22.9.14

niagara falls

Oh, hello. It’s been a while.

For our second wedding anniversary, rather than go out to a nice dinner as we had originally intended, Geoff and I decided to go to Niagara Falls. I love places like Niagara Falls, which to me is such a multi-faceted place: an astonishing natural wonder, tacky, always full of tourists; a bit trashy, with a definite seedy side, as well as a melancholy one (I recently heard that many of the motels are temporary living spaces for people waiting on immigration). Images of Marilyn Monroe perched on the stone fence along the lookout points. Since it’s only an hour and a half away, I spent my childhood visiting whenever relatives or family friends were in town, and I was so fascinated by it and by stories of daredevils going over in barrels. And it really is so beautiful.

Whenever we told our friends we were going to Niagara Falls they would ask, oh you mean Niagara on the Lake? And we would say, no! Niagara Falls! No, no wineries! Haunted houses and wax museums!

It was so corny, and I loved it all. We booked a hotel room with a heart-shaped jacuzzi tub in it, of course, and bought Clifton Hill passes. We ate at a diner shaped like a flying saucer. We went to a movie-themed wax museum and took pictures of their Fatal Attraction diorama, we rode a giant Ferris wheel at dusk, we played glow-in-the-dark Wizard-themed mini putt. We ate ice cream and posed for photos next to a giant Hershey’s Kiss with a face (eyelashes and lipstick even). We walked across the Rainbow Bridge with our passports and into the United States for about an hour, mostly for the novelty of it, and partially to visit the Twist O’ The Mist ice cream shop shaped like a giant ice cream cone and the Niagara Falls State Park. We had a view of Hooters from our hotel room, the hotel lobby had a funny smell and a swimming pool that no one ever used, we snorted at cheesy (sometimes misogynist) t-shirts in souvenir shop windows, we noted that motels don’t advertise heart-shaped jacuzzis anymore (now simply “jacuzzis”: more family-friendly?). We waited in a crowd for a half an hour to watch ten minutes of fireworks (Canada’s longest running fireworks series, you guys!).

We also went to the Butterfly Conservatory and it was so magical. It feels rare to see butterflies fluttering about in the wild these days, which is sad, so it was nice to see them living a pampered life with all the oranges and bananas they could eat. The blue morphos were my favourites.

And then of course we did what we always do, which is take film photos that make it seem as though we were the only people in the world visiting these fairly busy places. I am already planning our next visit.



The one sign for heart-shaped jacuzzis that we saw. I visited with some friends in the late nineties and I remember squealing HEART SHAPED LOVE TUBS YOU GUYS as we drove by a sign advertising them. No one was as amused as I was, strangely. That same visit we went to an alien-themed haunted house, and it was actually so scary and so hilarious. RIP Alien Encounter, which is now (you guessed it) a souvenir t-shirt shop.


We actually didn’t eat any ice cream here, although I am curious about this Perry’s ice cream. This shop only took cards and we didn’t have any cash on us because that’s just what we do.


This one was taken from the American side. Hi, Canada.


The Clifton Hill Fun Pass comes with TWO rides on the Sky Wheel. It was great!




This is the Spanish Aerocar that goes above a part of the river called The Whirlpool. It looks pretty cool but I have a feeling that I would get bored a quarter of the way through. Lots of people taking selfies on it, which is always fun to watch.



It is really difficult to take pictures of butterflies with a manual focus.









26.8.14

mullein & sparrow

After I wrote about my journey to replace my beauty care products with more natural alternatives,  I was contacted by the creator of a line called Mullein & Sparrow, and I jumped at the chance to try out a few of the products. Mullein & Sparrow was founded by Anit Hora, who grew up in Mumbai and who incorporates Ayurvedic principles into the line. This summer my skin has been extra kapha (kaphic?) thanks to some particularly cruel hormonal fluctuations, so I appreciate the idea of bringing balance back to my skin through gentle, natural products.

