Archive for the 'Cheap Dates' Category

Forcing Summer

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

Ah, summer. It is the most glorious season, full of fun and sunshine. Unfortunately, it is just not coming fast enough for my liking and I am beginning to panic. Blink your eyes and the next thing you know you’re back in your parka with ice pellets hitting your face. I am determined to squeeze out every last drop of summer, whether or not the summer decides to cooperate. If I have to force it, so be it. With this in mind The Sweetie and I decided to go on a summer road trip over the weekend despite forecasts of rain and cool temperatures.

We armed ourselves with coffees, road trip tunes and a map marked with small town thrift stores. I had to keep the window rolled up for much of the drive because the wind was cool, but despite promises of rain the sun kept on shining. We drove to the Barrie drive-in and ate junk food and listened to mosquitoes throwing themselves against our car windows. It rained a little but drive-ins are never really about picture quality. They are about mindless blockbusters, snuggling in the car, watching the stars and eating way too much sugar.

The following day, bloated from too much food we lumbered to Wasaga beach. I love Wasaga beach at the height of summer. It is filled with ice cream stands, blaring music and tacky beach stores stocked with inflatable floating animals. The main strip is teeming with a smorgasbord of delights: testosterone fueled lunkheads making awkward advances at imposssibly skinny bikini clad girls, aging bikers with their bleached blond babes, and frisbee playing dogs. I feel like a well behaved, pale interloper and love to evesdrop and people watch behind the shelter of my novel. Alas, it was too early in the season for the beach to be in it’s full summer glory. I heard one girl who had been brave enough to venture in the water exclaim that she could no longer feel her legs. Nonetheless we huddled for warmth on our beach towels and pretended that it was a scorching hot day, even managing to burn ourselves in ridiculous patterns where we forgot to apply sunscreen.

We returned to the city sun kissed and triumphant. It was a successful kickoff to the season, despite summer’s lukewarm participation.


Dreaming of Picnics

Friday, June 5th, 2009


I have chores and work and organizing to do and lazy feelings lurking in my bones but I am dreaming of summer picnics. The weather hasn’t been too cooperative yet, there was actually a frost warning the other night, but I have faith that picnic time is almost here. I have big plans for picnics this summer. Lots and lots of picnics. Planned picnics, spontaneous picnics, romantic picnics, solo picnics and social picnics. I am scouring recipes for packable salads and pressed sandwiches and cookies that don’t crumble too much.

I saw this delightful picnic suitcase on Black Eiffel and I am dreaming of picnics even more. Portable delightful quirky picnics…

Happy Hot Docs!

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009


Oh joy and bliss! Hot Docs, North America’s largest documentary film festival is here! Spring has finally arrived, the trees are budding, Torontonians are gradually emerging from their winter cocoons blinking their eyes in the sun and it is documentary season again!

Documentaries are always capable of provoking strong emotions. Often the films I expect to love infuriate me and those I had originally dismissed move me the most.

A couple of years ago there was a Hot Docs spotlight on Eastern Europe and I was excited to take my mom and her best friend to see a Latvian documentary. Unfortunately it was the worst documentary I have ever seen, featuring endless scenes of potato peeling and squalor. Horrible. I began to hear deep and progressively more aggravated sighs from my mom and her friend. Suddenly in a wild clatter of canes, my mom and her friend stomped out of the theatre. Climbing over tsking patrons, I followed sheepishly to hear my mom’s friend yelling at the poor Hot Docs volunteers, “I’m Latvian and I have never been so insulted in my life! This is not how Latvians live. They dropped a potato on the floor and didn’t clean it. We are a clean people! We would never do that!” My poor mom and her friend were upset for weeks, convinced that the film was a Communist plot to show Latvia suffering since gaining freedom from Soviet occupation.

On the other hand, Anvil was one of my favourite documentaries last year and I had almost overlooked it. A film about a washed up Canadian heavy metal band did not sound particularly intriguing. By the end of the movie, however, I was humbled and in tears, cheering with the rest of the audience, giddy like a teenage groupie.

At this year’s festival I have fifteen movies lined up over eleven glorious days. I will be sustaining myself on popcorn, hot tamales and inspiration and expect to be delightfully exhausted by the end.


