Thursday, 25 October 2012

Taro, Muscles and checking out a little bit of Toronto history

On Saturday Aunty Tree and I wandered into Toronto CBD and meandered around for a bit. We hit Chinatown but then I got hungry and when I get hungry I get grumpy - Ida will attest to this so we found a little restaurant and had some lunch.

Toronto does great food , and cheap. For $13 I got a meal that I would pay about $30 for in NZ, goats feta stuffed chicken breast with greens and mash. It was so good and I show you a picture of it but I ate it too quickly.

I'm keen to try Jamaican which I hear is amazing - but I'm holding off on this until Jazz comes back up from college.He was supposed to be here this weekend but Cornell just organises non stop exams and tests for them so he is studying for one of those. Although bless him, he thinks this is the time in his life where he will be the most stressed. 

I hope to head down to Cornell, Ithaca to have a look around. Ithaca is meant to be absolutely lovely, of course its best to head down when the school has nothing on so that we can wander around, and Jarred can show us The Big Red (nickname for Cornell). I am definitely hitting the school shop and getting some hats and t-shirts, etc so proud of my cousin for making it through - any uni education is tough but at an Ivy League college - with the competitiveness, well I can only imagine how hard it can be. Plus, I've already stolen hoodies off him.

Anyway, we wandered around for a bit - there are some lovely old nooks of Toronto, as you can see in the picture below there are areas where they indicate whether a house is historic, and the cool thing is they note down the year , the inhabitant and their trade so you can really get a feel for the fact that history is a part of this city as it grows today.

In Chinatown, the street names are also written in Chinese.I would be interested to see if that started happening in Auckland. I imagine the Chinatown in Toronto has been settled for much much longer though. I have been told that there are literally very poor immigrants who sleep on mattresses and work in the sewing rooms - you know - like in an action movie when the good guys are chasing the bad guys and they always run through a Chinese restaurant and then out into an alley way and then back in through a room where about 10 old Chinese ladies are sewing.

I digress, we also went to visit Campbell House. We arrived just as a tour was starting. About five minutes in and I was ready to be rather rude to the know-it-all gentleman who was with us. The poor girl taking the tour was obviously new and clearly nervous and he was asking her all sorts of jerky questions that he already knew the answer to just to try and show off. Then he decided he was too good for the tour and walked out the front door - didn't even tell his (clearly patient and perhaps a sucker for punishment) wife that he was leaving and she only just noticed and followed him out only to walk back in to apologise and say they were leaving the tour.

Aunty and I being incredibly profound just said to the tour girl "you're lucky he has gone what a wanker" and proceeded to have a lovely tour.


I imagined myself in a beautiful ballgown gracefully descending down the stairs.
My aunty likes to sit in windows. I think its genetic.


This was the bath/shower. I do NOT think so.

Loving the four poster bed - unfortunately I suspect the mattress would leave a lot to be desired. Definitely not firm
Portable wash stand akin to what gentleman used to take on military tours. the basin  hole goes into the top drawer which is in effect the basin and is made of lead. Thinking this wasn't too great for the whole health benefits thign.

Fact: Rats love candles, especially olden days candles made from fat. Apparently they also like modern candles so beware. This made me remember the time that my father hid my Easter egg in the basement downstairs and rats gnawed one side of it - but he didn't notice and gave me the egg and as I turned it around I realised it had been eaten by rats and I burst into tears because there was no spare Easter eggs.  In hindsight it could be this fatty cakes behaviour that has landed me in the gym each day trying to slog it out.
The ballroom - apparently they were setting up for the evening for an event of "Jane Austen " dancing. I would attend if I thought Colin Firth would be there.

Now, my Aunt lost her lovely little doggie Chloe a couple of years back and to be honest, if you're a doggy person you simply can't live without dogs in your life, but it can be heartbreaking to think about a new dog because they really are your children.

Anyway, Aunty has a neighbour from Indonesia - Desi , who works from about 11.30 am until midnight and her flatmate doesn't get home until late evening so the dog they have, Taro, who is a daschund is basically left alone in the condo all day and has been getting bored and up to mischief.

Enter Aunty who is now dog sitting. AND loving it. Taro is so sweet and loves Uncle and Aunty - sort of puts up with me, I think I'm a bit too boisterous and is cute cute cute. Taro is a boy.

Taro jumps up behind Aunty when she is in the car and so Aunty squishes him

Now in the essence of all new dogs the below dog is my landlord's brother's dog. His name is Muscles. Yes Muscles. It makes me laugh each time I see him he is the most skittesh dog I have met!!

There are squirrels everywhere over here. I have a squirrel who lives in the tree outside my bedroom window. I refer to him as Ninja Squirrel because I see him but for the life of me everytime I go to take a photo he disappears. One morning I looked out and he was spread eagled up the side of the maple tree. Just chilling, like a ninja does. I had to take the photos below as I can't get one of Ninja Squirrel.

