect there to be several 15 year old Scottish boys on a field trip doing pull-up competitions on the wooden archs. I also didn’t expect there to be a swim up bar either, but that was more of a happy surprise. All in all, it was gorgeous and I loved it. Floating in warm water can do no wrong.
That night, we had our one and only restaurant dinner in Iceland at Snaps Bistro. I had mussels and frites and a pistachio, goat cheese, honey concoction for dessert. It was delicious. Slightly better than hot dogs and Sidekicks, I will admit. The next morning was our last in Iceland and we spent it roaming around Reykjavik looking for souvenirs and taking in the city. It was so charming and there were so many lovely shops with lots of unique stuff.
We had breakfast at one of the most delightful cafes I’ve ever seen, called Stofan Cafe. If you’re in Iceland looking for Hipsters, go here. They’re all here drinking coffee out of adorable tea cups and eating pastries on varying, eclectic antique chairs. Jamie had a healthy granola and berries while I dampened my sadness at this being our last day by eating a piece of chocolate cake. We strolled around until we caught our bus to Kaflavik to catch our flight home.
Ugly: In Iceland, we could only afford dinner at one restaurant, the Fish and Chips truck was too expensive, and I found myself craving hot dogs and sidekicks for months afterwards. I did this to myself.
Awesome: I loved that for the last couple days of our trip, the sun came out to put a positive spin on everything we did. It’s crazy how much the sun/ weather colours our memories in a certain way. I loved walking around the city with our coffee in the sun, the fresh breeze feeling like fall. I love that it’s my last memory of Iceland.
Well, that concludes the Iceland saga! I hope I’ve provided some info for those making the trek seeing as EVERYONE I KNOW seems to be travelling there. And I couldn’t be happier – if you have the opportunity, don’t miss it. And tell me all about it when you get back.
More like May showers, considering how drizzly and gross it was out today. But despite the terrible weather, I had a great day!
My amazing, gorgeous friend, Monica is getting married in June and I get to be one of her bridesmaids! In addition to taking a super fun trip to Vegas for her Bachelorette party in a month, I also got to help throw her Bridal Shower which was today. I’m pretty happy with how everything turned out. We basically stole everything from Pinterest, but that’s ok because it’s so damn pretty!
Considering it was pouring rain outside and traffic was insane because of the Goodlife run, I think we managed to pull it off and I think everyone had a good time hiding from the weather.
Monica’s sister, Dana made a whole bunch of delicious food, Gillian, Michelle and I pieced together the decor, drinks and treats and our extraordinarily talented friend, Sara made the Drake-themed “Hot Lime Bling” Cupcakes.
All around, it was a fun day to celebrate two people who are pretty awesome.
Ugly: SO MUCH RAIN. Grossy gross weather.
Awesome: SO MANY CUPCAKES. One lady said they were the best cupcakes she’s ever had.
Bridal Shower Decor
Hot “Lime” Bling Drake Cupcakes
Lemon Bling Cupcakes
Deviled Eggs – My favourite
I love these gold Balloons from Balloons on Bloor
This was the naughty punch
Monica and her My My
Happy Bride to Be
The Bride and bridesmaids
The Mother of the Bride and her bebe
More happy people with candy
Monica and her soon to be Mother in Law
So much candy
These two won the celebrity couple game in 26 seconds.
These two came in second place!
More good times
Several good times
Chris appears with Flowers!
Looks like love to me.
Monica and My My
My My is wearing a photo of Monica around her neck.
In accordance with official 100th blog post protocol (Section 5, paragraph 2) I took a little break from blogging. In that time, I had a Super Bowl party, attended an Anne of Green Gables marathon, spent Valentine’s Day with my friend, Kari, while our menfolk shot a commercial in Capetown, South Africa, went to the AGO, saw my new favourite band, Cousins, live in concert and on the same day, sprained my ankle giving my pal, Sandy, a hug.
I hope to post a few mini-posts in the next few days with fun pictures from all these random events – mainly because I now have an internal, personal obligation to post all of my memories to the inter webs where they will live forever and ever.
So, I’ll start with my visit to the AGO to see The Great Upheaval Exhibition. I wasn’t allowed to take photos in the exhibit, but I captured some of my other favourite parts of the AGO. I went with my friends, Adam and Leigh which proved to be lucky because Adam is basically a human art encyclopedia and provided a lovely, interactive, British audio guide as we toured the exhibit. Although, I bet the mechanical, plastic audio guide wouldn’t have stared blankly at me when I frequently stated “This one has too many colours”.
UGLY: Getting to the gym every single day with increasing motivation, only to sprain my ankle hugging someone and slipping on the ice. USELESS.
AWESOME: I bought a 1000 piece puzzle of The Lady of Shalott at the AGO and it will take me 7 years to finish.
A little pre-gallery Irish Coffee
complete with caesar salad and french onion soup
Leigh is delighted to be art-ing.
Leigh loves Canadiana.
This looks like my uncle.
Dark and brooding barns
Where I’d currently like to be.
Adam inspects the minutia of great art.
Life imitating art.
Life imitating art 2.
I don’t know…twins born on cat?
This reminds me of Little Women
I like this frame
Pompous art art.
In one of the salons.
The salons are my favourite rooms.
This is how I would decorate my house if Jamie let me.
If this was Harry Potter, they’d all be moving…
Salon sans Caitlin.
Salon avec Caitlin napping.
GENIUS having a wedding at the AGO. so pretty.
I’m inspecting my other favourite salon.
My favourite painting in the entire AGO. I call her Florence. I bought a magnet of her.
