Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Le cry

I bought a fabulous pair of Vivienne Westwood / Melissa shoes (seen above) while in Bangkok back in December, and have been waiting for the an opportune moment to show them off. With a high of 13C forecast today and no rain in sight, I thought the moment for my shoes to shine had arrived. Unfortunately, like a party thumb trap, the shoes have tightened in direct relation to my mounting despair. The Melissa company website states that their product "does not really stretch – any type of give will be negligible."

I will experiment with tights, baby powder and possibly foot binding in a bid to keep these shoes. If all options fail (or not) I will console myself at the One of a Kind Spring Show & Sale (March 31 - April 1, 2010) by buying some stylish clothes to draw attention away from my limping. Nothing works quite like cracking open the wallet for frivolous purchases to fan away the tears.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Running eastward and eating westward

My very first run since July 2009 was a 5K commute to my weekly class at the National Ballet School. With a concrete finishing time, I ran 2/3 of the way before running out of steam and dragging myself with purpose the rest of the way. My cramping feet made me more awkward than usual during class, but my classmates gave me and my sweat drenched clothing wide berth.

It took me three days to recover from that first training run but, soon, Joe was using my runs as an excuse to explore The Beaches, a neighbourhood that I usually avoid for fear of being abducted by locals and forced to work as an au pair. The area is actually quite charming at night, in the absence of double strollers being pushed by coloured nannies. I never noticed the Fox Theatre before and will definitely make it a pitstop on a future date night.

When we're not stumbling eastward, Joe and I chomp our way west along the Queen East culinary strip. I will record our gastronomic experiences periodically on this blog. The journey so far:

Edward Levesque's Kitchen (1288 Queen Street East)
I mistook this place for a diner because their kitchen is on full display at the front of the establishment. Hence, it was only after we had asked to be seated that I realized our paint stained clothing was not appropriate for the venue. Our attire was paired with loud and inappropriate comments on my part that were politely ignored by neighbouring patrons. Unfortunately, I don't remember much about the food itself except that it was tasty though not a revelation, and surprisingly filling for the portion size. I welcome my dining companion, Fiona to elaborate on the culinary merits of the restaurant, and, hopefully, not my social faux pas.

The Friendly Thai (1218 Queen Street East)
One of the more stylish branches of the restaurant chain that provides Torontonians with a dependably tasty source of Thai food. Joe had a noodle dish and I had the Vegetable Green Curry. Both of us went running for the washroom at Canadian Tire about an hour later.

The Leslieville Diner (
1168 Queen Street East)
This was the consolation prize after we discovered that The Ceili Cottage was closed until 12pm on a Sunday(!). The place appeared to be run by a Quebecois family, as evidenced by their accents and the Habs posters on the wall. It was also a magnet for customers who speak French, wear Hab caps or Quebec flag t-shirts, which was representative of four neighbouring tables. The service was good but the brunch was rather pedestrian. Unfortunately, this was no Lady Marmalade (see previous review).

Thursday, March 25, 2010

How to blend into Leslieville

Liev and Naomi: "This Leslieville neighbourhood feels right. Too bad we're Hollywood stars who can afford better than a mere $450K house."

Having settled into our little house in Leslieville, Joe and I ventured forth into the neighbourhood to survey the area. We quickly became aware that we were lacking the key characteristics of a local:
  • a coffee from Red Rocket Coffee
  • a dog
  • a baby in a Bugaboo or a stroller of equal prestige and price point
  • a pale complexion
All of these will prove challenging to acquire, even the first one since Joe drinks bargain coffee and I drink milk.

Of course, I'm being bitchy; Leslieville already feels more comfortable than our previous abode, which was practically becoming a university dorm. It's nice to find a wide selection of good restaurants and boutiques within walking distance, which is what enticed us to the neighbourhood in the first place (see The Leslieville Guide). We're slowly eating our way west, and the selection of wares are similar to what can be found on Queen West, but at more affordable prices.

The commute to everything, even the supermarket, has not proven to be a great hardship. Traveling on the streetcar to work has allowed me to just sit and listen to CBC Radio One for a longer period of time than my previous 12 minute walk - something that is tantamount to a spa experience in my mind. The supermarkets are further than a five minute walk but there is so much more selection at lower prices.

As the weather gets warmer, my assumption is that our experience of the neighbourhood can only improve since we will make forays into Ashbridges Bay or sit on a patio nearby. We will become true locals, even without a coffee, a dog, a baby and a bottle of SPF 100 in tow.

Friday, March 19, 2010

From zero to 10 in six weeks

In a previous post, I had promised to sign up for the Mississauga Marathon 10K as a rally in the battle of the bulge. Since that bold public statement, I have not only failed to register and run, but I gained weight when the stress of preparing the new house and moving made me turn to bad food for comfort.

Fortunately, opportunity knocked twice:
  1. Flocons invited me to join him in running the Sporting Life 10K, a terrible race with too many participants but a rapidly descending course that will make everyone's times better than they should be.
  2. The current issue of Runner's World has been deemed the "Weight Loss Issue," an enticement that instantly had me reaching for my wallet. The magazine includes an 10K training plan that requires a mere three runs per week for six weeks.
Coincidentally, the Sporting Life 10K takes place in roughly six weeks. I will take this as a sign that I am destined for a showdown with myself on May 2.

