50 is the new 30 and the annus horribilis


I’m back.

Well…I’m trying to be back! This truly has been a most horrible year in many ways. Yes, some serious shit went down. But I have found that, try as it might, when the aforementioned horribleness goes down, it does not have to take you with it. No, it does not.

Adversity and pain, I laugh in your puny, spotty, and weak-chinned faces! And I intend to prove that here, by sharing with my ever-faithful 4 (actually I think I’m down to 3 after my extended break) readers, myriad frivolous photos of…


If you have never had the privilege of meeting Lord Andrew, you need to make that a priority – stat. This man is a beast of an enigma, with the craziest stories from his youth and the oddest of current life choices. He has lived in Sri Lanka, Scotland, Wales, Greece, Malta, and Luxembourg. He has owned tea plantations and been chased by a wild elephant. He owns a fire engine red Lotus but doesn’t drive it. He is a Lord but lives with his parents in Edmonton.  He was featured in a 1985 edition of Flare magazine as one of the top ten bachelors in Canada – right beside Mario Lemieux.

Pics or it didn’t happen.


Clearly, a 50th birthday party of Lord Andrew’s calibre was in order.

However, unfortunately for my noble friend, I have report cards due and I am also addicted to eating too many muffins every Saturday and Sunday at Credo (which seems to take up a good chunk of my weekend – proper attention to the ingestion of baked goods is so important!), so the party ended up being about 3 calibre levels too low, but OH WELL.

I went with a MOD MADNESS theme to commemorate the year of our Lord’s birth – 1967. We are talking Mary Quant and British Invasion and poofy hair and gobs of eyeliner. I didn’t decorate that way, though. Like I said, the lure of the cornmeal muffin was too strong to get into authentically period details. I went straight for the golden 50 sort of decor – way more Lord Andrew.


Look at my festive balloon ceiling photo display!




So. Much. Andrew.


There was mod madness everywhere. Some rando dude with a full head of hair was striking a groovy pose.


I tried to do a poofy beehivey hairdo but failed when I realized that I do not own hairspray or styling products. Look at that super miniature poof. Ugh.


Some hippie types showed up at the wrong party. This is mod madness, people! Not tie dye and poncho weaving 101!


Of COURSE, the guest du jour thought he would be allowed to celebrate in his Tommy Hellfinger and slippers, sans modness.

I soon fixed that.


I also fixed Lord Andrew a signature cocktail for the night – a riff on his favourite drink. Now I know, I know. You’re thinking, what could such a lord’s favourite drink be? Classic gin and tonic? Expensive Moët & Chandon Dom Perignon White Gold? Perhaps a wee dram of Isabella’s Islay?

Well, no.

Milkshakes. Milkshakes are his favourite drink.

So milkshakes it was!


Pretty festive! If slightly sickening.

After fortifying ourselves with food, milkshakes and a rousing game of “Who is Lord Andrew Clinterty?” trivia (apparently one can lose one’s virginity over the time and space of a continuum of approximately 21 years), we headed out to karaoke.

If you have never been privy to Andrew’s karaoke skillz, you are remiss. Andrew is famous for his signature two microphone rendition of “Benny and Jets”, among others.

And here is the Karaoke King himself!!!




Those milkshakes though.

Anyway, here’s me!


Very artistic. (That’s creative code for grainy and blurry). Accompanied by the world’s largest beer to my left.

That’s about it for Lord Andrew’s 50th birthday celebration. A festive evening fêting a very festive man! Happy birthday, Lord Andrew!








10 things I’m going to do in 2017 – (NOT resolutions!) #4 – Embrace my Old Timey Self!

Inside this middle-aged (can’t believe I’m typing that!) body beats the heart of an old timey yet ridiculously festive granny. I love big band music and can sing/imitate the oboe for all of Glenn Miller’s tunes. Most of the movies I grew up loving involved either Humphrey Bogart or some reasonable facsimile, or a show-stopping ensemble of perky people washing that man right outta their hair/talking to the trees/being born under a wandering star.

