Rave: Our Favourite Tumblrs

It doesn’t get much better than discovering a new, hilarious Tumblr. Bonus points if you’re the first one of your friends to pass it around.  You know you’ve hit the jackpot when you’ve scrolled through to the ninth page and you’re still snorting with laughter. These beauties beg to be shared, forwarded, tweeted, and then often… forgotten. But today, we bring you a few of our current favourites.



Poor Suri. Disappointed by so many people.
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We don’t just love Suri for her fear of Beyonce’s baby stealing her limelight or her dislike for the tomboyish nature of Shiloh Jolie-Pitt, it’s that this Tumblr has created a little character that we can’t help but love. This Suri Cruise is a saucy, neurotic little princess with a mean streak. If the real Suri has even half the personality that her online alter ego does, we kind of want to be best friends with her.

When this Tumblr was passed around the fourth floor.
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A heading followed by an animated gif. It’s the simplest concept, and yet we can’t pin down exactly what makes it so funny. Is it that we’ve all reacted in exactly the same way? That we’re in awe of how much time this blogger has to find all these images? The pure randomness of it all? Not sure. But it has us dying of laughter, nonetheless.

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A man receives texts from his bulldog, who is stuck at home, and posts them online. Totally normal, right?


“Please tell me you two are just planking”.
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The premise is pretty basic, but the hilarious photos of cats and captions is proof that cat people are funny too.

Expectation Reality

Photos juxtaposing expectations with reality. Why is it that everything is always worse than we hope?



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Guilty, it’s not a Tumblr (but we thought it was when we thought of this post). But we’re pretty sure the only reason it’s not is because the website pre-dates Tumblr,  which would be the perfect platform for these vintage examples of Superman being, well, a dick. The website format, making us scroll through the images one by one, will make you realize how grateful you are that Tumblr exists. 

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Yum Yum: Pop-up Dining

Pop-ups are all the rage these days. From yoga studios to designer clothing sales, it seems like every time you blink a new pop-up is, well, popping up. We’re especially fond of the underground food scene Toronto chefs and food fans are developing. Events like TUM and Food Truck Eats have made line-ups for tacos de rigueur, but often you just can’t beat a dinner party – preferably one prepared by a chef with wine or cocktail pairings.


Secret Pickle Supper Club – @secretpickle

Chef Matt Cantor hard at work.



Founded by Alexa Clark and Chef Matt Kantor, the Secret Pickle Supper Club is designed for the unpretentious food lover. They call themselves a “different kind of supper club”, preferring to keep the prices low and creativity high. Past themes have included dinner cooked with tea, Spanish and exploration of pastries. Recently, Brilynn Ferguson created a documentary on the club, explaining their origin and offering unique insight into the Pickle experience. You can view the Pickle Doc on the website and sign up to their mailing list to keep updated on future events.


House of Commons

HoC dinner for Hermann & Audrey during 2011 CONTACT.



Inspired by Prohibition-era speakeasies (if you watch Boardwalk Empire, you know what we’re talking about), House of Commons hosts a variety of pop-up dining events in clandestine locations around the city. From brunch to cocktails to multi-course dinners, they do it all. The meals are prepared by a rotating cadre of chefs and a sommelier from time to time, but one thing remains consistent – Sarah Evans, the mastermind behind it all.
The website is a bit out of date, so email to find out about their upcoming events. Also, Evans also does custom events. If you’ve got a special occasion coming up, impress your friends and let Evans do all the dirty work for you.


Charlie’s Burgers – @charliesburgers

So swish they’ve got their own champagne.

Charlie’s Burgers is the granddaddy of all pop-up dining in Toronto. Don’t let the name fool you though; you’re more likely to chow down on crickets than a haute quarter pounder. In the three years since its inception, Charlie’s Burgers has hosted dozens of dinners across Toronto (plus Paris and London). The focus of each dinner is to pair great libations with even greater food, offering talented chefs free reign on the menu. The resulting menus are dazzling, unique and often a bit esoteric. Tickets to the dinners go quickly, but consider yourself warned – they carry a hefty price tag. There is no information on the website, but enter your email address here and Charlie will get back to you.


