Canada, week 28

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That’s right, folks! I’ve officially done enough Canada-related stuff in the past week (and beyond) to merit another Canada update, at long last! Without further ado:

Pillow fight! I’m not actually sure who organized this, but I heard about it from a friend who was going and I was like “dude, I’m so in.” So yeah, I spent part of my Saturday in Nathan Phillips Square in a crowd of people who were whacking each other with pillows, sometimes half-heartedly and sometimes downright viciously. For my part… well, let’s just say I had a lot of pent-up frustration to express, no thanks to the week I had last week, so anybody who tried to dunk on me got pretty solidly walloped. (If any of you are reading this, perchance, sorry about that 😂)

What a beautiful day for a giant pillow battle.

Just more pretty Toronto pictures: in case it wasn’t already painfully obvious how much I love this city.

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(I didn’t actually go looking for Honest Ed’s — I just happened upon it. Funny how that tends to happen to me in Toronto.)

Food: I’ve got several highlights from the last few weeks to make up for the lack of Canada posts.

  • Manna Korean Takeout in Westdale. I’ve been eyeing this place ever since I moved here, but I only tried it recently. I feel like getting ramen takeout, which I did at Manna, is just peak college. Holy crap, though, it was so good. I don’t know what the lady there put in the broth — possibly Sriracha? Whatever it was, it reminded me of the ramen my family had every Monday night when I was a kid, which was augmented with a generous dollop of Ragu. Perfect comfort food. I want to go again, but I’m also kind of irrationally afraid that it won’t be as good the second time.
  • Hosu, at Queen and John in Toronto. The place doesn’t exactly stick out amid the explosion of restaurants on this section of Queen Street, but the wonton soup and avocado salad I got (which was quite literally just a thinly sliced portion of avocado on top of some lettuce) was nevertheless good food for a good price.
  • The Starving Artist, at College and Ossington in Toronto. Everything is waffles here. I’m not kidding — everything. Unfortunately, I went late enough that they were only serving dessert waffles, so I have yet to try their lunch options, but you can bet I’ll be back. The two guys on staff when I was there were incredibly nice, too, so the place gets points for great customer service as well.
  • New York Fries.  Shoutout to this place for having poutine gravy that’s so good I still can’t believe it’s vegetable gravy.
  • Eden’s, on Main Street in Hamilton. My cohort met here for breakfast the last day of our Wednesday morning pro-seminar. I was a little too sleepy to remember much about the place beyond (1) the pancakes I got were fantastic, and (2) the place had a piano I somehow resisted the temptation to play.

Also, I’ve got another episode of Grad School Kitchen for ya! I didn’t actually create the recipe in this episode, but I’ve been using it a lot regardless because it’s probably the easiest bread recipe ever. Yeast-free, takes like ten minutes to mix, makes a really thick country-style bread. Storebought? Screw that.

Coffee: Yeah, sure, I’ve been hitting up Augusta and Tim’s a lot, but I do have a couple other places to highlight as well.

  • Cannon Coffee, at Ottawa and Cannon in Hamilton. This place is right across from the church where Sunset Boulevard rehearsals take place, so I’d probably be going there a lot even if it wasn’t anything special. It is absolutely something special, though. I’ve had quite a few things off their menu by this point — maple latte, some phenomenal tea I don’t remember, apple cider, goat cheese and dill scone — and I’ve never been disappointed. (I have yet to try their waffles; I’ll make it out there during waffling hours someday.)
  • Chocolat on James. This place is a candy store and an ice cream shop as well as a coffee place, but I only got a chai latte. The barista was savvy enough to ask if I wanted cinnamon on top, and I now know that is the absolute best way to consume a chai latte ever, so that barista is kind of my hero.

What I’m reading: I worked my way through Kurt Vonnegut’s Timequake Two this week, while various loaves of bread were baking. Like any other Vonnegut work, it messed me up. In a good way… I think. For example:

Or try this on for size:


Yeah. I’ll just leave that there.  Along those lines, though…

Action items:  As always, pay attention to all the important stuff Celeste Pewter is saying on Twitter.  Also keep an eye on the special senatorial election in Georgia; depending on how big voter turnout it, Jon Ossoff could have a real chance at winning Tom Price’s old seat.  If you live in Georgia or know anybody in Georgia, particularly in that district, go vote or encourage your friends to go vote.  Even if you’re like me and don’t live in Georgia, spread the word.

