Friend love multiplied by 100 // Carleton U Ski & Snowboard Club

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2015 has been a rough year for a lot of my friends and I. We don’t really know why, but it seems like we’re all in a state of transition and big – sort of negative – life changes are happening to some of us. I’m a big believer in the right timing and things happening for a reason, so of course I’ve been reflecting a lot about this.

What makes me truly happy though, is that these circumstances have made my best friends and I a lot closer over the last few months. And there is no sign of this stopping. I’m full of “friend love” today – in the words of Cammie.

Last weekend I made a trip to Ottawa and hung-out with some of my favourite people. The old Ski & Snowboard club crew from my days at Carleton University. I see the girls a lot, but not the boys. So spending quality time together over a round of jagerbombs (worst choice ever) was just like old times. Unfortunately/Fortunately, I proceeded to get University Daniela drunk, and hit the dance floor at Zaphods (my favourite bar on earth).

IMG_8643There’s no denying that we will remain friends for a long time. We all love each other so much, and have had many adventures together. From going to Mont Tremblant every Sunday, to travelling to Vancouver, living together in Ottawa and growing up – no group of friends truly knows the real me better.

For that reason, I am always my true self with them. I’ve been feeling down lately and trying to gauge what my next moves are going to be. So even after last night’s festivities – dinner with Cams at The Flatiron followed by drinks at Town Crier Pub & Halfway Beer House with everyone else – I’ve never felt more confident in my life choices so far or more like myself again.

I think 2015 has purposely brought us all together to remind us of how strong our friendships really are – despite living in different cities. It has been showing me how much they mean to me more and more as we head into summer. I don’t know what I would do without these beautiful, somewhat classy, people. Next stop, Ottawa in July for Hope Volleyball.

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Is Everyone Hanging out without Me? // Mindy Kaling’s Memoir

I used to chuckle when watching The Mindy Project (TV Series), but I’m positive it’s been cancelled – as many of my friends have told me. This outcome, though, really hasn’t affected me. That’s kind of the same way I felt when I finished reading, Is Everyone Hanging out without Me? Indifferent.

mindyThere was no feeling of satisfaction, accomplishment or growth when I finished reading Mindy’s memoir. Unlike Lena Dunham’s Not that kind of GirlMindy doesn’t really have any in-depth analysis’ (or just plain old reflective thoughts) about her own life events. I wasn’t intellectually stimulated the way I was while reading Lena’s Memoir.

Maybe comparing them directly isn’t really fair, so I have to admit there were some funny moments in Is Everyone Hanging out without Me? Her descriptions of the birth of Matt & Ben, a play she wrote with her best friend while in New York, was funny. And candid moments like her breaking Brenda’s nose by accident – on stage – during a performance, also hilarious. Graduating from college, moving to NY and trying to survive on a babysitting job – were all very relatable to my first couple of years after graduation, and trying to find a job in my field.

Yet, when she went on and on about The Office, I really didn’t care. I wasn’t a real fan of the show, so that probably skewed my opinion. But I really had no idea that she played a regular character on the show, wrote, directed and produced episodes! Another interesting fact I came across was that Mindy based The Mindy Project’s main characters profession, a gynaecologist, on her mom’s actual career path. Incredible, I know.

Meagan said it accurately though, this book is just way too long for the amount of “verbal diarrhea” Mindy shares with us, her innocent readers. I did manage to find one quote I really enjoyed:

“One friend with whom you have a lot in common is better than 3 with whom you struggle to find things to talk about”

– Mindy Kaling

We are going to try reading Mindy’s next book, Why Not Me? I promise to remain unbiased, since her first book was written awhile ago, so maybe the next one will be better?

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New Book List // Keep on reading on

IMG_8360Though it’s Mother’s Day and I love my mom a little bit extra today, I’ve been meaning to blog about our Book Club for Two 2015 book list for quite some time now. 

