Category Archives: Do This Not That

Kristin’s Sharp New Brows

Most things can be fixed with duct tape. Some things can be saved with a Sharpie pen. Off I went this morning to Staples to get a stamp made for my business cards saying “visit my blog: mytorontoeh.com” AND for a black Sharpie pen to cross out a certain line to save myself from ordering another 2000…it is Earth week after all. I love a small chore and a visit to Gerrard Square. I never come out empty handed, am a sucker for a kiosk where they have some really good ones for iPhone covers and danglies for the rearview mirror. Today I wasn’t really there to browse because I meant business and so did the cholita who served me. Lovely girl and amazing service but! eyebrows that were part Joan Crawford and other part Grade 6 Geometry, all angles and arches and curves in perfect symmetry and coloured in with the precision of a true artiste. I relate to Joan Crawford who once called her one wild, curly, errant eyebrow hair “Oscar” and she refused to let her makeup artist pluck “him” out. Me, I’m not so attached to my Oscars as they make me look like a grouch. So off I went to The Brow House to get my brows “designed” for the first time in all my 80 years. Yes, I have been using tweezers but also kitchen shears to trim them. I am the pot calling the kettle black when I obsess over other people’s eyebrows. Eyes may be the windows to the soul but the brows are their gossip columns.

The Brow House 1256 Queen Street East, east of Leslie

The ladies at the Brow House take eyebrows seriously. They combine art and science when creating the perfect brow. The fuzzy small hairs are waxed and the long ones are plucked. Oscars are brushed and trimmed. The absentee ones that you lost from old age or overplucking are reborn with a special wand filled with cholita dust and feathered on with precison strokes that God should have done in the first place. Does it hurt? I don’t know, who cares? Do I look exquisite? Yes, I do:

Next trip: Botox Village

What to Wear? Hint: Not Yoga Pants

Stupid Lululemon.  In my winter of discontent, I wore black yoga pants almost everyday…all covered in dog hair, with visible panty lines in a misguided attempt to cover up the camel toe.  Initially I trusted them make me look cute at the gym but instead all they did was cradle my expanding girth.  The irony, and oh, the humanity.  But Spring has sprung, my leaky nostrils and quivering loins tell me so…and as you know through recent posts I have been Eating Better (except for the fry truck, gravy shot at CanTire,shhh) and I have been hula hooping, getting the old mojo pumped.  Today I took a Pilates class for the first time and I liked it!  I`ll keep up with it in the summer, there is no way I will wear Spanx in July.  With the turn of the season, the age old question is what to wear?  I am a Lady Of a Certain Age with the mentality of a 12 year old boy.  Earlier this month at the One of a Kind Show, I bought a dress from Precocious.  They make dresses out of old tshirts:

They even do custom work so you can wear your ex- boyfriend’s Ed Hardy tshirt mixed in with some other remnant, like the ubiquitis 3 Wolf Moon shirt from 2009….yes, I have one:

I can’t wait to see what couture they come up with this …www.precociouscouture.com and by appointment 416-895-8537.

Also at the One of a Kind Show was IF: Indivially Fashioned  http://www.iftoronto.com/ with some very cool dresses that would appeal to women of all ages.  This Sunday, April 18, there is a special sale at Praxis Gallery 1614 Queen St WEST (West!!!  Go west this time, which is why it is a Field Trip), 3 blocks east of Roncasvailles, 11 am to 5 pm…sounds like fun and I hope to get there after the Sprockets Festival (see previous post).

Last Fall, I particularly liked Banana Republic for it Madmen theme …http://www.amctv.com/originals/madmen/ and duh, obviously I am Joan.  For my Real Estate Lady outfits, I embraced saturated colours and pencils skirts.  And Spanx, of course.  But I’m going to soften things up this spring and shop in this store, Sweetings, on Queen Street East:

Here is Maria, the shop owner’s daughter with her favourite dress.  There’s lots to choose from here and I love to support local clothing boutiques because they have unique pieces.  Sweetings is at 1920 Queen St East, 2 blocks east of Woodbine  http://www.sweetings.ca/  So If I am caught wearing yoga pants this summer, it is because I am to and from a Pilates class and didn’t have time to change, that’s my story for now.

Kristin’s Mojo Rising

my hula hoops: the answer to core conditioning or potential dust collectors?  We shall see!

