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Lust for Life or How This City Mouse Misses London

A little off-topic (OT) but…

So, I’ve been getting some shi-I mean, feedback from my friends about my (harsh) comments about my life in O-Town. To summarize:

It has been suggested that perhaps I should try not to surround myself with families so much and that I need some single friends in the city. This is true. I only have 2 single friends here. Literally every other friend I have here is either in a relationship, married, flipping a house, having babies or all of the above. Ottawa is absolutely fabulous for that kind of thing! I’d love it in a second if that’s where I was in my life. But I’m not. Yet.

It’s been suggested that I should move to TO or some other larger city in Canada. This is the truest of the true. Ultimately, this is my goal. However, I need to find a job to fund the journey elsewhere. I’m also not too keen on moving away from every single member of my family to somewhere across the country. After all, I did move back to Canada to be closer to my family.

It’s also been suggested that each city is what one makes of it. This is also true. Since I don’t have much money I haven’t really been able to make my experience here my own. I am now vowing that this shall change when I get a job.

POP LIFE

In fact, I found this super awesome exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada that I definitely have to hit when I’ve got some dosh. It even came all the way from LONDON!! Yayyyyy!! It’s called Pop Life: Art in a Material World and I positively pumped to see it.

So, I’m hoping I’m wrong about living in capital and when I get a job I will test that theory. Until then, I’m a grumpy girl missing my city life.

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Can I Kick It? or What’s the Skinny of Bandster Friendly Serving Sizes

I’ve been super busy lately and I realised I hadn’t posted about my ‘Nutrition Kickstart‘ with Slimband’s resident dietician Arlene. This was an essential discussion regarding my progress from mushies to solid food.

Nutrition

Granted, it was some time ago (8 days to be exact), it’s important to me to document my journey as best as I can. I scheduled my chat with Arlene for just after mid-day in the hopes that if I was finally working again, I’d be able to chat with her over lunch.

Well, it was indeed lunch time but since I’m not yet working, I was running around town with my family (AKA The Team). Unfortunately, they decided on our way to Winner’s that a basket fried flesh from Wild Wings would be a suitable eating place for a recently-banded bambina. Imagine my shame when I saw Slimband’s number show up on my phone just after I placed my order…

The chat was scheduled for 30 minutes and since I’d been warned by members of the MySlimband community to come prepared with specific questions for Arlene, it went quite well.

I started off by telling her I was feeling quite fine. Almost back to normal, in fact. I am able to eat nearly all things I’d been able to eat before my surgery. I was slightly concerned but she was very happy to hear it. She assured me that this was okay and that I need not live in constant fear of band slippage as I’ve mentioned before. I’m simply a fast healer and my body is adjusting nicely. Well, that’s GREAT news!!

I also mentioned I’d been reading the Clean Eating Magazine as per her suggestion in MySlimband. As I mentioned before, Arlene promotes the Clean Eating*** principles and often provides bandster-friendly versions of snacks and meals including modified serving suggestions.

Since I’d been following the monthly meal plan in the magazine I was feeling good but also concerned I was eating too much. Despite the well-balanced, low calorie nature of the meal plan, I just couldn’t eat every 2-3 hours without feeling stuffed. So, I mentioned I felt the meal portion sizes were surprisingly large but the snacks were perfect. I was certainly surprised by this as it seemed I was able to eat a bit more than some of my bandster friends at the same stage as me (7 days into solid foods).

She reassured me again and suggested I try to reduce the portion sizes in the Clean Eating meal plan in preparation for my first fill in the coming weeks. As an exampled I’ll use my favourite Clean Eating breakfast:Kashi Go-Lean and Strawberries

Clean Eating breakfast serving suggestion:

1 cup Kashi Go Lean cereal

1/2 cup sliced strawberries

1/2 cup skimmed, soy, or almond milk

Arlene’s bandster-friendly serving suggestion:

1/2 cup Kashi Go Lean cereal

1/4 cup sliced strawberries

1/2 cup skimmed, soy, or almond milk

So, it looks like halving the servings is a good start. Simple enough, eh? Arlene also mentioned that bandsters can indeed snack on popcorn…IF they are able to without any trouble BUT we must take it SLOW to ensure we don’t choke. Woo hoo! I love popcorn and it doesn’t have to be drenched in butter for me to enjoy it. So, that’s another healthy snack (about 3 cups) I can enjoy along with all of the other snack suggestions in the Clean Eating meal plan.

