Sunday, May 31, 2009

What I Lost

This is the first blog post I've written on somebody else's computer.

The reason: My hard drive has died. Kaput. Gone. Swimming with the fishies. It made a terrible death gurgle that out-screeched the TV, flipped M and me and then it was good night. Metaphorically speaking. (No way M was going to bed after that drama.)

About a year ago, Hilary (she of doctor and friendship and great taste fame) had a terrible break in at her home. The criminals got away with ten thousand bucks worth of stuff. Mere stuff to them but beautiful, loved heirlooms according to Hil and her family. The worst loss, bar none, was that of the computer. This isn't because Hil loves the computer so desperately that she can't bear to be without it. No, indeed. The computer stored all of her photos, those of her children from birth and on, those of great times and places.

There was no back up. Hilary's husband apparently made one but it was somehow lost in the chaos of the burglary. It was very hard accepting this.

Hilary bore up to the loss and violation with tremendous grace. It took months to set things right again and with young kids and 2 jobs, it was not easy. Never mind managing the emotional after effects... (She has worked ceaselessly to amass photos from others - fairly successfully - since then.)

I mention this because not one year ago I observed this hideous experience - the pain of losing everything meaningful on one's computer - and yet, absurdly, I did not have a back up of the thousands of photos and - more to the point - writing on my own computer.

Let's feel free to debate my foolery. I mean, to make matters categorically more idiotic, my husband runs two businesses that provide (among other things) infallible back up solutions for computers.  It's not like I don't understand the value in taking steps to save one's important objects. I'm a girl with 8 forms of insurance. I'm the uber-administrative parent. I've signed my donor card. I'm responsible.

But somehow, every time I said to Scott, I really need to back this thing up. Could you do that for me? (yes, it's totally passing the buck) he'd say, Just get a disk, there's one on the third floor. You know how to do it, and it wouldn't happen. It would be 11 pm after a day that had started at 6:30 am encompassing zillions of obligatory, tiresome activities and I just let it slide.

And now I have the opportunity to reflect on my laziness at leisure.

I'm not a girl who deals with loss well. (Few do, I recognize, but I've got a whole life history predisposing me to hover at the margins in the face of change. It's not like stability was the hallmark of my early life.) And yet, I'm feeling reasonably sanguine about this. I've lost things. They're gone. They won't be coming back. And that's ok.

It's not like when your parents leave your adopted country and you're 19 and you know it's for good and you're the only member of your family left behind. It's not like when your dearest friend moves away - and you know it's for good - and a little piece of yourself curls up in the corner in a heap. It's not like when you fear desperately that your new baby is going to die and there's not a thing you can do except wait and pray. It's not like when you're 4 and your well-meaning (but young and clueless) parents move you half way around the world to suit the tide-change of their lives without bothering to mention it to you in advance. It's not like continuing to move, again and again, year after year, struggling to forge an identity in the absence of constancy in the presence of terrible anxiety.

It's just some words and pictures and music.  Last time I checked, all that moving made me good at starting again.

So here goes.

Thing I Recommend

You know how I love chocolate. And French things. And salt. Well, this company helps me to cover all the bases. Apparently there's a new retail store on Dundas West. I get my stash at La Fromagerie.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Garden Fashion

Insanely, having spent half of Monday on the phone with IKEA reps, determining that if I waited one more moment there would be not a garden suite left to purchase, I Autoshared it over there stat after work.

Props to my friend Steen, who accompanied me on the spur of the moment (the last time I drove was a year ago and I have raging PMS) and who helped me immeasurably in choosing the pieces and then getting them into the car.

We managed to find, choose and pay for these in 15 minutes:

Bollo Folding Chair x 4
1 Applaro Table - seats 4 - 10 (and I intend to have you over!)
Applaro Body Contour Armchair x 2

I'm the first one to say that these IKEA site photos aren't really doing the trick. The pieces are, in reality, a) matching or eclectically unmatched and b) not so strangely sized in relation to one another. I'm dismayed that everything photoed by the IKEA peeps (and published on the website) seems to be a different shade - which is certainly not the case when you actually buy the items and put them side-by-side...

I also took a chance on the Soldig solar lights:

Here they are in someone's real garden...

Now seriously, all I need is for the hardscaper to get over to my place and lay the pavers so that my landscaper can finish her part and I can set these babies up to start enjoying!! My patience, regrettably, is on the wane.

Note to paver: Please finish this by my birthday...

Friday, May 29, 2009

Lower Brunswick Avenue

Between College and Harbord Streets, Brunswick Avenue is a tangle of beautiful (if ramshackle) old Victorian homes. The gentrified places mingle with the rentals, but they all seem to have one thing in common: huge, English gardens:

Amazingly, these 5 gardens were side-by-side.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Love this or hate it, you're going to have some opinion...