What I’m watching: Buffy, of course (and there’ll be more of that coming this week!), but also Bomb Girls, for a different class and a different paper. Bomb Girls is so soapy and melodramatic — and surprisingly graphic in a couple places? Maybe I’m just squeamish but I had to look away — but even so, I’m captivated. The main characters are very realistically flawed, they screw up in some really morally gray ways, and the show embraces that ambivalence rather than trying to neatly resolve things. (For the most part, anyway. Gladys, as much as I like her, is a little too perfect.)

Music: 

I’ll probably be back in a couple days with more Buffy livetweeting. Till then, adieu!

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Canada, weeks 21 and 22: vacation edition!

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Hello again!  Look at me sort of kind of getting back to my normal blogging schedule, golly.  It’s almost like I’m a responsible adult who has her life pretty much together or something.  So weird.

ANYWAY:  There is actually going to be zero Canada in this post (literally nothing of note happened last week), so the title’s a little deceptive.  But instead, you all get a wealth of pictures from my reading week vacation!  I spent approximately two days in Madison and two in Chicago, hanging out with friends I haven’t seen in ages and eating so much good food and basking in great architecture.  Tactically speaking, going on vacation probably wasn’t the best decision–I have so much to do now that I’m back–but it’s fine, I got to snapchat museums, I’m good.

So, without further ado…

First up:  the saga of the garbage cookie.

I flew out of Toronto via Billy Bishop City Airport for a change.  The only airline that flies in or out of that airport is Porter, which I’d never even heard of till a couple of my professors recommended it to me.  The thing about Porter is that they only have about 60% of their life in order at any given time–my flight was supposed to leave at noon but we didn’t even start boarding till 11:55–but they valiantly attempt to make up for it in their free food and beverage selection.  Most airlines will give you peanuts, maybe, or super bland pretzels or terrible trail mix.  Porter, on the other hand, gives you three food options:

  • Terra brand veggie chips
  • Blue Diamond almonds
  • Some sort of cookie thing!

When the flight attendant came by and offered me the basket full of needlessly highfalutin’ food, I saw the word “cookie” and immediately pincered one of those things.  I started lifting it out of the basket–so I was already at the no-takes-backsies point, right–and that’s when I saw it.  The cookie flavor.

Milk chocolate raisin.

What kind of sadistic, horrible person would PURPOSELY put RAISINS in a PERFECTLY INNOCENT CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE?

But I’d already touched the package!  It would have been weird to be like “nah tho,” especially since neither of the other choices looked too appetizing at that moment.  So I took the cookie, gave the flight attendant my most sympathetic, I-worked-in-customer-service-once-too smile, and stuffed the cookie in my backpack the second he moved on.

Fast forward a few hours:  I was on a bus to Madison, I wasn’t due to arrive in town for another couple hours at least, and I was absolutely frelling starving.  “Aw darn it,” I thought, “I don’t even have any food with me–”

Wait.

I still had the cookie.

I won’t lie, I debated just going hungry for a solid ten seconds.  But eventually I went “screw it,” fished the cookie out of my backpack, and ate the garbage cookie, raisiny parts first.  Tasted like humble pie.

(And on my return flight, I got the veggie chips.  Fool me once, Porter.)

Anyway, now for more pretty pictures and less garbage-cookie melodrama.

Madison, Wisconsin:

Y’all, I love this place.  I could totally live here.

For real, Madison perfectly blends that hip college town vibe with a Midwestern sensibility.  The sheer hipster of it all can get a little ridiculous at times, I’ll admit; the moment I clambered out of my friend Isaac’s car on Willy Street, I heard the dulcet tones of a street marimbist, of all things.  But honestly, I ate it up.  I loved every second of it.  It’s everything Hamilton wants to be–and can be, I think, once it deals with its gentrification growing pains and figures itself out.  I could rhapsodize more, but I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

The state capitol building:  Wisconsin has the most chill capitol building I’ve ever heard of.  You can just walk in and gawp during normal business hours, easy as you please.  And it’s well worth gawping at–the outside is impressive enough, but the interior is stunning.

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‘Round town:

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Monona Terrace:  Hi, Mom.  I know you’re reading this, and I also knew you’d probs fly up to Toronto just to chew me out if I didn’t see something Frank Lloyd Wright-related while in Madison, so here ya go. 😉

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FLW only designed the outside of the building, apparently; the interior, in contrast, is super-duper Generic Convention Center.  But the outside is rad as heck, and the views in all directions are gorgeous, so that’s cool.

