Monday, 31 January 2011

Guests coming to Montreal? Here is a no-fail plan!

I recently had friends from out of town come to Montreal and I had to figure exactly what to do. If it were the summer, it could have been a little bit easier, with the Jazz Fest, the Piknik Electronic and just walking around and visiting, you can do so much in the summer without using too much brain power, but in the winter, it becomes a little more difficult. So, I had to think of an excellent plan. I'm going to share my plan with you, so if you even need to entertain guests in the winter, you can use these guidelines.

Here is a Friday-Saturday and Sunday day plan. It worked for us and I'm sure it can work for you.

FRIDAY: Off to Tremblant for the day - You can go skiing in the morning and then some apres-ski at the Scandinave to then end up eating some supper at the Forge or the Shack. Going to the Scandinave in the winter is a wonderful experience. Hot baths and then you throw yourself in the river. Crazy? Yes. Very crazy. After Tremblant, we ended up going to Igloofest in the evening and then for some drinking at Burgundy Lion on Notre-Dame. Easy plan, not difficult, but many happy people! Snowshoeing, skating or dog sledding are also a couple activities you can do at Tremblant if skiing just ain't your thing, or if you wake up too late on Friday morning. Sleepin in is priceless.

SATURDAY: Visit Old Montreal and Downtown Montreal. Go take a nice walk on St-Paul and on De la Commune. You can even go visit the little shops or art galleries on St-Paul to warm up if you're a little cold. Depending on how long you want to walk, you can stop at Van Houtte or Olive and Gourmando on St-Paul to get a nice warm cup of coco.  If it's snowing, the street is so beautiful. People are friendly, it's not overpacked, and the architecture if just stunning. You can visit the Notre-Dame Basilica. It's just breathtaking.  I hadn't been in YEARS and I had forgotten how absolutely WOW this place was. Then, you can head to Downtown Montreal, show your guests the Underground City, do a little shopping. And then, What is Montreal without some poutine?? There are so many great poutine places in the city, but a favorite of mine is the Green Spot on Notre-Dame. Been going there since I'm a child and I'm telling you, the gravy on those fries is just insane. So, after eating some poutine, you can rest a little, take a power nap to get ready for a wild night out! Late supper will also be in order, I would chose something in Old Montreal - either Le Local, Vallier, Grange, Holders and then out to Santos, Garde-Manger, Velvet or Confesionnal, you know your gang better, pick the place that would best suit em!

SUNDAY: Take your guests out for a great brunch. I tried to get in to L'Avenue, but the line-up was too long so I headed to Les Folies. But I do suggest you try to get to the plateau or to a great brunch spot. Then you can head to the Olympic Stadium, you can either go to the top or just visit around. After that, you can head to the Chalet du Mont-Royal lookout. So beautiful. Try to even get there at sunset and the city is just wonderful. The views are just You can even get into the Chalet to warm up before you head back to you car. I need to say that for this trip to be easy, you need a car. But if you don't have one, I'm sure you can figure out how to get around. So, anyways, after the lookout, you can head to the Oratory. It's right next door! It's quite the sight to see. Sit down, relax, pray for those you love and admire it.

Now, you can always change the plans around and bring them to a Jazz Bar on  Bishop (Upstairs Jazz Bar) or even to Griffintown Cafe on Friday night, for some live blues. Chances are instead of going to Igloofest, you will need to find a different Friday activity. You can do the whole clubbing scene, but why not show them something different. Live music is always fun. Try to find a different activity on Friday and Saturday.

You know, you can even do these activities with your friends and be a tourist in your own city!  It's actually really fun! As I mentioned in one of my first posts "Discovering your city", I LOVE being a tourist in my own city!

As my last words of wisdom, if ever you have people over, have some kind of itinerary, no need to make a complete plan, but if you have an idea what to do, then you don't spend too much time thinking and waiting around.

Enjoy the city!

N.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

What is sexy?