I embraced my old timey self this past Friday, when I celebrated my birthday by attending a silver top convention. (Silver top convention : a function where I am definitely in the lower end of the age range. This is usually the case for the musical acts that I choose to enjoy.)


I just LOVED the fun and old timey show that Andrew MacDonald-Smith and Don Berner and his Big Band put on at the  Club at the Citadel. I’ve heard Don Berner’s big band before at other shows, and they are always fun to watch and amazing to hear. There were so many classics, from Gershwin to West Side Story to a take on Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Yes, for real!


Two of my girls joined me! I’m always wary when asking friends to come along to my silver top conventions. But these two held up admirably, and even enjoyed it!


But the fast-paced, edgy, and somewhat dangerous fun did not stop there! Robert took me to the Royal Tea and Tour at the Hotel MacDonald. This particular Royal Tea included an invitation to wear a hat or fascinator. I was all in!



We started with a yummy sorbet. It was delightful when chased with a little sparkling wine.



Our 3 tiered tray of delights provided a festive frame for Robert to be his festive self.


He’s just so dang cute.


Of course, we went crazy over the teas. They had lovely loose teas for the Royal high tea.

I had the Buckingham Palace and the Hibiscus teas, while Robert had the super smoky Chinese something-or-other tea.



After the tea, we got to tour the hotel! I have spent quite a lot of time at the Hotel Macdonald, between our wedding and my lounge visits, but I was hoping to hear some stories behind the history of the hotel and maybe see the Queen Elizabeth suite. Yay on both counts!


I’m sitting in a window seat on which I’m quite sure the queen perched whilst pondering her subjects.



The queen was such a beauty. Agh, her whole look is so on point! I feel like Frumpy Fergie standing next to her likeness.

Robert is such a gem to attend these old timey events with me. And to look so dapper/festive/hawt doing so!



Now for my next event…Humphrey Bogart movie marathon, anyone?



10 things I’m going to do in 2017 – (NOT resolutions! #3 – Bond with friends!

I admit I’m an introvert.

I don’t think most people get what an introvert is . It’s also kinda trendy to say I’M AN INTROVERT right now. But really, an introvert recharges from being alone. You might love any number of social situations, but you eventually are drrrraaaaiiinnneeeddd from hanging out with other humans and need to be alone to re-become sane.

This is dangerous because an introvert might never want to come out of the me-ness to enter the other-ness.

Enter the other-ness, I encourage all introverts! It’s almost inevitably good for you!

Today, with the fog, and the tiredness, and the grayness, I almost cancelled on a night out with friends. But I thought about how these particular friends are so good and so fun and so real and so friendish! And how, no matter how tired I am after an outing with them, in some weird way, I am also recharged.

And so, I, with my intrepid, vested, and polka-dotted husband, forged ahead!


Met our friends Christina and Darryl at North 53 for an aperitif. I had my favourite BFF the Drunkcle. That’s a Drunken Uncle, more formally. I love bonding with this particular friend. Never EVER judges me.


Darryl was starving so they ordered the Tuna Tataki. This is right before he demolished the tower of beauteous tuna and wonton with his fork of wanton destruction and mayhem.

We then proceeded on to The Marc where we were to feast upon their Alsatian menu which was to end that night!!! Love me some sauerkraut!!! Actually, I love saying sauerkraut even more than I love eating it. Zowahkrrrrowt. I could say that all day and be full without even eating a bite.


What? This doesn’t look Alsatian?

That’s right. I got seduced by the fricking snails. If there’s escargot on the menu and it’s not bathed in tomato, I am trying it!

These were so fresh and yummy and un-garlic-bathed. Try stabbing a morsel of bone marrow with an escargot and a little piece of crunchy veg and WOWOWOWOW. I just about passed out. YUM, OK?


Darryl, the most unimpressed-by-Alsace person in our group of 4, is the only one who ordered the full menu!!! First, he had the Tarte Flambée. The dish was almost as appealing as  his sincere and generous smile. A match made in himmel!