The UW-Madison campus:

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When you visit a botanical garden in the dead of winter:

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I’m generally not a beer person, but… apparently fruit beers are a thing.  Giant shoutout to Nathan for introducing me to cranberry beer and cherry cider.

And now for what I’m sure y’all have been waiting for with bated breath*:  Snapchats!

*sarcasm.

Whitney Snapchats the Madison Public Library:

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Whitney Snapchats the Henry Vilas Zoo:  A small yet free zoo in the middle of Madison that–forgive me–scratched the zoo itch I’ve been having lately.  Perfect.

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Whitney Snapchats the Chazen Museum of Art:

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Coffee:  Beyond all the excellent coffee I consumed in conjunction with excellent food (detailed below), I dropped by a chain coffee shop that, for a chain, is pretty excellent.  It’s called Colectivo, and it needs to come to Canada asap because I miss it already.

Food:  Oh boy oh boy oh boy.  I think I’ll be dreaming about all the food I ate here for years.  Let’s do a quick rundown, shall we?

  • Buraka:  Ethiopian food, which I’d never had before but now want to stuff my face with for a week solid.  I went here with Isaac on Monday night, and we caught up over curry chicken and other sorts of chicken and injera.  Injera is a flat, spongy, almost crepey bread that you can use as an excuse to eat food with your hands, so naturally I was a huge fan of it.  We also had lentil samosas with this super spicy sauce that almost burned off my taste buds (because I’m a wimp who can’t handle spicy food).
  • Culver’s:  Okay, sure, I’ve been here before because there’s one in Mason City.  But honestly, this was what really made this place feel Super Duper You-Betcha Midwestern(TM) to me.
  • Bradburys:  Breakfast the next day, with Sydney, Nathan, Isaac, and our new Japanese friend Yuto.  I got the dark chocolate and salted caramel crepe, which was lifechanging, but Sydney was gracious enough to let me try her trout crepe as well.

    And here’s a nifty little deal Bradburys does, for all you caffeine hounds out there.  They’ll give you a free teensy cup of espresso, provided you drink it in the restaurant and you don’t put anything else in it.  So that was a much-welcomed wake-up call.

    Oh, and did I mention the place itself just plain looks cool?

  • Great Dane:  Tuesday lunch.  Pretty standard pub fare, except with about 100000% more cheese because this is Wisconsin.  I was stoked to see my beloved poutine on the menu, and it held up about as well as could be expected to actual Canadian poutine.  The gravy was a little different; I’m guessing Great Dane’s recipe has more flour in it.
  • Sal’s Pizza/Table Wine:  Tuesday dinner.  Sal’s is one of the legendary pizzerias in Madison, but it tends to not have enough seating to accommodate all its eager patrons… which is where Table Wine comes in.  I don’t know who thought one day, “Hey, what if I open a wine store where people can bring their own food in but buy wine to have with their meal?”  But whoever it was, they’re an absolute genius.  A whole bunch of us split three pizzas and two bottles of excellent red wine, and a phenomenal time was had by all.
  • The Chocolate Shop:  Sydney, Nathan, Jen, and I headed here after Table Wine and had assorted chocolatey goodies, including a teensy cup of Parisian hot chocolate split four ways because god, it was rich.

    (And their decor was perfect.)

  • Porter:  Wednesday breakfast.  Hilarious because I flew to Chicago via Porter, but probably only hilarious to me.  I had a liege waffle, which apparently is like a god-tier, mega-dense Belgian waffle coated in cinnamon sugar–and also super hot, as I found out when I tried to tug it out of the paper packet it came in and almost burned my finger.  Whoops.

    Also, it’s one of a few stores built into a literal old train depot.  As if this place wasn’t hipster enough already.

  • Estación Inka:  Wednesday lunch.  Pretty much everybody had told me this place served fantastic Peruvian food.  I’d been wanting to try Peruvian food for a good long while, and my god, was it ever worth it.  The arroz con pollo had cilantro rice.  I was in heaven.
  • Babcock’s:  The half-price ice cream parlor on the UW-Madison campus.  Don’t get me wrong, I still love Baskin Robbins, but this was quite literally the best ice cream I’ve ever had in my life.
  • Morris Ramen:  Wednesday dinner.  Y’all, this place is so hipster it doesn’t even have a sign out front.  This ramen joint is in an unmarked friggin’ building.  And as you’d hope of such a painfully hipster restaurant, the food is painfully good.