I also chatted with Arlene about the prospect of revisiting my Body Doctor fitness regime in the coming weeks. She recommended that if I’m going to be working out that strenuously, I’m going to need to add another meal to the Slimband program of 3 meals and 2 snacks every 2-3 hours and ensure that if I’m exercising in the evenings, that my post-workout meal contains 30g protein and 20g of carbs.

Since Arlene knew I was out and about (but didn’t know WHERE), she sent me a reference sheet with lots of helpful information about serving sizes and tips and tricks for eating out (I did mentioned I do that A LOT in my life). This was a big help.

From what I gather though, the Nutrition Kickstart seemed to be largely a rehearsed ‘personal’ information session that if one comes unprepared, they may or may not come away with much more information than what is written in the Slimband Post-Op Binder.

That being said, I’ve also messaged Arlene several times from within the MySlimband community and she actively participates in the discussion. She’s provided some very useful advice there and here so the combination of the three support systems is really great overall. As usual with the band, they’re providing the tools and it’s really up to me how I use them.

***Loosely speaking, Clean Eating principles are based on eating foods in as natural a state as possible, EVERY 2-3 hours (no exceptions people!!!), some savvy food pairing and ensuring each meal or snack is a perfectly balanced combination of protein and carbohydrates. By following this, carbs are digested in 2-3 hours allowing us to feel fuller longer. Otherwise, carbs are digested immediately making us feel hungry early.

Dream Big

Since I got back to Canada my priorities have changed. The lifestyle is dramatically different to the one I’ve become accustomed to. I’m no longer searching for the best bars or the most frequented restaurants or purchasing the latest fashion mags. Despite the fact that I’m currently ‘between contracts’ my top temptation is seeking advice on how to decorate my maison.  (Not to mention that I don’t actually own a property.)I do rent though. A great little two-bedroom that comes with all the trimmings.

I seem to be searching for a something to keep my coolness on the up. Since homes are so important on this side of the pond I guess I’m making sure those Joneses don’t get to far ahead of me while I wait for my next project…

Sarah Richardson - Hilltop Contemporary Living Room

I did some digging and did indeed find the most perfect living room I’ve ever had the pleasure of laying eyes on.

Designed by Sara Richardson (star of TV’s Design Inc.), this Hilltop Contemporary living room has the perfect balance of style and function. I absolutely love it! The rich purple is perfect, the subtle hints of pink are perfect, the gunmetal sofa is perfect. Did I mention it’s perfect?? But I don’t have a living room I can paint purple or an ambitious budget to purchase 5 chairs and a sofa.

So, this is my big dream for my own place. Perhaps my reward of all my hard work shedding the pounds. If I can afford this, I’ll most certainly lap those Joneses. But who really wants to be a Jones anyway? They’re probably broke by now and I already know what that feels like.

Junk in My Trunk

Weight Loss Help ScaleTo the people I know and love, I’m overweight. To just about everyone else in the Western world I’m a fat girl. When I’m shopping in a store that couldn’t possibly stock my size, I’m a fat girl. When I’m shopping for a bra in one of Canada’s largest (and I don’t mean cup size) lingerie retailers, I’m a fat girl. When a stranger sees me chowing down a cereal bar in public, I’m a fat girl. When I’m eating right, working out, and actually losing some of the junk in my trunk, I’m a fat girl.

It doesn’t matter that I’m shopping in the skinny store for some stylish accessories or a fashionable gift for a friend. Or that there’s only a handful of lingerie stores in the country with holders to support my boulders. Or that I’m devouring said cereal bar in an effort to recover from my 3 times per week 2-hour torture session with my hot shot celebrity trainer. I’m still a fat girl.

But I’ve never been one to let my physical fitness level stop me from climbing to the top of the social ladder. Or hate myself for my big body’s imperfections. Quite the opposite really. I’ve always maintained a large social circle and my youth was lightly peppered with my fair share of beautiful boys despite my size. Perhaps it’s because I’ve always had a larger than life personality to complement my curvy configuration. Or perhaps it’s been the oh-so-pretty face I’ve been hearing about all my life.

I’m not entirely sure what it’s been because my “pretty face” never stopped the old ladies from sending a scoff in my direction whilst squeezing into the seat beside me. My “pretty face” never made it any easier for the crabby carnie to squeeze my sizeable derriere into the seats on the Behemoth. My “pretty face” never stopped the kids from mooing at me on the Underground. It seems my sizeable appearance has always bothered everyone else but me.