Once we figured out that we weren’t all going for a revival of Alsace-Lorraine hits, we ordered a very nice wine from Veneto. You don’t know where Veneto is? What is wrong with you heathens!!??? Look it up!!!!


Robert and Darryl engaged in some male bonding. Funnily enough, it often involved media. Christina and I have no photos of us bonding because we were engaging in one on one human interactions. YAS.


Theme of the night. Robert looking askance at most everything. Including my verified claim of personal IQ level. Lord Andrew Clinterty, back me up, here!


I had the Steak Tartare with a side of what will be my last side upon this earth before I die – the pommes frites with a DELICIOUS truffly dipping sauce. Can I just say how I’m pretty sure I can’t eat anything else until Thursday because it would be wrong to infringe upon this almost-religious experience? The spiced-just-enough tartare with the perfect frites and the UNBELIEVABLE sauce is pretty much everything I’ve ever aspired to. Just add bubbles and DONE.


Friends. Enraptured by my husband’s talk. It gave me a moment to stare at their beauty and appreciate how much I love spending time with like-minded souls who are good and fun and funny and irreverent and festive. Love you!!!!


PS. No good photos were taken of my outfit tonight! And believe me when I say it was CUTE. Ugh. Oh well, here’s the top of it. The bottom was the best! 😦


Also, I got a new coat. From Oak and Fort. It is SO cute. And not black. Which caused me untold pallets of anxiety. But I think I made the right choice.

And what does that have to do with hanging out with friends? Well, friends understand who you are. They don’t judge you for what makes you excited and what makes you anxious. Christina loves that I love my new coat. She loves that I spaz out about the oddest of things. (You do, right, Christina?) And I love to listen to her stories and her hilarities and her sadnesses. It’s a two way street. And I love travelling either way on it.


What makes a friend a good friend for you?





10 things I’m going to do in 2017 (NOT resolutions!) – #2 -Read more/better books and just sit.


This is my chair. Yes, MY chair. I sit in it a LOT. If somebody else sits in my chair, I don’t get upset, more like I get confused. “Why  does my chair have this person in it?”, I wonder in a state of gobsmackedness, all the while kind of expecting my chair to expectorate the misplaced foreign object.

Ok, gross.

But nevertheless, you get the picture.

I’ve feathered my little nest so that it feels welcoming, shrouding, comfy, and yet light and airy. I like white and I like light. (Just for living spaces. Black FTW for clothes!) I’ve got my throw, candles, tea, and…books…


I have an overflowing book shelf upstairs, but these books are the ones in rotation right now. They’re either books that I have read and loved/liked and just didn’t put away yet like “Lunch in Paris”, “White Trash”, the 3 books by MFK Fisher, and “The Goldfinch”,  or books in the queue like “Sapiens” and “Hemingway in Love”.  OR books that I couldn’t finish because I just can’t get into them, like “The Nest” or “Closed Casket” or “Fast Metabolism Foods” – (WHAT was I THINKING?)!  I wish I had removed some of the more embarrassing books before taking a pic- “The Glass Sword”? Come ON. Ah well, all in the name of transparency! I also have my sizeable collection of magazines – mostly Runner’s World, Vanity Fair and all manner of cooking, travel, and wine mags.


One of the things I’m going to do more of is writing – on paper. I have journals  and notebooks I like to look at, but I need to actually write in them! Plus, as you might have seen at the top of the smaller stack of books in the previous photo, I have some beautiful coloured pencils, paints and colouring books that I do solemnly vow to use this year! They look really nice, but I think it would be even better if I, well, use them!


P.S. Gotta have tea on hand at all times or what the heck is the point exactly?


Also, a photo of me with my favourite girl is necessary when she is all they way across our fair country in Montréal. How I miss her! This is a memory of the trip we took to NYC this summer, just the two of us!


