Friday Links March 6

 am starting to feel optimistic about the arrival of spring. I wasn't a week ago. I wasn't earlier this week when I was walking through snow in Toronto. As I look at my weather app and see forecasts above freezing for next week, I begin to have hope. Maybe, just maybe, today will be the last day we see -20something Celcius this season. 

"Strong Women Need Help Too," from I'm Not the Nanny. I know a lot of women who have a hard time asking for help, including myself. But if any of us saw a friend struggling, we'd offer help. Sometimes we need to work on being as kind to ourselves as we would be to our friends. 

"Marie Kondo and the Cult of Tidying Up," from WSJ. I'm not sure why I find articles and blog posts about this book so interesting when I haven't read the book and have no immediate plans to read it. 

"How Karen Kain revitalized the National Ballet," from Toronto Life.  I am all kinds of conflicted about this feature. I adore Karen Kain and have since she first appeared on my television via Adrienne Clarkson Presents on CBC. That was my introduction to ballet. But parts of this article make me cringe. Would we say a male ballet director has naked ambition? Would we say a man "resembles a lovely alien"? Sigh. 

"Starve a Landfill," from The New York Times. Our city has a compost program. It is not mandatory (there are certainly people on my street that don't do it) but I really like it. Toronto had one when I lived there as well. Between compost and recycling, we don't generate a lot of actual garbage. But food waste is something we're conscious of. It happens. It happens more than we like. We're working on it. 

"8 Popular Whites for Kitchen Cabinets," from Hatfield Court. We cannot afford a full kitchen renovation anytime soon. (Bathroom is top priority like whoa.) Painting our kitchen cabinets has been on our to do list for ages. Last year we even went out and bought new handles for all of them. (We've put on exactly one, because the original handle broke.) Choosing colours for the cabinets has me a bit stumped right now because after we do that, I know I'm going to want to have someone in to paint the kitchen. And we'll need someone to paint it because the kitchen flows into the hallway, which flows into the rest of the house and we have one wall that beyond our ability to paint. (No ladders on stairs!) Which means I need to decide what colour the rest of the house should be. And then do we paint the living room at that point? And if we're going to do that, I need to depopcorn the ceiling. DECISIONS ARE HARD. 

"Grilled Cheese and Onion Jam," from Leite's Culinaria. I need that onion jam. 

A Weekend in Toronto

Lee and I rarely take trips just to take trips. Most often they are tied to a conference or business meetings. Last year we took two (TWO!) trips that had nothing to do with business and they were so awesome we thought we'd try to keep it up. Business did end up getting tacked on to this trip, which wasn't ideal (hey, we're a work in progress) but we did have a great time during the non-business weekend. 

TRAIN SELFIE!

TRAIN SELFIE!

First, we took the train. Somehow we'd never been on the train together before. We've taken subways, of course, but not passenger trains. I've been trying to convince Lee for awhile now that taking the train to Toronto is awesome and I think I made progress this time. 

Toronto has a lot of great places to eat and often we try to check them out. We didn't do that so much this time. It was COLD and I'm tired of COLD so we pretty much settled for eating wherever was close. This meant a late lunch at the Loose Moose and while our nachos were exactly what we needed, my Lake of Bays Old North Mocha Porter was the winner. 

BEST BEER EVER!

BEST BEER EVER!

We stayed at the Intercontinental Toronto Centre for the first time in about five years. They have the best pillows of any hotel chain we've stayed in. Plus our room had this nifty window seat. I love a window seat. 

WINDOW SEATS ARE AWESOME

WINDOW SEATS ARE AWESOME

A weekend trip to Toronto is not complete without a trip to the St. Lawrence Market and a veal sandwich from Uno Mustachio. (The veal and eggplant is actually their specialty, but neither of us is crazy about eggplant.) We decided that next time we are going to split one so we have room to sample other goodies. 

"YOU CAN'T SEE DOWN WITH THAT THING!"

"YOU CAN'T SEE DOWN WITH THAT THING!"

