Archives for category: Life

flowers
Mazel tov to yet another friend who has joined the league of married folk! The union took place in Kleinburg, which I didn’t know even existed, just 40 minutes outside of the city, at the McMichael Canadian Art Museum (it houses iconic collections such as the Group of Seven).

I love going to weddings of different faiths and seeing the unique traditions and rituals. A few things I learned:

  • it’s common for Jewish weddings to take place on Sundays because Saturday is a holy day of rest
  • the bride and groom are not supposed to see each other the week before the wedding and then during the day of, the groom needs to check that the bride is indeed her (as per a reference to a biblical tale)
  • 18 is considered a lucky number, meaning long life
  • the ceremony takes place under a ‘chuppah’, a canopy, meaning the home they will build together
  • the groom promises to sell the shirt of his back to provide for the wife (I found this part funny…only because it was so bluntly put!)

totem pole - mcmichael canadian art collection
(an intersection of cultures: a totem pole which depicting a frog surfing the web – not pictured!)

flowers, table settings
(note that only the top tier of the cake is real! so genius!)

under the chuppah
(happily ever after!)

HUZZAH!

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belleville on the water
(my favourite photo from the weekend – houses along the waterfront)

During my splendid getaway to Niagara-on-the-lake, one of my companions mentioned Picton, Ontario as a place to visit, particularly for their abundance of homemade jam. After a quick Google search, not only did I find places to buy jam, I stumbled upon the Great Canadian Cheese Festival!

great canadian cheese festival
cheese
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three generations
(me, my mom, my mom’s mom – can you tell we’re related? *wink*)

Last weekend, my cousin got married (I tell you, it’s wedding season!). It was a lovely small, family affair that took place in downtown Toronto.

The ceremony took place at The Toronto Wedding Chapel, which I didn’t even know existed. When I hear “wedding chapel” I think of crazy folks who get hitched at an Elvis themed room but it was a beautiful, tasteful, bright space.
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local winery field

When it comes to travel, I’ve always been drawn towards far off and exotic places. I’ve lived in Canada nearly all my live and only once flirted with the thought of travelling across Canada and seeing the great wonders of my country (not counting the work trips I had to Edmonton and Vancouver this year!). The trip never panned out and still, the idea still only sometimes lingers in my mind.

That said, I’ve been to Niagara Falls many times, particularly when relatives visit from distant lands, but I’ve never explored Niagara-on-the-lake. I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about it and after spending a weekend there, I now know why it’s nicknamed “the loveliest town in Canada”. Tucked away in the southern part of Ontario, in the Niagara region, it is a fantastic weekend getaway from the city.

The weekend called for rain and but we set off anyway, fingers crossed for some sun since our plans included a bike tour around the wineries.

We smartly opted to stay at Globetrotter’s bed and breakfast. We were met with luscious landscaping and an inviting porch, wood interiors with exposed beam, and charming rooms peppered with worldly souvenirs.

globetrotter b&b porch
globetrotters b&b

The hosts, Donna and Fernando, showed incomparable hospitality (and some mean skills in the kitchen!). She is the editor for Dreamscapes, a travel and lifestyle magazine in the Globe and Mail and, he is an equality well traveled hospitality manager at a local hotel. Together, they make the perfect team.

After a quick rest, we walked to the local bike rental store, Zoom then took off to explore the wineries and sample local wine. We visited 5 altogether: Stratus , Caroline Cellars, Pondview Winery, Frogpond Farm Winery, and Mary Nissen

I don’t proclaim to be a wine connoisseur by any means but I definitely enjoyed being able to sample wine and having someone there to explain the nuances in taste to me. I found that I had an affinity towards sweeter wines, and ice wine.

ice wine shots
Ice wine shooters in chocolate – so delicious!

garbage bag poncho
The garbage bag poncho = solution to the rain

sheep
Sheep!

We must have biked for about 4 hours (in the rain) and were completely soaked but it was hilariously fun. A hearty meal at Strewn
was a great way to end an tiring day.

We woke up with sore limbs and butts but trooped to the town to take a peek at the local shops and for the infamous Cow’s ice cream.

brunch
Our fabulous brunch the next morning in the sun room.

sun room brunch
A perfectly cooked egg on smoked beef and a biscuit with hollandaise sauce, made by Fernando!

Kennedy's gelato
Scrumptious treats at Kennedy’s gelato, a new gelato joint owned by the nicest woman!

niagara apothecary
Pretty vintage bottles at the Niagara Apothecary.

After a quick lunch at the Old Winery Restaurant, we said farewell to Niagara-on-the-lake, with a promise to come back soon!

marble slab

It’s no secret that I LOVE ice cream. I would have it with all meals if I could. Marble Slab Creamery has the most delicious handmade ice cream.

The smell of this place makes me drool. And the rows and rows of mixin’ (chocolate, peanut butter cups, marshmallows, nuts, brownies – the options are endless) make my head want to explode.

Sensory overload.

Gah…I want ice cream.

flowers

I’m on a roll here with knocking things off my goals list. After planting herbs and veggies a few weeks ago, I’ve decided to take the next step. I’ve never been much of a gardener, but I love the idea of fresh, colourful flowers to welcome people into a home.