Actually on my way home last night I saw a squirrel that had been hit by a car just outside our house. I was very sad and thought maybe it was Ninja Squirrel. But no, I heard NS this morning so in my head he is still alive, even though I can't tell one squirrel from the other.

Finally, just have to mention the fact that all of that water below only cost me $2. I love drinking bottled water - especially as my stomach has a real problem with most tap water overseas (in NZ I can drink tap water no drama) so I am so stoked that it is so cheap here. I always remember in TV shows like Will and Grace they always have chilled bottles of water- so easy. Actually I drink more water now that they are in bottles and I can monitor how much they are. I used to think that the American water I got at Martha's backyard was a good deal 24 bottles for $24 but HECK $2 for 24 can't be beat!

Monday, 22 October 2012

Wiarton Willie and Owen Sound

I was absolutely stoked to be able to go and visit my friend Jess in Wiarton last week. Wiarton is a town with a population of about 2000 people so very small.

Jess on the main street in town. You can stand at the top of the road and see the end of the road which is the end of the town.

I went via Greyhound Bus - my aunt was sure that I'd be knifed - apparently Greyhounds can be a bit dodgy?? But clearly I made it out alive. The bus was actually quite comfortable and I didn't have to sit next to anyone which was awesome.

The wheels on the bus go round and round!

awww so beauitful - me - bus- early morning - nowhere NEAR enough coffee
The trip is lovely, the change of seasons here is really spectacular and I think I will miss it alot when I return to Auckland as we don't really see the vivid colours and feel the change soooo much. It was cool as I got closer to Owen Sound to see the ski fields pre-snow. They are so close to the road, unlike in NZ where you have to travel ages up the mountain to get there. I tried to take a photo but I couldn't get the right shot in the bus.

It was awesome to see Jess who I know through my old workplace the Cock and Bull in NZ. We weren't that close in NZ however the day I first met her I kept asking her about Canada (a few wines down I totally didn't get the point that she hadn't lived there since she was like 6) and said that if we were ever in Canada at the same time we would catch up - and so we did.

Jess and I and our friend WINE

She works in this motel that we swear should go on Ramsey's Hotel Hell or something, honestly, and its not just so we could both meet Gordon Ramsey and swoon madly over him.

She has actually signed them up for it - which is hilarious. Jess reckons I could go and work as a waitress during the filming (if they got chosen) but then Ramsey would yell at me, because to be fair, I'm a totally crappy waitress. I would much rather be one of those patrons that he comes to talk to about improvements and decor.

yes this is the entrance way to the restaurant
We had a big night the first night - ended up at the Legion which is the Canadian version of the RSA and sang karaoke. True to form we sounded horrendous I'm surprised they didn't turn the microphones off - what is it with having a few wines and thinking you can sing. You can't. No one can. I don't care if you are a brilliant singer - drunken singing is never good. Ok maybe a professional singer because to be fair...yeah...


It is also very famous in Canada for Wiarton Willie - who is a groundhog. Imagine Groundhog Day the movie but in reality!

Here's the Wikipedia downlow:

Wiarton Willie is a Canadian groundhog who lived in the community of Wiarton in Bruce County, Ontario. Every February 2, on Groundhog Day, Willie took part in the local Wiarton Willie Festival. His role is to predict whether there will be an early spring. Although the original Wiarton Willie died, the Wiarton Groundhog Day celebrations continue each year with successors of the original Willie, also referred to as "Wiarton Willie."

Groundhog Day, featuring Wiarton Willie, is a popular annual festival in Wiarton and is similar to events in other locations in North America. A midwinter celebration involving an animal with predictive powers was an element of Celtic culture. The link between weather prediction and the day is said to have been inspired by an old Scottish couplet: "If Candlemas Day is bright and clear/ There'll be two winters in the year."

We also spent a bit of time in Owen Sound. I'm hoping to head back there for the Festival of Northern Lights -

Got to see the Rail museum and their one mall.

A tug - but not like one that I am used to, our POAL tugs would eat this one for brekkie - well maybe not the Busby

This is the other object in the museum
I was tired from our big night and being the good Kiwi that I am found the first available spot to lie down on. I tried to get Jess to roll me around in this but apparently it was too much effort. Hmmph. (The time stamp on my picture is not correct FYI I think I still have it on Swedish time).

When we went to the mall it wasn't open as yet and I thought oh yeah I'll lie down on a bench. Apparently you can get arrested for this in Canada.

OOOO but I got to see an Amish person/Mennonite. Now I can't tell which is which by sight alone. Technically the Amish should be more cut off , well stricter, than the Mennonites but apparently these ones took a bus into the mall once a week for groceries and I am pretty sure that the Amish only have horses and buggies so I think these were Mennonites - she was dressed in a full old school dress, with a pinnie and a bonnet. I really wanted to take a photo but I couldn't take one subtly so that was the end of that.

But it did peak my interest so I googled a few pages and learnt all about the Mennonites, Amish and Quakers. Very interesting.

It was a good visit but I was so tired and pleased to be back in Toronto in my own room, which is coming along nicely - here are a few pics - it seems like I've lived here for months.

