Bits & Pieces

Happy Friday!

We’re heading into a beautiful weekend here in Toronto. Tomorrow I’ll be out on the Toronto Islands for Wanderlust 108, a “mindful triathlon” that brings together a 5k run, yoga and a guided meditation. And then Sunday I plan to eat all of the brunch. All of it.

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend.

Here are a few bits and pieces that made my week:

  • Daydreaming about travelling through the Philippines after reading this.

xo

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Summer Stuff

Every year I make a summer wish list of stuff to do between mid-May and early October (a time period I have referred to for the past 4 years as ‘Summer of Jenn’). It can’t be all sangria hangovers and park naps y’all (ok, it can be a little  – but I’m trying to branch). Some are silly, some involve a bit of travel and some are purely indulgent, but most of them are geared to savouring what’s supposed to be a very hot Toronto summer.

  • Make friends with boat people. Then go on their boats. Seems simple, but MM and I have tried (mostly through telepathy, but ‘A’ for effort, right?) to befriend boat people for the past few years. On a trip to Vancouver we thought perhaps we could make friends via proximity to water. So we just sort of lurked there. No dice.

BE MY FRIEND BOAT PEOPLE. Sigh.

  • Take a class in something art-y. Or art-adjacent. A few years back, MM and I took a clay class at The Gardiner Museum. I tried to act out Ghost on the pottery wheel but there was a line-up. For ‘Ghost-ing’.

Clay class at the Gardiner Museum.

  • Get on a lake and enjoy some water sports. Perhaps in some sort of canoe. Anything that floats, really.

Jenn + Canoe = Fun

  • Learn how to BBQ. I can’t keep making R cook all my veggie burgers. Well, I can. But I think she might throw one at me soon.
  • Try some new beers. I had a blast with MM and K at the Granville Island Brewing Co. in Vancouver. And I love beer. Especially wheat beer on a hot summer day.

Beer samplers at the Granville Island Brewing Co. in Vancouver. I swear these aren’t pints. They were tiny. Well, tiny-ish.

  • Go to Canada’s Wonderland. It’s been about 12 years since I’ve been, and I really want to go on some roller coasters and slam down some funnel cake. AT THE SAME TIME.
  • Marathon Mad Men, Breaking Bad and Sons of Anarchy (for rainy days and hangover Sundays).
  • Turn 30. Stay classy. Oh lordy.

Time to turn 30.

  • Play tourist in my own city. I love Toronto, and even after living in the city for 10+ years I still feel like there’s so much more to see. I get a kick out of playing tour guide to friends and family visiting Toronto because I get to explore new areas and restaurants too. Though I rarely venture north of Dupont, I’m looking to explore the North end of the city a bit more this summer. R and I spent a day in the St. Clair and Bathurst area last summer and had a blast. She scored an amazing denim jacket from the Salvation Army and I ate 3 cupcakes. It was a good day.

Hamming it up on the Danforth (Greektown).

  • Enjoy some outdoor movies at Harbourfront during their Free Flicks nights. Last summer I saw Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and Annie Hall. And brought my own wine. Win-win.
  • Get a day pass for one of the hotel pools around the city. Maybe one from this list? I have my eye on the Radisson.
  • Got to some outdoor concerts and music festivals. This may sound like a no-brainer, but I have a fear of two things: Porta Potties and clowns.  A clown IN a Porta Potty would probably render me dead. MM and I are going to see Brand New in August and we typically get out to see some bands and go to some parties during North by Northeast (NxNE). I think maybe this year I’d be up for an all day outdoor concert type of thing. Unless it’s raining. Or too hot. Or there are clowns there.

My 2010 NxNE Media/Priority Pass

  • More brunches. More mimosas. Self explanatory.
  • Hit up some food festivals. Yes, the crowds can be a bit overwhelming, but I’ve done the Taste of the Danforth and The Taste of Little Italy and enjoyed both. It’s nice to wander around stuffing your face in a crowd of people also stuffing their face. Solidarity, fatties! This year I’d like to drop by the Vegetarian Food Festival too.
  • I think I would like to maybe rent a cottage for a weekend this summer. My friend L has a gorgeous cottage on the lake that we went up to last Labour Day weekend and had a blast. There’s something so peaceful about being on a lake. Unless you’re playing Yahtzee with a bunch of crazies. Inside joke.

Down by the lake at L’s cottage.

