Do you ever go to concerts, movies, or events alone?

September 29, 2011 § 7 Comments

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It’s the social norm to go to these events with at least one other person, whether it be a date or a friend. If, god forbid, you’re meeting your +1 there and they’re late, these days we all bury our noses in the comfort of our smartphones to make us look busy and important until they arrive.

I found it easier to go to events on my own when I lived in Toronto because the city is smaller and I knew a lot more people, and had greater chances of running into a friend. Now that I’m in enormous New York, things are very different!

Since I’ve moved here, I find myself going to movies alone in the daytime a few times a year. I love attending Creative Mornings alone because you listen to the entire lecture carefully and talk to those around you. I got a job from exchanging small talk with another attendee at one of these events! I still prefer to go to concerts with at least one other person, but last night worked out well that I was at a show alone.

I managed to procure a single ticket to the very sold out Radiohead show at Roseland Ballroom. I went alone, knowing there would be two people I knew there among the hundreds of others attending. I could bump into them. It would be okay…

I never did find them, but I did end up standing beside David Fricke, senior editor of Rolling Stone. Of course, I had to take the opportunity to say hi! He was also there alone and we both found a really good spot with a great view of the stage. We stood there all night and engaged in a nice amount of conversation. When the band was done, we shook hands and said it was nice to meet each other. Would this have happened if I was there with friends? Probably not.

So do you ever go to these things alone? If so, do you have any positive stories to tell? I’d love to hear them!

P.S. Radiohead was incredible.

15 years ago today

September 24, 2011 § 2 Comments

On September 24, 1996 I went to my first concert – The Smashing Pumpkins at Winnipeg Arena.

I don’t remember many details from the concert, but I do remember being 15 years old, impressionable, blown away, and instantly catching the music bug. I began playing bass. I made new friends whose lives also revolved around music. I joined a band. I met other bands. I got a job in the music industry where I met my husband and the rest is history.

So thank you, Sylvia Wollman, for getting me into that show 15 years ago and to the Smashing Pumpkins for making high school – and probably my whole life – much more interesting.

P.S. While google searching for an image for this post, I found a live recording of the concert, which I’m listening to now. The internet was barely around back then, how does it do these things!

P.P.S. The 6th result for “Smashing Pumpkins Winnipeg 1996” was a link to the concert review on my old music page from the 90s! Hilarious.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

September 23, 2011 § 2 Comments

Have you read any of what I like to call “The Girl with the stuff” books? I was hesitant to read them at first – the way you sometimes avoid books you only see for sale at magazine stands in airports – but I started borrowing them from my Mom and am now reading the third and final novel. They’re actually very well-told, incredibly-detailed stories with a great foreign twist. The second book, The Girl who Played with Fire, was my favourite. I read all 700+ pages over the course of our European vacation.

Now, there’s an American version of the first book directed by David Fincher and starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara. (Rooney played Mark Zuckerberg‘s girlfriend in the beginning of The Social Network – I barely recognized her!) Another tie to Fincher’s last film is that the soundtrack is once again composed by Trent Reznor.

The trailer looks great to me! Will you see it? Will you read the book first?

[via Metal Sucks]

September in Canada

September 22, 2011 § 3 Comments

I was lucky enough to spend last week in Canada with my family and friends – an easy comedown from my European vacation and transition back into North American (and real) life!

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I finally met my cousin’s adorable son, Kieran.

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Spent hours on a pontoon boat at my parents’ cottage

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Spent time with some great family

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Saw a cow hanging out with some geese

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And a sea monster!

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We also fed some hungry bluejays peanuts. They weren’t shy about coming back for more!

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I spent four days with my parents’ at their cottage, doing nothing in particular. It was great.

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But I did crack open the boxes of CDs I left with them when I moved to New York and ripped the ones I didn’t already have to my iTunes. Age of Electric and Treble Charger, anyone?

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I left the woods and headed into Toronto for the last few days of my visit. Apparently, they still don’t like their embarrassing mayor.

Thursday night, we all celebrated Julia and Jay’s love at their engagement party. I drank my first (and last) dark & stormy. Have you ever tried one? Yuck!

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Friday night, we opted for a night in with pizza, beer, and comfy, warm clothes.

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Oh, and dogs!

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Thanks for the good times, Canada. I can’t wait to come back and visit you again real soon!

Fall Sweaters

September 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

Well guys, tomorrow is the first day of Fall. Summer seemed to fly by this year. Just as I had my summer wardrobe perfected, the weather turned and now I’m taking stock on all the new clothes of the season.

I find that a good sweater or cardigan is the easiest way to transition into Fall – you don’t have to put away all your summer favourites yet, just add some layers. Here are some sweaters I’m loving so far.

Reese Witherspoon for Lindex

Need Supply Co.

Dalaga

Madewell

Missoni for Target

Have you started your Fall shopping yet?

Paris: our story

September 19, 2011 § 2 Comments

It’s been two weeks since I’ve returned home from our European vacation and after a number of posts about Paris already, it’s time to tell you our Paris story.

We rode the Eurostar from London to Paris. The trip only takes 2 hours! After a short taxi ride from the Paris Nord train station, absorbing our first taste of Frenchness by gazing out the windows, we arrived at our hotel and took the smallest elevator I’ve ever seen up to our room.

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That afternoon, we explored the Mouffetard and parts of the Latin Quarter. We happened upon the Pantheon and after taking photos outside of it, we paid to get inside to see even more.

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The pendulum inside was impressive. The tombs in the basement were eerie, but beautiful.

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Our first dinner in Paris was at a little place in the Mouffetard where we sat beside a couple from Winnipeg! I started a conversation with them after deciding they were Canadian when I heard how they said “out”.

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We spent most of our nights after dinner just sitting on our balcony in the hotel, watching the streets below us. Can you spot the Eiffel Tower in the distance?

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Instead of going out for breakfast, each morning I’d go to one of the two patisseries across the street to pick up croissants and coffee to eat on our balcony. We’d also plan out our day and any possible subway trips with our big folding map and guidebooks.

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The first three days of our trip were whirlwinds. We visited so many landmarks, shops, and other French places. We walked large chunks of the city, breaking them up only by subway rides or meals. On our second day, we visited les Grand Magasins (the two large department stores), then walked all the way down to the Louvre.

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We’d stop along the way when a beautiful building would catch our eye, like the Academie Nationale de Musique.

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Or L’eglise de la Madeleine.

After an intense couple of days, we had to remind ourselves that we were supposed to be on vacation! We took it a little slower after that.

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If you walk around Paris, you’re bound to stumble upon something worth exploring! One night after dinner in St-Germain, we realized we were very close to Saint-Sulpice church. It was featured in the Da Vinci Code and has a beautiful fountain in front of it, perfect for smooching on.

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One of my favourite things about Paris were the streets of St-Germain.

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Deroylle taxidermy shop

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Although we spent most of our time wandering around Paris in the daytime, there was also something special about those moments in Paris after dark.P1000503

Nick and I both agreed that most of our favourite parts of the trip were visits to old churches and your pretty standard tourist fare. Of course, it was a little comforting to be in the company of other foreigners, but these places are sought-after for a reason – they are important, full of history, and beautiful!

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Notre Dame Cathedral

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We spent our last two days in Paris in Le Marais. We did a bit of shopping and I wanted to see the oldest house in Paris, Nicolas Flamel‘s house! It is now a restaurant, but the building itself is perfectly preserved.

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The trip was wonderful. We saw and did so many great things and I’m quite satisfied with the amount and quality of photos I took. It was very interesting to see so much history and culture in a brand new place. I can’t express how gorgeous the French are, especially the women. I literally took notes on their style. More to come on that another time ;)

I also have a new and heightened respect for those who live in a country and don’t speak that country’s language as a first language. I could probably live in Paris if my French was better, but for now, I’m more than happy to be in New York.