How do we define SEXY? Is it how the person acts, what they wear, how they look, what they do? I guess for everyone, defining sexy is like defining love, everyone has their own version of it, and what it means to them. Basically, someone who is sexy, is someone you are attracted to and that you would probably want to bring back to your little love nest. It's funny, because I look at some of my friends "sexy" men, and I would not want to bring them back to my little love nest at all. How we created our likes and dislikes? I'm guessing that we were conditioned. I think it's our surroundings that conditioned us to like a certain type of person. If we were brought up in a hippie type lifestyle, I think we would be more interested in a hippie type mate and that hippie is sexy!

This got me thinking to the types of professions people do, and that the profession can also play a significant role in dictating if a person is really sexy or not. I'm sure that we have met some extremely good looking people and that once they claimed they were garbage men or some kind of unsexy job, it might have been a turn off. I'm not saying that unsexy jobs make the person unsexy. I do know sexy men, with unsexy jobs and they still remain sexy despite their 9 to 5 occupation. BUT. I'm sure there are some occupations out there that just make your heart beat a little faster or make the butterflies fly a little harder, or  kinda make you twitch a little, a little weak in the knees. Don't hide it. I know you feel it!

Women, think about it for a second. If a man tells you.. Woman, I am a ********. What would that ******** be to give you that little weak in the knees?

Lets see what stats say - This research was conducted by Italian sociologists in 2008. They polled 1000 women between the ages of 22 and 55.

- Policemen -34% of women like a men in uniform. Hmm I am not sure if I'm a big fan of men in uniform, but I guess for others...They can probably smell it on me, hence why I get so many tickets
- Carabineers - A soldier? Really? I guess man, rough, tough, gun is sexy for some people.
- Aircraft pilots - hmm pilots. I like pilots. I agree. There is something about a man behind the wings of a big electronic bird that gives me the bumps...
- Lifeguards - Baywatch? I guess this must have been the 22 year olds...
- Barmen - Hmm, I guess barmen can be some kind of kinky dream. Girl at the bar, guy with the vodka, the rest is details...
- Sailors - Sex and the City ... HELLO! The sailors are in town!! Would I pull a Charlotte and show my breast to one? Naw, not my type.
- Physicians - McDreamy, McSteamy. Hello Hotness. I think you need to feel my pulse, because my heart is racing fasssst.
- Cooks - Hmm Chuck Hughes. Enough said.
- Bricklayers - Bob the Builder? Hells no.
- Lawyers - hmm nothing says HOT like a criminal lawyer. The bad boy strikes again.

OK, so the list is interesting, but seems to me that it is missing a couple of pretty sexy professions. I know for quite a few Montrealers, HOCKEY PLAYERS rank quite high on the Richter Scale of Sexy. Architects, FIREMEN (hmm Calendars!), Australian Rugby Players (hmmm AMAZING calendars!), or any athlete really.  And a personal choice of mine are entrepreneurs! There is something about that ambitious, independent, go-getter man that just turns me on. You want me? Start a business! hahaha! I'm joking!! kind of...

But seriously, sexy men need to carry the package, their profession is key, but also their personality, their look, their person. Funny enough, but women aren't really attracted to the hot model types, or not as much, but more to the beautiful men inside and out. And that, my friends, is quite sexy.

And you, what makes you weak in the knees?

N.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Singin' the Blues

On New Years Eve I decided to start a new section in my blog and introduce you to some "underground" music that I think most of you aren't necessarily aware of. Today, I'm introducing you to blues artist, Joe Bonamassa.
Joe Bonamassa

There exists many great blues guitarists like Stevie Ray Vaughan, BB King, Eric Clapton. Joe might not yet be at that level, but he surely is getting there. So you can definitely see some of those influences in his music. He has been touring around the world for the past few years and FINALLY, yes FINALLY will be in Montreal on March 31 at Theatre St-Denis (click to purchase tickets here). You can also check out his full listing of tour dates and venues here.

I discovered Joe Bonamassa, because my cousin Rick from Australia actually plays in their band...and I wanted to know exactly what this was all about. Needless to say, I was quite impressed, and now I listen to Joe whenever I'm in the mood for some great soul blues music.