Death Row Meals – @foodie411

Taco prep at the inaugural Death Row Meals.



Death Row Meals is the brainchild of one of Toronto’s number one food fan, Joel Solish. As the name suggests, participating chefs aim to create a dining experience based on the principle of the last meal on earth and the perfect plate. Each Death Row Meal takes place at a different location, with a different theme and chefs. Solish’s overarching goal is to educate people on how to eat smarter, focusing on local and sustainable food systems. Can’t wait to try it? You’re in luck, because the next dinner is this Sunday! Called “The Bitter Truth”, this dinner features an all-female line up of chefs who will be cooking with cocktail bitters. Get your tickets here before they’re gone or sign up here to stay in the loop for upcoming meals.


The Hidden Kitchen – @IvyKnight

Sturgeon caviar dish from Chef Nick Liu.



And finally, we’d be remiss if we left out Ivy’s Knight’s newest endeavour – the Hidden Kitchen. This monthly pop-up from the 86’d host and Chef Matt Kantor will collaborate with a celeb-chef to create menus based on local ingredients. They’ve also partnered with Muskoka Brewery on the 40-seat endeavour. April’s BBQ-themed event took place last night, but keep checking the event page to find out about upcoming dinners. 

Media, Darling: Brandie Weikle

Brandie Weikle is parenting and relationships editor for the Toronto Star and the editor of the Star‘s parentcentral.ca. She’s been working on parenting publications for 12 years. Before joining the Star she helped relaunch Canadian Family magazine and prior to that, worked at Today’s Parent for five years. She’s been both a freelance writer and a newspaper reporter. Brandie made the jump into digital media in 2008 and is an avid user of social networks, especially Twitter, where she tweets as @bweikle. She’s the mother of two boys, Cameron, 8, and Alister, 4. You can find her on a pair of skis in the winter and on a bike with a goofy wicker basket in the summer.
Twitter: @bweikle 


Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon?

I wanted to be a journalist from about grade 11 when, predictably, I first worked on my high school paper. Before that I wanted to be an architect, until I realized I couldn’t draw well enough, and an obstetrician, until I learned I couldn’t stand the sight of blood.

Where would you like to be five years from now?
I’m not sure but I hope it involves a little more time padding around my house drinking tea and being writerly. 

Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
Just be flexible and keep at it. If you’re not held down by a mortgage and kids or other commitments, be willing to leave Toronto. Be curious and open-minded about all kinds of subject matter. I wrote about everything from real estate to pig farming before I landed any kind of a staff job. If anything, that flexibility has become more important. Don’t despair about the field being competitive. There will always be room for people with tenacity who want it enough.


What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own? 
Online I wind up wherever the links take me from the tweets I find most compelling, but in free time I enjoy nytimes.com/health, epicurious, houseandhome.com/tv and all kinds of others. I think the magazine Psychology Today is a bit underrated. It is so lively and well-reported, and the art direction is really clever and unexpected. New York is a city magazine that manages to be entertaining and relevant to both residents and non-residents, without taking itself or the city too seriously. I like that.

Best interview you’ve ever had? 
Hard to say. I really find so much that’s interesting from people’s ordinary experiences.

Worst? 
Raffi. I guess I got all flustered and star struck or something? 

Best advice you’ve ever been given?
Journalistically, someone told me “there’s always another source.” While sometimes there isn’t – a profile hinges on getting a particular person, of course – I remember this mantra helping me as a young journalist with that feeling of vulnerability to people getting back to you. If there isn’t another source, there is always another story. It’s good to have one in your back pocket.

In parenting, my mom gave me the best advice. She said, “You don’t have to love every minute of it.” That helped me go easy on myself about those times when you have a screaming baby and you just wish you could head for the hills.  

What rule(s) do you live your life by?
I don’t know. We’re all just trying to figure this out, right? I guess my main thing is just to try to be decent to people. Some believe you’ve got to be a hard ass to be taken seriously in news. I think that’s old school and, often, contrived. 