This story starts with a hula hoop and ends with pot stickers, just follow along.  You know how people always say “everything happens for a reason” as though there is some all knowing force with a hidden agenda maneuvering us along like some kid at a Nintendo console playing Pokemon Stadium?  It’s a frustrating concept, believe me I know, as though losing your job or getting dumped feels good knowing you’re going to have to come up with a resume or make up a profile on Plenty of Fish when all you want to do is take to the bed.  For me, I feel the gods of fate just seem just make their abitrary moves at commercial breaks so I don’t really take them all that seriously.  I do, however, notice signs.  You know how when you learn a new word and then you hear it all the time….it`s not like that word didn`t exist, it`s just that you weren`t paying attention. I learned the word `kiosk` in university and even though I had been going to the Orange Julep stand (aka. kiosk) all my life, I didn`t know what it was called. What a revelation!    Well the other day, I was at my gym, doing my usual meandering, fantasizing, sighing combo, when I noticed a hula hoop resting against the wall.  I love to hula hoop!  At least I used to, and I even won a hula contest in the Bahamas years ago on a stage, in the wind, in a bikini.  But I was too afraid to try it…I was in the gym afterall, where people go through great painstaking measures to ignore you, yet they are watching all side eyed so you better act normal.  But the next day, I was skimming through the Star and there was Marisa Tomei (she`s a LOCA, too…lady of a certain age) talking about how she looked so good naked in The Wrestler thanks to….the Hula Hoop!!  Well who doesn’t want to look good naked, if even just for the neighbours across the street?  So back at the gym, I picked up that hoop…and guess what?  Fish to water!  I shimmied for 15 minutes straight.  I knew I needed one for home because things at the gym come and go and there was only one of its kind there.  This one is rubberized and weighted, not light and plastic. The trainer who brought it in said he got it at T&T which is an Asian grocery store.  Wow, weird…but convenient. 

T&T Supermarket at 222 Cherry, just south of Commissioners

So Amy (another trainer) and I hightailed to T&T and sure enough, there were 2 hula hoops left.  Don’t get excited, we took the last ones and I also got another one that can be dismantled with with “massage balls” on the inside.  I have a ring of bruises around my midriff thanks to the massage balls but it is a heavy hoop (the heavier the better) and if I wear a sweatshirt, it might be okay.  But hoops aside, T&T is fantastic.  First of all, I love grocery stores and I go to my usual one  pretty much every day.  Even on vacation, I love to grocery shop.  As a kid when we went to Florida, we didn’t go to Disney World, we went to the Piggly Wiggly.  I love grocery stores the way Tiger loves the ladies…I might be married to Loblaws at Leslie and Eastern but I like to dip into others.  T&T has all things Asian: a whole display of Hello Kitty and Astro Boy and two aisles dedicated to the Ramen noodle alone.  And mulitiple flavoured Pockys, who knew there was caramel?  The best part was the ready made section where they have hot dumplings and pot stickers. How I love pot stickers especially when someone  makes them…I’ve been back twice since.

Anyway, the hula hoop:  I will keep you posted as to how my progress is going.  It seems to be doing something (other than bruising).  According to Marisa Tomei, it’s the tiny muscles that make all the difference, the little ones hold the guts in.  It’s definitely more fun than Pilates and I can feel a little pull in my pelvic region.  Maybe my mojo will wake up and roar again. Until then, I have pot stickers and a Hello Kitty tattoo.

Kristin’s Hot Spot

What is all this yoga, yoga, yoga?  It’s everywhere you turn, you can’t throw a dumbbell in a gym without hitting someone sitting cross legged with their eyes closed.  They are the yogis and they are taking over the cityscapes, they walk amongst us, on subways, in coffee shops with their yoga mats rolled up like machine guns.  We scowl at them and they smile back serenely, as though their higher power can control the weather.  They are young and old, rich and poor.  In fact many of them are celebrities.   They love to go on talk shows and have the host fawn over them about how young they look.  It’s not the Botox, Restalyne, or dermabrasion they talk about….it’s yoga!  Here’s the proof:

This is Raquel Welsh:

and Madonna:

sorry, my bad, this is Madonna:

and even Lindsay Lohan:

Actually, I’m not entirely joking….Lindsay is attempting “Awkward Pose” and she doesn’t even know it.  In fact, most of us do yoga and are unaware of it, when we breathe and stretch.  Yoga is the state of union between two opposites, mind and body.  I stumbled into my yoga practise Lohan-style a few years ago after I broke my wrist and cracked my tail bone trying to get on my bike after some crazy beach party that included tequila shots…..dumb dumb dumb, I know.  But like with all acts of stupidity, a lesson will follow.  It’s as though the gods were watching me and trying to point something out because my accident occurred right smack dab in front of The Beaches Bikram Yoga studio.  For months I would walk by and say to people:  “This is where I broke my wrist!”  Finally, I decided to actually go in the place.  I had taken yoga before (in a church basement with Peakfreans and tea served afterwards)  so I wasn’t a virgin, or so I thought.  When they called it “hot yoga” I assumed they meant “groovy.”  It turned out hot means 106 degrees.  And it also turned out not all yoga is the same.  I later learned there are different kinds of yogas, some examples Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Hatha, and Bikram.  Bikram is a method of yoga created by Bikram Choudhury as a series of 26 postures and practised in a heated room in front of mirrors….yikes!  The yoga practise http://www.bikramyoga.com/ has studios all over the world and it is taught by instructors who have to go to special teacher’s training for two months.   Bikram, who is still around and in his 60s, has some cultivated eccentricities that would rival Joan Crawford’s and her stance against wire hangers.  It is Bikram’s way or the highway and what ever you do, don’t wear anything green.  I had the priviledge of attending one of his seminars when he came to Toronto a couple of years ago and yes, he’s crazy but he’s also really cute and funny.  I respond well to bossy people because I am the youngest of 4, and I learned early on that doing what you’re told is the first phase of detachment which is an important element in practising yoga.  Being forced to curl up in a ball and be my brother’s footstool while he watched The Brady Bunch was my first foray into the discipline. Bikram is 90 minutes and following the dialogue is really all you have to do.  Some of it is counter-intuitive, like no fidgeting when sweat is dripping in your ear and only breathing through your nose when it is blocked. Every time I go, I learn something new and old , and borrowed and blue. In fact, I might marry Bikram.  I have been going 6 years to the Beach studio and I now think of it as an oasis and a sanctuary.  The studio is bright and spacious and the people that run it are fantastic and friendly http://www.bikramyogatoronto.com/ .  If you can do this in the heat, you can probably do almost anything.  It does a lot for your flexibility (a millimeter at a time) but it does do more for the mind than you could imagine.  “It’s so boring,” some people complain.  Conquering boredom is one of my greatest achievements that I learned through yoga.  The litmus test is that when I go into an office waiting room, I don’t automatically lunge for a dog-eared 4 year old copy of Golfer’s Digest.  I can just sit and stare at a point in the wall and think about nothing, which is a good thing because spend an hour in my brain and you’d be trying to sedate yourself.  I encourage anyone and everyone just to try it, $20 unlimited for a week….it’s cheaper than basic cable!  Oh, and now when I walk by the joint, and having long forgotten about my broken wrist, I say : ‘This is where I do my yoga!”  I am yogi, hear me roar.

Kristin’s Quest for Organic-ness

I was watching Oprah the other day and she had Alicia Siverstone on via Skype trilling about her new book and her vegan diet.  There is so much to analyze about that sentence starting at the beginning:  I was watching Oprah the other day….Yes, I watch Oprah and I am always going on about how she has jumped the shark * but I still like to watch it, 4 o’clock is pre-cocktail cocktail hour, I’d probably even watch The View if it were on at 4….and she had Alicia Silverswtone on via Skype…what the hell, why are all her guests on via Skype nowadays?  If I were invited on Oprah you better bet yer arse I’d be there in person, why are her guests so lazy?  or is she too cheap to fly them out there and pay for their stay at the Marriot?…anyway Alicia trilling about her new book and her vegan diet…First, I am sure Alicia (Clueless) Silverstone probably didn’t actually write this book, most likely she had a ghost writer.  I’d like to be a ghost writer if anyone has a boring story that needs embellishment, call me…and she’s a vegan…ugh, vegans.  The first vegan I ever met in my life was a woman who was friends with some people I knew and she would bring her own millet burgers to their barbeques.  She would have a fit if her sawdust patties touched the grill that a steak touched. Why was her millet trying to mimic meat? I murmured to myself.  She put it in a bun and put ketchup on it.  It made no sense to me that she demonized dead animals on a grill and then eat food with the texture of cremated gym towels.  Dumbo….anyway, fast forward 15 years and  back to Alicia Silverstone on Oprah…she had some points, maybe it’s a good idea to eat less meat, and more organic produce.  Actually I think “organic” is a misused term, everything is pretty much organic, even a fruit loop.  I think they should specify “pesticide-free” but I will just say organic but just know that I am not fooled.   Anyway, she seemed happy and sparkly(my eyes are whiter! she proclaimed) and most importantly, not bloated.  She had me there.  Bloating should be tauted the new black and I will be Miss It.  So why not try to eat more mindfully? So I started at the grocery store.  Even Loblaws has a millet section as well as the option for organic dairy and meat.  I got rice that took an hour to cook and made scraping marks on the pot after I cleaned it.  I made vegetarian chili out of beans and more beans.  So far my daughter is liking it, teenage girls all seem to go through a vegetarian phase.  Not the boys though, they are always pepperoni-centric….my son’s friend came to sleep over for a few days and he brought some underwear and a baggie of luncheon meat. After a week, I have to admit I noticed some improvement, a little less bloated, clearer skin.  So I decided to finally pay a visit to the mecca of organic eating in the east end, otherwise known as The Carrot Common on Danforth near Chester.  In all my years of east end living I have never actually been in the The Big Carrot, which is the grocery store in the square.  I have heard rumours of $30 free range chickens.  I needed to see if it was true.