  • Road trips! My cousins and I are driving to Boston for Canada Day weekend (but I’m flying back because Porter was having a sale – holler!). I’d also like to maybe take some day trips to places like Elora and St. Jacobs and maybe some of these places too. I used to go to St. Jacobs all the time when I was a kid because it was near our summer place, but it’s been awhile and I could really get on board with buying a supply of pies from a man wearing a lot of wool.
  • Run. As I’ve mentioned, I’m doing my first run in October. It’s only a 5 km run but that’s kind of a lot for someone who’s never run. IT IS! I’m so focused on making this a running summer that I opted out of tennis lessons this summer. But I’ll probs hit up Howard Park and High Park to play if I get a chance. Though my tennis partner is currently in Spain…..(lucky girl).
  • Go ziplining again. I had a blast ziplining in Costa Rica last year and would like to do it again without having to go to Costa Rica because as it turns out I don’t like getting robbed. I’m also down for repelling. If you know of a good place to do either within a 2 hour drive from Toronto, please let me know!

Ziplining in Costa Rica – April 2011.

  • Give golfing another go. I stupidly assumed that being able to actually successfully connect golf club to golf ball at various driving ranges meant that I could golf. Oh, how harsh reality can be. My brother, sister-in-law and I went golfing last summer on what turned out to be the hottest day ever. I was not good. But I had fun. And I’m ready for round 2. Look at me, making golf puns!
  • Go to The Ex. As a kid, I never went to The Ex. According to MM, this is blasphemy. But I’ve been making up for lost time over the past 5+ years because we visit at least twice when The Ex comes to Toronto each summer in mid/late August through Labour Day weekend. We hit the food building  a lot. Hard. Roti, perogies, pickles on a stick. Yum. There’s also some fun shopping. Overall, it’s just a great place to hang out for a few hours but I generally avoid going on closing weekend (Labour Day) and prefer to go after work during opening week (bonus: it’s also cheaper during the week – $5 after 5 pm from Monday-Thursday). Don’t say I never did anything nice for you.

Our favourite ride at The Ex.

  • Hit up the Toronto Islands. The Islands are a place I generally try to avoid on weekends, as the overcrowding on the ferry to get there gives me Titanic anxiety. But once you’re there it can be a really great place to have a picnic and walk around. Also, what’s not to love about an oversize chair. AMIRIGHT? bring your bike and ride around. Drink some wine down by the lake. It’s a great place to bring kids, as there are wading pools and an amusement park. Just don’t bring them to the nude beach part. It’s mostly full of creepy old men. Don’t ask.

Me on the big chair on the Toronto Island.

  • Get another tattoo? Debating. My most recent tattoo was done last summer in Montreal. I have some ideas, but I think my mom may start getting actually angry…..or as close to angry as she gets which is like an eye twitch.

Getting tattooed – August 2011 (Montreal).

End result – FOI. It’s the French word for faith.

  • Make a point of visiting farmers markets more vs. buying my produce from the grocery store. Torontonians LOVE farmers markets. We’re fancy that way. My favourites are the Dufferin Grove Farmers’ Market (Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m on Dufferin Street across from the Dufferin Mall) and Wychwood Barns (Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Christie Street at St. Clair). I’ve also heard about one in Liberty Village that I want to check out.

So that’s my summer fun wish list. What’s on yours?

Bits & Pieces

Yo,

The phrase TGIF used to enrage me in my pre-career days. Now, I totally get it. I’ve just eaten like a pound of Swedish berries and I’m on coffee #3. It’s not even noon and I’ve already given up on any semblance of social graces. The next person to annoy me will definitely get some high quality side eye [insert dramatic sigh here].

Anyhoodle, here are some bits and pieces that made my week (slightly more bearable):

  • Sometimes I worry I’m just one bad day away from being one of those people who’s, like, really into World of Warcraft. Like these two winners. Ok, I’m just being mean. They’re kind of adorable.
  • Girls, a new HBO show, debuted last weekend. I watched it. I liked it. If I had to say something negative, I’d say I found it a teensy bit self-indulgent. But I’ll give it another few episodes before I make a decision on whether or not it joins my elite TV downloading roster featuring such critically acclaimed gems like Long Island Medium and Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Ha.
  • On getting a tattoo while still in your teens. I got my first one (illegally) at 16. And I still love it. Maybe I’m in the minority here, but I have no regrets. My advice would be: make sure it’s something timeless and very personal to you. And don’t get it somewhere where you’re likely to experience major weight fluctuations (ass, stomach, boobage). Just sayin’.
  • I absolutely love this article about travelling with a friend. I’m so lucky that MM and I have the exact same travel style and have been travelling together happily for almost a decade.  Being superfriends does not necessarily mean you’ll make good travel buddies, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing nor an indication that there’s something wrong with the friendship. One of my favourite travel memories with MM is being in Paris and both of us kind of hating it but not wanting to really say it in case the other was loving it, and we just kind of stopped in our tracks after some incident (gross guy saying something pervy or some pile of street garbage or whatever) and looked at each other and kind of shouted into each other’s mouths “I HATE PARIS!” “ME TOO!”. Good times. Also, I made MM wait in line for over an hour to eat at a particular (and honestly underwhelming) pizza place in Brooklyn last summer, so I owe her one on our next trip.

