So a couple years back when I had just moved to Toronto, and barely able to keep my bank account out of the red, we’d always joke about going to eat at Canoe. Only because with my negative bank account, I pretty much survived off of instant noodles so spending a weeks’ worth of food budget on a single meal at Canoe was never even a real option.
Four years later (OG has it been that long?!), I’m lucky enough to have a stable job, and have paid off my student debt. I can’t say I’ve given up instant noodles entirely (who am I kidding? It’s my go to hangover food), but I have increased my food budget ever so slightly. Even still, I’ve never been to canoe.
So one night, the bf called and told me to put on something nice, because he made reservations for us at Canoe for our anniversary. When he came to pick me up, there were dresses everywhere, and my grumpy butt sitting there frustrated that the 12 extra pounds I now carry around has somehow made almost every single dress I own to no longer fit. I’m convinced that somehow, everything I own has shrunk.. I mean.. with the humidity.. and the summer heat… that’s possible right? Right?
Anyways, I finally settled on a loose backless dress and off we went.
We started off with a half order of the canoe raw bar that included oysters, juicy prawns, smoked salmon, two different kinds of ceviche, plus poached lobster salad. OMG. SOOOOOOOOOOOO good. For $35 dollars, it was a great appetizer plate to share.
To drink, we had a gin fizz (gin, lemon, sugar, egg white & soda), and a few glasses of red wine (Delaforce Touriga Nacional Douro Valley from Portugal). The bf was a little clueless about how to smell and taste the wine so our wonderful server gave us a mini lesson.
My entrée was mackerel and ridiculously buttery melt in your mouth lobster on top of buttered turnips, algonquin grits, and spinach. It was so rich and although it didn’t look like a lot of food, left me feeling quite satisfied.
The bf got alberta lamb which came in 3 different cuts. Also really yummy but didn’t even come close to how amazing my dish was.
Though the desserts looked delicious, I was too stuffed from the appetizer and entree so I decided to pass. To finish off the meal, our server brought over this little surprise. Look at how cute this is!
The whole dinner was amazing. Our server was wonderful and gave us just the right amount of attention. He made wonderful recommendations and really added to the whole experience.
I’m now determined to save my pennies so I can splurge on nice meals like this more often!
This past weekend, I made the trek up to Sudbury, Ontario to celebrate yet another wedding. URG SUDBURY… why must you be sooo cold?!
Anyways, I think this might have been one of my favourite venues for a wedding, to date. It was held at Science North, and my inner science dork LOVED it. I mean, when else can you have cocktails while petting flying squirrels and making friends with Drifter the beaver and Quillan the porcupine?!
The dinner was held in the Cavern which gave a nice earthy, intimate yet fantasy kind of feel to the evening. The space holds up to 200 guests and can be rented out for only $1000! Compare this to around $5000 for the Science Centre in Toronto. Yikes!
I mean, where else can you celebrate a marriage surrounded by rocks, and airplanes!
Unfortunately, I was too busy enjoying the wedding that I didn’t think to take a lot of photos to show you guys just how fantastic this venue was.
If you’re considering Science North as a venue for your wedding, here are a few pros and cons that I noticed as a guest
really cool atmosphere that guests will remember
even with very little decorations, the space would still look really nice
cocktails with animals = awesome
hotels within walking distance for guests
cars can be left in the parking lot over night
giant screen that you can use for videos
the service was great
the only option for caterering is Curious Thymes (their salads and dessert were quite nice but the main entrees were hit and miss so pick your items carefully)
depending on the time of year, it does get a little chilly in the venue. I’d imagine it would be hard to keep the cavern heated
You know that phase of your life where it feels like every single person you know is all googly eye’d and getting married? Well that’s exactly what my life feels like right now. I’ve been to about 14 weddings and counting, and yet every single one has managed to be different and has had so much of the couple’s personality in-twined into all the little details. So there I was, on a plane, heading to the Silver Tip in Canmore to watch one of the cutest couples in the world get married.
Check out a few of the adorable photos of their intimate mountain side wedding.
Fun reception idea:
Instead of throwing the bouquet and garter, the couple asked all the single people to come on to the dance floor, and surprised us all with a shot to help get the party started.
Since we were already in Canmore, the next morning, we hopped over to Banff to take a quick dip in the hot springs. Lesson of the day: I do not like hot springs. I’m not sure why exactly but the springs made me feel incredibly nauseous. My heart rate started to increase and after 10 minutes, the whole experience was quite unpleasant. The view was beautiful but I probably wouldn’t do it again.
After the springs, we made our way to Cross Zee ranch to saddle up. For $89/person, you get a two hour ride through the mountains.
It was a relaxing experience. Though I had hoped there would be galloping or at least a light trot. None the less, it was fun and definitely something I’d recommend trying. After our two hour ride, I finally understand the term “walking like a cowboy”. Wow does it ever make your thighs and knees sore.
The bf was insistent that I needed to have some Alberta beef so we headed to Rush in downtown Calgary for a nice evening out. We decided to share the chef’s cut, which was a 30 oz tomahawk. A tomahawk is a rib-eye cut with the bone still in tack. I don’t know how anyone in the world could possibly finish that plate on their own. It was extremely flavourful but I probably could have done with a smaller portion and larger sides.
Overall it was a wonderful 4 days spent relaxing, eating, and spending time with good friends.
I’ve never been one to dream about Paris or have ever felt the need to go. But as soon as I stepped foot into this magical city, I was hooked.
After having a very difficult time booking trains from Amsterdamn into Paris, we finally arrived.. with absolutely no idea where we were going to stay. We bumped into a fellow Canuck at the train station who suggested a hostel near Monte Martre. Rach and I hopped on the metro (after almost being scammed) and made our way there only to find out that of course they were completely booked up. A little discouraged, we plopped ourselves right outside that hostel to “borrow” their wifi so we could find some kind of shelter before the sun set. Turns out, this hostel being booked up was the luckiest thing to happen to us in Europe. Because it was booked up, we ended up going to St. Christophers and meeting our all time favourite travellers.
I would HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend St. Christopher’s if you’re looking for a social hostel where you can easily meet people. They have a great bar that fills up at night time with tons of friendly travelers. We had managed to get to the hostel after dinner and immediately met our new friend Alex who we instantly hit it off with over some cheap and delicious Parisian wine.
The bedrooms were clean and have cages underneath the bed for you to lock up your stuff. Careful though.. the hydrolics on ours were broken and out of no where, they can come slamming down at a ridiculous force. I laughed real hard when it happened to Rachel because with her clumsy nature, it was such a typical thing to have happen. But jokes on me because the next day, I had a nice bump on my head as evidence to show how easy it was to get knocked out by one. They also have paid lockers in their lobby so you can leave your bag there when you check out if you don’t plan on catching a train/plane until later in the day.
I opted to just hand wash my clothes in the sink and hang them in the hostel. If you’re much classier than I am and would like to not have your undies hanging out all over the place, there is a laundromat just a couple blocks down.
One of the things that I loved was how casual they were about bringing your own drinks and sitting at their bar. We would always just walk down the street to a convenience store, pick up a cheap bottle of delicious wine and have the bartender open it for us.
Crepes, cheese, pastries, bread, and wine were the only things that went in my little belly. For a girl that doesn’t typically eat bread, I couldn’t get enough of it. The smells of freshly baked pastries as you walked by the shoppes were just intoxicating. If you want to stick close to the hostel, I’d recommend grabbing a bottle of wine from the nearby convenience store, some glasses and sit out on the canal and enjoy the fresh air.
There is a little crepe shop right by the hostel near Crimee station that is so fantastic. Most of the restaurants just north east of the hostel are catered to locals so the staff very rarely speak English. It was definitely at these restaurants that we had the most phenomenal meals though.
Walking tours. There are a few free walking tours in Paris. I can’t remember the one we went on exactly but it started at our hostel. These tours are a great way to meet other travellers and see many of the top sites in Paris. That’s where we met our super group, Jeff, Katie, Liam, and Alex who definitely made our Paris trip memorable.
The Eiffle Tower. It was like being a movie. We opted to climb the stairs instead of waiting in the seriously long line to use the elevator lift. My fear of heights was a serious hindrance during the climb as you are very aware of your surroundings and how high you are.
Notre dame. So nice! This was the first of the churches that we visited and it was definitely in the top of the list. We got there bright and early after our pub crawl because we heard they had free English tours. Unless you are very very very passionate about history and religion… I WOULD NOT GO ON THAT TOUR! Our super group was so excited when the tour started.. our tour guide started out by giving a very detailed description of this one area of the outside of the building… and 20 mins later when the lady was still describing the same area, I knew if I stayed for another minute, I’d fall asleep while standing. I glanced around and saw the pain in my other friend’s faces. Jeff caught my eye and without a word, we not so discretely slipped away to find some other adventures, abandoning our poor friends to this torture. I later found out that they only lasted another 30 minutes before they too could not take it anymore.
The Louvre. While our other friends stayed at the Notre Dame tour, Jeff and I made our way to the Louvre. We must have the best timing because there was absolutely no line to get in. I hate to admit it but I just don’t appreciate art as much as I should. Especially being a photographer. I’m not a huge fan of museums and definitely have the mentality that if you’ve seen one naked statue.. you’ve seen them all. Don’t hate me. Luckily for me, Jeff had a very similar mentality so we grabbed one of the booklets from the front that listed all the popular pieces and decided to hit up all the “top” exhibits in as little time as possible. To spice things up a bit, he suggested we play a game where we give the paintings new names. If there’s one thing I’m terrible at, it’s being creative on the spot. Jeff who is so quick came up with names that they had me in tears from laughing. I on the other hand had the imagination of a rock and felt serious anxiety every time it was my turn to name anything. All and all, one of the best museum visits of my life.
Monte Martre. LOVE. This is the Paris that you see in the movies. We grabbed some baguettes and laid on the grassy hill and took in the sun. Note: there were a bunch of signs all over the grass that said something in French that I didn’t understand.. but I suspect it said something about staying off the grass…
Parc des Buttes Chaumont – GO TO THIS PARK! Preferably early in the morning. It was so beautiful and relaxing with the mist coming off of the lake, runners jogging past, and artists with their paints and canvasses. It was absolutely the perfect place to write in your journal. It may have been one of my favourite locations in all of Paris.
I can’t say enough amazing things about Paris. The food, the friends and the sights made this city unforgettable.
After writing my post about the super hero party I threw a couple of weeks ago, I thought I’d share a story about a real life hero.
My uncle (pictured above) did something amazing this year that is definitely worthy of sharing. His dad had been sick and learned that his kidneys were functioning at a very low level and would need to go on dialysis until it was his turn on the transplant list.
My uncle, who married into the family only a few years ago, but whom I’ve known for as long as I can remember (he dated my aunt for 12 years before getting married!) has always been caring, selfless, and generous. He’s the owner of Academia Tutoring Services and has a passion for teaching and inspiring kids to learn and strive for success.
Well when he learned that his dad would have to go on dialysis, he didn’t think twice before asking to get tested to see if he would be a match for a live kidney donation. What happened in the next 3 weeks was a complete whirlwind. Within 1 week of getting tested, they called and told him that he was a match, and that they could schedule him in for the surgery 10 days later. Only letting his wife, and his boss know, he quietly went about taking care of all the loose ends that would need to be taken care of before the surgery. Being the humble and thoughtful person that he is, he didn’t want to make a big deal out of it and didn’t want to worry the whole family. The wonderful doctors at Toronto General did a great job and when I popped by to visit him after his surgery, even through the pain, he was in good spirits and was generously offering me a bite of his apparently “delicious” sugarless jello.
His recovery took about 7 weeks where he had to be careful about over exerting himself, and avoid lifting heavy objects. But with some TLC from my aunt, he now he looks and functions as good as new! And his dad has also made a very quick recovery and is doing extremely well!
I can’t begin to say how much I admire what he did and can only hope that there is some serious good karma coming his way soon. If you haven’t thought about registering for Organ donation, I’d highly recommend at least reading into it and considering how your consent could potentially one day save up to 8 lives.
My lovely friend Rachel celebrated her once in a lifetime champagne birthday last weekend. I knew I wanted to frame one of our travelling photos for her in a bright yellow (her fav colour) frame. After much searching, I quickly realized that bright yellow frames are ridiculously hard to find. Instead, my spray paint addicted roomie inspired me to go with the DIY approach.
Picture frame – I picked up a 24×36 Umbra one from Blacks.
Spray paint – I just grabbed a can from Canadian tire. I used Rust-Oleum 2x cover and it worked out pretty well.
A hi-res photo – I decided to pick a photo I had taken of the Eiffle Tower in Paris that had Rach discretely in the corner. I then asked all of our favourite travel friends to send me messages for me to incorporate into the picture.
Garbage bags – to protect your flooring as the spray paint goes everywhere
Tape – to take your garbage bags down
How to spray paint a metal frame:
1. Tape down garbage bags. It’s best to do this outside where air can circulate as the fumes from the paint are toxic.
2. Take the backing and glass out of the frame. Just lay down the parts that you want painted.
3. You can use primer as a base, or sand down your frame slightly so that the paint will stick better
4. Read the instructions on the back of your can to know how far away you should be spraying
5. Let it dry and repeat if you want the colour to be more true, or if you noticed that you missed some spots.
Avoid painting on a windy day. I had some issues with dirt and residue blowing around and sticking to my frame.
Avoid spraying to closely as the paint will go on very thick and will be more likely to drip down the frame.
Make sure you give yourself enough time for the frame to dry. I ended up having to wrap up a frame that was still a little ‘tacky’.
I typically print my photos at Blacks, but it will usually take them 5-7 business days to print a large poster size. If you’re in a rush, most print shops that have printers on site are able to do it for you in a couple of hours. Note: Often they will charge you a service fee if you bring the file in on a USB/CD to print rather than uploading it yourself online.
Since I was using a photo from when we were in Paris together, I thought it woudl be fun to ask our friends that we met there to include little messages for her to personalize it a little bit.
The finished product!
Of course I had to wrap it in bright yellow wrapping paper.
My bestie LOVED the gift! Thanks to our awesome friends Jeff, Katie, Alex and Liam for helping me put a smile on her face!
I also pulled out my trusty kitchenaid mixer to whip together some yellow cupcakes. Fun tip: Use a package of pudding mix to make the cake extra moist.
I love these brightly coloured cupcake wrappers.. however does anyone else notice that after baking.. they all turn into muddy ugly colours?
Best part about baking? Definitely licking the batter!
I think I’m addicted to spray painting now and will definitely be making a few more big prints for my room. Thanks again to our Paris super group for helping me with this gift!!
Some of you may remember the super hero party I threw last year for the bf’s birthday. It was a huge success so I had a few friends request that I throw another one. The best thing about already setting a precedence is that no one complained this year about my strict costumes mandatory rule. Instead, they all realized that the more outrageous the costume, the cooler everyone else thought you were. I was so pumped that people went all out on their costumes this year!
To spice things up a little bit, I kicked off the party with a photo scavenger hunt. I made a fun list of things to do, and gave everyone 1 hour to complete as many of the listed items as possible. Although some people were unsure about running around the city in their costumes, by the end of it, everyone had a blast, and now they have all these great photos to show for it. Feel free to download my list for your own party!
Benefits of a photo scavenger hunt
Great way for people to get to know each other. I made teams at random which forced people to work together with others that they might not normally talk to
Everyone has a competitive edge. And a hunt is a great way to bring that out in people.
Great photos! I’m all for photos and giving people a list to do gives them a reason to be silly in pictures.
It’s fun being a kid. We don’t give enough credit to just doing fun, silly, PG13 kind of activities.
Tips tricks and lessons learned from the scavenger hunt:
Give a wide range of tasks in varying difficulties
Teams of 4 worked really well – the teams are small enough to easily coordinate and work together, while being big enough that people know that you’re part of a group you’re not a random crazy person walking around the streets in a costume.
I gave everyone an hour to complete the list and 2 teams finished all 26 tasks. Next time I’d add probably put at least 30 things on the list with some really hard ones
Remember to print off the list beforehand. I was rushed the day of and couldn’t get to a printer in time. Luckily, everyone has smart phones now a days so I just posted it online and had everything download the list to their phones.
Picking a hashtag lets everyone post to the same social media channels so they can see how their competition is doing. We used #HeroHunt for ours.
If you plan ahead and are tech savy, you can collect everyone’s photos and play a slideshow of all the pictures during the party
Some pictures from the hunt!
It’s not every day that you get to party with Sailor Moon and Wonder Woman!
Or how about Super Dave and Asbestos lady?
And of course the whole crew from Kick-ass decided to join!
With Despicable me 2 coming out this July, I know many kids (and adults) will be hoping for a cute despicable me minion cake for their birthdays. My aunts and I had made a minion cake last year (for my uncle.. he very loudly made it clear that he wouldn’t settle for anything less). Unfortunately, I didn’t really think to document the process that well so here are a few iphone pics that I thought to take during the 10 hour process.
Here are a few photos and DIY tips if you want to make your own Despicable Me minion cake!
You will need to bake more than one round cake that you will use to layer to give the minion some height.
Then you’ll have to carve the cake to give it a rounder smoother more minion-esqe shape to it. We used a lid to help guide us and ensure that it stayed round. It will be easier to cut if you let the cake cool. If you cut while it’s warm, it’s more likely to crumble.
Once you’ve shaped your cakes, you can start the fun part – DECORATING!
When colouring fondant, use a paste or a powder. The liquid food colouring will completely throw off the consistency of your fondant and it will be very difficult to get the bright vibrant colours needed for the minion.
While my aunt covered the cakes with fondant, I started working on the little details like his little hairs and eyes. Make sure you dust your surface with icing sugar to make it easier to remove the fondant after you roll it. Other wise it will stick and all your efforts to roll it out will be in vain. We couldn’t find cookie cutters that were the perfect size so we used drinking glasses instead.
We used a tooth pick to add the little details like the stitching in the overalls and buttons.
Use a little bit of water to ‘glue’ all the pieces together.
That little tongue is just too cute! 1:15am and we’re finally finished!
A couple months ago when we first heard about Colour Me Rad, it only took 30 seconds of looking at photos on their website before I was sold on the idea. I mean, who wouldn’t want to look like a rainbow vomited all over them?! SO FUN! For those who have never heard of this before, it’s a 5K run where you have coloured starch thrown at you. Once you hit the finish line, everyone is given a colour bomb for the ultimate rainbow war finale. I had an eventful birthday party to go to Saturday night which left me a little less than 100% for the run on Sunday morning. After running/walking (mostly walking.. maybe even dragged a bit) there are a few tips for those who are thinking of doing it for the first time.
But first…. Let’s check out some awesome fun photos from the day!
Tips and Tricks
Wear white if you want the colours to show up well. I saw a few runners wearing black and the coloured starch looked a little mucky and muted on the black.
Try not to open your mouth too wide during the colour stations. The corn starch has a way of instantly drying out your mouth if you get too much in there.
If you want to bring your phone or camera, keep it in some sort of clear bag. You will get starch on everything you have. I brought along my crappy 10 year old camera and kept it in a cellophane bag which works a little better than a zip lock bag as the material is typically clearer and firmer which gives less distortion when you’re taking a photo through the bag.
Don’t make plans for immediately after the race. You’ll likely want to go home and shower unless you plan on leaving a rainbow trail wherever you go for the rest of the day…
If you’re driving there or getting a ride, bring plastic bags to sit on for the ride back unless you want to leave a nice print on the car seat.
If you cut the sleeves on a shirt, the piece that you cut off makes a great head band.
If you’re running on a sunny day, careful about where you put the “RAD” tattoo that they give you. I have a pretty sweet RAD tanline on my biceps now.. I’d HIGHLY recommend putting it right on your forehead… All the cool kids are doing it.
I’ve been helping out a wonderful friend of mine, Ernest Morgan with a project called Science Everywhere. The idea is to show how science is all around us by using everyday materials to demonstrate different science principles.
The first video that will soon be up on Youtube demonstrates how air pressure is all around us . Using every day items like duct tape, garbage bags, a shop vac, we showed how you can use air pressure to suction yourself up against a flat surface.
Thanks to Goorin Bros Hat shop who graciously let us use their store front window for this experiment. Here are a few teaser shots of the day. Check out Science Everywhere’s facebook page and Youtube for the videos and full explanations.
Tips and tricks
lay the garbage bags down and the ground and tape them together first
you will need a perfect seal all around the plastic bag in order for this to work. Pay close attention to the legs and neck area.
never cover your face with the plastic bag! This is very important because if your face is covered when you suction out the air, YOU COULD DIE!
hold one hand over the vacuum hose to help control the suction. If you don’t do this, it will suck up the plastic bag
always have a buddy with you
if you are going to suction yourself to a window, make sure it will hold your weight!
it will get very hot under the plastic bags
We’ll be doing fun experiements across the city all summer. Follow us on twitter to find out when the next one happens so you can join in! @soundslikeknock @science__ninja