So, while my mom indulges in an afternoon nap, here it is (in no particular order): 

Catcher and the Rye // J.D. Salinger
Great Expectations // Charles Dickens 
Oliver Twist // Charles Dickens 
Arrow of God // Chinua Achebe
Yes Please! // Amy Poehler 
And the mountains echoed // Khaled Hosseini
Is Everyone Hanging Out without Me? // Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling’s book, Is Everyone Hanging Out without Me? is crossed off the list because we just finished reading it. Don’t worry, a book review will follow later this week with what Meagan and I thought.

IMG_8466There are some repeat offenders (books) from the original Book Club for Two list because we didn’t read Moby Dick fast enough – obviously. But, it doesn’t mean we don’t want to read them. Meagan currently has my copy of Catcher and the Rye waiting for me in Ottawa – she picked me up a used copy!

I hope that you’re enjoying your Mother’s Day Sunday with you mom(s). Maybe you’re taking a break from mom-daughter (or son) time too?? I mean, I already gave my mom her card and present. I thought it was pretty unique, two tickets to the Ripley’s Aquarium here in Toronto. She’s been dying to go with my dad.

Anyway, let Meagan and I know if you’ve read any of the above books – and what your thoughts were in the comments below! We’d love to hear from you.

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Shakes & Franks // Eating in Toronto

It’s important to choose a great dinner date no matter what the occasion. That’s the first thing I do when I discover a new-ish restaurant in Toronto that I am DYING to try.

When it came to Shakes & Franks (located on 2032 Queen Street East in the Beaches), I knew my besty Jess would be the perfect gal for the hot dog eating and milkshake drinking challenge. I first heard about Shakes & Franks from Alessandra, a girl I worked with early on at QMi/Sun Media, and it just so happens it’s her sister’s boyfriend who opened the place with his brother in 2012.

IMG_8389So, on a cold spring day – that felt a lot more like winter – Jess picked me up from work and we drove straight over for dinner. With pay parking right across the street, we were all set!  First on my list was the “Made with Nutella” milkshake. I had only heard FANTASTIC things, and trust me, they weren’t wrong. It was not only made with authentic Nutella, but real ice cream and whole milk too. DELICIOUS.

Choosing our franks (hot dogs) wasn’t easy. Thankfully, the staff had great suggestions and helped us through the selection process. Recently I’ve had a new obsession with pineapples on EVERYTHING. Naturally I selected the “Hula,” a bacon wrapped & deep fried dog with pineapple salsa and lemon garlic mayo toppings. You also can’t go wrong with mac & cheese, so “The Mac Attack” was our second pick. This was also bacon wrapped & deep fried, but topped with the original Mac N’Cheese that everyone knows and loves.

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IMG_8392Since Jess and I decided to split each dog in half (naturally what best friends do, so that you can try more than one item on the menu), we had to get fries too. Say hello to the “Fiesta Fries.” These spuds were covered in pico de gallo, sour cream and cotija cheese. YUM. I couldn’t stop eating them.

Everything was so fresh, tantalized my taste buds in a subtle yet impactful way, and I definitely need to go back for more when it’s warmer outside. Who doesn’t love a restaurant where you can get Coca Cola in a glass bottle? Tell me who.

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Survival Guide // 5 tips to surviving a break-up

IMG_8133With a few tricks up my sleeve for surviving a break-up, I’ve come to the consensus that there are 5 things a girl should do when her heart is broken.

1. Break the news to those closest to you (Keeping in mind that every time you tell someone new, you’re going to cry.)
A. Family First
Your mom is your best friend or at least your sister/sister-in-law is. Telling them will require ugly crying, but it will feel good to let them know right away. You don’t want them asking you, “Where is so and so?” Mom’s are the best because no matter how much they’ll miss him being around, they will always take your side first. You’re their daughter, and your heart is hurting. They know what to say and how to help. Sisters are great too! I think I would have completely crumbled and stayed in bed if it hadn’t been for Flo’s hugs and Toffee’s (her bichon-poo puppy’s) sweet kisses.

B. Call each best friend separately
You really want to utilize each best friends attention, and the way you do that is by telling them one by one. This not only allows you to tell the tragedy in full detail each time, but your friends are able to give you their advice and supportive thoughts in full as well. There is no time limit and you don’t risk getting overwhelmed by everyone’s responses all at once.

C. Tell your Bosses & Co-workers
When that Monday morning hits, and your adult responsibilities kick in, you’re going to have to force yourself to be emotionally stable. This is why you need to rip the band-aid immediately and let your bosses know. If you’re like me, and your bosses truly care about your well-being career wise as well as personally, it’s important to let them know you might not be yourself that week. Especially if you’re that A-type, determined to get the job done despite the circumstances gal, like me. Trust me, they will understand.

2. Get Waxed
Obviously this can’t be planned. It might not be that time of the month for you to get a Bikini Wax, but it was for me. So, I went the day after our breakup. To be honest, it was therapeutic. I’ve known Zoya (my waxing lady/quasi-therapist) for about two years now, so she’s up to date with my personal life. Of course I shared the whole story with her, cried, and was physically in pain when she pulled those strips. But, it helped … and I did it for myself.

3. Listen to Ariana Grande’s album My Everything (the Deluxe version) on repeat
Oh Ariana, why is your voice so beautiful and soothing? Though her pronunciation of words isn’t always accurate, her break-up and love songs really touched my soul. I highly recommend: One Last Time (which is on the radio now), Just a little bit of your heart, Break your heart back and My Everything – to get you through.

4. Revamp your everyday items … we’re talking bras and cheeky VS
Victoria’s Secret is the place to go after a break up. In need of some new things anyway, this was the perfect opportunity to restock my drawers. I purchased select items that would make me excited to get up and get dressed in the morning. What woman doesn’t need a little bit more colour in their lives? Even if it is just bras and something cheeky – get it?

5. Keep busy (an obvious one)
The best way for me to do this – was to commit to going to the gym after work during the week. It was great because my friend Vanessa would meet me there and we’d work out together. Going alone was beneficial too, I have to say. Here, you won’t obsessively keep thinking about what just happened, the break-up conversation, or be flooded with memories of the things you did together.

Ensuring you have solid plans on the weekends is another great time-filler. Your family and friends know you best, so if you’re a little depressed while hanging out – they won’t hold that against you. The girls and I had a Sex and the City marathon while painting our nails and applying Jamberry nail stickers.

IMG_8120Matthew and Flo’s wedding was a huge way to keep my brain busy and emotional breakdowns in check. It was great timing, really, as Flo’s bachelorette party was the following weekend. When planning a party you don’t have time for yourself, which was fantastic. That night I got to dress up, look sexy, drink a lot and dance it off.

Relationships, though fun and exciting, can be tough at times. This Survival Guide doesn’t insinuate that break-ups are easy. They aren’t. But I’m still a hopeless romantic. I know that will never change about me, even if I do decide to try out Tinder. Being single has its benefits and when I’m ready to get back in the game, I will.

To read more of my relationship//ex-boyfriend advice, click here. 

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Maya Angelou // I know why the caged bird sings

MayaI don’t research books before I read them. Instead, I love blissfully falling into the story – and the narrative. So, when Meagan told me that I know why the caged bird sings was Maya’s memoir, I was completely stunned. Immediately followed by me replaying all of my favourite scenes over and over in my head in disbelief.

Meagan was astounded by how Maya though “set up for failure” became a “successful black woman-artist.” I had to agree with her that she is pretty admirable and an intelligent writer.

*SPOILER ALERT*

Having been immersed in a few scenes – if not the entire novel – I couldn’t believe that Maya was raped. These scenes of Maya as a young girl and her mother’s boyfriend is the reason why this memoir is banned in certain American states. That boggles my mind. I don’t think literature should be banned, especially this novel, which has an inspirational story behind it. You can’t pretend certain tragedies don’t happen in life. Otherwise, how would people learn, make educated decisions and grow?

Then there was the part where Maya drives into Mexico with her father. This misadventure and unforeseen circumstances lends itself to Maya, under-age driving her drunken (passed out) father back into the U.S. Crazy! They literally almost died at one point, but she lived to tell the tale. How irresponsible her dad really was – to bring his daughter with him to a Mexican bar where he visits with his lover(s).