See, for at least 5 years, I've been talking about getting one of those shifty, back-of-magazine "make your own T shirt" companies to stencil a specific slogan T for me. Sensibly, I've been repeatedly cowed by the whole shifty ad at the back of a magazine angle. Not so reputable-seeming, yes? But I thought that was my only recourse.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered, on walking down Queen Street the other day, that there are actual stores that do this! Like retail. Am I sheltered or is this news to you too? I truly thought those closed down in the late 70s!

Needless to say I rushed on in there. And behold my handiwork:

I'm sure you know that I came up with this slogan myself, that I haven't been scarfing those pro-chattel, patriarchy pills you may also order in bulk from the back of the mags. One of my friends suggested that I missed the boat and, given my frame, might have been more on the mark stenciling "Scottie's Girls" across the centre of the shirt. Seriously, I'm half inclined :-)

But, man, it gets me some action with my husband...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Long Weekend Living

My daughter went back to school Friday before last, after a week at home with some kind of childhood virus... As it marked the start of the May long weekend, work released me a couple of hours early - facilitating a pre-daycare-pick-up drink with Scott. Alas, the weather was drab, but nonetheless I was really in a mood to relax - so we went to the Park Hyatt Rooftop for an aperitif.

Cool Tonic Imported from India - and delicious edamame.
The Hyatt gives the best free snacks with drinks

No one hates the Chin Crystal more than I do, but here's a cool perspective on it.

If ever you visit TO, this really is a great spot to take in the view - especially on a clear day. I only wish we'd brought the real camera...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Friday Treats

This is why you start the day with caffeine at the artisanal cafe:

I'll have you know that the barista knows me like few others and deliberately made the swirly heart, just because he's an artist!

And this is what I treated myself to at lunch (Holt Renfrew is stocking them right now):

Yes, they really look like that. And they taste awesome. (Mind you, apparently, in order to purchase them from the vendor directly, you have to order $300 worth (150 macarons) and then pay $75 in shipping in the general Toronto area. That's $375 plus tax, people. In this economy.

Feel free to surprise me. :-)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Nicole's Birthday Party

We entertained in the garden for the first time on Saturday. Despite the fact that it's still under construction - and there's no matching furniture - we had a truly excellent time.

You know those bright, early summer afternoons that turn into cool, but languid, evenings? You know beautiful food and good wine and great music (but not outside - I'd never play music in such close proximity to my neighbours! Even if it is the noisy city, I have manners.)...

I'm not the most sit-down and relax kind of person - though I'm working on it. Remember that one of my primary lifestyle goals for the coming decade is spontaneous, relaxed, relaxing, joyful entertaining.

Well, allow me to push the point home with the following 8000 mellow photos of people and a place you don't know! :-) C'mon, it's just like being there...

Getting Ready...

My new salad tongs, some glasses for Prosecco, apples for the crumble

Just out of the oven...

I'm having this love on for irises lately...

Hanging outside (We're calling it the Cottage)

Some of these chives ended up in the tomato salad...

The Vibe:

This shot is so ridiculous but it captures my mood.

We started eating at 7:00! (After afternoon cheesecake and prosecco outside)

The Food:

The combination of the vanilla in the crumble (easy to make)
and the vanilla in the ice cream is spectacular.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

That Garden on My Walk Home (Take 3)

By mid-May, this beloved garden I walk by daily is taking on some gorgeous green...

See that cool modern bird feeder in the foreground of the last shot?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Lest We Forget

Here's something from Jezebel actually worth reading...

Friday, May 22, 2009

Hot Water

Cuisinart Automatic Cordless Electric Jug Kettle

When I was 18, newly appointed in my first apartment, I took myself to Honest Ed's and bought a big-ass white, plastic electric kettle for $8.95. Back then, Honest Ed's was the only big box discount store around (this was so pre-Wal-Mart) and, besides, I happened to live down the block.

I was rather pleased - my first appliance! And to get such a deal for something with a cord seemed shrewd...

Cut to 20 years later, the counter top of my (admittedly unrenovated) kitchen, where said eyesore still sat blinking it's beady red light at me till, oh, last week sometime. Damn piece of shit still worked till about a month ago. (Are you all familiar with my eco-nut husband's manifesto to save the world by obliterating waste?)

If you can believe it, I continued to use it daily, though the shut-off stopped working and glittery sparks flashed out of the socked whenever I unplugged it - which was, of course, everytime the water boiled, because the fucking switch was broken. (Never mind the hazy wine afternoon during which I almost forgot the boiling kettle altogether.)

That cinched it. Burning down your house isn't exactly eco-friendly.

So I took myself to the little appliance shop across the street from Honest Ed's. It's been there for 20 years, so I figure it's reputable. I very definitely believe in shopping locally, whenever possible. And dare I say, to save the economy, you should too.