Next up:  Chicago!  Approximately in order…

God, I love this city:

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Whitney Snapchats the Art Institute of Chicago (Again):

Some of you may remember that I snapchatted this place in October 2015, when I went to see Laurie slay as Feste in Twelfth Night.  Well, unfortunately, my old phone threw the biggest of temper tantrums about two months afterward, restarted randomly one night, and in the process deleted several folders’ worth of pictures (and its entire learned dictionary, which is actually what I complained far more about).  I’ve been itching for a second chance at the Art Institute ever since, and it’s a good thing I was, because it turns out there’s so much I didn’t see last time.  I didn’t snapchat the whole museum–there’s a particular sweet spot in Western art history in which art can be ridiculous yet take itself extremely seriously–but I nevertheless spent about five and a half incredible hours in there.

Anyway, here, have yet more snapchats.

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And now for some serious photos of cool art:

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Star Wars trivia:  Laurie and I teamed up with another team of two, and together we had a pretty respectable showing despite being absolutely ripped to shreds in the first round (out of nine plus a bonus round).  I’m still perhaps overly proud of myself for remembering that Poe Dameron’s call sign is Black Leader.

Also, a signature Whitney(TM) moment:  during the “Star Wars in pop culture” round, the emcee asked, “which Marvel movie features Star Wars on a list–” and that was all it took.  I basically launched myself across the table at a teammate to spit out, “Captain America:  The Winter Soldier!”  Never let it be said that I don’t stick to my brand.

The UChicago campus:  Last time I was here, I spent a brief amount of time on this campus, but it was dark, so I didn’t get to fully appreciate the gorgeous architecture.  I was content just to revel in the atmosphere for several hours.

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Women and Children First:  Only the coolest little feminist indie bookstore I’ve ever been in.  I don’t know how I managed to only come away with one book.  If I’d had the means, I probably would have bought the entire bookstore and toted the inventory back to Hamilton with me.

The Neo-Futurists:  After dinner (more on that below), Laurie, Erin, Ashlyn, and I went to see the Neo-Futurists perform “These 30 Plays.”  Admittedly, I haven’t seen nearly as much theater in my life as I’d like, but this was still unlike anything I’d ever seen before.  There was no set order for the titular thirty plays–they just color-coded the plays and randomly selected one for whichever color-coded audience group screamed the loudest.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  Some of the pieces were surreal, some were just plain funny (in particular, “The Life and Death of a Zit” was hilariously unpredictable), and some were absolute truth bombs.  I actually got recruited to participate in one, “The Abstract Art of Getting to Know You,” and here’s the proof:

(Getting this back to Canada was interesting, lemme tell ya.)

I could gush about the show more, but frankly, I think that’d spoil the sheer frenetic joy of it for the rest of you.  So if you’re in the Chicago area or just planning to be in the Chicago area anytime remotely soon, definitely go see the Neo-Futurists.  The tickets are cheap, the plays are eclectic, and you’ll have a cracking good time.

Coffee:  So, uh, I was going to go to the Museum of Science and Industry on Friday afternoon, but I kind of ended up at Robust Coffee Lounge instead before just giving up on maps and heading back to the UChicago campus.  All I got here was a plain ol’ cup of coffee and some welcome wifi access, but it was definitely the kind of place I could relax in.

And wouldn’t you know it, the TV above the counter was playing the final episode of this year’s College Championship.  That was a nice little bit of serendipity.

I also had a pretty good vanilla chai from Peet’s, when I first got to Chicago.

Food:

  • At Fadó on Thursday night, I got these teensy little smoked salmon blini.  They were bite-sized, fantabulous, and half-price because it was happy hour.  Win.
  • Lady Gregory is in the same part of town as Women and Children First and the Neo-Futurists’ theater space.  I was cheap and only got a small plate of deviled eggs, batting cleanup for the others when needed, but the eggs were absolutely worth it.  They served them on a bed of cilantro, which pretty much made my entire life.

And a little bit of trivia for ya:  Lady Gregory is named for Isabella Augusta, the world’s most badass Irish dramatist and theater manager who you’ve probably never heard of.  (I hadn’t heard of her either, not till Laurie looked her up.)  She was a huge force behind the Irish Literary Revival and generally a super cool and underappreciated person.  New historical idol?  I think yes.

What I’m reading:  I got Sinclair Lewis’s It Can’t Happen Here at Women and Children First, after talking myself out of getting it at A Room of One’s Own Bookstore in Madison, and I started reading it on the plane ride back here.  It’s already terrifying.

What I’m watching:  Why did none of you jerks tell me Jon Batiste was on Colbert’s show????????  He’s my favorite.