That being said, not a day goes by that I don’t feel a scratch from the green monster at the thought of my smaller sidekicks and their frequent shopping expeditions through NYC and LDN. Oh, what I’d give to visit a city and pound the pavement with my girls without having to investigate the whereabouts of the most conveniently located big girls boutique. Hmph.

So, where am I going with this? Well, after spending the better part of two decades living the larger life I’ve decided to do something drastic. On April 16th, 2010 I’m having weight-loss surgery at the Slimband clinic in downtown Toronto and I can’t wait!

Friday marks Day 1 of the Pre-Op diet. It’s super strict! It’s designed to defeat my addiction to the bad stuff and help me take my portion sizes from super size to mini meals in preparation for the big day.

Black & Blue

I recently caught up with a friend that I hadn’t seen in nearly 10 years. She’s from Winnipeg originally and I always considered her more fashion forward than cool conservative so among other things, I was curious how she was handling life in our nation’s capital. Despite some beautiful little boutiques, a Holt Renfrew and the recent addition of some big names (Michael Kors, Coach, BCBG etc), Ottawa is by far one of Canada’s most fashion cautious cities.

My friend delighted in my dismay and promptly provided a top tip for surviving Ottawa’s fashion wasteland: get a black coat and a blue coat. I considered this piece of  advice whilst mentally checking my clothing inventory and came to the shocking realization that I didn’t own either. Hmph. Well, they’re just so…restrained.

I’m no fashion maverick by any means but I do keep an eye on the latest trends. I’ve always mixed classic with trendy and erred on the side of caution by London standards but in Ottawa, I’m an outright radical. Let’s hope I can find a few jackets that tickle my fashion fancy yet satisfy the status quo….I’m quite keen on the Eden-L jacket in the F/W 2009 collection from our friends at Mackage.

Alas, now that it’s officially spring, I’m thinking the perfect pink might just add a little pizzaz to Canada’s conservative capital. Giambattista Valli has a juicy pink cotton and silk-blend jacket I’m absolutely loving. Too bad it’s out of my price rang at a whopping $1,836 USD!

A Shopping Story

LOVE this article by Lisa Grant from the Guardian.

Cafe de Paris

I’ve been to Cafe de Paris a few times but Cafe Rocks was one of the best nights of my life. I went with my favourite indie kids (The Brent Flood) so they could mee with some peeps from a label interested in signing them. They had four great warm-up bands on then Amerie performed her latest single since it was her single launch party. She was RIGHT beside me at one point. It was awesome. Cafe de Paris London

No problems on the door for me but we arrived around 9pm which isn’t quite peak club time.

Since I was ‘with the band’ and the label was putting the night on, we were invited to the VIP section. We had the pleasure of enjoying the balcony and when the bar closed we found ourselves ushered into yet another VIP room downstairs in the back with it’s own bar and some really cool “beds”. Very plush! We literally partied ’til the sun came up. What a feeling leaving a club in the wee hours of daybreak.

My biggest complaint with this place is the price of drinks – £27 for a bottle of “house” wine. I’ve paid this in other clubs so I guess it’s normal by London club standards but that doesn’t mean I have to like it! It didn’t matter too much though because some business men from Dubai shared their MAGNUM of Grey Goose with us all night long.

I’d definitely hit it again.

Porn Stars Welcome!

I went to Dollar Grills & Martinis early on a Saturday evening for a special occasion meal and I was overwhelmed. First, it’s beautiful inside. The upstairs has gorgeous lighting and the seats were super comfy. The downstairs is very plush and would be a great spot for a cocktail on a date. It has little alcoves that offer the right amount of intimacy for a public place. ;o)Dollar Grills and Martinis' Bar

But it wasn’t the decor the sold me, it was the cocktails – A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! I had the pleasure of enjoying (among others) the Porn Star Martini and to this day have not found a drink I enjoyed more than this one. I take great pleasure in telling people that this is my favourite drink!

We also had food and although at the time I thoroughly enjoyed my fish soup thingy, it was only good enough to be remembered as a fish soup thingy. The cocktails simply stole the show.

I would definitely go here again and have but only for drinks. I’ll have to try the burgers next time!

Digitally Yours

After a previous note (written some time ago), I did some thinking about my extreme aversion to dating and suffered the harsh realisation that I’ve simply gotta stop this boyfriend bugbear.

Canadian Bacon

There are many reasons for my change of heart but the biggest is that if I’m too scared to date then not only am I sure to avoid making an ass of myself in front of a potential partner (yay), I’m also never going to get to enjoy the plethora of perks that putting myself through a few awkward hours can lead to (boo).