I stumbled upon a family garden centre over the weekend while out having lunch with friends and decided to buy my goods there as opposed to the garden centres at big box stories. My purchases were inspired by a sun-colourant palette and included a strawberry plant, pansies, and marigolds.

flower garden
Lining everything up to be planted

The finished product
The finished product

yellow flower

It was a perfect weekend to plant flowers. We had rain with bursts of sunshine!

While I was in Cincinnati for my cousin’s wedding, I had a little bit of time to explore the city. Sadly, there isn’t much to do in Cincinnati!

When I got there on Saturday morning, I met a lot of family members and we went out for lunch in Kentucky at Newport on the levee, which is just over the Ohio river, about 5 minutes from downtown Cincinnati. There, we grabbed a bite to eat, at Brothers. One of their signature dishes was Beer Battered Cheese Curds so we had as an appetizer to share. Not terribly impressive. (Can’t beat the real cheese curds of Quebec!)

The day after the wedding, the family met for brunch and then set off for Chicago to get back to work. I had some time to kill before my flight early the next morning so my day was spent shopping (because there was nothing else to do on a Sunday afternoon!) and wandering.

My hotel was right next to Fountain Square, which is probably one of the most happening places in city. There was a Cinco de Mayo celebration going on, with lively Mexican music, dance, food, and lots of activities, including a llama petting zoo!

cinco de mayo fountain square
llama
I sampled a seafood ceviche, accompanied by a tall glass of pineapple juice. My cousins and I also shared a churro.

seafood ceviche
I then hit up a Macy’s and a TJ Maxx and score some great deals on workout clothes, a curling iron, and jeans! And finally, met up with my cousin and new cousin-in-law for dinner. But not before we ate more cupcakes and drank more champagne!

I’m at that age where it seems like everyone around me is getting married! I have about four weddings to go to this year and know many others who are getting hitched!

My first wedding of the year was my cousin, Michael’s, on May 7th, 2011. My dad’s brother (my uncle), and aunt, and two cousins live in Chicago. While I see my uncle almost every year, rarely do I see my cousins. The last time we saw each other was when we were all still teenagers, over a decade ago, at our grandfather’s funeral. After so long, it was so nice to reconnect.

The wedding took place in Cincinnati at the Taft Museum of Art and it was such a lovely affair!

Warning: lots of photos!

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I’m busting out of my unintentional month long hiatus with a celebratory post! One of my goals this year was to run 10K and I’m happy to say that I as of May 1, 2011 – I can cross it off of my list!

I completed the run in 52 min 51 seconds which is FANTASTIC and I was thoroughly surprised. Though I had a mental goal of making it under an hour, I didn’t think it would happen because I didn’t do any proper training (thank goodness I had been going to BodyAttack!) and I absolutely hated the first 60% of the run. This is what went through my head:

Warming up at the start line: whoohoo, so pumped, I can DO THIS!
First 100 m: Feelin’ good!
500 m: Geez, it’s kinda cold out here…
1k: OMG it’s FREEZING.
1.25k: I hate this
1.5k: WHO DOES THIS!?!?!
1.75k: WAAAH, I’m so cold.
2k: I should really just turn back now…
2.25k: This really sucks. My fingers are turning blue.
2.5k: No, no! Think positive. You’ll start to warm up soon.
2.75k: FML
3k: If my tearducts weren’t frozen, I’d have tears on my face.
3.25k: Suck it up, Jen
3.5k: Think someone will notice if I cut out and hop on the subway towards the finish line?
4k: Whyyyy did I sign up for this?
4.5k: Dear god, these old people are beating me!
4.75k: I’m never going to make it.
5k: Oh yay! Half way done!
5.5k: What? Another 4.5 km? Whyyyyy?
6k: YEAH!
6.5k: I can do this.
7k: I CAN DO THIS!!!
7.5k: Thanks right, bitches! Eat my dust!
8k: Two kilometres to go!
8.5k: I think I’m high!
9k: Ah, ah, ah, ah, stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive
9.5k: I CAN SEE THE FINISH LINE!
9.75k: YAYYYYYYY!!!! (sprints)
10k: WHOO HOO!
Post-race: That’s it?!

After the race, I met up with a friend and we snapped a pic with the coolest runners ever! Whether the chicken or the egg came first, they wouldn’t really say but at least they were nice and warm in their furry costumes!

10k finish line
Finally, brunch with the team at the Brazen Head in Liberty Village. My eggs benedict were divine and the perfect post-run meal!

brunch at brazen head

tulips
tulip
It’s my mommy’s birthday today so I picked up bunches of tulips at the store today to bring her some cheer! Something about fresh cut, vibrant flowers (especially happy, yellow ones!) makes me smile and I sure hope they made my mom smile, too!

Speaking of fresh blossoms, I finally put to use the seeds my friend, Ming, gave me to start my herb garden. I bought soil mix, recommended by the person in the garden centre, and a couple of self-watering planters and biodegradable planter cups from the dollar store. (I don’t think I needed the individual mini pots but they were too cute).

herb pots
gardening, herb garden

Soon, I hope I will be adding some zest to my dishes with fresh basil, parsley, spicy peppers, and chives!

The rest of the day was lovely – beautiful weather, tasty birthday dinner, cake, and lots of time with the ‘rents!

Happy long weekend!

tulips