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 chocolate..so 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 arrangements...like 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 inspiring...got 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 two...no 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 inspiration...it'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.