Although I tend to do alright meeting boys in bars I decided against shimmy shaking and salsa dancing, wine tasting or whiskey wasting and opted to try something slightly easier to screen. So, I did a little research and explored other means of making the most of the London meat market…

I joined an internet dating site. Yep, that’s right. I am officially one of those people that post their most perfect picture and few personal details in a gallery of guys and gals that are quite possibly looking for a little something other than love… But ANYWAY, as some of you know I’ve dabbled a little with the online love machine in the past and well, we (as in the love machine and I) simply did not compute. As such, I abandoned the electronic in favour of more traditional means of finding a fun buddy.

See, the things is, all too often women (myself included) join these sites simply to see who else is out there in Singletown, UK. Sometimes they join for a laugh while loungin’ with the ladies. And sometimes it’s to find someone to scratch an itch they just can’t seem to reach any other way. Whatever the case may be its not usually to actually go out and meet some random computer nerd off the net.

However, I made a decision. I wanted to go on a date with someone I’d actually spoken to for longer than I’d snogged. So I sat down in front of my computer and entered the digital dating domain. And I like it. I mean, these boys just wanna add a little Canadian Bacon to their breakfast in bed and really, who am I to stop them?

Don’t Talk To Strangers

This morning I realised just how much I wish it was normal to speak to people on the tube. In actual fact, I wish it was cool to speak to strangers in any social situation. There have been many times in my life where I find myself wishing I could just waltz up to that guy across the room, say something witty and introduce myself. Not because I want to pick up said boy, but simply because I like to talk and it’s always nice to have someone new to talk to. Sadly, socializing simply doesn’t work that way.

For example, this morning I felt as if my day needed some sunshine due to the overwhelming amount of rain we’ve been getting in the last few weeks and I decided to wear a pretty pink (natch!) dress. I feel pretty good in this dress and as such it makes me smile and causes me to exude a bit more confidence than normal.

So, this morning after my usual depressing walk to the station and the eminent journey to work, I got on the tube, found a stable place to put myself, adjusted my bag and looked around. There, standing right in front of me was the cutest boy I’d laid eyes on for the better part of 24 hours (I fall in love on a daily basis, remember). He was cute in an average kinda way. So, I check him out and much to my surprise, I caught him checking me out (well, by me I mean The Girls popping out of my pretty pink dress but I’ll take that over nothing). And I think to myself, I’d like to remove the morning anti-smile from my face and provide a cordial greeting of some sort. So, I stand there contemplating the situation and sneaking a glance or two of my new love when my eyes are drawn down to his flashy little (huge) time piece (I’ve got a thing for watches) and as I continue to scan I look at his ring finger and there it is. He’s married. And for some strange reason I was disappointed and I actually have no idea why.

Well, actually I do know why. I’m disappointed because the wonderful life that I’d pieced together for the two of us during the past 3 minutes will no longer come to fruition. Shame.

Then it dawns on me. What the hell am I doing? What difference does it make if he’s married or not?? It’s not like I’d actually SPEAK to him anyway. I’m not in the habit of talking to strangers.

Strawberry Moons Forever

Strawberry Moons…everytime I hear the name of this central London haunt I have visions of My Little Pony’s frolicking through fluffy pink clouds. I’ve always wanted to check it out and last night I did.

The cue was reasonable, the doorman was cool and the price wasn’t too bad for a bar just off Regent Street.

Strawberry Moons, London

Now, the tunes…the tunes were nothing short of perfect. All the cheese and some of the charts. It was grrreat! I think it may be my new favourite bar. However, it was absolutely packed and super hot. Not much room for “this is my dance space, this is your dance space” but we managed to dance our suitably refreshed butts off and had a great time.

If you’re looking for a club on a Saturday night, and you happen to be in the vicinity of the most whimsically named club this side of Regent Street, this one is well worth a look.

Floodilicious!

Mmmm…The Brent Flood…a guilty pleasure of mine. A fantastic four-piece from South London that continue to tempt me with their progressive mix of sultry rock n’ roll and punked-up country. At first listen I was torn. I doubted them. I doubted their difference…their rock anthem guitar mixed with their delicate lyrics. Something just didn’t seem right.

But then I saw them live at a tiny little north London venue called the Betsy Trottwood and it hit me. Ever since that first live indulgence into the world of all things Floodilicious I knew these boys were serving up somethin’ good. I’ve seen them when they’re hot and I’ve seen them (rarely) when they’re not and they never cease to satisfy my craving for a hearty helping of what they call “Indie Sunshine”.