This reminds me of Man in the Iron mask
This painting is giant in real life – another one of my favourites.
As we left, a choir rehearsed the song that would be sung as the bride walked down the aisle…and I shed a single tear, knowing I had to leave because the AGO closes at 6….
Hey guys, guess what? This is my 100th Blog Post. No biggie. Just a life goal and landmark but you know, whatevs!!! (That’s what the title was about…not drinking 100 beer shots in 100 minutes…)
Being that this is my 100th Blog Post celebration day, I get to do whatever I want. Which means posting MORE CHRISTMAS PICTURES! Even though no one wants to see them anymore!
I promise, these are the last ones. It seems that everyone is now over it (Jamie wants to take down the tree tonight!) But I need to hang on for one more week. One more sparkly, happy, festive week and then it’s back to normal home decor colours and scents that are not “peppermint” or “gingerbread”. In all honesty, it won’t be so bad – I got lots of new non-Christmas Home decorations with my gift cards, so I get to play after the Christmas stuff comes down!
The first bunch of photos is from my annual “ladies only-ish” Christmas party where some lady troopers braved their way through the snow storm to come over and eat massive amounts of food, watch movies and exchange gifts. I look forward to this party every single year and this year it snuck it’s way in right before I got sick – very lucky.
The second bunch is from my Christmas in Kingston with my family! My parents got a new kitty named Inky, who is the best. She’s very cuddly and added even more excitement to the holiday. Even though I was a bit wobbly, I had a great time and it was nice to be home where my mommy could take care of me 🙂 So spoiled.
We had a fantastic Christmas dinner with my Grandparents and Uncle, his lady friend, Nancy and our family friend (and my old doctor), Roz! We also celebrated my Mom’s birthday and I spent New Year’s Eve with my parents. All in all, a TON of awesome family time which is a rare treat.
UGLY: Christmas is over, and I’m the only one hanging on to the holly for dear life. Also, I have to get up early tomorrow!
AWESOME: It’s been a really long time since I’ve spent so much time with the folks. It felt like University when you went home for a month! Also, new Inky and old Penny – I love visiting Kitties without having to actually take care of them 🙂
And here’s a special Christmas gift from me to you on this grand occasion!
It’s been a while since my last post. Earlier in December I got to celebrate Christmas in several amazing and festive ways and then unfortunately, before I was able to blog about any of it, I got sick. First with a brutal cough, then just when I thought I was in the clear, I came down with Labyrinthitis. I won’t go into how crushing and debilitating this insane illness is, only that you literally lay on your side for a week and any time you move, you experience the most severe vertigo, dizziness and nausea. It’s like being very drunk and sick all day long. So looking at the computer for any amount of time was basically out of the question. Which resulted in the blog break! (And even more annoying, an unanticipated work break) But now I’m back! I’ve been moving around for a week and I can finally focus enough to read books, blogs and most importantly, Facebook!
So – lets jump into our one horse open sleigh time machine back to the start of December, when some special ladies and I hit up Toronto’s Christmas Market in Toronto. The market is set up in the Distillery district and is Christmas incarnate. It was so pretty and sparkly and fun, but like seemingly everything these days, it was just so busy and had such long lineups there were some things we just didn’t go for. Like the churros. Everybody said to get the churros. But the lineup would have taken us half an hour to get through! So instead, we drank delicious hot chocolate and had amazing creamy mac and cheese. We sang carols with the Victorian carollers and we danced the Little Women traditional Christmas dance made famous by Winona Ryder (Or more specifically, Kari did this whilst excitedly running into passersby).
We were lucky enough to have Ashley and Brodie staying with us that weekend, so after the girls and I had our fill of Christmas fun, we met up with the boys at C’est What on the Esplanade where we had drinks and dinner and good times. Very lucky to see this crowd as often as I do – especially when the Ottawa folk come to visit!
Ugly – Lineups! I wish I was a billionaire who could rent out markets and fairs for my own personal use like McDreamy did for Reese Witherspoon at Tiffany’s in Sweet Home Alabama…
Awesome – Despite the crowds and lineups, it’s really hard to squash my Christmas Spirit. Any place that’s so full of Christmas decorations, lights, sparkles trees, carollers etc. is OK in my book. Extra bonus for going with awesome ladies.
It’s that time of year again! The time of year I walk aimlessly around the city looking at all the twinkly lights and anticipating decorating my own little blank canvas of a home. Last year, I purchased a bunch of Holiday decor because it was our first Christmas in this apartment and I wanted to take advantage of the little bit of extra space we have now. This year, I tried to re-use as much as possible and the only new things I bought were the plants for the porch and the new candle holder from Kitchen Stuff Plus (it was on sale…).
Jamie and I followed through with our annual tradition of decorating the tree while watching Sunday Night Football and I tried to make Christmas Sugar Cookies! The cookies were a success in general, but I absolutely failed on the icing front. I accidentally made the icing too thick so it was giving me a super hard time due to my tendency toward culinary ineptitude. I finally got my icing contraption to work and spent 15 minutes icing the trees. By the time that was done, I was losing patience on the snowflakes and by the time we got to the gingerbread men, I could barely motivate myself to make more than a face blob on each one. Regardless of their ugliness, they were still delicious so I count it as a flavour win, presentation fail.
UGLY: The horror-movie gingerbread monsters.
AWESOME: It’s Christmas!!! (obviously). Being in this house with twinkly lights and festive candles makes me excited about walking through my door every day. I’m pretty sure I turn on my tree lights with the same enthusiasm one would exude when meeting their puppy at the door upon returning home.