Trick or treat your kids with festive fruit

ImageCandy corn sounds like a healthy Halloween snack, but the highly processed ingredients have some scary calories per bite.

Appearance plays a big role in what we choose to consume, so give nature’s candy a complete makeover. Strip the tangerine skin away, and slip a celery stick in the middle.

Remove the banana from its peel, cut them in half, and then have fun making ghostly & ghastly faces with chocolate chips.

As simple a transformation as it is, the festive fruit has much more appeal this way. Plus, peeling the skin makes it readily available and easily accessible.

 

Happy snacking!

Top 5 NYE Extravaganzas

Given the world didn’t end a la Mayan Calendar conundrum, plan a night to remember and ring in 2013 in style; whatever your style is.

nyemask6Masked Avengers

Should auld acquaintance be forgot? In memoriam of Gossip Girl, throw yourself an outrageous Upper East Sider a la scandalous TV series. Or, head to Toronto’s upper east side for some masquerade fun at Yorkville’s Club V. Come for the free mask, stay for the midnight champagne toast (F.Y.I.: FREE masquerade masks for the first 400 people). Completing the Gossip Girl/NYC experience is the live countdown from Manhattan’s Times Square.

Bloor-Hot-Docs-cinema-320x213Bowl the night away

In complete contrast to a girlie Gossip Girl evening, this one’s more guy-centric, and aptly named THE DUDE’S NEW YEAR’S: THE BIG LEBOWSKI. Usher in the new year with a screening of the Coen Bros’ cult classic at Bloor Cinema. A Lebowski-themed party, filled with White Russians, AND bowling await you.

Skyfall_11_hLet the sky fall

Celebrate the 23rd Bond story, and have a Skyfall soiree in honour of the longest-running film franchise in history. Here’s hoping your party is a smashing successful like this film was at the box office this year. The heavily anticipated installment in the bond series drips with luxury, and sets the tone for an evening of extravagance. Tell your agents to come dressed as Bond, James Bond, or one of the many bodacious Bond girls. Naturally, you’ll serve shaken, not stirred vodka martinis while Adele sings in the background.

Side effect: Your get-together will get everyone geared up for TIFF Bell Lightbox’s Designing 007: Fifty Years of Bond Style which debuts in January. It’s only the largest and most comprehensive exhibit dedicated to the British spy.

nye4MackHouseHogmanay!

Mackenzie House (AKA the home turned museum of William Lyon Mackenzie: TO’s first Mayor) is hosting a Hogmanay! You know, the Scottish word for the last day of the year, and the celebration of the new year? It’s perfect seeing as Scotsman Robert Burns’ Auld Lang Syne is synonymous with NYE. Traditional Scottish music, food and festivities are yours to enjoy by candlelight.

P.S.: Pre-registration is required.

cake5Cake, Cake, Cake, Cake

Have your cake and drink it too. With a wide selection of sweet (& cheap) drinks to choose from, it doesn’t have to be your birthday to take advantage of these deals. Cake has some calorie-rich group rates that should not be over-looked, including mixers, party favours, cake platters, and much more!

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http://torontocitygossip.com/top-5-nye-extravaganzas/

 

Top 5 Holiday Gift Ideas

While this time of year brings together those near & dear, it also brings anxiety. TCG has an easy, and relatively wallet friendly way for you to survive the holidays.

top5giftgiftcard-300x300Certifiable Fun

Gift cards contain all the enjoyment of money, but are a little more personalized, and can be tailored to the person’s interests.

top5giftCoupons-228x300Coupon Queen

Give your sister a babysitting coupon, so her and her partner can have a night out to themselves. A massage coupon for that special someone generally goes over well too.

top5giftDIY-200x300DIY

Put your creative skills to the test and make something. With the help of Pinterest the possibilities are endless! Is your friend always raving about your peanut butter cookie recipe? Measure out all the dry ingredients into a jar, add some ribbon, and voila!

top5giftAFA-300x134Accessorize For Awareness

Well, it’s all right there in the title: raise awareness by accessorizing and #EndPanCan! The best part about this gift idea is that for a measly $5 you are making a world of a difference. All proceeds go to pancreatic cancer research, a.k.a. the underdog of cancers.

top5giftticket-300x200The Golden Ticket

Send your beloved to a play, musical, or comedy skow courtesy of you! Or, a museum *couch cough Frida Kahlo exhibit at the AGO cough*. Sign them up for a class: tap, belly, yoga, cooking– you name it! Wherever their interests lie, there’s bound to be a course around town.

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http://torontocitygossip.com/top-5-holiday-gift-ideas/

Post-Banff Post

It shames me to think how I let a summer go by without a single post.  I got to thinking why it is that I don’t keep a diary or journal. When would I go back and read it, anyway? I was there, I know what happened. Does documenting each day take away from living in the moment? The memories will live on. If I don’t remember them, were they that significant? That’s probably not true; there’s only so much space on the memory drive of the mind. Would I be living in the past as opposed to the present? It’s something I struggle to balance to begin with. I’m constantly thinking of what’s to come. (I bought the Dalai Lama’s Little Book of Inner Peace last week– should make for enjoyable bathroom briefings. The inner flap states it’s “The only Dalai Lama book you’ll ever need”. I sure can pick ’em.)

Next, I began to ponder about time whilst sitting on the shuttle bus from Banff to Calgary (magnificent views all around). Quality. Quantity. It’s a very fleeting thing. How much do we have of it? I started to think in terms of measurement. A New York minute. I then wondered what quantifable measure I could attach to that gem in the Rockies: Banff. At times a day would seem like a week. Then, the next thing you know, you’re  listening to Adele’s Someone Like You and reverting to an Elbow Drop any WWE fan would be proud of to try and close the suitcase that somehow fit everything on the way over and wondering how 3 months has escaped you. Truth is, it didn’t escape me. I was mostly uninebriated for its entirety. It’s always intriguing how time flies when you’re having fun. And, that’s what my summer was. Fun. Meeting and working with extraordinary people within the audio industry. 

