Friday, December 28, 2012


Samsara Poster

I won't begin to try and describe this film - an incredible documentary covering everything from Buddhist monasteries and the pilgrimage to Mecca to sex dolls to sand dunes to food factories to African tribes and lots of gorgeous cinematography with a haunting soundtrack. It made for an interesting afternoon viewing that's for sure and for cause to reflect on how privileged or over-privilieged we are in this part of the world. The Sanskrit word means "the ever changing wheel of life" and so it the tarot card, the Wheel of Fortune can be at the top or bottom.

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In a weird way it had me check out "Samsara" perfume again at Shoppers Drug Mart..a weird non sequitur I know...I also have this strange dream or fantasy or walking through those beautiful windswept sand dunes - "Tea in the Sahara" anyone?

From the sublime to the very ridiculous as in ridiculously funny I went to the Second City Christmas show on Boxing Day - kudos to the cast for a fast paced and hilarious show. The sketch about the young Christmas tree being harvested - as a horror film reference while the clueless family sung "O Christmas Tree" was great. No worries - her "dad" got his revenge later in the show. Oops..did I spoil it? The battling snow shovellers a la Matrix was also great. I can't really separate out any cast member since it was a great ensemble effort as it  should be - witness the numerous re-tellings of "Twas the Night Before Christmas" - or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa. Of course our secret fear is always being chosen from the audience as a "volunteer" ..whew, escaped that!

As New Year's Eve approaches we have plans to dine at Fressen. The venerable high end veg spot on Queen is closing for a few months for a drastic re-vamp - can't wait to see what Mr. Gardiner was in store for us.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Cleaning house

I decided to get rid of a few things today, on the advice of my friend Richard and feeling that purging myself of old items makes way for new and better things.

A few of the items I purged were old journals and yes, I know you should hold onto those for posterity - for when you become a celebrity...:)  However, these many journals chronicled a time in my life a few years ago when I was unhealthily obsessed with someone - is an obsession every really healthy? I agonized over their every word and action, feeling like a teenager...I consulted friends and advisors and psychics to give me insight into his very soul. Would that I had paid attention to a couple of friends who had his number from the get go..a self absorbed individual who liked the ego strokes my attention provided. Lesson learned and therefore why I chose to clear the area of those painful writings. Yes, I do feel better ,lighter, wiser, wealthier.

I also cleared out some cookbooks I hadn't used in a while. I read some de-cluttering advice which I found very helpful, in essence, ask yourself "Do I Love It? Do I Need It? Do I Use It?" Wise words.

I had a couple of very fun experiences as of my last writing. Last night I went to hear Mboya Nicholson, a wonderful pianist from Edmonton, who studied with Ellis Marsalis at a cozy room in St. Paul's Church on Bloor. This was presented by Keita Hopkinson who operates Toronto Jazz Buzz - contact him - you can Google if you would like this salon experience in your own home. We were treated to Duke Ellington, Eubie Blake and Mboya's own composition in the hour long concert. Cozy.

I also attended a book reading by my yoga teacher Luba Lechyshyn - "Theft by Chocolate" at Choco Sol Traders. I got a chocolate high as I'm sure many others did - lots of samples of their delicious chocolate, raw and roasted cacao beans (loved those), hot chocolate and delicious readings by Luba. We had a great turnout and learned about chocolate. Luba's book - a mystery but without the murder of course deals with that intoxicating substance - her heroine is a bit of an addict and takes place at a museum which strongly resembles the ROM - Luba used to work there.

Tomorrow night is an RBC event in honour of "Jazzology" and their sponsorship of our show - there will be music of course from a few of our guests..I'll let you know how that turns out....

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Un petit peu de Paris en Toronto

Le Neuf outdoor
Checked out this charming cafe this morning - so lovely. It's tucked away at 9 Clarence Square overlooking the park a block east of Spadina and south of King. The staff are wonderful, warm  and efficient and I practiced a bit of French - un cafe au lait avec soya.

There are all manner of gorgeous looking pastries, daily soup and salads specials, quiches, sandwiches and sur le weekend - crepes et galettes. Formidable!

As you will note from the photo they even have a cozy patio for the warmer weather and gazing across at the park one can almost imagine being in Paris (if you block out the construction cranes and tall buildings). I love how the French serve coffee with a little square of civilized. It's alway fun finding new independent cafes which have their own personality and bien sur le style!