If you’re interested in trying out some of the products yourself, check out the brand here, and use code fieldguided from now until September 15 for 15% off. I am especially enjoying the beautiful facial steam (it hasn’t been the hottest summer, so its comfortable!), the tinted lip & cheek balm that has a hint of patchouli in it (instantly brought me back to the late ’90s), and the clay mask. Nothing says “self care” like remembering to use a facial mask every week! I love these sorts of rituals.

I also really enjoyed these DIYs Anit shared a little while ago on Refinery 29.





21.8.14

back in stock: light as a feather scarves

Just a quick note to say that (in addition to our classic Thunder tote in magenta!) we have two of our different Light as a Feather silk scarves in stock: the Meteor and the Mountain.



Limited quantities available!

13.8.14

the westmount greenhouse

As I mentioned in my Montreal post, our visit to the Westmount Greenhouse was one of the highlights of our trip. It’s a small conservatory next to a library and a park in Westmount, not too far from Leonard Cohen’s childhood home (this is how I always think of Westmount). We went on a rainy day, which made for extra peaceful vibes, and Geoff and I were the only people in there for most of the hour or so that we were there. We took a bus along Sherbrooke to get there; it didn’t take too long and it was a nice way to see parts of the city. If you ever find yourself in Montreal, I highly recommend a visit.

Geoff & I took these pictures with a Pentax film camera on long-term loan from a friend (thanks, Laurie).
















28.7.14

etsy road trip

My friends at Etsy Canada are going on a road trip in a custom 30-foot Airstream trailer, and they would love to see you as they make stops in Montreal, Ottawa, Kingston, and Toronto.

From August 1 to 9, you’ll have the chance to meet local Etsy sellers, shop their unique items, enjoy live music, and eat good food. Share your road trip memory and/or vacation photos on Instagram or Twitter using the tag #etsyroadtrip for a chance to be highlighted on Etsy.com and/or Etsy's social channels. More details here.

Every summer I daydream about a road trip of my own, and I took the opportunity to do a little road trip essentials window shopping. One of these days, Houston! One of these days.

In addition to things such as a first aid kit, water bottle, snacks galore, days worth of fun music, and some form of GPS, I would pack this!



Vintage hat / deadstock sunglasses / geometric wool pillow / rose quartz point: a good gemstone to keep in your car for energy calming, if you believe in that sort of thing!

24.7.14

montreal!


A couple of weekends ago Geoff and I took a short trip to Montreal, and since we got so many great tips on where to go, I thought I would pass them along! I am in no way a Montreal expert but the Toronto-Montreal corridor is one that is well travelled among my group of friends. It’s silly, really: Montreal isn’t too far away (about a six hour drive or about four and a half hours on the train, or a quick one hour flight), and it’s such a fun place to visit, but Geoff & I hadn’t been since 2006. After spending time with Montrealers in Kingston, we decided that we needed to fix that. We took the train and stayed in an AirBnB apartment on Boulevard St-Laurent in the heart of the Plateau neighbourhood (we had a perfect view of the cross at the top of Mont Royal from our front window).

When I was growing up, Montreal was thought of as a permissive party city because one could legally drink at 18, rather than 19. It definitely has a relaxed joie de vivre, and its citizens take great pleasure in food and wine and coffee. There is a festival happening every weekend in summer, and with tree-covered Mount Royal in the centre of the city and rivers all around, it feels as though nature isn’t too far away. Old Montreal, by the Basilica of Notre-Dame, is beautiful and historic, and having spent so many years in French immersion programs at school, I find it a treat to be surrounded by French speakers (although if you want to visit and don’t speak French, it’s no problem; nearly everyone speaks English, which is good because my French has definitely gotten rusty). It has Europe in its heart still, I think. And like anyone raised on a diet of CanLit I couldn’t help thinking of writers such as Mordechai Richler, Gabrielle Roy, Mavis Gallant, and Leonard Cohen of course, particularly while walking along St-Urbain.

