Happy Holidays!

Dearest readers,

It’s been a busy year for Robyn and I and after a great deal of soul searching, we decided that we’ve earned a holiday.  Today will be our last post until (the weekend) after the New Year.  We will be back on January 9th, well rested, and full of awesome new ideas, places, music, design and events to share with you.  Maybe, if you’re really lucky, I’ll even learn a thing or two about photoshop and jazz up the site a little.  Who knows what crazy things could happen on eight hours of sleep!!!

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Happy week after Hanukkah, Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!!!

xoxo, Kelly & Robyn

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Christmakwanzakkah Canadiana style

This Tuesday evening was our (“our” being Robyn and I) annual Christmakwanzakkah (we like to be inclusive) party with our super awesome girl friends.  For a few years now, we’ve all used the holiday season as an excuse to get together, fight over presents, drink wine, and eat too much food (I realised as I typed that that with the exception of gifts, this sounds like most weekends, but I digress…).  The past couple years we’ve adopted a theme for our secret santa gift exchange.  I think this twist was suggested by me, likely because I am obsessed with theme parties and the only way to get Robyn on board is to combine the theme with gift giving.  Last year we took a page from one of the great film classics (How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days) and adopted a “frost yourself” theme.  This year, in part in honour of our dear Becca’s pending departure for the Big Apple, we decided to run with Canadiana.

As always, we did an awesome job with the gift giving, and this year we managed to get through it without any hair pulling (though the fight over the onesie was pretty heated).  From moose prints to maple scented candles, we all took home a lovely token of each other and of the true north strong and free.

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I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure I’ve got the best damn friends in the whole wide world.  They’re pretty cute too, no?

Editors note: Thank you for reading my entirely gratuitous post.  I promise to be less mushy and more awesome in 2013.  In the meantime, put on your onesie and go hug someone you love.

Last Minute Gifts

LESS THAN A WEEK UNTIL CHRISTMAS!!!

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If you’re one of those super awesome organized people who already has all of their Christmas shopping done, wrapped in hand stamped kraft paper, meticulously labelled and under your perfectly decorated tree, then you can stop reading now and go pour yourself a glass of the mulled wine you’ve probably got simmering on the stove. The rest of you poor suckers are in luck.  Read on to find a list of the best (i.e. easily accessible) places for last minute shopping and tips on how to add a thoughtful element to these box store delights.

1) Chapters is a gold mine for easy gifts on the run.  Especially during the holidays, Chapters is well stocked with games, housewares, home decor and tsotchkes.  Pick up a basket from the dollar store and fill it with a throw blanket, a candle and a book – blammo – a gift for mom.  Swing by the LCBO and give one of these wine and book pairings a go – you’ve got your sister covered. Pick up a grill guide or manly cookbook and hit Canadian Tire for some heavy duty cooking gear – Dad’s done.  Grab a board game and some whiskey rocks and check the brother off the list.  Wam bam, one stop (okay, two or three stop) family shopping.

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2) The LCBO is an obvious and often thoughtless gift source.  At this time of year they help you out a bit with gift packs and fancy labels, but take it one step further – add that wine or whiskey book from Chapters, swing by B.Y.O.B. Cocktail Emporium and pick up some fancy bar tools/accessories or specialty bitters (or take the even easier route and hit Winners/Homesense for some glassware or a tray), or, if you have a few extra minutes give these DIY infusions or bottle stoppers a try. 6a00d8358081ff69e2017ee64863e8970d-800wi

3) Movie passes are an easy an inexpensive gift for someone you don’t know all that well, but are also terribly impersonal for the holidays.  Add a bag of Kernels specialty popcorn and some gourmet candy, or if you have a bit more to spend, pick up an air popper and some kernels for an at home movie experience.

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4) The Apple store is chaotic at this time of year for good reason: ipods, ipads and related accessories are high on many people’s wish lists.  Although these days most people under 60 already own an ipod, they’ve been around for long enough that it’s not unreasonable to own a few for different purposes.  For only $50 you can pick up an ipod shuffle and load it with new music and personalized playlists.  The shuffle is tiny, light weight and beats the pants off the iphone when it comes to participating in any kind of physical activity.