Apart from that? When you’re in too deep, call someone. Otherwise, put on something pretty and trudge on like it’s not a crap day. 

What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
I think a tailored pitch that’s realistic for the publication is important. Understand what the website, magazine or paper you’re pitching does and doesn’t have in the way of regular departments where the product you’re representing could fit. And when you suspect your pitch might be a stretch, it likely is. I’m just not buying that your shower spray is going to liberate all kinds of time I can spend with my kids. 

Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
My best experiences have started with realistic, helpful pitches I can turn into useful service for readers, and have ended with sources I’ve turned into friends.

I hate?
Emails with subject lines that only say “media release” and those containing loads of unsolicited PDFs and Jpegs that paralyze my work account.
(Ed note: PR people – please stop sending attachments – it gives us all a bad name. There is a great invention called Flickr. Learn it.)

I love?

What do I love? Are you sure this isn’t an online dating profile? Skiing, dancing, Saturday mornings, cheese.


Reading?

I have two on the go: Esi Edugyan’s Half-blood Blues and Pamela Druckerman’s Bringing up Bebe.


Best place on earth?

Wrestling on the bed with my two boys, eight and four.


Dinner guest?

I know I should reach back in time here and select someone important from history or something, but I’m rarely happier than when my dinner table is surrounded by a quirky group of friends old and new — preferably all enthusiastic eaters.


Hero?

My younger sister, Erica, is my hero for surviving mental illness. It takes a lot of bravery to keep going when your mind regularly betrays you, especially given that these conditions are still poorly understood and frightfully under-resourced.


Favourite app?

I use my phone for email, Twitter and Facebook, but I’m not especially taken with any apps. I’m trying to put my iPhone down a little more often these days.


Pool or ocean?

No contest. Ocean.


Voicemail or email?

Email, please.

 

 

Rave: Argentina’s Malbecs

Last week, we had the exciting pleasure of heading to a special wine tasting of Argentinian wines, to celebrate Malbec World Day. Naturally, we jumped on the opportunity to taste a plethora of delicious wines, all in the name of research for the fourth floor.



We were surprised to hear about all of the varieties of wine that come out of Argentina. They’re best known for their Malbec grapes, but have some amazing Torrontes, Chardonnay and even a tasty sparkling wine.


We’ll definitely be looking for this bottle of sparkling wine ($11.95) for our next soiree. 



A little history lesson: the Malbec grape was introduced to Argentina from the south of France about 160 years ago, and it immediately began to thrive in the dry, mountainous landscape. 

Grapes love dry, hot temperatures and the Andes mountains.



The grapes grew like crazy and are now found all over the country, making Argentina one of the world’s biggest producers of the varietal. Canadians are the second biggest consumers of Argentinian wines, just behind the U.S. Because of the varying altitudes of Argentina grapes are grown from below sea level to about 1,000 metres above Malbec grapes show quite different characteristics and flavours, depending on the region they’re from.

Malbec grapes in Mendoza, Argentina’s biggest growing region.



Back to the wine. We tried a whopping 18 varieties (there was a lot of spitting involved, so that we could make it back to the office in one piece), and most of them were delicious. Malbec wines from Argentina are rich, complex and have a pretty, deep red jewel hue. Some winemakers add a bit of another grape, like Cabernet Sauvignon, to create something uniquely Argentinian. Of the six whites we tried, the aforementioned sparkling, the Dominio del Plata ‘Crios’ Torrontes ($14.95) and the Trivento ‘Amado Sur’ (a blend of Torrontes, Viognier and Chardonnay; $15) were our favourites. Each wine was fruity, slightly floral and crisp, perfect for any upcoming summer event. 




Find these at your local LCBO.

There were many more reds to taste, and as the tasting went on it (ahem) became harder not to just love them all. But, of the 12 (!) we tasted, here were the ones we loved best. And yep, the list includes four Malbecs (they really are delicious). 

A lovely vista.