Have a great weekend folks!

Montreal

I recently spent an extended long weekend in Montreal, hanging out with my lovely cousins, meeting up with my good friend J who moved there from Toronto about a year ago, eating EVERYTHING and doing my fave kind of cardio: shopping. Montreal is not only one of my favourite cities in the world, but it’s also my home town. Once upon a time, I ONLY spoke French. That is a horrifying piece of information for anyone who’s recently heard me speak French. My accent? C’est terrible! After four days it felt weird to come back and hear nothing but English on the subway!

Highlights of my visit? Getting my third tattoo with my cousin C. I got the word ‘FOI’ tattooed on my right wrist. It’s the French word for ‘FAITH’ and I’ve been planning it for awhile. C got a cat decal on the back of her neck.

Tattoo #3

Our new tattoos

New tattoo

Getting a tattoo is kind of like giving birth (I’m guessing): At the time, it’s extremely painful. But you’re so happy with the result that you sort of…forget…about the pain after some time has passed.

You even lie about it.

“Did it hurt? No. Nope. Not even a little. “Oh, the crying? That was allergies. Umm…no…I was crying because it felt so good. Yeah. Those were happy tears.”

But I’m not going to lie to you fine folks.*

*Too many witnesses/photographic proof.

Backstory.

I got my second tattoo (my astrological symbol) on my back about 6 or 7 years ago and hand to god it did not hurt. Neither did the first tattoo I ever got – a design on my upper left arm. And I was totally 18 and totally sober at the time (*cough*16 and drunk*cough*).

But this one?

OUCHSHITMOTHERFUCKERSHITOUCH

It only took about 5 minutes but I was holding my breath for most of it (my vision got a little fuzzy around the edges). The artist did say that the wrist is particularly sensitive because of the veins. So I must have like 17,394 veins.

We got our tattoos at Tattoo Mania – I highly recommend it. My artist was Remi. He did not speak a word of English and somewhere along the line our wires got crossed, and, anyways, he thinks I’m a Supreme Court Judge or something. True story.

We also did brunch at Le Vieux Velo . I consider myself kind of an expert when it comes to eggs benedict (and Julia Roberts movies and unicorn mythology, but that’s neither here nor there), and I can say that this place has the best eggs benedict I’ve ever tasted. If I lived in Montreal, I would eat at this place like it was my job.

Brunch menu at Le Vieux Velo

Also food-wise, we did dinner at a surprisingly good Mexican chain of restaurants called The 3 Amigos and also did a BBQ/swimming afternoon at the house of one of C’s friends and her family who were visiting from Guadeloupe and France. And C revealed that I absolutely hated Paris but they weren’t offended…at least I don’t think so. We ate so much it hurt. Filet mignon and chicken and pork on the BBQ, homemade cheesecake, corn on the cob, you get the idea. I’m still full. On my last night we took some of the family to La Banquise for poutine. I ate so much I went up a shoe size.

This is the second year in a row that I’ve been in Montreal during Divers/Cite. It’s such a great time in the city. We caught the world’s largest drag show – MASCARA and it was so much fun. That’s also where we met up with my good friend J and watched some amazing drag queens strut their stuff in heels I wouldn’t even be able to wear sitting down. There were also some fireworks later on, set to Beatles music.

Divers/Cite

The MASCARA drag show

We did some shopping and snacking in Mont-Royal (the BEST used DVD and bookstores and my fave cupcake shop Petits Gâteaux) and also along Sainte-Catherine. We headed into the Old Port of Montreal on Sunday night for a great jazz show at Le Piano Rouge. It’s a very touristy area but so pretty at night – reminded me a bit of Yaletown in Vancouver.

Mini cupcakes!

The Old Port

J’adore Montreal!

Have you been to Montreal? If so, what’s on your must-do, must-see and must-eat list in the city?