At the end of Maya’s memoir, I was left with many questions. Though, to be fair I didn’t realize it was part of a series. Yet, what happened to her brother? He moves out from their mother’s home and that’s it. We don’t hear anything more. Maya gets pregnant! And that’s basically where it ends. She decides to keep the baby – despite the baby daddy’s choice to abandon both her and their child.

It’s incredible. I was mesmerized by Maya’s descriptions of her mother as well. Such a mysterious woman, and one who would provide Maya with insight (or life lessons) at the most random moments.

“Hoping for the best, prepared for the worst, and unsurprised by anything in between.” – Vivian Baxter (Maya’s mom)

This novel is an inspiration and one I thoroughly enjoyed reading. It was a birthday present from Meagan, and it took me a year to actually pick it up and read, but Maya’s humour in such dark situations is beyond empowering.

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Purple everything // Maid of Honour Duties

What. A. Day. Last Saturday my brother married Flo (my new sister-in-law) and I was thrilled to be the Maid of Honour at their wedding – I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

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I could say that the day started at 6:30am, but that would be a lie. All of the planning and preparations – from finding the gown, going to fittings, planning Flo’s bachelorette party, making the table numbers (which were actually places instead of numbers), editing their speeches, attending the makeup & hair trial, and helping in any way I could – well, that all began months and months before.

IMG_8247When Flo (her mom & dad, my mother and I) went to David’s Bridal in Mississauga none of us knew what to expect. The task was easy – find a dress. After trying on a couple that weren’t her style, Flo started to get frustrated. I could see the panic set in on her face. But then, she stepped out in the one. With a delicate layer of lace overlay.

We. Just. Knew.

I instantly started crying. It wasn’t even controllable. The first face Flo saw was her mom’s, and next she saw me – we both teared up. I couldn’t look at her without crying. There were no words.

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Left to right: Emilia (my mom), Silvia (Flo’s Mom) & Flo

I also fell in love that day, with my princess-y MOH gown. Maybe it was the pockets?

David’s Bridal does something really unique. Once you find the dress – they send you off with well-wishes and the bride rings a bell so that everyone in the store knows they’ve found their wedding dress.

Despite an early start to Flo & Matt’s wedding day, Flo was relaxed and mellow. We sat in the hair and makeup chairs, chatted with Julia and Julia Bridal and really enjoyed the morning. Soon the photographer and videographer arrived. A little overwhelmed, we continued to get ourselves ready while the set-up took place.

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Left to right: Mike (the best best man), me & Matthew (the groom & my brother)

Spending the rest of the day with Flo and Matt was an experience unlike any other. Somehow Toffee (their bichon-poo puppy) was forgotten upstairs in the condo, so he was a stow away in our limo ride downtown to Atlantis Pavilion.

I didn’t expect to cry as much as I did. Maybe that was a bit delusional. Walking down the aisle with Matthew’s best man Mike, hearing the violins play, and seeing my brother standing at the front of the room – I was overwhelmed with happiness for him.

He found the love of his life.

During the ceremony, I had to sneak over to the front row and help one of the flower girls (Flo’s 4-year-old niece) remove a pin that was sticking out in her bouquet. I slowly walked back to my spot, stood next to Flo and placed the pin into my own bouquet. Discrete I know.

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Flo, Toffee & Mike (the best man)

When it came time for our speeches, again I was caught off guard with my emotional outbursts. I had practiced my speech a few times and always managed to save my tears for the end. But not that day. The minute I opened my mouth to speak – I had to simultaneously pull out my handkerchief to cry into. I barely kept it together.

And last, there was a professional photo-booth followed by dancing, the most amazing people (family & friends) and some alcohol.

The memories from that day will be with me the rest of my life. The love you have for your sibling(s) is unlike any other. You truly want the best for them no matter how much you scream and yell at each other along the way. I fight with him because I care about him. That’s the truth. And I expect a lot from him when it comes to his own life choices. We’ve always been this way. I’m just glad that Flo and I are so connected too! Right from the start I had no problem calling her my sister. I love them both very much and truly wish them all the happiness life has to offer.

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With the lights on and everyone gone, the Montreal Canadians joined the party. A tired bride and groom headed to their hotel room. Welcome to the family Mrs. Holmes.

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