Which is an appropriate segue - knowing just the right touch in decor and food can also extend to musical arrangments - in most cases less is more.

Last night we attended a concert called "Tapestries" highlighting the music of James Taylor and Carole King. After the bombastic first 3 numbers I was toying at leaving when intermission came around. There is such a thing as being too clever for one's one good - to the detriment of such fine music...luckily the show was salvaged by the appearance of Arlene Duncan and a great rendition of "Where You Lead" followed by Kelly Holiff and "SteamRoller" and a sublime "You Can Close Your Eyes" with Jake Epstein and Amanda Le Blanc. Jake Epstein did a lovely version (accompanying himself on guitar) on "Something in the Way She Move" in the second half and Arlene Duncan et al on the uplifting "Shower The People". "So Far Away" was poignant and perfect courtesy of Amanda LeBlanc. Jarring tunes? "Fire and Rain", "Your Smiling Face" and "I Feel the Earth Move" ...too bad. It was my husband's birthday last night so it was a mixed bag. I was much more impressed with the "Tapestry" tribute we saw at the Cabaret series at the Young Centre a couple of years back, which featured Jackie Richardson ("Way Over Yonder" - incredible), Don Francks and a stellar cast.

Keep it simple when you're dealing with great music - that's a great part of the appeal of those two performers - just great melodies, lyrics and a warm hug.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


I went to a delicious and educational event last night about one of the most treasured edibles on earth - chocolate. "Semisweet" is a documentary that was screened last night at the Revue on Roncesvalles - the audience also got to sample some of the goods prior to the screening thanks to Chocolateria - a wonderful neighbourhood chocolate shop. On hand were samples from Tanzania, Columbia, some fair trade etc. etc.

The story line of the film itself is interesting or rather I should say the four storyline lines - an employee of the Hershey Hotel in Hershey Pennsylvania - the town that chocolate built, a French chocolatier Patrick Roger who not only sculpts using that treat (in between speeding through the streets of Paris) but has an eco conscience Nadine Artemis and Ron Obadia - our own fine raw chocolate purveyors and most importantly the stories of the children tempted or coerced into being labour on cocoa plantations - travelling to the Cote d'Ivoire from neighbouring Mali and Burkina Fasso - enduring terrible working conditions such as being exposed to chemicals, worked up to 16 hours a day and earning very little pay.

A representative from Plan Canada says sadly the situation hasn't really changed much in the 10 years she has been aware. The director himself Michael Allcock said at the Q and A perhaps aside from encouraging the manufacturers to use Fair Trade, non child labour cocoa we need to address workplace health and safety  issues - proper working conditions, a school, protection, health care, decent wages.

I am looking on the side of optimism for this one - I watched Oprah's Lifeclass yesterday - I had taped the second part of her session with Joel Osteen - I'm looking forward to reading his book "I Declare"..he seems so upbeat and radiant - he is me thinking again of what my dreams are..

I have been trying to get back on a healthy track - aside from the yummy chocolate sampling and am thinking of cutting back on wheat and doing more raw....I'll let you know how that goes. I have Ani Phyo's Fat Blast book, that would be a good kickstart - so hard to do raw here in winter when all those comfort foods are calling your name - mainly carbs...

I'm still doing my Deepak 21 Day Meditation and that has been going really well as well as being more conscious and in the moment.

I just finished a great book called "City of Women" which takes place in Berlin in World War II...the central character Sigrid, is married leading a boring life with a dull office job and domineering mother in law and has an affair with a Jew - a bit of a mysterious character hiding in the shadows.  Before she knows it her hum drum life is about to get a little more interesting - she is recruited by an au pair who lives in her building to hide and rescue Jews - let the intrigue and suspense begin. How will she hide her activities from the ardent Nazis in her building not to mention her husband and mother in law? A time when danger lurks around every corner....

City of Women

Friday, November 16, 2012

A little wilted...

I know this is not a great image for my blog - but I thought I would stretch the flower analogy just a bit.