Can’t forget the guardians of the chair. If I’m sitting, one or both of them will be at my feet. Kona, my regal prince,  is my tried and true dire wolf whose devotion doth not waver, but Freyja is a leeeeetle bit more fickle. As in, if she hears the neighbourhood Yorkie walking a block away, or a discarded plastic bag blowing down the street 8 doors down, she’s outta there. They make everything hirsute as heck, but, still, they do make cozy foot warmers!

Do you have a cozy nest/cave/den? And does it include live and drooly foot warmers like mine?




10 Things I’m going to do in 2017 (NOT resolutions!) #1 – Play outside more!

I do NOT like the idea of new year’s resolutions, at least for me. Mostly because of the pressure to keep them and to not screw up! However, I do have some things in my life that need some attention. Some are smaller (reading more and better books) and some are, to quote the Cheeto-dusted PEOTUS, YUGE (ending my infernal addiction to sugar!). I’m going to start with this one, though…

PLAY OUTSIDE MORE. (Could also be called “Stop being such a serious and rigid Birch with a capital B in regards to running but also in various life areas.” I just thought PLAY OUTSIDE MORE was much catchier.)

I need to preface this with the fact that I do a fair bit of physical activity, and by physical activity, I mean I run. I run slow, fast(er), long, intervals, hills, trails, road, tempo, fartlek (real word!), basically any form of running, I’m there. I’m not saying I’m OBSESSED with running, but I realized that I HAVE come to the point where I don’t count anything else besides running as legit exercise, I do NOT deviate from the planned run route/length of the day, and I am way too crushed when I don’t reach my time/distance goals. It’s getting pretty serious out there, folks. I need to build in some levity!


Found some!

Robert and I decided to cross-country ski at Victoria park in the not-freezing-off-my-arse weather. I have my own set of skis and boots, but Robert has tried skiing maybe twice in his 41 years. Fun times resulted, leaving me feeling like quite the expert in comparison (which I really REALLY am not, so let me revel in that feeling for a bit).

One more.


You can do it, Robert!

The Victoria track is short and sweet – about 3 k. It was a great intro for Robert and for me and my unused cross country ski muscles.


P.S. I’m posing by this sign because I am DYING to go to the Nordic Brunches and Victoria suppers offered by Culina at the Dogwood Cafe. As a matter of fact, I just decided right now that next weekend, we are going to ski and then go for brunch!

Here’s our couple bonding photo. Note Robert being a trooper in his lined jeans.


After skiing, we went home to walk the dogs. Couldn’t be anything more fun and more appropriate to my PLAY OUTSIDE MORE goal than frolicking with our pups!


The ONLY way I got this shot was to have Robert hold a stick over my head. Our sweet and completely CRAZY 2 year old Border Collie/Husky mix, Freyja, gets fixated on chewies of any kind and never, ever slows down long enough for me to get a photo.


Here’s my prince, my best buddy in the world, 10 1/2 year old Kona. He’s a Tahltan bear dog cross, which makes him very exotic, don’t you know. He will always sit for a pic but will NEVER look at the camera. Such a funny boy.



And here’s the closest we could get to a double dog photo. Kona steadily refusing to look at the camera and Freyja about to spaz out, tear that stick to shreds, and become a blur.

It was so refreshing, literally and figuratively, to get outside and just have fun without thinking about distances and times. Tomorrow, the dog park and some backyard ravine exploring. I’m determined to continue with my goal!

Gotta go run now! 😉





High Tea at Fairmont Hotel Macdonald

My best girl will soon be leaving me to return to her amazing endeavours at National Theatre School and I wanted take time to do some serious mother-daughter bonding. Since we both love tea, both love festive occasions, and both love the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald, weekday High Tea was the obvious choice!


You know you can check mother-daughter bonding off your to-do list when you have cried, hugged, laughed, waxed poetic, and talked feminism/Trump/carbon tax, all whilst enjoying:


The finger sandwiches were so adorable and the flavours, surprising (roasted grapes, anyone?)! Love me some egg salad, in dainty form or otherwise! You can take the girl out of the 1980s-Sunday-after-church-bunwich-luncheons but well, you know…


The second tier was hit and miss for me. The kirsch cherry tart missed. The eggnog cannoli was a major hit for Kajsa. I loved the fruit cake madeleine even though I’m not a fan of fruit cake. It was so rummy, I contemplated changing my name to Ginger Sparrow and adopting a peg leg.


But enough of this jibber jabber. SCONES.


No, those are not scones. Yes, I discovered that although the scones were buttery, flaky, and delicious, they photographed like dough blobs. So enjoy heaven on a tray: the divine whipped up Devonshire cream and the house made preserves. This, I could eat with a spoon. And did. The cream was also the only item on our table that, apparently, was succulent enough to attract a small fly. He died a death to which we should all aspire: sucked deep into fluffy mounds of Devonshire cream, drifting into the next life with a belly full of goodness.

P.S. The tea selection was also delightful, since it included any of the Fairmont teas. We both had the Fairmont Breakfast tea, and then I moved on to the Jasmine Butterfly – both with honey for me, of course! Kajsa didn’t need any because she is already so sweet! (Please see below for proof of this biased, yet objectively true statement.)


On the way out, we spotted two of my favourite celebrities!


They were quite standoffish though. Kept looking off to the left, avoiding eye contact, and keeping an almost painted on smile on their faces. Disappointing to say the least!

Finally, we did a bit of festive posing of our own non-celebrity selves, to mark this lovely time we had to be together, just the two of us, before she departs for school.




What are your favourite high tea experiences?





New Year, New Reason to Sparkle!

There is no better excuse to wear sparkly things, drink sparkly drinks, and eat non-sparkly but outrageously decadent foods, than New Year’s Eve, baby!!!

And since I am constantly on the lookout for reasons to be festive and sparkly, you can bet your bottom bauble that I maximize NYE.

Robert and I started out at Duchess where I, by some wonderful twist of NYE fate, managed to get my hands on a chocolate bread pudding. Robert had his pet Tartiflette, and his required multi-selection of macarons. We tried the candy cane, eggnog, gingerbread, and Robert’s true love – salted caramel.



After Duchess, we went home, got all sparkled up, and Ubered over to the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald for festive cocktails in the Confederation Lounge. There really is no more festive place than the Hotel Mac for grown-up yet partyish drinks. I had the Raspberry 75, which I love, and the Flower Royale, which included bubbles and St. Germain. But even more AMAZING was the sight of Robert in his new Utkilt!



This was my Christmas present to Robert, and I do think that it’s the gift that just keeps on giving…;)


We posed by the Christmas tree, but even though I was wearing my “Stephanie” dress by Workhall, which has a beautiful peplum that hid adorable black lace that matched the lace panel at the bottom of the dress, I fear that the wee laddie Robert of the moors of Westmount outshone me at every turn!


After we finished at the Mac, we headed home to enjoy the bubbles and festive foods collection that we had carefully curated (grabbed at 4 pm that day) for our at-home NYE. We started off with smoked salmon, cheese boards, charcuterie and a classic lowbrow baked cheese dip. Paired (poorly, and without a care to what works!) with the food were Kir Royales and Prosecco with violet liqueur cocktails.


We picked up some delights from Duchess earlier in the day. Had to have the Duke since I am so deeply in love with the whipped chocolate ganache and the salted caramel layer, not to mention the beauty of it!


We also chose the Montreal Tarte – more ganache, spiced caramel this time, and soooo wintery good! It’s that beauty in the middle, surrounded by dark chocolate meringues!


Finally, we tried the showpiece – the Galette des Rois! This grande dame of pastries intrigued me with its whimsy, so we HAD to get it! To galette it up, the youngest person has to hide under the table and call out the names of the guests. The pastry is then served in that order, and the person who finds the fève, or ceramic tile hidden in the cake, is crowned the king or queen for the night, literally!


P.S. Rhubarb, cassis, AND cardamom?! Yes, please!

The galette did not disappoint – layer upon layer of rich, buttery, flaky pastry with just the right amount of subtle, wintery flavour.