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5) Whole foods, markets, and gourmet/specialty food shops are a great stop for any food lover on your list.  Fill a basket with gourmet delights, add some fancy napkins, a cutting board or a set of cheese knives and you’re all set.  If you have access to Kensington Market, check out the Blue Banana for a one stop marketplace showcasing the goods of hundreds of small retailers and artisans.

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Happy shopping!!!

Listen: Top 10 Albums of 2012

As a music lover, I’ve got 3 favorite times of the year: Early spring when the weather warms up and bands start touring, summertime for music festivals and right about now: mid-December when the music critics and magazines start releasing their “Best Of” lists of the year.

With hundreds of new releases every Tuesday of the year, I can only listen to so many albums and  every year there will inevitably be an album or two that I get totally and utterly engrossed in for weeks at a time (in 2010, it was Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs and the Black Keys’ Brothers, last year was Bon Iver and Lykke Li’s Wounded Rhymes).  The release of the “Best Of” lists is exciting because I get to comb through and read about all of the albums that have received hype and accolades that have totally slipped under my radar. I tend to look to SPIN, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, Stereogum, Paste, and gorilla vs. bear.

Some recurring albums I’m seeing on a bunch of lists this year so far that I need to get my hands on include Death Grips, Poliça, Baroness, Cloud Nothings and Bat for Lashes.

Forget the music I missed, I want to share with you my favorite albums of 2012; music that inspired, entranced and consumed me.  In no particular order (because that would an insanely overwhelming task to undertake!):

  1. Frank Ocean – Channel Orange
  2. Grimes – Visions
  3. Japandroids – Celebration Rock
  4. Tame Impala – Lonerism
  5. Ellie Goulding – Halcyon
  6. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – The Heist
  7. The 2 Bears – Be Strong
  8. Alabama Shakes – Boys & Girls
  9. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Mature Themes
  10. Of Monsters and Men – My Head is an Animal

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City Voices

For a handful of reasons, I am so excited to tell you about City Voices: A Book of Monologues by Toronto Artists. Allow me to share them with you.

I am excited that a turbulent political climate that has affected arts funding and subsequently threatened the ability for arts to flourish in Toronto has inspired City Voices. Bringing together 28 distinct Torontonian voices to each tell their own story and perspective is the best way to celebrate the arts and show the importance of creativity, artistic talent and passion.

I am excited to be introduced to 28 new and established writers and playwrights of various ages (including one 13-year-old girl!), with various backgrounds, and certainly various life perspectives. Each monologue is delivered in a unique and fresh way. There are poems and prose, there is spoken word and there are monologues, some are sad, others funny, introspective and even heartbreaking. With 28 of them, you are bound to connect with at least a few.

I am excited that the ever eloquent Olivia Chow has written her own monologue to serve as the forward for City Voices. There are few Torontonians who would be a better fit for this role; more than anyone, Olivia Chow understands and celebrates the diversity of this city that is reflected in the book.

I am excited that, amongst other topics, this book touches on dating, relationships, gender and sexual orientation, mental health, immigration and diversity, and has opened my eyes to talented voices I’ve yet to hear. I’m making note of my favorite writers to seek out their work at future theatre productions.

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City Voices is currently available for pre-order on Amazon.ca and will be available starting this Wednesday, December 19 at the following Toronto shops: Theatre Books, the Tarragon Theatre and Glad Day bookshop for $14.95.

Join the book’s editors (and writers) Jenna Harris, Anila Pant and Ronit Rubinstein (and me!) for the launch party of City Voices this Wednesday evening beginning at 7:00pm at 12 Alexander Street (Buddies in Bad Times Theatre) for a chance to meet the writers and hear readings of some of the monologues. And a party planned by Ronit isn’t a party without a dance floor, so stick around to bust a move! See the Facebook event page for more details.