I have been feeling a little down this week, don't know if it's the fall and SAD season - often to me Autumn feels more like the New Year than January, a time of new beginnings or reflecting on the past. For me this week it was feeling that life has been passing me by - I will hear an old song from the 70's (when I was a teenager) and think back on all my hopes and dreams of that time period. I was into Drama and choir and believed at that time it was possible to have an amazing career as an actress and singer. I spent a lot of time pretending to clutch a mike and sing along to "America's Top 40", dreaming I would be there.

Alas, as John Lennon said "Life it what happens to you when you're busy making other plans" and I believed that dream was impossible, I gave up to early. I had fantasies of going to New York - not thinking about green cards etc and being a famous pop star. I even auditioned for the theatre program at U of A - not realizing what a daunting prospect that was - doing a monologue and movement and dance (which I had not studied) - I was also preoccupied with my love life at that time and therefore not ready to put in the work necessary - needless to say, I didn't get  in.

Is it time to reawaken those dreams I wonder? I look around and see people recording CDs and writing books - something else I thought I might do at one point - taking creative writing classes. I have abandoned my voice lessons as well....
Getting older you realize that you have fewer years ahead of you than behind you. However as F reminded me last night about Confucius..."The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is today". I'm hoping I'm a late bloomer.

I also haven't had a full time job in a while - mostly contract work and wonder when and if I could back into that scene - a steady income and hours...but then I worry about my skill set with things like spreadsheets etc. etc.

All these thoughts haunt me - and I realize I shouldn't be comparing myself to everyone else as we are on our own journey. The 21 Meditation with Deepak Chopra has been helpful in getting more in touch with my inner world and going with the flow...I seem to be getting that message a lot lately. I'm also planning on reading Martha Beck's latest - after reading about her "safari" with some clients in Africa. The 4 Ps - peace, purpose and now I forget the other matter I will read the book.

I'll keep you posted on my journey - I feel I have a lot to offer the world - my enthuisasm and talents and would like to bring people joy.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Living in Love

I just finished reading "Dying to be Me" by Anita Moojani and was very inspired by her account of her life, near death experience, re-birth and new appreciation for life. One of her take away messages was to live your life with love and not fear...don't do things because you are afraid of the outcome - getting cancer, getting hurt..but because they bring you joy and so as a result you live a fuller life.

As someone who is quite the worrier I really needed to hear that! I read somewhere that 92% of the things you worry about NEVER HAPPEN. That was also a real eye and heart opener. Having the kittens around is another reminder to live in the moment - they don't obsess about what is coming or what has past...but find joy and pleasure in every moment.

Speaking of living in the moment I was working at the Whole Life Expo this past weekend and got to see a lot of different approaches to health and modalities as well as sample new foods. I bought some Beet Crystals from Sala - they can be diluted with water to drink, added to smoothies, eaten by the spoon ful or used in baking for that lovely red colour - I may try it in a cake or cupcakes - red velvet? They also will make a nice topping. I also purchased some manuka raisins, a cherry mix, chocolate covered goldenberries and hazelnuts from Organic Traditions and sampled some Tulsi Tea and a coffee substitute made with Maca. The salesperson's name was Cinnamon - how great is that?

At the Expo there is also an opportunity to nosh - I had dinner at Zen Gardens, Cruda Cafe - sooo yummy and from Healthy Planet's steam table - a "man loaf"...mmmmmm.

There was a booth across from us which was a little unsettling - using a big before and after picture to sell face cream to women...the message being there is something wrong with you if you have some wrinkles or laugh lines. Yes we all like to look and feel great but ultimately we need to love ourselves and be comfortable in our own skin - there is nothing wrong with getting older and showing it. Needless to say however, they were doing a booming business.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of hearing my fellow Bill King student Darlene Stimson do her debut concert at Gate 403!!!! Woo hoo...what an's "50 years in the making" as she joked. She did a fabulous job with many people there to cheer her on.

Earlier we had lunch with the Veggies of Halton Peel at A-1 Sweets in Oakville - thalis all around. I think the best Veggie Pakoras I have ever tasted and our hosts were lovely and helpful. There was also a staircase of sweets in honour of Diwali...Happy Diwali for those who celebrate.

What the world needs now is love, sweet love as Bacharach and David wrote...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Back to reality

I have been posting about my fabulous trip to Britain on my Jazz Goddess blog...oh, the adjustment of coming back to Toronto...I really really loved it there - so veg friendly and especially adored Scotland - great sense of humour and the accent is divine. I think I felt a special "homecoming" while on Scottish soil..communing with the ancestors.