I had no idea what I was in for before going to Banff, or even after writing that prelimenary post back in May. The friends, connections and memories made make it, quite possibly, the best summer I’ve had. I had no idea such a thing existed or was even possible. The Banff Centre’s motto is “Inspiring Creativity”. And, it is something it lives up to 100%. (Show of hands; who had heard of The Banff Centre prior to this?) It’s Canada’s best kept secret. And, it shouldn’t be so. Individuals from all over travel to this epicentre of the art world where culture and creativity converge. More people should know about it. More people should go to it.

This crash course in audio sharpened my skills and I had the liberty to try things. I learnt about stuff I otherwise wouldn’t (mics, technique, style, equipment, software, etc.), whether a personal project or having to write an intro for Mozart’s clarinet quintet. That’s the other thing; I got to encounter music and art forms I don’t normally frequent. Subsequently resulting in an appreciation for classical music. I’ve heard the notes from my brother, Jamie’s baby grand piano trickle up from his room to mine for years and years, but never simply sat and just listened for hours, uninterupted. Let alone then explain it to an iTunesU audience. I never sat in a club and listened to jazz. Or, aboriginal music? Nope. It was great to be exposed to all of it.

I really can’t think of a bad time I had in Banff. Even if I was frustrated and it seemed I wouldn’t accomplish what I needed to when I needed to. I’m thankful for those moments, however, because it’s then that a shift occurs. You have a choice. Pout or power through. It’s how we handle the things that go wrong, not the things that go right that matter.

A few summer highlights:

-Friends with Friends. (Thanks, Banff World Media Festival.)

-Canada Day celebrations. (Free pancake breakfast, fireworks, Dancing Sasquatch, jumping into the Bow Valley river, also jumping into Lake Louise.)

-B.C. Visiting a dear friend on the Beautiful Coast.

-Livestreams. Co-hosting webcasts of concerts at The Banff Centre with the great Eric Friesen.

-Ren Klyce. The first interview I conducted, my first week, was the multiple Oscar nominated sound designer. Cool interview. Cooler interviewee.

-Faculty. Meeting and working with sought after professionals was rewarding and still leaves me in awe.

-Calgary Stampede: The rodeo was a tad barbaraic, but the deep fried Pop-Tarts and pizza on-a-stick hit the spot.

-Amour in Banff. Experiencing the sites with Mike, my boyfriend. (Some, more note-worthy than others. The discovery that the Hot Spring is nothing but a tiny pool was disappointing. Nothing like the smell of chlorine to wash away my vision of being submerged within a babbling brook filled with revitalizing H2O.

. . .

I don’t know what lies ahead for now. Your guess is as good as mine. I am back in Toronto, exactly where I was 3 months ago, except I don’t have something lined up, as I did when arriving here. In a moment of panic, Mike told me how boring life would be if at twenty-three I had it all figured out. It really struck me. Maybe we never figure it out. Maybe, the trick is trying not to.

In essence, these little posts of mine are like my journal. Only, I invite you to read them (again, and again). Hopefully, I won’t want to destroy them in a few years, as I did after reading my middle school diary.

A Shiksa’s Seder

Whilst Monday marked the first night of Passover, it also marked my first Passover experience.

What prompted the impromptu commemoration of this Jewish holiday for yours truly? It dates back some three years. A dear friend of mine suggested I attend his family’s celebration which reflects on how their ancestors were freed from slavery in Egypt. The actual attending did not materialize until this evening past.

How does a born and bred Catholic prepare for such an event? Naturally, my first inclination was to re-watch “Seder Anything” from season 2 of Gossip Girl. The teen drama quite adequately depicted what I was in for– from the praying, spilling of wine, bitter herbs, to the cup of Elijah.

I was rather nervous at the outset wondering whether this goy (a non-Jew) would embarrass herself. I must say, I was welcomed with open arms and thrust into stories that deeply intertwined with ones from my own upbringing.

As members of the Biblical faiths, our beginnings differ ever so slightly. Judaism’s Old Testament makes up a sizable component of Christianity’s Holy Bible; which merges the Old Testament with the New Testament. Therefore, much of what was said was not new to me. It was, however, said in Hebrew, but the English translation was graciously provided in the Haggadah (which means “telling” in Hebrew). The Haggadah is the text that sets forth the order of the Passover Seder.

My friend felt the need to forewarn me of what was to transpire at this intimate family gathering. For example, singing and eating of unleavened bread, also known as matzoh. To be honest, I felt right at home. The only moral dilemma I encountered was not a crisis of the faiths, but rather a violation of my own personal commandment: Thou shalt not eat complex carbohydrates after lunchtime. As I sat around the table I marvelled at what went on, (and joined in, thanks to the phonetically spelled Hebrew passages at the end of the Haggadah).

Sunday, Christians everywhere will celebrate Easter by honouring the resurrection of Christ. Many Christians attend mass on Easter eve or morning. To my discredit, I have failed to attend mass on many an occasion. None the less, what was most striking about my jaunt with Judaism is the utter lack of narrative present during our Easter feast. We do not recount stories from times gone by or recite passages from the Bible. Mostly, we just eat, continue to eat and perhaps share some of our chocolate.

On Passover we ask “Why is this night different from all other nights?” For Christians, or rather my family in particular on Easter, there isn’t a great deal of difference from any other night. It is simply a time for my extended family to come together, bask in each other’s presence and my grandmother’s righteous cooking. In my opinion, it is as good a reason as any.