Roni, the most youthful of us all, hid.


And Robert, already the king of Engelwood, did not choke on nor break a molar on, the fève!


P.S. Did I mention rosé champagne raspberry floats?



So festive! I didn’t include the questionable photos of Lord Andrew Clinterty in a Happy New Year dunce cap, or of various noisemakers being blown in an undignified manner, or of our dogs begging for smoked salmon and biting certain guests, but you’ll have to trust me, that the night was full of sparkly, and possibly lawsuit-inducing, surprises!


How did you spend your NYE? Hope it was sparkly!









Sweaty Sunday

I try to fit in my longer run on the weekend, whether it’s a Saturday or Sunday. Sometimes it will be a Sweaty Saturday. Sometimes it will be a Sweaty Sunday. But I know that if I’ve left it too long, and it’s turning into looking like a Sweaty Monday might have to happen, I have let the Alliteration Accountability gods down. I was proud of myself this past weekend when I kept the Accountability going by engaging in some Sunday Sweaty Sprinty Speedwork.

Okay, I trotted. But trotting doesn’t start with S and it CERTAINLY doesn’t make me feel Strong, Superior, or Superfit. However, it’s tough to just get yourself out there when you’re dealing with illness or injury, and such is the case with me lately. There was a time when my long run was generally 20-35 km. Right now, I’m lucky if I get in 16-18. It’s easy to compare my new and unimproved slower self to my old and mythical faster self, but that often just leads me to want to not get out at all. Vicious circle of doom, self!

So yesterday, I decided I would be kind to myself on this run. I would run at any ol’ pace I chose. I would stop and look at the river if I wanted to. I would smile at and even chat with passersby. These types of behaviours, though normal for trotters and walkers, are NOT ALLOWED when I am running in the zone. But since the zone is about 87.45 spatial and temporal dimensions away from where I currently reside, I gave myself permission.



I actually BACKTRACKED to take this photo by Hawrelak. I am not allowed to backtrack when I run. But I found out that it’s actually not so bad to go back and take a second look sometimes. This hill, though a weekly contributor to my IT band issues, is so pastoral and brings you right down to the river.


When I started my run, by Mackenzie Ravine, it was so overcast, misty, and foggy, I felt like members of the undead were about to appear from behind every aspen and birch. 30 minutes in, the sun appeared.


Look at our big, beautiful river. I do love this time of year for the stark and haunting look of the landscape. I feel so relaxed, being kind to myself on this gentle and calming run, I break into inspirational song. “All the leaves are brown (except for that lone holdout on the left there) and the sky is gray (well, the clouds)… I went for a walk (a TROT, ok?? A TROT!  I realize that convoys of scooters with grocery baskets are passing me but it’s still a TROT, not a (shudder) walk, for the love of all things Mizuno! ) Breathe…..breathe….look at this next photo and feel calmerrrrr……….


Cute and calm bird on a cute and calm milk carton bird feeder! Much better…


Doesn’t this feel slightly apocalyptic? Actually, I think most of October and November in Edmonton is pretty much a preview of the apocalypse. I can totally picture a zombie falling off of the LRT bridge right now. Lots of sharp sticks around though, so I’m okay!


Granddaughter, once, long ago, automobiles traveled over this bridge, filled with people heading to do things like “jobs” and “school” and “looking hip at the farmers’ market”.

Grandmother? May I please have another piece of delicious lichen?

Yes, granddaughter. After you have sabred your daily quota of the undead.


Ooooooookayyyyyyyyyyyyyy…….WAY too much apocalyptic fodder in these pictures.


I love running by the legislature, especially in summer and at Christmas! My favourite moment is when I run by just as the bells start ringing at 6pm or whenever they enjoy ringing.

I bet you thought I was going to make a comment about how the grounds look dismal and dying and the building looks locked up and deserted by the governing faction in the wake of the impending zombie apocalypse.