(tbh I haven’t seen La La Land but I’m pretty sure this video alone is better than that whole movie don’t @ me) (I’m looking at you, Carl)

Action items:  Totally forgot about this section in the last post, whoops.  Anyway, here’s what you can do to help save the world this week:

  • Sign up for Daily Action!  It’s a super handy automated text service that’ll give you one thing to do each day.
  • Call your state-level reps about anti-protesting bills, if there’s one in your state.  I know the Oklahoma legislature is batting one around, and I also see Iowa on the map in the link.
  • This one is Oklahoma-specific:  seriously, people, call your state legislators about that divorce bill.  In case you somehow haven’t heard about it, one effect of this bill would be to make divorcing due to incompatibility a lot harder.  The bill’s author, Rep. Travis Dunlap, is trying to couch this in family-values language, but a bill like this would make it so much harder for people trapped in abusive marriages to get out.  Given that Oklahoma ranks sixth nationally for the number of women murdered due to domestic violence, this bill could be downright devastating.

Music:

Whew, that was a long update.  I may not be back with a post next week, because I’ve got a lot of schoolwork to get done in a very short period of time, but regardless, you’ll be hearing from me again soon 🙂  Toodles!

 

Canada, week 14

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Hello again!  This will be the penultimate post from Canada for this year, because I’m heading back to Oklahoma on December 14.  I plan to cram as much fun as I can manage into the week between the end of classes and my flight back (in addition to, y’know, actually doing my schoolwork and grading papers and stuff), and all of that will be in next week’s post.  For now, let’s recap the last week:

York University, again:  My research team went to York last Thursday for another archive dive.  The public computer terminals in the library were largely occupied, which meant we got to see even more of the on-occasion-literal concrete jungle that is York.  Unfortunately, my phone battery petered out before I could take more pictures (thanks to all my snapchatting, oops), but I did manage to get this shot of their engineering building…

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Yeah, I’ll admit it, that’s pretty cool.

Whitney Snapchats the Proquest Entertainment Industry Magazine Archive:

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More pretty Hamilton architecture:

Bryan Prince Bookseller:  I finally got around to checking out this place, right on the edge of Westdale Village.  It’s a super small bookstore, but the high ceilings and giant shelves make it feel imposing nonetheless.

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The spoils.

And an announcement:  Some of you may know already that I’ve been working on a modern-day retelling of Lady Audley’s Secret for my new media methods class.  I’m telling the story through Alicia Audley’s mostly anonymous Tumblr and her stepmother Lucy Audley’s very much public Instagram.  If you want, you can review my livetweet of the book here (though it’s not strictly necessary), and the posts Alicia makes that directly pertain to the plot are here.  However, I’d encourage you to browse through the rest of her blog–see what sorts of pictures she reblogs, get a better sense of her as a person.  Happy browsing. 🙂

(Side note, I’m still trying to figure out how to archive the story posts so that they form some sort of coherent narrative after the fact.  If anybody has any suggestions on that front, hit me up.  I’ve tried Storify and it’s absolutely not going to work.)

Coffee:  Ark + Anchor Espresso Bar is blessedly close to my apartment, just a few bus stops and a nice scenic walk past the Freemasons house away.  The bulk of the tables are upstairs, in a lovely high-ceilinged place with a lot of natural light.  This place is a lot like Durand in that their bookshelf is chock-full of stuff I’d love to read if I weren’t, well, a horrifically busy grad student.  The mocha I got there was absolutely killer.

Food:  I’ve been walking past Basilique, right across the street from Bryan Prince Bookseller, for the whole semester now, and tonight I finally decided to stop by there for dinner.  I got the beef shawerma, and yes, that’s how the menu spelled it.  I’m not sure if it’s a misspelling or some sort of regional difference.

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Turns out the last shawarma I had, at the now-sadly-closed Al Sultan Grill and Bakery in Tulsa, misled me a little bit.  Imagine my surprise when the shawarma I was served had lettuce in it rather than French fries.  It was still great, though–very gyro-like, and I actually found the meat easier to chew than gyro meat for some reason.  I definitely want to go back and try their falafel and pizza.

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Music:  WE’RE SO CLOSE TO THE END OF THE SEMESTER I CAN TASTE IT

That’s all for this week.  Next week’s post should be jam-packed, so… till then!

Canada, week 12

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Sorry this is late again, y’all–I had a draft of a research proposal due today, so I’ve been working my tail off on that.  (Grad school, where you give yourself crash courses in international relations at 1:30 in the morning.  Yayyyy.)