Their gig at the Halfmoon in Putney this month was no exception. But this time…something had changed…they were fresh, funky and indie-kid cool and they had moves to match to music I know and love. But don’t just take my word for it… 90% of the preceding band’s audience stuck around to enjoy the show and gave the boys the reception they deserved.

They kicked off their thirty-minute set with Heavy Petting. Personally, I love this tune. It’s a rock slash pop tune with a really catchy chorus about a guy cravin’ some action from an ex and she’s almost up for it. It’s a nice little popper that gets the crowd bopping and always makes me smile at the thought of this foursome getting some. My only criticism is that this tune ends just a little too quickly…

They turned out the rest of the set with professional precision including a duo of new, very different little dittys both of which shed a new light on the group’s song writing skills and their ability to musically stir things up. Hurricane is one to watch out for if you’re a fan of their more rock-related fare but if you love the acoustic in their Paint Our Faces Red you’re gonna devour Drunken Country.

This performance was by far the best of The Brent Flood to date and I’m pleased as punch to say that I haven’t sampled anything so delightful since.

So when you hear them, follow them, chase them and when you catch them, hold on tight cause you’re gonna wanna be there for the feast of fantastic that is their flight to fame!

While We Were Hunting Rabbits

House/flatmate hunting is a lot like internet dating…Generally, it’s completely blind bar an ad placed by one or both parties starting with a little bit about them/their property and little about what they expect from a potential housemate. The details of the ads all sound very nice and fluffy and cover all the “best bits” about you/them and the property you have/want in an effort to give both parties an idea of what it might be like to live with the other.

After trawling through an often exhaustive list of potential housemates and creating a very specific shortlist you might decide you’d like to get in touch with them. Now drafting the first email can be as simple as saying, “Hey, ad sounds great! Can I come over and see the room/have a chat?” or if you really want to know if you can actually live with these people you can write a bit about your best bits and a teeny tiny bit about the things that can actually be a little bit annoying about you. (The latter is the strategy I tend to adopt because I actually annoy myself sometimes. Personally, I think this works cause at least you’re being honest with them…)

Anyway, so after a brief exchange of emails, the current resident(s) is/are expected to invite the potential housemate to meet. At this point the potential housemate doesn’t even have the address but agrees to meet them at the property. Once the address is provided, the potential housemate is then expected to provide their mobile number “just in case”.

Assuming the potential housemate arrives at the property safely, the initial meet and greet is very important. Both parties want to be dually polite and cool. But not too polite and not too cool. This is the part that most closely resembles dating. Both parties have to be their “best self” and at the same time ensure each demonstrates a certain bit of modesty (because nobody likes a boaster) but most of all you have to be interested in the other party (because everybody likes to talk about themselves now and then).

Now, I completely understand why it is so important to go through these motions as, if you’re like me, you wouldn’t want to move into a random place with random people with whom you don’t have a single thing in common. My house is my haven, my safe happy place and if I don’t feel comfortable in my own home I simply can’t live there.

So, after an exchange of all things fantastically interesting and simply wonderful (and usually a quick rip round the property) there’s usually an awkward goodbye and a promise to be in touch. Generally with neither party giving any real indication of how they felt about the meeting because heaven forbid either party say what they feel and have that feeling be not be reciprocated.

So, you wait…for a confirmation or a rejection or in some cases nothing at all.

My personal approach is to tell them I like the place (or not) and to tell them I like them (if I do) before I even leave. Then at least they know where I stand and it’s in their hands. I’ve got nothing to hide and if you don’t ask you don’t get, right?

You see, just like dating.

In my most recent quest, I did find a great house in a great location with some great girls so I guess this strategy works for house/flat hunting…but I am still single so perhaps it doesn’t work so well with dating…?

Truly Outrageous!

I have pink and purple hair. Yep, you heard right, pink and purple a la Jem from Jem and the Holograms. Why did I do this to myself you ask? Well, because I wanted it. Simple as that. And I like it.

The overall reaction to this seemingly impulsive, dramatic and uncharactristic change has been pretty good too especially the shocked expressions on the faces of my nearest and dearest.

That being said, I did share their surprise at the salon when my stylist did the reveal. She actualy asked if I thought I might need a tissue before she unveiled that the ‘baby pink’ I’d requested actually came out as more of a fuschia. But I actually really like it. Besides, I’m told it will fade quite quickly and so too will the novelty but i’m sure it will be fun while it lasted…

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