City Living: You vs. Winter (follow our guide and you’ll win)

We know what you’re
thinking – the only good thing about winter is the holidays and they are over
now, so we’d best all hibernate until Easter, right? Wrong. When you live in a country where winter takes
up, oh about half of the year, you’ve gotta do the best you can to adapt and
make the best of this slushiest of seasons. By now you’ve heard the standard advice for the seasonally affected
(Vitamin D, light therapy, exercise, not eating carbs and cheese by the
bucketload, staying away from any Real Housewives-based reality TV, etc.) and if you’re
anything like us, you’re probably all, “thanks doc, I’m still bored.” We hear
you! And lucky for us, we live in an incredible city with no shortage of
activities and events to heat up your social life until that summer sun brings
back the light. Here is a shortlist of
events and ideas to get you out of your gloomy winter bubble.

This is not normally conducive to a happy you.

Get Artsy
Nothing like a little right-brain activity to stave off a seasonal funk. A hit of live music or a stroll around an art museum can help you feel engaged and refreshed. Toronto has seen a burst of arts and culture, offering many festivals and events pretty much every weekend, all year round. It can take a little digging to find the right medium to channel your inner artist but we’re pretty sure these two events will thaw your creative juices in no time: 

 When: now until Sunday, March 3 
Where: Design Exchange,
234 Bay St.
How much: $15 (or free
for DX Members)

Follow NYC-based
graphic designer Stephen Sagmeister’s ten year journey to pin down the true
meaning of happiness. This multimedia
exhibition tackles one person’s approach to finding and defining that most
sought after state of being. Lose yourself amidst interactive projections, digital
and wallpapered prints, gumball dispensers and a full sized bicycle. If you’re still not convinced to leave the
comfort of your couch, get motivated by checking out his TED talk about
happiness by design.

Pick a gumball and state your happiness level.

AGO’s First Thursdays
When: 6:30 to11 p.m. on the
first Thursday of every month
Where: Art Gallery of
How much: $10 in advance/$12 at the door (for members  $8 advance and $10 at the door)

Combining live music,
art, artists, food and drinks, there is pretty much something for everyone at
this new event series. All the galleries
are open during the event, so you can check out the brain bending Evan Penny: ReFigured exhibition and if you can suppress your giggles, join in at one of the nude life drawing stations. In the heart of
the gallery, Walker Court is a surreally beautiful venue to listen to
live music. The first four First
Thursdays sold out, so be sure to get your tickets in advance to the February 7 installment featuring DJ collective A Tribe Called Red and visual
artist Li-Hill (who we pegged as an up and coming visual artist back in November).

The one time that you’ll be excited about crowds of people at the AGO.
Get Laughing
Laughter is the best
medicine, so check out the listings at the city’s many comedy clubs. Whether it’s stand up or sketch, a $15 dinner and a show or a $3 amateur
night, we’re sure you can find something to tickle your funny bone. Here’s a roundup of the monthly calendars at Yuk Yuks, Absolute ComedyAlt.comedy (every Monday at the Rivoli), Second City, and Comedy Bar.

Some funny shit happens here.

Get outside
Say NO to Vitamin D
deficiency by getting outside and showing winter that it’s not the boss of you.
You won’t exactly be getting a tan, but a little outdoorsy time is a proven cure
for SAD sufferers. Get bundled and make use of the city’s outdoor rinks or channel your inner child and go tobogganing. Who says that patio season is over? Sip some
spiked hot chocolate by the fire pit at the Drake Sky Yard or one of the city’s
winterized patios. Feeling really ambitious? Head up to Algonquin Park for a weekend of winter camping. You won’t exactly be roughing it in one of their yurts, which provide basic furniture and electrical heat, but a little winter campfire jam sesh never hurt anyone. The glorified tents are available all year round and can accommodate up to six people, making it a weekend getaway that can cost you less than $20 a night.

Look how cute and cozy this is!

Get competitive
Having a games night
with friends kills two birds with one stone: not only are you socializing and
spending time with people you might have accidentally ignored during your
hibernation, you’re giving your sleeping bear brain some much-needed
exercise. Game nights aren’t all
complicated or condescending kids activities anymore, check out new games geared towards adults (like the
hilariously cruel Cards Against Humanity available at Snakes and Lattes or print it yourself at Staples). If getting out of the house is the goal,
there is no shortage of trivia nights popping up all over the city  to foster some friendly competition.

Terrance Balazo will get your brain juices flowing at the Drake.

Now that doesn’t sound
so bad, does it? While summer is the season of impulse and last minute plans,
it’s so much harder to get motivated in the winter, so plan ahead. Shake the winter lethargy off
your fancy shoulders and get out there allllll year round. 

Rants and Raves: Oceans vs. Lakes

Summertime and the living is… outdoors. Long weekends, trips to the cottage and backyard barbeques with friends and family really make summer Canada’s most popular season. This week, we had some inner office debate about waterfront lounging, which brings us to our most recent Rant and Rave: Lakes vs. Oceans. Surf and sand go up against docks and still water. The ladies that grew up on Canada’s coasts were firmly on the side of oceans, while those of us who grew up in lake-loving Ontario preferred freshwater.

The Ocean

Pensive by the ocean

– Salty sea water does wonders for beachy hair waves, heals wounds and makes your tan glow. Plus, beer tastes better on the beach.
– Sand provides an instant pedicure and can easily be moulded into the perfect beach chair, killer sand castle creation or hilarious burying hole.
– Watching the sun set over the water is pretty special when there’s nothing but blue as far as the eye can see.
– Canada has some of the world’s most beautiful coasts (especially Nova Scotia and British Columbia)
– Tides are pretty magical. Low tide makes for a lovely beach walk, and the tide pools left behind are an amazing glimpse into sea life. High tide is great for water fun like surfing, boogie boarding or sailing.

Tide pool at Peggy’s Cove

– Sand in your bikini bottoms. Exfoliates, but sucks.
– Jellyfish. They sting (and the common remedy is to pee on the affected area).
– Salty water can ruin a new colour job on your ‘do, and dry out your skin.
– Scary thoughts of the big, toothy sea creatures that lurk below the surface.
– Tides can steal beach toys and flip flops if you aren’t careful.

The Lake

Lake Huron

– You don’t have to be on a coast to find a gorgeous lake. Some are even smack dab in the middle of our city.
– There’s nothing like jumping off a dock or rock into the water after a long week in the office. Beer tastes great on a dock too!
– Water skiing and tubing are two of the most fun ways to spend an afternoon.
– Ontario has a gorgeous array of lakes dotting the province. We love Lake Huron, Georgian Bay, Lake Joseph in Muskoka and Canoe Lake in Algonquin (to name just a few!).

– Leeches. They are dirty blood suckers.
– You can’t really surf on the lake, unless you are nuts and go mid-winter.
– Stepping on gross lake weeds on the bottom.
– Hot summer evenings near the lake = masses of mosquitoes.
– Muskrats, otters and beavers. They’ll get you.

A Canadian muskrat. He doesn’t look so scary!

What do you like better?

Photo credits:
Peggy’s Cove:
Lake Huron: