10 things I’m going to do in 2017 – (NOT resolutions!) #4 – Embrace my Old Timey Self!

Inside this middle-aged (can’t believe I’m typing that!) body beats the heart of an old timey yet ridiculously festive granny. I love big band music and can sing/imitate the oboe for all of Glenn Miller’s tunes. Most of the movies I grew up loving involved either Humphrey Bogart or some reasonable facsimile, or a show-stopping ensemble of perky people washing that man right outta their hair/talking to the trees/being born under a wandering star.

I embraced my old timey self this past Friday, when I celebrated my birthday by attending a silver top convention. (Silver top convention : a function where I am definitely in the lower end of the age range. This is usually the case for the musical acts that I choose to enjoy.)

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I just LOVED the fun and old timey show that Andrew MacDonald-Smith and Don Berner and his Big Band put on at the  Club at the Citadel. I’ve heard Don Berner’s big band before at other shows, and they are always fun to watch and amazing to hear. There were so many classics, from Gershwin to West Side Story to a take on Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Yes, for real!

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Two of my girls joined me! I’m always wary when asking friends to come along to my silver top conventions. But these two held up admirably, and even enjoyed it!

 

But the fast-paced, edgy, and somewhat dangerous fun did not stop there! Robert took me to the Royal Tea and Tour at the Hotel MacDonald. This particular Royal Tea included an invitation to wear a hat or fascinator. I was all in!

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We started with a yummy sorbet. It was delightful when chased with a little sparkling wine.

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Our 3 tiered tray of delights provided a festive frame for Robert to be his festive self.

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He’s just so dang cute.

 

Of course, we went crazy over the teas. They had lovely loose teas for the Royal high tea.

I had the Buckingham Palace and the Hibiscus teas, while Robert had the super smoky Chinese something-or-other tea.

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After the tea, we got to tour the hotel! I have spent quite a lot of time at the Hotel Macdonald, between our wedding and my lounge visits, but I was hoping to hear some stories behind the history of the hotel and maybe see the Queen Elizabeth suite. Yay on both counts!

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I’m sitting in a window seat on which I’m quite sure the queen perched whilst pondering her subjects.

 

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The queen was such a beauty. Agh, her whole look is so on point! I feel like Frumpy Fergie standing next to her likeness.

Robert is such a gem to attend these old timey events with me. And to look so dapper/festive/hawt doing so!

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Now for my next event…Humphrey Bogart movie marathon, anyone?

 

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10 things I’m going to do in 2017 – (NOT resolutions! #3 – Bond with friends!

I admit I’m an introvert.

I don’t think most people get what an introvert is . It’s also kinda trendy to say I’M AN INTROVERT right now. But really, an introvert recharges from being alone. You might love any number of social situations, but you eventually are drrrraaaaiiinnneeeddd from hanging out with other humans and need to be alone to re-become sane.

This is dangerous because an introvert might never want to come out of the me-ness to enter the other-ness.

Enter the other-ness, I encourage all introverts! It’s almost inevitably good for you!

Today, with the fog, and the tiredness, and the grayness, I almost cancelled on a night out with friends. But I thought about how these particular friends are so good and so fun and so real and so friendish! And how, no matter how tired I am after an outing with them, in some weird way, I am also recharged.

And so, I, with my intrepid, vested, and polka-dotted husband, forged ahead!

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Met our friends Christina and Darryl at North 53 for an aperitif. I had my favourite BFF the Drunkcle. That’s a Drunken Uncle, more formally. I love bonding with this particular friend. Never EVER judges me.

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Darryl was starving so they ordered the Tuna Tataki. This is right before he demolished the tower of beauteous tuna and wonton with his fork of wanton destruction and mayhem.

We then proceeded on to The Marc where we were to feast upon their Alsatian menu which was to end that night!!! Love me some sauerkraut!!! Actually, I love saying sauerkraut even more than I love eating it. Zowahkrrrrowt. I could say that all day and be full without even eating a bite.

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What? This doesn’t look Alsatian?

That’s right. I got seduced by the fricking snails. If there’s escargot on the menu and it’s not bathed in tomato, I am trying it!

These were so fresh and yummy and un-garlic-bathed. Try stabbing a morsel of bone marrow with an escargot and a little piece of crunchy veg and WOWOWOWOW. I just about passed out. YUM, OK?

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Darryl, the most unimpressed-by-Alsace person in our group of 4, is the only one who ordered the full menu!!! First, he had the Tarte Flambée. The dish was almost as appealing as  his sincere and generous smile. A match made in himmel!

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Once we figured out that we weren’t all going for a revival of Alsace-Lorraine hits, we ordered a very nice wine from Veneto. You don’t know where Veneto is? What is wrong with you heathens!!??? Look it up!!!!

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Robert and Darryl engaged in some male bonding. Funnily enough, it often involved media. Christina and I have no photos of us bonding because we were engaging in one on one human interactions. YAS.

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Theme of the night. Robert looking askance at most everything. Including my verified claim of personal IQ level. Lord Andrew Clinterty, back me up, here!

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I had the Steak Tartare with a side of what will be my last side upon this earth before I die – the pommes frites with a DELICIOUS truffly dipping sauce. Can I just say how I’m pretty sure I can’t eat anything else until Thursday because it would be wrong to infringe upon this almost-religious experience? The spiced-just-enough tartare with the perfect frites and the UNBELIEVABLE sauce is pretty much everything I’ve ever aspired to. Just add bubbles and DONE.

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Friends. Enraptured by my husband’s talk. It gave me a moment to stare at their beauty and appreciate how much I love spending time with like-minded souls who are good and fun and funny and irreverent and festive. Love you!!!!

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PS. No good photos were taken of my outfit tonight! And believe me when I say it was CUTE. Ugh. Oh well, here’s the top of it. The bottom was the best! 😦

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Also, I got a new coat. From Oak and Fort. It is SO cute. And not black. Which caused me untold pallets of anxiety. But I think I made the right choice.

And what does that have to do with hanging out with friends? Well, friends understand who you are. They don’t judge you for what makes you excited and what makes you anxious. Christina loves that I love my new coat. She loves that I spaz out about the oddest of things. (You do, right, Christina?) And I love to listen to her stories and her hilarities and her sadnesses. It’s a two way street. And I love travelling either way on it.

 

What makes a friend a good friend for you?

 

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10 things I’m going to do in 2017 (NOT resolutions!) – #2 -Read more/better books and just sit.

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This is my chair. Yes, MY chair. I sit in it a LOT. If somebody else sits in my chair, I don’t get upset, more like I get confused. “Why  does my chair have this person in it?”, I wonder in a state of gobsmackedness, all the while kind of expecting my chair to expectorate the misplaced foreign object.

Ok, gross.

But nevertheless, you get the picture.

I’ve feathered my little nest so that it feels welcoming, shrouding, comfy, and yet light and airy. I like white and I like light. (Just for living spaces. Black FTW for clothes!) I’ve got my throw, candles, tea, and…books…

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I have an overflowing book shelf upstairs, but these books are the ones in rotation right now. They’re either books that I have read and loved/liked and just didn’t put away yet like “Lunch in Paris”, “White Trash”, the 3 books by MFK Fisher, and “The Goldfinch”,  or books in the queue like “Sapiens” and “Hemingway in Love”.  OR books that I couldn’t finish because I just can’t get into them, like “The Nest” or “Closed Casket” or “Fast Metabolism Foods” – (WHAT was I THINKING?)!  I wish I had removed some of the more embarrassing books before taking a pic- “The Glass Sword”? Come ON. Ah well, all in the name of transparency! I also have my sizeable collection of magazines – mostly Runner’s World, Vanity Fair and all manner of cooking, travel, and wine mags.

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One of the things I’m going to do more of is writing – on paper. I have journals  and notebooks I like to look at, but I need to actually write in them! Plus, as you might have seen at the top of the smaller stack of books in the previous photo, I have some beautiful coloured pencils, paints and colouring books that I do solemnly vow to use this year! They look really nice, but I think it would be even better if I, well, use them!

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P.S. Gotta have tea on hand at all times or what the heck is the point exactly?

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Also, a photo of me with my favourite girl is necessary when she is all they way across our fair country in Montréal. How I miss her! This is a memory of the trip we took to NYC this summer, just the two of us!

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Can’t forget the guardians of the chair. If I’m sitting, one or both of them will be at my feet. Kona, my regal prince,  is my tried and true dire wolf whose devotion doth not waver, but Freyja is a leeeeetle bit more fickle. As in, if she hears the neighbourhood Yorkie walking a block away, or a discarded plastic bag blowing down the street 8 doors down, she’s outta there. They make everything hirsute as heck, but, still, they do make cozy foot warmers!

Do you have a cozy nest/cave/den? And does it include live and drooly foot warmers like mine?

 

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10 Things I’m going to do in 2017 (NOT resolutions!) #1 – Play outside more!

I do NOT like the idea of new year’s resolutions, at least for me. Mostly because of the pressure to keep them and to not screw up! However, I do have some things in my life that need some attention. Some are smaller (reading more and better books) and some are, to quote the Cheeto-dusted PEOTUS, YUGE (ending my infernal addiction to sugar!). I’m going to start with this one, though…

PLAY OUTSIDE MORE. (Could also be called “Stop being such a serious and rigid Birch with a capital B in regards to running but also in various life areas.” I just thought PLAY OUTSIDE MORE was much catchier.)

I need to preface this with the fact that I do a fair bit of physical activity, and by physical activity, I mean I run. I run slow, fast(er), long, intervals, hills, trails, road, tempo, fartlek (real word!), basically any form of running, I’m there. I’m not saying I’m OBSESSED with running, but I realized that I HAVE come to the point where I don’t count anything else besides running as legit exercise, I do NOT deviate from the planned run route/length of the day, and I am way too crushed when I don’t reach my time/distance goals. It’s getting pretty serious out there, folks. I need to build in some levity!

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Found some!

Robert and I decided to cross-country ski at Victoria park in the not-freezing-off-my-arse weather. I have my own set of skis and boots, but Robert has tried skiing maybe twice in his 41 years. Fun times resulted, leaving me feeling like quite the expert in comparison (which I really REALLY am not, so let me revel in that feeling for a bit).

One more.

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You can do it, Robert!

The Victoria track is short and sweet – about 3 k. It was a great intro for Robert and for me and my unused cross country ski muscles.

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P.S. I’m posing by this sign because I am DYING to go to the Nordic Brunches and Victoria suppers offered by Culina at the Dogwood Cafe. As a matter of fact, I just decided right now that next weekend, we are going to ski and then go for brunch!

Here’s our couple bonding photo. Note Robert being a trooper in his lined jeans.

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After skiing, we went home to walk the dogs. Couldn’t be anything more fun and more appropriate to my PLAY OUTSIDE MORE goal than frolicking with our pups!

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The ONLY way I got this shot was to have Robert hold a stick over my head. Our sweet and completely CRAZY 2 year old Border Collie/Husky mix, Freyja, gets fixated on chewies of any kind and never, ever slows down long enough for me to get a photo.

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Here’s my prince, my best buddy in the world, 10 1/2 year old Kona. He’s a Tahltan bear dog cross, which makes him very exotic, don’t you know. He will always sit for a pic but will NEVER look at the camera. Such a funny boy.

 

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And here’s the closest we could get to a double dog photo. Kona steadily refusing to look at the camera and Freyja about to spaz out, tear that stick to shreds, and become a blur.

It was so refreshing, literally and figuratively, to get outside and just have fun without thinking about distances and times. Tomorrow, the dog park and some backyard ravine exploring. I’m determined to continue with my goal!

Gotta go run now! 😉

 

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High Tea at Fairmont Hotel Macdonald

My best girl will soon be leaving me to return to her amazing endeavours at National Theatre School and I wanted take time to do some serious mother-daughter bonding. Since we both love tea, both love festive occasions, and both love the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald, weekday High Tea was the obvious choice!

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You know you can check mother-daughter bonding off your to-do list when you have cried, hugged, laughed, waxed poetic, and talked feminism/Trump/carbon tax, all whilst enjoying:

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The finger sandwiches were so adorable and the flavours, surprising (roasted grapes, anyone?)! Love me some egg salad, in dainty form or otherwise! You can take the girl out of the 1980s-Sunday-after-church-bunwich-luncheons but well, you know…

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The second tier was hit and miss for me. The kirsch cherry tart missed. The eggnog cannoli was a major hit for Kajsa. I loved the fruit cake madeleine even though I’m not a fan of fruit cake. It was so rummy, I contemplated changing my name to Ginger Sparrow and adopting a peg leg.

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But enough of this jibber jabber. SCONES.