Thankfully there was no need to be frightened.  The store itself was like any other grocery store with aisles and checkouts and cash registers.  For some reason I was expecting the floor to be made out of dirt and hay with goats running around.  It was nice and clean and the free range chickens were all plucked and covered in plastic (and NOT $30, between $8-$12).  There was a bulk section with bins of millet (!) and other organic grains.  Organic bananas were 99 cents a pounds, which is kind of high.  I’m not really sure all things need to be organic though, bananas have peels so who cares if they are sprayed?  Eating Well website gives a list of items that are good to get organics and others that don’t matter so much http://www.eatingwell.com/.  I didn’t buy anything there though….it all seemed so beige.   I like the colourful aisles of Loblaws with boxes of poptarts, chips ahoy, and flourescent orange sports drinks.  I did like the atmosphere at The Big Carrot though.  It’s very quaint. There was a Community Board full of posts about colon cleansing…. it’s like what it would be like going into Ike Godsey’s General Store in the Walton’s.  I know when I’m old and delusional I’m going to be confusing my real life memories with episodes of the Waltons and Happy Days….and speaking of Happy Days * the term “jumping the shark” comes from that episode of HD where the Fonz water skis over some shark in a desperate attempt to keep the ratings up.  I think any time Oprah mentions or has Tom Cruise on her show, she is jumping the shark.  Anyway, this healthier eating is best done a little at a time but one thing for sure, I will never eat a millet burger!

Kristin’s Keeping It Real

Common advice by a home stager when you are selling your house is to  remove all your personal photographs “so that the buyer can see themselves in your space”.  They want to look around and imagine themselves cooking in your kitchen, eating breakfast in your breakfast nook, having dinner parties in your dining room, playing Balderdash in your living room, and pooping in your powder room.  And when they are playing house in their minds, they do not want to see this:

I have seen poster sized framed  wedding photos above fireplaces, on mantlepieces, in hallways and staircases….for God’s sakes, the person reading the gas meter can see these things, COVER UP, PEOPLE!  Nobody wants to see or celebrate your love, not even your own spouse.  Chances are that if you have a photograph like that hung up in your living space, they are plotting their escape:  You know who you are, now take it down and put it in the attic and pretend your relationship is like The Picture of Dorian Gray….(no, I am not bitter)….I actually do like to come into people’s home and see photographs if they are displayed properly!!  Personal photographs should always be framed, of course, and they work best in clusters.  In my house, I like them in standing frames, not too large, amid the tchotkes….yes, tchotkes, am all for relevant clutter, I even have them in my car (more on that later)…personal photographs give your home personality and a sense of the people that live there which can be very charming.  Here’s how scatter mine around:

my two babies

dogs that I have had and one that I still have

…and nostalgic photos that tell a story just by looking at them:  here is me and my brother on vacay in Cape Cod some time during the LBJ administration….we’re at the beach, lookin’ at the waves, tappin’ on the cooler, drinkin’ our root beers…and there we are in front of The Tent….we still talk about that tent, the one that had a foyer, a living room, two bedrooms, and a walk-in closet….condos at Cityplace should take the blueprints from that architectural canvas wonder…oh, but they can’t because my mother sold it at a garage sale in 1972….ah well, this is why we frame these moments…

Another option is to take your photographs and have them made into real art.  One of my favourite local artists, Angelene Tulett does just that.   She will take your photos and make them into something worth hanging onto your walls. 

I’m going to be featuring more of Angelene’s work next month because she has a show coming up in May. If you are interested in seeing more of what she does, contact her at :  angelene_tulett@yahoo.ca

hideous wedding photos courtesy of Awkward Family Photos http://awkwardfamilyphotos.com/