The Rutini Malbec ($21.95) is available only by private order, but we loved the slightly spicy flavour and smooth aftertaste of one of Argentina’s most-visited wineries. Another favourite was Bodega Benegas Malbec ($17.95), which is from a very small winery that grows grapes about 800 metres above sea level. The result is a lovely, smooth wine that’s slightly fruity with just the right amount of tannins (the stuff that makes your mouth pucker). 

We tried this wine from 2009, and recommend you hunt down a bottle, too.



We also loved the Kaiken Ultra Malbec ($19.95), which was made richer and deeper with the addition of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, as well as the Dominio Del Plata Ben Marco Malbec ($20.95; seems like we’ll need to visit this winery the next time we’re in Argentina). 




Two delicious Malbecs.


Non-Malbec favourites were the Pinot Noir from Manos Negras ($14.95) and the limited edition Bonarda from Nieto Senetiner (about $25). The best part about this wine tasting? The fact that every wine we tried was $25 or less, making Argentina’s wines delicious AND affordable (this might be a dangerous combination).

Fave 5: Magazines gone bust

We read A LOT of magazines on the fourth floor. Aside from being an integral part of PR, a new magazine arriving at the office calls for a break to check out the latest trends, beauty tips and celebrity gossip. But we also get really, really sad when a magazine announces it’s ceasing publication – it’s like losing a trusted friend. Today, a tribute to five magazines we still miss.

Domino

If you re-pin decor pics on Pinterest, you’ve likely pinned from Domino.
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We all let out a collective scream when Domino announced its last issue in 2009. There’s a reason why every second living room on Apartment Therapy contains the ever-familiar mint green book, Domino: The Book of Decorating. Every issue contained page after page of beautiful inspiration, chic interiors and refreshing ideas. Type Domino Magazine into Pinterest to see what you missed. 

You can get your fix this month with a special new edition, Domino Quick Fixes, that is currently on newsstands. Their revived Facebook page is also addressing important questions such as “to colour-coordinate or not to colour-coordinate bookshelves?”. Could this be the return? We can only hope. 

Sassy

Yes, that’s Milla Jovovich, circa 1991.
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The thought that there are girls out there not getting advice on relationships, sex, body image and how to grow up to be a cool chick from Sassy makes us worry about their generation. Founded by Jane Pratt, the magazine offered (as its name suggests), a sassy, sometimes-controversial, feminist voice for young girls. The magazine was published until 1994, which makes us feel a little old, and also wonder if our mothers knew what we were reading. Need a fix? We’re enjoying a lookback with this Sassy Magazine LIVES tumblr. 

Jane

Premiere issue of Jane, with covergirl Drew Barrymore (who Jane claims to have had an affair with).
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Luckily for 90s girls, Jane magazine stepped in to fill the void left by Sassy, running from 1997 to 2007. Also headed by Jane Pratt, the magazine was said to ‘appeal to women who are irreverent’. If you’re still lamenting these magazines, we’re sure you already know about xoJane.com, where you can go for a daily dose of the irreverent.

Wish

A little bit of everything.
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Headed by another well-known Jane, the subject matter was tamer but featured lovely pieces covering fashion, beauty, home and food. Running for five years, the magazine was shut down at the end of 2008. We still pull out old issues to check out  20-minute Supper Club, a feature that planned out meals for a week, including wine pairings.  

Blueprint

RIP Blueprint, 2006-2008.
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Part of the Martha Stewart Living brand, Blueprint was targeted to a younger demographic than Martha Stewart Living, one that enjoyed pretty DIYs, fancy cocktails and decor inspiration for small spaces when you don’t have a manor like Martha’s. We consult our archives when there’s an occasion that calls for a little Martha: first turkey dinner cooked for the extended fam, an inkling to make a wreath that doesn’t look like grandma’s, the desire to plant a herb garden in a windowbox, you know…





City Living: High Park Cherry Blossom Walk

Toronto has a lot of great (and free) nature activities in the spring, including one of our favourite things to do – head to High Park to check out the blooming Sakura trees.

Sakura trees bloom with flowers that are nearly pure white with just a hint of pink near the stem, but they only last for about a week before the leaves come out – fleeting beauty. This season, the flowers first bloomed around April 11 because of our early spring. We recommend going at off-peak times when there are less people around to really experience the serenity this natural phenomenon offers.