I found the very kettle I was seeking (see photo above), a riff on the Cuisinart "ye olde style" cordless model that my friend Hilly has. I'm a bit more stark modernist than she. I turned over the box to locate the price. It was $89.95. With tax (in this country you get good at calculating), that comes to about $102.00. Let's not split hairs. The kettle was a hundred bucks.

Now don't get me wrong. It's burnished steel, it's lovely, you can cart it (cool-bottom) from room to room, it has fun features, it's big but doesn't have a large footprint. What's not to love? Indeed, says the idiot woman who recently paid $250.00 for a pair of jeans full price - the cost differential between this one and my last is rather steep. But given that Hil (an elegant woman of champagne tastes) owns one, I guess should be grateful that the thing doesn't sell for much more!

I brought it home and my husband grudgingly set it up. He opened the box, saw the price, balked at the price: You paid a hundred bucks for a kettle (said he). It was then that it hit me, just in time for the good come-back, like it's any of his business if I spend crazily on cordless appliances, that if I end up looking at this one for the next 20 years it had better be worthy of my gaze. I was reminded of one of his omnipresent, new digital music computer thingies - which he seems always to be setting up. It was a delightful, kismet, pot calling the kettle moment. I savored it with some fresh Earl Grey tea - and a croissant.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Has It Really Come to This?

So, if my biggest problem in life is that I so want to look hot in shoes but for my mental health I need to walk 5 miles daily (or something gives), then you can cry for me and we'll leave it at that.

Thing is, when something gives, it can't be my arches - ok? Which is where these come in:
Admittedly, they look more pedestrian here (ha!) than they do on my feet - which they fit perfectly. The leather is super soft and the sole flexible and the strap easy-on/easy-off and when it's 35 celsius in about 2 months and my feet grow a size while walking, I'm going to be so glad I got these instead of the sexy, chic ecru heels that look kind of architectural and go with everything in my entire wardrobe.

But right now I feel kind of like a sell out.

PS: Imagine them with short shorts and short skirts.

PPS: If you can find some way to make me feel like these are actually hip and happening, I will send you a gift.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Stay Sharp

I love this Whistles bling (designed by Mulberry alumni, Sally Turner):

Info courtesy of Love...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


My thoughts are with the followers, friends and family of Guru Pattabhi Jois, yoga legend (and founder of the Ashtanga methodology). He died yesterday in India at the age of 94. Everyone who's experienced the practice can agree that it is powerful, challenging (dangerous, for some) and life affirming. Though I do not consider myself an ashtanga practitioner (my primary method is Iyengar), it is impossible to do yoga in the West, in this day and age, without being influenced by the Ashtanga methodology.

The yogis believe that the body is a container for the spirit, one to be respected and maintained through diligent practice, and then vacated at the appropriate hour.

Namaste, great teacher. Good luck on your new journey.

Flora and Fauna

My husband took these photos after a rainstorm. This garden is intoxicating to me...

Monday, May 18, 2009


About a year ago, I went to my favourite local haunt - down the block, seriously tiny, though somehow it sells everything on the planet - and discovered Pivoine by Esteban Paris Parfum. I'm inevitably drawn to florals (what a surprise) with a hint of green chypre. For example, Chanel 19 has been my signature perfume since I was 14, though I fear I may be on the cusp of outgrowing it (it's a very youthful scent).

At any rate, I do love a chic floral, as long as it's natural-smelling and not banal, which is where the mossy chypre comes in. I bought the Pivoine and wore it happily until it was gone, assuming it was a one-bottle experience. (I like to rotate through a well-edited sampler of scents - many of which are momentary, though I enjoy them while they last.)

But here's the thing. I finished it about 2 months ago. Since then, I've reached for it numerous mornings, while searching for something elegant (but not overpowering), sexy (but not girly) and optimistic. Apparently, none of my other perfumes is quite hitting the mark.

Don't get me wrong, I love my 19 (Chanel), Iris Nobile (Aqua di Parma), Bluebell (Penhaligon), Bryant Park (Bond No. 9), Terre d' (Hermes) and even the cusp-of-synthetic Musk (Body Shop). But Pivoine filled a niche, just right, and I've decided that it might be a staple.

This sparked a consideration of how my acquisition patterns and motivations have changed over the past few years. I've always been brand loyal (till I'm not) so it isn't unusual for me to buy the same line of lingerie or t-shirts or chocolate or jeans, year in and year out. I mean, the fact that I have had a signature perfume since adolescence is a sign that I am motivated by constancy - and that I know my own tastes.

And yet, as I near my forties, I feel such conviction about the correctness of any particular purchase. Increasingly, the procurement experience - and the trigger of long-standing associations - cinches the sale. I buy much less than I used to but, what I do buy, is a memory in the making - an enjoyment as I go about my day, occasionally reflecting on thing x or y or zed.

I suppose you're not surprised to learn that I went back to the haunt and snatched up another bottle of the Esteban on my walk home from work. Sprayed some on my wrist for good measure. Delightfully, it was just as I remembered.