Then it was off to the Hockey Hall of Fame. I lived in Toronto for just over two years and somehow never made it there. It was pretty quiet for a Saturday morning, but I guess maybe the cold was keeping people home. We marvelled at how much gear, especially helmets and goalie pads, have changed. We had a moment of nostalgia entering the reconstructed Montreal Forum dressing room. (By we I mean me because Lee had never been to the forum.) 

I got a Canadian Heritage Minute stuck in my head. He changed the face of hockey forever. 

I enjoy hockey, but I'm far from a hockey trivia person. That was quickly made evident when I attempted one of the trivia games. *ahem* I still really enjoyed the Hockey Hall of Fame. (Even if Lee did beat me at table hockey. HMPH!) 

By the time we leave the HHoF we were ready for some lunch. Then it was back to the hotel for a swim and some rest before our night at the theatre. 

The theatre was the whole reason for this trip. Last fall I saw an announcement that Dame Angela Lansbury would be doing a run of Noel Coward's Blithe Spirits in Toronto. She won a Tony for her performance in the role of Madame Arcati in 2009. I really, really wanted to see her on stage. 

I know most people remember Lansbury from Murder, She Wrote. Jessica Fletcher is the role that made her a household name. But I have fond memories of her playing Miss Price in Bedknobs and Broomsticks and Elizabeth Taylor's older sister in National Velvet. And then, of course, she was the voice of Mrs. Potts in Disney's Beauty and the Beast. Angela Lansbury was part of my childhood and having the privilege of seeing her perform on stage wasn't something I could turn down. 

She was, unsurprisingly, fabulous. 

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The audience applauded every time she stepped on stage. Her performance was a pleasure to watch, but we really enjoyed the whole cast. Edith, in particular, frequently made Lee laugh. We had to wonder if they felt conflicted about their roles. On one hand, it has be fantastic to work with someone like Angela Lansbury. On the other, she has a supporting role and the play does not work without strong performances from the rest of the cast. I hope they feel appreciated. 

Sunday was originally supposed to be the day we went home but instead we switched hotels so Lee could be closer to his business meetings. The time between check out and check in had us wandering down Yonge Street, where we bumped into one my former Montreal roommate. I'm not sure what it is about Toronto but I randomly bump into people I know there more than any other place.

The rest of the afternoon was just spend wandering and browsing in stores. I showed Lee the super secret way to Whole Foods, which isn't super secret at all. It just involves alleyways that are far fancier than alleyways have any right to be. We had a "quiet" dinner of pizza in our room, which really wasn't quiet at all because we were watching a documentary that made me yell at the television. (Hey, it happens.) 

All in all, a fabulous weekend. And here's hoping our next trip to Toronto will be a lot warmer. 

Meal Plan Monday March 2

We are having a great time in Toronto. We've had a bunch of delicious food. We saw lots of things. We walked. A lot. Now I remember why I never really thought much about exercising when I lived right in cities instead of suburbs. I never had a car when I lived in Toronto or Montreal, which meant I walked everywhere. So. Much. Walking. I like walking, but I've been sitting on my butt all winter and now my feet are ANGRY at me and I have shin splints. It's the curse of the lazy.

Our meal plan is pretty loosey-goosey this week. It's really hard to think about a meal plan when you are sitting in a hotel room. 

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Sunday: Pizza! We're the people who class up the joint in hotels by bringing take-out back to our room. Our room has a mini-fridge so we've filled it with drinks. There's a grocery store next door so we bought croissants for breakfast. Nom. 

Monday: We're meeting a friend for dinner at the Museum Tavern. Mmmmm. 

Tuesday: We're going to grab something on the way home. It might be take-out. Or we might just pop into the grocery store quickly and grab a rotisserie chicken and some sides. 

Wednesday: Sloppy joes. 

Thursday: Baked potato and sloppy joe leftovers. 

Friday: It's a ballet night so dinner needs to be easy. I'm thinking something like these spicy ramen noodles might be a good choice. 

Saturday: Spicy lemon chicken wraps.