The last time I drastically increased my running distance within a week, I was shocked by my drained complexion and suffered an increased susceptibility to colds and other annoying illnesses. "Running is supposed to make me healthier," I moaned.

This prior run-in with the hazards of over-training has not deterred me from becoming excited at the prospect of punishing myself over the next six weeks. A cautionary tale of how not to train, to come.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A 'Yes!' and a 'No!'

A warning of possible radio silence for the next while as I strap my home onto my back and shuffle east to Leslieville.

In the meantime, I direct you to the blog I wish Xiao Pangzi could be, Stargazing by Malene Arpe. Two items of note today, copied and pasted directly from Malene's blog:

David Cronenberg and Viggo Mortensen team up again From Monsters & Critics: "The star of the darkly intense The Road is in talks to play Sigmund Freud in The Talking Cure, according to film site buzz. Digital Spy reports Mortensen will replace Christoph Waltz as the founding father of psychoanalysis following a scheduling conflict involving Waltz. Mortensen will again work with director David Cronenberg, who directed him in A History of Violence and Eastern Promises with Naomi Watts. The key story line in the movie is the conflict between Freud and theorist Carl Jung, who will be played by Michael Fassbender. Their dramatic relationship, indeed, is portrayed as giving birth to psychoanalysis. Keira Knightley, according to the buzz, may just make it onto the couch as an 'unstable young woman'."

Damn "Andy Whitfield, who plays the title role in the Starz Original series "Spartacus: Blood and Sand," has been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The British-born actor will begin treatment immediately. The network says the cancer was discovered during a routine checkup as Whitfield prepared to begin shooting the second season of the action-adventure series, which is filmed in New Zealand. Starz said Tuesday that production has been postponed while Whitfield undergoes treatment. According to the network, doctors say the cancer was detected in its early stages and is "very treatable." AP.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

For rapid weight gain

Between the stress of work and the new home, I find myself eating rather indiscriminately. Consume left over pasta salad twice a day for four days straight? Why not? The result is predictable.

If you are ever in a weight gain competition, include the following on your grocery list:
  • instant noodles
  • Häagen-Dazs
  • whatever else adds poundage quickly in the sumo wrestler rolling level of We Love Katamari. The game designers had it right.

Monday, March 01, 2010

A paint primer

For three weekends in a row, Joe and I have been painting our new house. It's a tiny house, one that has elicited descriptions like "cute" and "cozy" so this non-stop occupation comes as a surprise to us.

The crash course in house painting has made us cynical experts so I pass along some product reviews that we may all benefit from our unexpectedly extensive knowledge base.

Behr Premium Plus Ultra
This product is supposed to save both time and money by serving as paint and primer in one. We actually used the product on both primed and un-primed walls; Behr Premium Plus Ultra Drywall Primer on the darker walls, and none on the dark beige walls. The primed walls required two coats whereas the unprimed walls required four so I question the marketing claim. The paint consistency is quite thick and sticky, hence even application of the paint required attention and extra elbow grease. Add to this experience the unexplainable blue vein that kept bleeding through the creamy white on dark beige and you have a promise from Joe that we will never use Behr again.

Benjamin Moore Moorestyle
Professionals are a fan of Benjamin Moore and we understand. We purchased a dark and a light colour in the mid-range line, and applied the paint to walls primed with the Behr Primer. Like the Behr paint, two coats of the Benjamin Moore were applied on top of the primer, but the experience was completely different. The Benjamin Moore paint went on like butter and the ease with which we achieved even distribution made us feel like skilled professionals. A second coat of the lighter colour was not really required but we decided to apply it anyways, since we had half a can of paint left and nothing to use it on. Our contractor refers to Benjamin Moore's top of the line, Aura paint as "angel piss"; we can only dream of a paint job that is comparable to receiving manna from heaven.

Valspar Ultra Premium Color Changing Ceiling Paint
A friend recently recalled the nightmare of painting her ceiling in which she was foiled by neck cramping and the inability to tell which areas had already been covered. The moral of the story is to hire a professional to paint you ceiling, as she did. For Joe and me, the take home message was to buy a ceiling paint that goes on purple then changes to white as it dries. The Valspar Ultra Premium Color Changing Ceiling Paint does indeed change colour, though it initially did so too quickly to serve us much good. After a more heavy application of the product, we were able to avoid looking like a repetitive French farce. The paint is more watery than either the Behr or the Benjamin Moore paints, but appears to do the job of evening out the colour of the ceiling in one to two coats. However, the worst aspect of the Valspar is the pungent odour; in contrast, both Behr and Benjamin Moore paints are subtly sweet smelling, which has its own disturbing health implications. In combination with the neck strain, the Valspar made me nauseous and I passed out in the middle of the job (thinking that it was cute that I was taking a little nap, Joe simply continued loading the Valspar onto the ceiling).

Up next: how to lose and alienate friends in the process of moving.