Thursday, April 30th, 2009


I have met my new obsession in the form of Hakka, which is a type of Indian style Chinese food. Friends introduced me to Hakka at their Oscar Night party in February. It was the most delicious Chinese food I had ever tasted. In fact, the feast almost made up for my humiliating Oscar pool loss (I had been convinced of a sure victory and spent the evening heckling and trash talking the other guests until “Man on Wire” won for best documentary and ruined my chances).

I quickly became obsessed. I made transparent attempts at drawing The Sweetie into useless reminiscences about Hakka. “Sooooo, what was your favourite part of the Oscar night party? Mine was the Hakka, was yours the Hakka? Wouldn’t you love some Hakka right now? What was your favourite Hakka dish? Mine was the Manchurian balls, have you ever had anything like that before? Wow, it was delicious wasn’t it?” I pestered my friends who had given me my first hit of Hakka. “Sooo, who feels like Hakka? Are you guys planning a Hakka night any time soon? Cuz I’m in. If you are going. I’m ready. Just give me the word. Ready for Hakka night…”

Hakka Hakka Hakka. It became a sickness.


We finally made the voyage deep into the suburbs to Kimling Chinese Restaurant in Scarborough. It is an unassuming restaurant located in a strip mall, but what it lacks in location and decor it makes up for in unbelievable deliciousness. We stuffed ourselves on crispy vegetable pakoras, sauteed garlic green beans, pepper tofu broccoli, Hakka style rice noodles and Manchurian vegetable balls. Even The Sweetie, a die-hard meat lover outnumbered by vegetarians, exclaimed that the tofu was amazing and he is far from generous in his praise of tofu. The four of us were stuffed, smacking our lips and rubbing our bellies, for a mere $45.00. It was frugal feasting heaven.

Alas, a new serious addiction has been born, but one I am willing to endure.

Winter Girlie Swap

Monday, February 2nd, 2009


I was lucky enough to attend a gleeful girlie swap this weekend. It was definitely worth leaving the house and violating my self-imposed hibernation policy. These days, with dreams of a beach vacation and debt that doesn’t seem to be disappearing on its own, shopping in other friends’ closets makes frugal sense.


Over wine, cheese and strawberries with some delicious creamy dipping sauce I forgot to ask about, we grabbed clothes and magazines and gabbed about blind date set ups, work woes, and the status of Mickey Rourke’s busted up face.

It is always exciting to see old clothes get a new life. With a dash of vision and ambition, boring, wrinkled discards can be resurrected. A skirt from a previous swap reappeared as a Doctor-Zhivago-goes-to-chef-school hat, a millinery project by one of our more ambitious swappers.  Old lumpy sweaters reappear as pillows or get felted into tea cozies. Too tight blouses always look sexy on the skinny bitch we keep meaning to ban from future swaps.

We were snarky, supportive and noisy, and came away with new stashes of goodies and baggies of leftover cookies. With the warm glow of  female bonding and wine guzzling, I felt a little less assaulted by the cold trudge to the subway.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, January 1st, 2009

Once again I successfully avoided horrid New Year’s Eve parties, with their forced joviality and overabundance of cheer. Phew.

The Sweetie and I enjoyed our annual New Year’s Day tradition of Dim Sum with friends at the Bright Pearl in Chinatown. I gorged on dumplings and crispy mounds of yumminess in preparation for tomorrow when everything will be different and I will eat nothing but salads and clear broth to atone for my gluttony during Shortbread Season.

I realized that things need to change while trying on Lululemon pants in Victoria. Lululemon’s workout gear is known for magically sucking in all the wobbly bits and the excessive price can be justified for the sake of looking fit without having to actually go to the gym. No one looks bad in Lululemon pants. Or so I thought. Unfortunately something went terribly wrong when I was in the change room. There was no mood lighting to cushion the blow and somehow instead of admiring my Lululemon clad apple bum, I was horrified to face a spandex wearing sausage. Apparently a month of eating cookies and fudge wreaths the size of my head has consequences after all.

As a result, my first New Year’s resolution for 2009 is to cut back on the fudge wreaths and re-introduce vegetables into my life.

In order to spare myself unnecessary temptation tomorrow, I will finish the remnants of my holiday cookies and a bottle of wine tonight while working on the rest of my list.