It’s going to be a short post this time around–this week has been a bit sluggish, much like the week before–but I’ve still got a few things for y’all.

First deerstalker sighting of the season:

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Not exactly the world’s best picture of me, but…

I was at the rally in Toronto on Saturday.  There were some really great speakers, lots of people showed up, nothing got ugly, and now I’m hoarse from all that chanting.

What I’m watching:

  • On a whim, I rewatched Epic, and my observations about it from back in 2013 still hold.  The animation perhaps isn’t as brilliant as Pixar’s, but it was still a really fun movie–save for the sheer baldfaced nature of the antagonist’s villainy.  That felt uncomfortably relevant.
  • On that note, I’ve also rewatched Shrek recently, and my god, I’d forgotten completely about the part where fairy tale creatures are literally being rounded up and sent to “resettlement facilities.”  Y’all, we basically just elected Lord Farquaad.  YIKES.
  • The latest few episodes of The Cate Morland Chronicles are basically perf.  This show is one of only a few things that’s brought me genuine no-holds-barred joy in the last couple weeks.  (Also, cause of death:  Canry.  Gawd.)

Coffee:  I haven’t actually written about Second Cup yet, so let’s give that a go.  Second Cup is a chain here, akin to Starbucks, but it differs in a couple respects.  I’d say the drinks themselves have a little less variety than at Starbucks (though I do love their caramel corretto latte), but the baked goods are markedly fancier, more akin to Crimson and Whipped Cream in Norman or CHOCS in Tulsa.  There’s a Second Cup in Westdale Village, right near my apartment, which makes it an attractive study spot except for the distinct lack of outlets.  I swear, everywhere there should be an outlet, there isn’t one.  It’s mildly irritating.

Perhaps the biggest difference between Second Cup and Starbucks, though, one that’s particularly prominent at the moment, is their holiday cups.

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*gasp*  Can it be?  No mention of Christmas?  Not even red or green???????

(Seriously, nobody tell the Starbucks protestors about this.  I’m pretty sure they’d actually short-circuit.)

Food:  I live right near Phở Rồng Vàng, right, and yet somehow I’d never been there till Thursday evening.

OH MY GOD WHAT WAS WRONG WITH ME.

The restaurant itself is so avocado-green on the inside that I felt like I’d gone back to the 1970s, but THE FOOD.  SWEET JESUS.

yum

Full disclosure, my dad is an excellent cook and makes wonderful pho, but even so, what I had at Phở Rồng Vàng might actually be the best bowl of pho I’ve ever had.  Maybe.  It’s a close freakin’ call.  It was a huge bowl, too, though I only ordered a medium, and yet I still absolutely inhaled it.  I’m honestly barely exaggerating.  It was HEAVENLY.

I also finally hit up Caribbean Flavah, which is in the same building as Phở Rồng Vàng, on Friday.  They have a super cheap lunch special, so I tried my first jerk pork along with rice.  The pork was a teensy bit fatty for my taste, but it was still super good.  The guy who boxed up my meal drizzled some of the pork broth on the rice as well, and I don’t know if that’s what made it so spicy, but dang.  There was actually enough rice in that little box for two meals, so later that day, I cracked an egg into it and nuked the lot.  (#gradschoolkitchen, amirite?)

Music:

That’s it for this week!  I should be back next Monday afternoon.  Toodles!

Canada, week 7

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Sorry this is late!  I had to put it off because my literature review for research methods was due Monday evening and I had a presentation in that same class on Tuesday.  Fun times.  But hey, y’all are going to get LOADS of pictures and updates this time around, so it’s a win-win.

Here, then, are all the highlights from this past week:

A little bit of Locke Street, again:

Whitney Snapchats the Art Gallery of Ontario:

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The Thinker:  My memory’s a little hazy on this front, but I seem to remember this guy being in a Rodin exhibition at the Philbrook about ten, fifteen years ago.  And then I ran into him again at the AGO.

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Long time no see, pal.

The Campbell House Museum:  Located at the corner of Queen and University.

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I learned SO MUCH about history in the half-hour I spent here:

  • The house itself was built for Sir William Campbell, former chief justice of “Upper Canada,” and his wife Hannah.
  • Sir William stepped off the boat that took him to the US and pretty much immediately met Hannah, who was a fisherman’s daughter.
  • “Upper Canada” – what was that, exactly?  The southern part of Ontario, apparently.  As if this couldn’t get weirder, Quebec was “Lower Canada.”  Ooooooookay, then.
  • Sugar wasn’t always granulated–up until about 1900, the method used to process sugar involved draining it in a funnel-like thing, which created a cone of sugar about two-and-some feet high.
  • Subsequently, in order to chip sugar off this big ol’ cone, people would use these things called “sugar nippers.”
    sugar20nippers
    Yeah, I know, it totally looks like an old-timey torture device.  Happy early Halloween…
  • The US actually tried to invade Canada during the War of 1812, and the Canadians beat them back at Stoney Creek–well, okay, I knew that part already, but it turns out it was a dang miracle that Canada won that battle.  The US had the military might and all the odds in their favor, and yet somehow a scrappy bunch of resettled former Americans, French, and god knows who else sent them scurrying back to the States.
  • Not only that, but the Canadians were the ones who set the White House on fire.
    hith-british-burn-washington-dc-200-years-ago-e
    “say maple syrup is awful one more time I DARE YOU” – a thing some Canadian commander totally said at some point

The waterfront:  guyyyyyyysssssssssss I can’t handle how gorgeous this place is

Just meandering around Toronto:

Iowa!  (Yeah, I know this isn’t Canada, but whatever.)  I spent the second half of reading week in Mason City, Iowa, visiting my extended family (if you’re reading this, hi ❤ ).  Initially I wasn’t sure I’d cover that trip in this post, but I just have to give shoutouts to a few places:

  • The Decker House.  We’ve stayed at this bed and breakfast the last three or four times we’ve been to Iowa, and every time has been fantastic.  The place itself is beautiful (as you’ll see in the photos below), and the staff is always endlessly kind and helpful.
  • The Macnider Museum, where my parents met back in 19mumble–my mom worked at the museum, and my paternal grandmother was and is super involved in the local arts scene.  My mom and I were talking about this just the other day, and she called me a museum rat, and it’s honestly one of my favorite things anyone’s ever said about me.  I kind of want it on a shirt now.
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We spent a whole morning just walking around Mason City, and I got some really gorgeous shots.  Fall has come to Iowa in spectacular fashion:

There’ll be more Iowa shoutouts in the coffee and food sections…

What I’m reading:  I got free books for the class I’m TA-ing, and I’ve been reading one of them on the various planes and buses I’ve been on in the past few days–The Culture of Connectivity:  A Critical History of Social Media by José van Dijck.  Not only is it a fascinating subject, but the book itself is super accessible, and even the academic jargon is explained really well.  If you can get ahold of this book, do it.

Coffee:  I just have to talk about Jitters, in Mason City.  I adore this place.  It’s not a proper visit to Mason City if we don’t go to Jitters.  I honestly wish I could teleport purely so I could go study at Jitters.  I’ve never had a bad cup of coffee there (though I recommend the sugar-free mocha frap and the Mexican mocha in particular).

❤ ❤ ❤

Food:  Four spotlights this week!

First up is Hey Lucy, on King St. in Toronto.  It’s a really oblong restaurant, with brick-wall ambiance and a strange yet lovable mix of sportsy Harley-Davidson decor and vintage stuff.  I had the bruschetta, and the taste is still haunting me.

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I also got a pic of the restaurant itself.

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Also, I didn’t manage to get a picture of it, but taking up the entire left wall in that back section was a poster that looked something like this (I don’t think it’s exactly this one, but it was the closest thing I could find):

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Yeah, apparently the Supreme Master of Magic is named… um, George.  I asked the waitress about it, and she said the old owner of the building knew this George guy, and they inherited that particular bit of decor from him.

Next up is Bareburger, on Dundas near Yonge.  It’s actually a chain based out of Brooklyn, but it’s gained some measure of Internet fame recently due to this sign:

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I saw that when I was walking down Dundas, looking for someplace to grab dinner, and I went OMG I SAW THAT THING ON THE INTERNET.  So obviously I had to check this place out.  I didn’t end up ordering that burger, but rather creating one of my own, and it was wunderbar.  One of the spread options on the menu was guacamole, and man, did they ever deliver on the guac.  The stuff was spilling off my burger.  It was great.

Moving on to Iowa:  Borealis Station is another one of our perpetual stops.  It used to be a DX station before it was converted into a coffee-and-ice-cream place.  We all had some killer raspberry sorbet there on Saturday.

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Lastly, I’ve got to sing the praises of the Decker House again, specifically of what seems to be one of their standard breakfast offerings:  eggs mornay.  Y’all, their eggs mornay are so good.  When I saw it was on the menu for breakfast, I literally heard an angel choir singing the Hallelujah Chorus in my head.  I’m not saying I’d stay there just for the eggs mornay, buuuuuuuut…

Music:  Since my literature review was all about superheroes, I’ve been listening to a lot of MCU soundtracks this week.