And now it's back to the "real" world and figuring out what is next...I'm already thinking of travelling again...I saw a very enticing Rick Steves program on Andalusia in Spain - Nerja, Granada, Seville, etc. etc...maybe taking some Spanish classes would be a good idea?

The kittens have certainly grown in our absence - but are not yet tired of the Aquarium Channel....

Billie is on the left and Lester on the right..he is twice her size...I did miss them when we were away and they are a joy to have around as well as comforting..even when their toys (i.e. sparkly balls) go under the stove every day..

As for me I'm following some of the Oprah's Lifeclass series - these past couple of week with Joel Osteen and that has been inspiring and now I'm enrolled on the Chopra Center 21 Day Meditation Challenge - it's very soothing to listen to his voice and have the daily centering thought. Today's was "Today I focus on what I want to attract into my life".

I'm thinking I need to embrace some more cleansing and raw foods into my life, I am craving carbs these days with the colder weather and darker days and sugar...not good.

Now I am back I find new inspiration to blog on this space...oh and I was very happy to see the front page of the Toronto Star today - Obama won!  There's a good sign for the future right there.

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Whole Kitten Kaboodle

Introducing Billie and Lester (sister and brother) adoptees from THS - hanging out on their fancy cat tree. Billie is smooth haired and always on the go - a little hyper - and Lester is cool and relaxed and fluffy.

These two are a constant delight and sometimes source of irritation (when they decide the toilet paper rolls are a fun toy and make "nests" on the bathroom floor). It's pretty entertaining to watch them chase each other at high speed through the condo and the simple delights they get from everything new to their kitty eyes.

Particularly funny is the fascinating "Aquarium Channel".

They certainly are a going concern and lovely to have around. They are a reminder to live in the moment, have a sense of wonder, discovery and fun, completely relax when it's nap time and purr when you're happy.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Fragrance: Friend or Foe?

I love great scents and perfumes - over the years I've worn Opium, Obsession, Fendi Theorema (sadly missed in North America) Coco, Angel, Lolita Lempicka, numerous Guerlain fragrances and on an on -usually on the oriental ends of the spectrum - with some gourmand notes.

While shopping today at Eaton's Centre - some place I don't visit often I found many products I was smelling to be cloying and this a function of getting older and wiser (read more discriminating) I wonder? I found my nose actually feeling assaulted by a certain British soap's a four letter word. Strangely, there was a time when I worked for another famous British soap company and got used the very strong aromas...except for when a bottle of White Musk was broken or spilled.

I seem to find myself gravitating towards natural scents these days - the essences of the plants and flowers, not chemically altered in any way - that goes for anything from body products and shampoo to hair products. It wasn't always that way - there was a time I would have found those notes medicinal and unappealing. These days, lavender is a nice relaxing aroma but I wouldn't have found it so in my twenties.

I even go a little makeover at the Clarins counter in the Bay and though I used to be a Clarins customer some time ago found they cleansers and moisturizers to be somewhat headache inducing. They do have lovely colours though.

I did go through a brief flirtation with Bath and Body Works...largely because I get a sensory overload when I go in there - so many products, you feel compelled to buy something. I do live Yves Rocher Vetiver Body Wash and Bamboo and Green Tea ones - they are more on the fresh end of the spectrum. I also really enjoy my Pure and Simple Holistic Vanity skincare and John Master's Blood Orange and Vanilla Body Wash, 100 per cent pure products...again scents which employ natural essences and not artificial ones. Also, some Kiehl's products like their Soy and Honey body creams and lotions - tasty.

I also seem to notice an overdose of perfume on other people and find that yes, the younger scent are often guilty of this - most often when there are crowds of them along King West on a Saturday night.I believe the French (who know their fragrances) said you should only be aware of a scent when you are very close as in intimate with someone. Those French are so wise.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Late Bloomer

Well, this is an experiment...trying out a new blog that extends beyond my normal realm of jazz.

It's that time in my life where I'm reflecting back and wondering what's these postings will be more encompassing - health, veg food, spiritual exploration, daily (hopefully) rants and raves etc. etc.

I felt "Beginning to Blossom" is a hopeful join my on my journey....