C’mon, people. You watch WAY too much TV.  After all, I’m just out for a trot on my Sweaty Sunday!

Distance: 16.8 km (accepting this kindly on behalf of new kindtomyself self)

Time: really really long due to trotting and snapping photos and reflecting on impending doom of earth as we know it.

Goal for next Sweaty Sunday: At least 17 km and to focus more on live people than on undead peeps.





Lux Red Carpet Event Beauty Awards at High Street

Wow, just TYPING all of that hoity-toity text made me feel like a high-class kind of dame. Now, I’m not sure I’d classify myself as a high-class kind of dame, but I WOULD classify myself as a highly-prone-to-maximizing-extravaganzas-and-deals kind of dame. And maximize I did, this past Sunday, at the Lux Beauty Boutique Red Carpet Event.



Lux has closed their festive and bedazzled doors at High Street, so that they could open some different festive and bedazzled doors at High Street, just 2 sets of non-festive and non-bedazzled doors away. They now have an upstairs and a downstairs and the downstairs is where I want to have most of my birthday parties from now on. You can order in food, cart in drinks, lounge on their adorable and highly hip thrift shop style furniture, and get yourself prettified. This is good news for girls like me, who, at the age of actually-pretty-old, STILL don’t know how to do their makeup right!

That’s right. I love Lux. Luv Lux. I have Lux Luv. But I can’t cover/shellac/contour/lusterize for the life of me. I love Lux for the experience. I LOVE that they have stayed right in my 102 ave. bridge-stressed neighbourhood through all the dire and discouraging moments. I love their selection of smelly things. I love that I can get my Bumble & Bumble shampoo and conditioner there AND get points for it. I also love that if I time it right, I can restock said hair products whenever Lux has one of its glamorous events, at which I can either spin a wheel o’ prizes, snag a bag of swag, and/or win an amazing gift basket! (HAS NOT HAPPENED YET. NOTE TO LUX : AM WAITING PATIENTLY.)

I also have kind of a thing for Voluspa candles, which you can buy at Lux, or at a million other places, it seems now! (I’m going to totally ignore the fact that they are now for sale at Chapters – makes them smell just a little less exotic and just a little more Oprahbookclubbish.) This time, I brought the intrepid Robert with me and he settled in to choose our next candle.

We settled on Moso Bamboo, which is musky and cypressy and, I think, exudes quite an alluring and sensual scent. (Ok, the Voluspa adman thinks that, but I felt so mysterious writing those alluring and sensual words, I just had to go with it.)

While you feast your eyes on that beautiful  and ornate candle vessel, allow your eyes to drift upward in this photo that was supposed to be cropped, but avoided aforementioned croppage due to a mini-revelation. While I was inspecting the photo to see if any omnipresent 5 inch dog hairs had drifted into the frame, I noticed that somehow, by the luck of all things Danish and Scottish, I had captured three of my favourite lovely things! Alluring and sensual (ha) Voluspa candle, cookie jar full of Valrhona cocoa cookies, and bottle of  pretty good French wine. Really, all I have to do is light candle, pop cookie jar lid, and pour wine, and I’ve got a grown-up version of university de-stressing faves.

(For a liberating university version, replace Voluspa candle with twinkle lights strewn about bohemian closet-sized bedroom, Valrhona cookies with mega-pack of Double Stuf Oreos, and pretty good French wine with seriously bad Royal Red/Baby Duck/Copper Moon/Naked Grape.)

Note: As I am writing this, I have just realized: WHY do all of those wines bear monikers of 2 syllable-1 syllable form? Have I unearthed some kind of strange and surreal Da Vinci Code sort of ancient messaging system? Is there a desperate cry for help embedded in the names of many of the vinegary wines of today? Will members of an ancient secret society be hunting me and my 5 inch-haired dogs into oblivion as reprisal for this timely and shocking revelation?

But, I digress. (STRANGE, I know.)

Just go to Lux. If you love to breathe in beauty and scents, and chat with really friendly and knowledgeable and fun girls who know how to do their makeup, just go!