We bought three day unlimited Métro passes; getting around via bus and subway was very easy, particularly since we didn’t have to worry about incurring data charges as we do when we leave the country. Google Maps and the Moovit app on our phones came in very handy.

A couple of other places worth checking for tips: our friend Ali has two great Instagram accounts that we cribbed from: his personal account, and mtlcafecrawl; another friend, Francis, has a wonderful personal account as well. Tamera has a Pinterest board for Montreal that is also useful and pretty, and Mina does as well.





Three photos above taken at Ibiki; Les Etoffes on the left and Ikibi on the right

Shopping
We didn’t do much shopping, but there were a couple of shops on St-Laurent that we really liked: Ibiki, Les Etoffes, and Boutique Unicorn. All quite minimal in design and beautifully styled. We also enjoyed a visit to Librarie Drawn and Quarterly, the storefront of the publisher, and loved having the grocery store La Vieille Europe a few blocks away from where we were staying (the most beautiful tins of olive oil I have ever seen & a huge array of cheeses). The Mile End neighbourhood (sorry, the article in that link has an annoying title) is full of vintage shops, record shops, and is good for a stroll.

Places to visit (these are all fairly major, obvious points)
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts: The permanent collection is wonderful!
Canadian Centre for Architecture: Hosts different exhibitions, and houses a significant archive. Free on Thursday nights.
The Westmount Conservatory and Greenhouse: A highlight from this trip, but I’ll save it for its own post.
Old Montreal/Vieux-Montreal: We walked through and didn’t make many stops, but this area has a number of specialized museums, squares, the Old Port, as well as lots of tourist shops and restaurants that are probably overpriced. Much of it is closed to traffic and is it is all very pretty. Also, we didn’t visit any spas, but both Scandinave and Bota Bota came highly recommended and they are both in this area.
Jean-Talon Market: We wanted to buy all the produce! We settled for ice pops and candy (that I hope I will one day find again because it was so delicious).
Parc du Mont-Royal: Climb to the top, past the people doing crossfit exercises on the stairs making you feel very lazy and embarrassed of being so breathless, and enjoy stunning views of the city (see picture at the top of this post). On Sundays all the hills at the base are covered in people having picnics (and Tam Tams) but it rained the Sunday we were there, and was the World Cup final besides! Ghost town.

Places to visit that came highly recommended but that we didn’t make it to: Espace pour la vie (in particular the Biodome); the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal (we went in 2006? If that counts for anything); Habitat 67 and the Parc Olympique (also visited in 2006); Casa del Popolo, which I have seen listed on tour calendars since I started looking at tour dates; the Oratory, which is apparently quite a sight during golden hour. We also missed out on any smaller art galleries and film centres and the like, but if you know of any, be sure to let me know for next time!

Food, coffee, cocktails
In 2006 we didn’t do much research and ended up eating in mediocre places and even an Indian restaurant that has a location here in Toronto. It was a shame because Montreal is such a great city for food. This time things went very differently, luckily! Most of the places we ate are mid-range in price. We didn’t splash out on any one meal but we didn’t feel we needed to.

Dépanneur Le Pick-Up
This place isn’t fancy but it’s a local favourite. We had sandwiches here because we weren’t that hungry and didn’t want to spend too much money on dinner that night. A little greasy but really hit the spot. I had the Vendantanator (eggplant, mozzarella, roasted red peppers) and Geoff had grilled halloumi.


Arts Café
Lovely breakfast.

Kitsuné Espresso
Cute spot, great coffee.


Arts Café


Kitsuné exterior; our breakfasts at Arts Café


Café Parvis
This ended up being one of my favourite places! We went at an awkward hour after spending the afternoon at the museum, so they weren't quite set up for dinner. We shared a pizza and a salad and enjoyed the relaxed vibe while sitting in the huge window in the front. Café Parvis is covered in plants, and was once a fur warehouse, I believe, and the walls have a wonderful patina. I know, who cares about the walls, right? But very photogenic. They also have an outdoor seating area set up on the sidewalk that is really cute.