Whew, that was a lot of updates.  That’s it for this week, though!  See y’all on Monday!

Monday, part 1: SMOKED SALMON!

Standard

As I’d predicted the night before (prior to conking out around 9 pm), I had a bit of a hard time getting out of bed the next morning.  I’m glad I did, though, because for breakfast we (Angie included this time!) went to Aroma Coffee and Tea Co.

Aroma is on Tujunga Avenue, one in a line of cafés and boutiques that all exude rich hipster.  They abut a neighborhood filled with gorgeous houses of a moderate age, including a couple haciendas (a style to which I’m partial).  We circled the block in an attempt to find a parking place, gawping at all the pretty houses, before parking just shy of Tujunga and walking the rest of the way.  As Mom explained en route, all the big head-honcho producers and directors frequent Aroma.

We stepped inside and looked at the breakfast menu, and I about had a fit of joy.  Why?  Because they actually served smoked salmon.  I’d fallen in love with smoked salmon during my three weeks in England (more about that here).  The stuff I bought at Target and the stuff I found in my favorite sushi didn’t really cut it for me, so I was feeling pretty smoked-salmon-deprived at this stage.  But anyway, we all ordered breakfast and lattes.  I amused myself while everyone else ordered by giggling at this:

Blood orange soda

That’s blood orange soda, if you can’t see it too well.

Ah, Project Runway.  Gif courtesy of tumblr user netscapeme.

We sat out back, on the patio.  The sky was clear, and it was just a brilliant day in general.  Mom took the opportunity to snap a few pictures.

Dad and Claire

Dad’s on the left, and Claire’s on the right.

Dad and me

Our food came somewhere in there.  I got really emotional over the smoked salmon.

Smoked salmon

That’s a poached egg on top of smoked salmon on top of a potato pancake. I’m drooling just from looking at it.

My breakfast was excellent, as was my vanilla cinnamon spice latte.  Everyone else’s breakfast was just as excellent.

Also, I’m pretty sure this guy was at the table next to ours.

Aasif Mandvi.  If you’ve seen The Internship, this guy played the Google boss. Image from monstersandcritics.com.

Eventually, we left Aroma.  A kind passerby took a picture of us outside the place.

Dad, me, Mom, Claire, and Angie outside Aroma, looking quite spiffy.

That’s actually Claire’s coffee. Somehow, Dad got stuck holding it.

Before this trip, when we were still in the planning stage, we’d talked about spending Monday at Universal Studios.  That… definitely didn’t happen.  Mom suggested we go to Mulholland Drive and just putter along there for a while.  Nobody had any objections, so that’s where we went.

Fairly early on, we spotted a scenic outlook and parked there.  This particular scenic outlook not only had an excellent view of LA, but it also allowed us to see the Hollywood sign.  Of course, we took a lot of pictures.

View of Los Angeles from the Mulholland Drive Scenic Overlook

The view.

A rather steep dropoff, populated heavily with poky-looking bushes and grass.

Yikes.

The Hollywood sign, viewed from a distance

Claire and me holding hands while jumping off a low bench thing

Scenic, right?

After we’d had our fill of precarious rock formations and Dad had wiggled the car out of our now-very-tight parking spot, we drove on.  We didn’t stop at any more scenic outlooks, but that didn’t stop me from taking more pictures of the views.

View of Los Angeles from Mulholland Drive

Dang.

I’m pretty sure I was the only one paying any real attention to these.  Mom, Claire, and Angie all professed to be nauseous, and Dad was driving.

Mom and Angie did freak out, though, when they saw a fire station.  Not for any reason you might think of, I guarantee it.  No, they freaked out because they’re both in the Emergency! fandom.  (Here, enlighten yourself.)  “Is that station 51?” they kept asking each other.  As it turned out, it wasn’t.

Eventually, we ended up near Bel-Air.  Dad parked the car at another scenic overlook (for what reason, I don’t remember), and the rest of us stayed in the car.  Mom, of all people, was the one to cue up the Fresh Prince theme song on her phone and play it.

By this point, we were pretty thirsty.  LA has no QuikTrips, either, so we were at a bit of a loss as to where to get something to drink.

Then Mom had a brilliant idea – Santa Monica Pier.

Next time:  I’ll interrupt this travel-writing streak to talk about my quarterfinal game.  Get excited.