Might as well start with Duchess!

Writing about Duchess Bake Shop just seems like the correct celebratory way to start off my new digiwebsinternets journal! (The word blog is just so…blaawwwgggish)

Robert, my delightful husband, and I, walked over to our long-time favourite provider of coma-inducing baked lovelies. You have to know the treats are of astronomical quality if Robert will agree to wait in a long line of  elbows poking and toddler limbs flailing only to have to sit within 1.784 dm of neighbouring YELLY lady who could not seem to communicate any of her points to her luncheon partners without YELLING repeatedly and with gusto. I think he repeated his mantra, “There are wayyyyyy too many people in this world” about 5 times.

But, I digress. (How ODD for me.)

As is our wont, we ordered too much, with Robert telling the server, “We aren’t going to eat all of this HERE, for goodness sake. Of COURSE, we are taking most of it home.” This truly is our intention, every time. We are such innocents.

I started with my usual question: “Is there any chocolate bread pudding left?” Nope. Will I ever get my arse out of bed in time to catch the limited production run of my absolutefavourite? Must make it a weekend goal at some point. To soothe my chagrined soul, I ordered the small pumpkin pie, the savoury mushroom brioche, and a German gingerbread tea. I’ll blame the rest on Robert – the everything danish, the Hummingbird  loaf, 4 macarons (rose, caramel apple, Mexican hot chocolate and salted caramel), brioche pepin and a latte. Poor Robert was so depressed when he realized he had neglected to order his beloved tartiflette!


If you’ve never had the pumpkin pie from Duchess, and you are a pumpkin pie lover, you have erred mightily and you have only until the end of October to right your wrong! This pie is a weighty beast full of heavy cream and smacking of molasses. I can never finish a small pie, and that is truly saying something. SO GOOD.


The two savoury goods we well, savoured, were both so yummy, but so different. The mushroom brioche was subtle with cream cheese and a mushroom jam, and then some lovely mixed mushrooms. What I loved best was getting a snippet of thyme with my bite of mushroom. Felt like we were eating the brioche on a blanket at a picnic in a French forest. The everything danish really grabbed Robert. (those cheeky Danes!) The flavours were stronger and the leeks tasted so fresh. Robert marveled at the flakiness of the pastry – a Duchess signature!

The hummingbird loaf is an adorable-sized loaf of a nutty banana bread with cream cheese icing. Cream cheese icing is basically my kryptonite. And let me tell you, cream cheese icing can be done WRONG (as a certain orange-hued presidential candidate might say). This icing is a great balance of sweet and cream cheese. The only thing to improve is to quadruple the amount. (kidding. not kidding. at all.)  loaf

Robert loves his macarons and is a big fan of saying the word correctly. His all time favourite is salted caramel, but every month, he likes to try the new offerings. (Robert’s observations: Mexican hot chocolate was amazing, salted caramel please marry me, rose was smooshy but yummy, and caramel apple tasted like caramel apple.)


The brioche pepin was also a Robert favourite, and he said that it tasted better than ever! I have to agree. Maybe because we haven’t eaten it for a few months, but the vanilla bean creaminess and the chocolateyness melded together in its superbuttery bed of brioche just perfectly today. Yum!

I might also note that when we go to Duchess, I don’t just notice the baked delights. Without fail, there are always interesting fashion/hair/makeup/general look aesthetics going on, whether from customers or employees. Girl with long brown hair in ponytail with red lipstick, I LOVED your striped dress with speckled brown wool tights. You are an inspiration! I also envied the carefree bun of the blonde haired server there who, unlike me when I do a casual bun, did not look she was harbouring a bushy-tailed animal in her coif. And mesmerized I was by the realllly high nude stilettos of girlwithenormousdiamondring who, I might add, did not wobble one bit as she walked back and forth to fetch her latte and spoon and so on. Well done!

Yes, well done, all. We finished ALMOST all of our baked goods and had two rounds of our latte and tea. Thank you again, Duchess, for a lovely Sunday outing!