{See all my Paris photos here}

Paris: Food

September 13, 2011 § 2 Comments

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During our week in Paris, Nick and I tried various kinds of restaurants as well as food. We ate a few prix fixe meals that guaranteed us an appetizer, main course, and dessert. We ate a lot of fish, duck, and lamb. We ate enormous salads, sometimes with more cheese than vegetables. I drank a lot of wine and a bit of beer and champagne. I drank coffee every day, sometimes twice a day, as opposed to my usual once-a-month coffee. I even got Nick to order a cup of it!

We also had a few meals consisting of takeout (or ’emporter’ en Francias!) on our balcony. It’s great to eat out in a full-service restaurant, but Paris offers a lot of portable food like the ever-popular baguette sandwich. Delicious, extremely French, and much more affordable than lunch at a cafe!

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You can’t visit Paris without tasting their baked goods and pastries. Each morning, I’d head to the Patisserie across the street to pick up buttery croissants, pain au chocolat, and a cafe au lait for myself. The croissants in Paris are crisp on the outside and moist and buttery on the inside. Yum!

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Don’t forget the macaroon! It’s the new cupcake, you know.

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I certainly ate my fill of pasta.

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One of my favourite meals was a gaffe (or savory crepe) and coffee I had from a tiny Creperie on a back street of St-Germain. The shop only had about three tables and it was run by two women, who looked to be sisters. The young daughter of one of the women entertained us by playing with a crown made out of paper and smiling at us sweetly. A French babe in the making.

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Did you know?

– The French invented the restaurant.

– The French respect the art of the restaurant so much that they expect everyone to enjoy it as much as they do. If you dare ask for your cheque before you’re finished your meal, they just may refuse to bring it to you. They want you to take your time and enjoy your food properly.

– To be a server in a restaurant in Paris is not what it is in North America – it is a serious profession and is regarded highly and paid as such.

– If you’re going out for dinner or lunch to a nice restaurant, put a little effort into your look – that means no ugly shoes or fannypacks!

I’m curious: what would you eat first in Paris?

Musée du Louvre

September 9, 2011 § 2 Comments

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One of the things you just have to do while in Paris is visit the Louvre Museum. Originally built as a fortress and palace for Phillip II hundreds of years ago, the Louvre has seen many changes, additions of wings, and the like, and now the Louvre is enormous and beautiful. Some say you could live in Paris for a month, visiting the Louvre regularly, and still not see everything in the museum.

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We managed to visit the outside of the Louvre the day before we set out to explore the inside. We took a stroll through Jardin des Tuileries, the park that leads up to the museum. It was a gorgeous day and the sunbathers were taking advantage of the reclining chairs by the fountain.

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It was surreal to walk and walk and see the enormous museum forming in the distance.

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A couple taking their wedding photos in front of the arch.

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Once we passed under this archway, we crossed a road that runs through the museum and arrived in front of the Louvre.

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People just seem to plant themselves in front of the Louvre, sitting on the sides of the fountains, and hang out for hours.

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The next morning, we woke up early and arrived 10 minutes before the museum opened. There was already a massive line, but since we bought our tickets in advance online, we got to wait in the much shorter one.

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As soon as we were let in, everyone headed straight to the Grande Galerie. It’s by far the most popular and most crowded part of the museum, housing all the famous Italian and Renaissance paintings as well as the most famous painting in the world…

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The Mona Lisa is kept behind temperature-controlled glass, a wooden barrier, and a rope to keep the crowds away from the barrier. It’s also much smaller than you’d think! Either way, I couldn’t believe I was actually looking at the original Mona Lisa.

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After getting to the front of the crowd and snapping some photos, we let everyone else have their turns and explored the rest of the gorgeous space.

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So many works of art! Some so big, I don’t understand how they were painted!

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So much religious imagery. I wish I could tell you the names and artists of all the paintings, but I I’d have to make them up.

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So much detail in everything at the Louvre.

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Nick beside paintings about the same size as a studio apartment in NYC.

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Who doesn’t enjoy a cabinet full of mummified animals?

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And their former owner.

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Venus de Milo

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We took a break in the cafeteria after putting in a few hours. It felt like Ikea.

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Then watched some more (by which I mean several hundred) people enter the museum down the stairs under the glass pyramid.