Sakura is the Japanese name for flowering cherry trees and their flowers, often referred to as cherry blossoms. There is a Japanese legend that each spring, a fairy maiden hovers low in the warm sky, awakening the sleeping cherry trees with her delicate breath. How romantic!

In 1959, the Japanese ambassador to Canada, Toru-Hagiwara, presented 2000 Japanese Somei-Yoshino Sakura trees to Toronto on behalf of the citizens of Tokyo. The trees were planted in appreciation of Toronto accepting re-located Japanese-Canadians following the Second World War. Over the years, many of these trees were donated to High Park.

 


It is a truly beautiful thing to witness, but they only last two or three weeks before falling off. Hurry and get to High Park to catch them before they’re gone.


Facebook: High Park Nature Centre
Twitter: @
HighParkNC

Rave: Cool Earth Day ideas

With Earth Day coming up this Sunday, we wondered what we could be doing to make our lives and our city greener. Whether it’s making a donation to help beautify the city, planting trees or learning ways to make eco-conscious changes in our everyday life, we’ve rounded up some Earth Day events and initiatives taking place in Toronto this Sunday, April 22.  

Spend the day at Evergreen Brickworks – @EvergreenCanada
If you’re looking for a whole day of eco-friendly fun and education, the Evergreen Brickworks is hosting a wide range of activities, including a vegan food fair at the farmer’s market, a tree tour in the quarry led by LEAF, public tree planting on site, live music and a talk by Adria Vasil, author of the new book Ecoholic Body: Your Ultimate Earth-Friendly Guide to Living Healthy and Looking Good.
A perfectly picturesque place to learn how to make your life greener.
Raise money for the city’s beautification at Piola – @PiolaToronto

Residents of Parkdale and lovers of pizza alike should head over to Queen West’s newest and most delicious Italian restaurant. In celebration of Earth Day, $2 of every pizza sold will be donated to the Parkdale Beautification Project. What better way to support a great cause and eat some of the city’s best pizza?

When else can you eat pizza for a good cause?



Plant a tree at Downsview Park – @downsviewpark 
If you’re like us, you’ve always been impressed and intrigued by those outdoorsy types who take off for the west coast and plant trees all summer. Well here’s your chance to get a (small) taste of what it’s  like. From 12 to 2 p.m. on Earth Day, Downsview Park will be hosting public tree planting with the goal of planting over 2,000 trees. One tree per person/family while trees last and shovels and tools provided. What a perfect way to try something new and make Toronto greener?
Help create this green oasis in the city.
Download the The Quench Mobile App – @thewaterbros
This Earth Day we suggest you try out one of the most innovative, environmentally-conscious ideas we’ve seen in a while. Quench is a free app brought to you by The Water Brothers TV Series that instantly connects you to the nearest water fountain or official water bottle Refill Location in the Greater Toronto Area. You are able to search by destination or your current location, rate a water fountain and/or refill locations as well as add your own water fountain or refill location. Participating locations include The Drake Hotel, The Beaconsfield, Subway, Pizza Pizza and Leslieville Cheese Market, to name only a few of the 4,905 locations around the GTA.
One of the easiest ways to live green.
Recycle your old computer with Computation’s FREE Earth Day Computer Recycling – @Computation_Ca
Ever wonder where computers go when they die? The best way to dispose of a computer that has reached its expiry date is to recycle it. In honour of Earth Day, from April 16 to 22, Computation is inviting the general public to drop off their unwanted computers and equipment for free at 280 Jane St. from 10:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. As well as this being environmentally-friendly (and privacy ensured) a tree will be planted on your behalf for every major item recycled via a one dollar donation to Trees Canada (a charitable organization which has planted 77 million trees nationally over 19 years).
A computer graveyeard.
While Earth Day is the perfect time to start implementing a greener lifestyle, the idea is to raise awareness in the hopes that people continue living more eco-consciously. With such simple suggestions, what excuses do we have have left not to try and live green?