It is weird because if you look one way down my street then its completely suburbia but if you turn around you are looking at high rises and being in the middle of the city.

View one way

Then turn around 180 degrees and you see the high rises

The outside to my house

This is my bedroom - and my cool new IKEA duvet cover
The pattern- yes I know boring girly stuff - the duvet set was only $24.95 - that is with 2 pillow cases as well

My desk and photo display!


Hmm what else is new. Oh I've gone on a wheat free diet. And may I say, wheat is in everything, I don't know when it became such a staple but it is. This is my third day off it now and already I have to say I feel a tonne better - so watch this space on how I feel - I was inspired by the book Wheat Belly.

As you know I've been trying to lose weight for ages - ideally I would like to lose about 12 kgs and I just can't seem to do it.

In 3 days I've already lost .5% body fat which is crazy.

I'm starting to get way colder now and the duvets are piling on the bed at night - I'm holding out as long as I can but I dream of warmth so I'm very jealous of the southern hemisphere at the moment.

Oh, so last night I tried to watch American football. I don't get it. It was quite boring - maybe I need to a/ learn the rules and b/ watch a live game in order to get into it. They were so much gear though - in true Kiwi fashion I think its a bit pansy like. I'm just saying.

Alrighty I am off to the library as I keep chewing through books, and also I need to get my butt to the gym and have a sunbed mmmmmmm - and no - don't bother lecturing me because I don't want to hear it.

Hee hee - will write again soon!

xxx AMP

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Still discovering... and Gobble Gobble gah

I joined a gym because I am getting all fatty depressed but I actually think that has more to do with the weather. Luckily , as I am not a great morning person, I have a crazy aunt who unceremoniously wakes me up in the morning to go walking. I am definitely my father's daughter, I can walk around (well stumble, and occasionally swear) in the dark and then I have to hop into the shower to wake myself up.

I have had three calls from the gym already, saying I am getting a free month and also from my new PT plus an email. It looks like I have entered into a committed relationship without even realising it!

Now what else have I been up to... I really need to note these things down..

Oh right - bought these cute little gifts for Mama Svenska and my darling Princess Ivy - cutest mittens ever (although I know NZ is heading into summer).

Also my Uncle Lox gave me the loveliest orchard as a new housewarming gift which is so sweet of him! My first orchid, and I've wanted one for ages too!

I thought I had a photo of this but apparently I don't - I will put one in when I show you my completed new room in my new place where I am staying.
St Lawrence markets - these were awesome - I picked up a retro telephone that works - and its purty as.

I also bought a cool set of knives that have bone handles. I got these for Dad - he has some butter knife ones at home and he loves them. I think they are the only thing he thinks about when the dishwasher is about to go on. Note - never bought bone in a dishwasher the caustic suds will eat it away.

We are prepping for Thanksgiving so have gone out and bought lovely little harvesty things. Seriously I love decorating but I am a Kiwi and we don't have these weird ass pumpkins and squashes they have here. Although you  must love the warnings that say NOT for consumption. hee hee because fatty cakes will eat the ugly dried up corn things. Sheaves? Husks? Not sure what it is.

People put wreaths up here for fall and decorate their front steps - so cool. I really want to dress up for Halloween and scare the crap out of the neighbourhood kids.

This is my attempt at a Thanksgiving table decoration - it's my first go so be nice. Thanksgiving day was amazing and the food was divine. I went into a complete turkey coma. No seriously I only ate one meal the entire day, yes it was a doozy, I wasn't hungry until the next day around midday and THAT was after an hour walk the day before, an hour and a half gym session with a personal trainer and another hour long work. THAT is how much of an oink oink I was. Seriously though, best food!!!!

It may be Thanksgiving but you can always practise your duck pout BANG BANG

Me and my cuz - sitting down I am at least sort of near his head. Standing up I don't have a chance.                                    

YUMMY food

Three types of pie! Blueberry, Pumpkin Pecan Crunch and Apple! NOM
I've also realised that I stuffed up my aunty's internet account - whoops - I use ALOT of internet - so luckily she has upped her plan hee hee. But there are some really good new shows out and it is getting cold here so it is nice to snuggle down in bed and watch them.

Aunty Tree and I also visited Niagara Falls. It was impressive - and I like the fact that the view from Canada is better than from the USA.

We hopped on the Maid of the Mist and we had these gorgeous blue poncho things on  - as good Antipodeans we tied a knot at the bottom of ours bringing the poncho into heel so to speak. No one else did and as soon as the boat started EVERYONE'S other ones flew up and stayed up. Giggle.

But to be fair on my head I still got drenched - the force of the falls is something else. Apparently Asians keep hopping up over the safety barrier in the search of the perfect picture and one Japanese bird fell right off, went over the falls and died.

Another story is that there was a high speed chase that came of the corner, both the perp and the cop went into the water - the perp died and the cop lived so that worked out ok.

                                                    I just love the random birds here.

                                           Cable car down the hill