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We headed back to the Grande Galerie when we realized we forgot about Da Vinci’s other paintings.

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He looks like he was a cool guy.

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This is what the Louvre originally looked like:

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Of course we had to find the inverse pyramid, because according to Dan Brown, the holy grail is buried underneath it. Apparently it’s also where you leave your kids to play while you visit the Starbucks and Apple Store in the museum.

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We spent about 4 hours walking around the museum. We did not see all of it, but we were happy with what we saw. A word of advice for those who will visit Paris: don’t walk down the Eiffel Tower the night before you plan to walk around the Louvre for an entire day. Your legs won’t thank you ;)

Still more Paris to come!

The Eiffel Tower

September 8, 2011 § 3 Comments

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What better way to begin my coverage of Paris than with the Eiffel Tower?

Nick and I headed there the second night of our stay just before sunset. I couldn’t have thought of a more perfect time to view the whole city from above.

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There were huge lines at all four legs of the tower to purchase tickets to ride up. We picked the “Plier Est” or Eastern leg and waited the long long wait to buy our tickets and then to ride the elevator up.

We couldn’t go to the very top because it was too full already, but we rode to the 2e etage (or 2nd level) which was high enough for us!

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The view from the elevator going up

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Looking North

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Looking down on Champs de Mars, the park beside the tower

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The Seine River

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The deck of the 2nd level was packed. I don’t know if sunset is just a very popular time to visit the tower, or if it’s always busy. I’m guessing the latter

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The restaurant inside the tower – apparently it’s very expensive and requires reservations months in advance!

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The people below us look like ants!

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The metal that makes up the tower looks beautiful and interesting at night, when it’s lit up by very strong spotlights.

What no one tells you when you go up the Eiffel Tower is that you have to walk back down! I didn’t get as dizzy as I thought I would, but my calves were aching for days afterwards.

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Happy to be on the ground again

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A pretty carousel across from the Eiffel Tower

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Just as we turned around and were about to conclude our visit to the tower, it lit up and started to sparkle! Then of course we had to stay and take many many more photos.

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Although we had to deal with many pushy tourists from all over the world and one of the longest lines we faced all week, visiting the Eiffel Tower was definitely a highlight of our trip. How could I refuse the photo ops?

Stay tuned for much more Paris!

London

September 7, 2011 § 3 Comments

Nick and I spent a total of four days in London during our European vacation. We arrived at our gorgeous hotel, the Mayfair, late Thursday night, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

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Then we had a late dinner downstairs in the lounge and that did us in – we were ready for sleep by the time we were finished! I had sweet dreams of the chicken curry and Peroni I inhaled.

By the next morning, we were on London time. We set out to get lunch and walk around Piccadilly Circus and SoHo (yes, London has one too) and took in the sights.

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We were rained on four or five separate times, and during a particularly heavy rainfall, we took shelter in a tea shop.

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Scones with cream and jam and assorted pastries – highly recommended!

Someone told us Michael Caine owned a restaurant just a few blocks from our hotel so naturally, we had to investigate, just incase he was hanging out there.

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(He wasn’t, but his artwork was.)

Saturday, we met Nick’s friend Stella who works for Roadrunner Records for brunch. I told her I wanted to go somewhere very British and she took us to a pub she frequented for some real English fare.

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We all got the vegetarian version of an English breakfast and Stella and I made sure to drink a pint with ours. When in Rome!

Of course after drinking a pint, I couldn’t walk around Islington for long without having to take a pee break. We found ourselves at a quaint spot called The Winchester. (Note: Stella tells me this may very well have been the place Edgar Wright named the pub after in Shaun of the Dead!)

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This is what the backs of the chairs look like at the Winchester!

We took a bus back to our hotel from Islington instead of the tube, mostly because I wanted to ride a double decker bus, but also for the opportunity for an above ground tour of the city.

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It amazed me how many people were on the street in Piccadilly Circus. It felt just like I was walking down Broadway in Noho/Soho in New York.

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Although I found it strangely difficult to find a restaurant with a good beer selection, I did find that Stella Artois tastes better in London, especially when paired with fish & chips.

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Next up – Paris!

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