Rotisserie Romanos
Once again, on Friday evening we weren’t very hungry and didn’t feel like doing much for dinner, so we stopped for take-out at this place that is popular with locals. We were staying in a part of Montreal that was filled with Portuguese restaurants, and we noticed that the barbeque chicken joints smelled more like the ones in Lisbon than the ones in Toronto do. Just a smokier smell in the air, hard to explain. We decided to do a taste test—well, Geoff did, since I haven’t eaten chicken in years. I had fries and salad and while it wasn’t the healthiest dinner, it was all I wanted that night. By all accounts the chicken was delicious! And we got a ton of food & Sumol for about $15 total.

Lawrence
This place came highly recommended and it was delightful. Very British slant (I had kedgeree). We had anticipated a long wait but it wasn’t so bad. My mouth is watering as I revisit the menu. Our friend Ali posted our breakfasts on Instagram here.


Lawrence

Café Sardine
We stopped in at Café Sardine before breakfast at Lawrence and had some of their homemade beignets. It turns into an izakaya place in the evening.

Pizzeria Napoletana
Old school pizzeria that has been around for a long time. We had dinner with friends who brought in their own wine, which felt very festive.

KemCoba
Seems to me that Montreal isn’t as much of an ice cream town as Toronto is, but we had to try the rose/raspberry/lychee soft serve here. It was definitely worth waiting in line for half an hour!

La Buvette chez Simone
We went here for afternoon patio drinks with friends, and it was lovely. Really good nibbles as well.

The Sparrow
Another really great breakfast. Apparently they have amazing cocktails as well.

Other coffee shops: Café OdessaPikolo Espresso BarCafé Olympico, Caffè Italia. Geoff got into the habit of ordering un café allongé, rather than an Americano.


Buvette chez Simone

Places we didn’t try, but that are on the list for next time:
Dinette Triple Crown: I was so sad that this one didn’t work out for us (the timing was bad) because it seems so fun: they pack you a basket and you take it for a picnic in the park. You can drink alcohol in public if you are having a picnic. Their speciality seems to be fried chicken but they also have mac & cheese and some vegetarian sides.
Joe Beef: Lots of meat and an oyster bar too.
Au Pied du Cochon: Another famous meat-heavy place.
Aux Vivres: Alternately, healthy vegan food!
Maison Publique: One of the most highly recommended places, but we just never made it.
Griffintown Café
Big in Japan: For ramen, and for drinking.
Cardinal Tea Room: This beautiful spot is above The Sparrow. We wanted to stay for some tea but we were so full from breakfast we couldn’t do it!
Hotel Herman: If you want to get fancy.
Damas: Syrian food.
Poutineville and Patatis Patata: Apparently the best poutine! We never had any.
ChuChai: Buddhist vegetarian.
Glacier Bilboquet: Ice cream.
Le Sainte-Élisabeth: I have admired the patio via Instagram quite often!
Juliette et Chocolate: Chocolate bar! There were a few locations but we never made it in.
Khyber Pass: Afghani, bring your own wine available.
Clube Espagnol du Quebec: Spanish food, tapas.
Kazu: Japanese fusion.


Le Place d’Armes hotel in Old Montreal (I would love to stay there one day); the Canadian Centre for Architecture



Pikolo Espresso Bar


Jean-Talon market


Little Italy


Bagels! I love a Montreal bagel so much! Dense and sweet and so delicious.


Solair chairs at the Museum of Fine Arts



Old Montreal


Square St-Louis



The restaurant on the right is Korean; I dont know much about it but I loved the sign.

Thank you, Montreal! And thanks to our friends who kindly helped us with recommendations.