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No, those are not scones. Yes, I discovered that although the scones were buttery, flaky, and delicious, they photographed like dough blobs. So enjoy heaven on a tray: the divine whipped up Devonshire cream and the house made preserves. This, I could eat with a spoon. And did. The cream was also the only item on our table that, apparently, was succulent enough to attract a small fly. He died a death to which we should all aspire: sucked deep into fluffy mounds of Devonshire cream, drifting into the next life with a belly full of goodness.

P.S. The tea selection was also delightful, since it included any of the Fairmont teas. We both had the Fairmont Breakfast tea, and then I moved on to the Jasmine Butterfly – both with honey for me, of course! Kajsa didn’t need any because she is already so sweet! (Please see below for proof of this biased, yet objectively true statement.)

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On the way out, we spotted two of my favourite celebrities!

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They were quite standoffish though. Kept looking off to the left, avoiding eye contact, and keeping an almost painted on smile on their faces. Disappointing to say the least!

Finally, we did a bit of festive posing of our own non-celebrity selves, to mark this lovely time we had to be together, just the two of us, before she departs for school.

 

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What are your favourite high tea experiences?

 

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New Year, New Reason to Sparkle!

There is no better excuse to wear sparkly things, drink sparkly drinks, and eat non-sparkly but outrageously decadent foods, than New Year’s Eve, baby!!!

And since I am constantly on the lookout for reasons to be festive and sparkly, you can bet your bottom bauble that I maximize NYE.

Robert and I started out at Duchess where I, by some wonderful twist of NYE fate, managed to get my hands on a chocolate bread pudding. Robert had his pet Tartiflette, and his required multi-selection of macarons. We tried the candy cane, eggnog, gingerbread, and Robert’s true love – salted caramel.

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After Duchess, we went home, got all sparkled up, and Ubered over to the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald for festive cocktails in the Confederation Lounge. There really is no more festive place than the Hotel Mac for grown-up yet partyish drinks. I had the Raspberry 75, which I love, and the Flower Royale, which included bubbles and St. Germain. But even more AMAZING was the sight of Robert in his new Utkilt!

 

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This was my Christmas present to Robert, and I do think that it’s the gift that just keeps on giving…;)

 

We posed by the Christmas tree, but even though I was wearing my “Stephanie” dress by Workhall, which has a beautiful peplum that hid adorable black lace that matched the lace panel at the bottom of the dress, I fear that the wee laddie Robert of the moors of Westmount outshone me at every turn!

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After we finished at the Mac, we headed home to enjoy the bubbles and festive foods collection that we had carefully curated (grabbed at 4 pm that day) for our at-home NYE. We started off with smoked salmon, cheese boards, charcuterie and a classic lowbrow baked cheese dip. Paired (poorly, and without a care to what works!) with the food were Kir Royales and Prosecco with violet liqueur cocktails.

THEN THE DESSERTS.

We picked up some delights from Duchess earlier in the day. Had to have the Duke since I am so deeply in love with the whipped chocolate ganache and the salted caramel layer, not to mention the beauty of it!

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We also chose the Montreal Tarte – more ganache, spiced caramel this time, and soooo wintery good! It’s that beauty in the middle, surrounded by dark chocolate meringues!

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Finally, we tried the showpiece – the Galette des Rois! This grande dame of pastries intrigued me with its whimsy, so we HAD to get it! To galette it up, the youngest person has to hide under the table and call out the names of the guests. The pastry is then served in that order, and the person who finds the fève, or ceramic tile hidden in the cake, is crowned the king or queen for the night, literally!

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P.S. Rhubarb, cassis, AND cardamom?! Yes, please!

The galette did not disappoint – layer upon layer of rich, buttery, flaky pastry with just the right amount of subtle, wintery flavour.

Roni, the most youthful of us all, hid.

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And Robert, already the king of Engelwood, did not choke on nor break a molar on, the fève!

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P.S. Did I mention rosé champagne raspberry floats?

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So festive! I didn’t include the questionable photos of Lord Andrew Clinterty in a Happy New Year dunce cap, or of various noisemakers being blown in an undignified manner, or of our dogs begging for smoked salmon and biting certain guests, but you’ll have to trust me, that the night was full of sparkly, and possibly lawsuit-inducing, surprises!

 

How did you spend your NYE? Hope it was sparkly!

 

xox

 

Ginger