You can buy their CD on Itunes. Here are some of the most recent ones...

- The Ballad of John Henry (which I own) - 2009
- Joe Bonamassa - Live from Royal Albert Hall - 2009
- Black Rock - 2010

Here is his website : Joe Bonamassa's website

Here are a few of my favorite Joe Bonamassa tunes - some of the videos are a little long, you don't need to listen to them all, but I'm sure you will appreciate the great talent and maybe find a new artist to add to your repertoire.



Stop is probably one of my favorites...







Hope you enjoy!!

Let me know your thoughts!

N.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Rules for Guys

Before getting into my post I have BIG NEWS!!!I was just hired by RSVP Magazine to be their Advertizing and PR Executive. I will be taking care of all the ad sales, social media and some event planning for the magazine. That is soooo me! I'm so excited, and I will make sure to keep you all up to date with the developments of this magazine which will launch in Spring 2011. Keep your eyes open for another post coming soon where I go a little in depth of what I will do at RSVP and maybe, just maybe some of you might help with this wonderful launch!

So...back to the post. Information is everywhere and sometimes you just get overloaded. Sometimes, it feels good to read ridiculous informaiton. I really do enjoy the casual type, funny type, the one I can just read and not use my brain information sometimes. So I decided to share with you the "let your brain rest" information. I found on Twitter 2 entertaining accounts called : RulesForGuys and RulesForGirls. They actually list a bunch of rules each sex should obey. Let me give you the TOP 10 I saw in both of them! There is more effort put into the Rules for Guys one... I'm guessing that the Rules for Girls one is written by a man...

Rules for Guys ( I tried to not put the sexist ones, but then again, some I thought were a little funny!)

1. NEVER complain about the quality of a free beer
2. Always fart close to an animal that cannot talk. If one is not available, fart anyway, and act like you didn't.
3. Acceptable magazines for men: Playboy, Popular Mechanics, Field and Stream. Unacceptable: Good Housekeeping, Cosmo, etc.
4. Christopher Columbus did not need directions and neither do we
5. Under no circumstances do men ever use "baby-talk" to talk to their pets.
6. Under no circumstances shall a man eat pizza with a knife and fork.
7. Salad is not food.
8. Men can only use the word "breasts" in the company of their mother, grandmother or wife. With everyone else it's boobs, tits or funbags.
9. They say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. To get to his wallet, you have to start a little lower.
10. Find creative ways to compliment your date on how smart she is.

Rules For Girls

1. Never let him know that u love him more than he does.
2. Never be the last of the party totally wasted. Thats not cool.
3. Don´t speak like a dude all the time
4. Never pretend that you are too smart. It is better to play dumb to know your opponents better.
5. Dont text everyone while you are drunk.
6. Don´t cry while you are drunk in the restroom of the club. There is no Oprah to help you.
7. Never show your cleavage if you are wearing mini skirt. You will look more cheap than sexy.
8. If he cheated why hate the mistress, hate the guy.
9. A girl should never date a guy if he spends more time getting ready than she does.
10. Don't tease them if you can't please them.

Do I agree with these rules? Well some yes, some no. Especially in the men's category, the rules are so "stereotypical". They portray the "tough" man with no feelings who can only think of sports and beer. This is how society portrays men in general. I didn't include rules like "men shouldn't read. they should wait for the movie to come out", because I simply don't agree with it. Real men read. Real men have culture. Real men have emotion and feelings. Real men aren't the ones who sit on their Lazy-Boy and watch football all day. Real men are the ones that can enjoy some quality time with their boys, and then come home and spend some quality time with their woman. Real men should be sensitive, but strong. Instead of frowning upon men who do have emotion, we should applaud them. We should applaud those who write poetry, who write music, who read Voltaire, who have more on their minds than just sex and sports. It's a shame that so many men need to hide their talents because these talents aren't socially acceptable. Men don't want to be judged by other men, or by others, so they conceal the fact that they actually do have beautiful minds. Having these talents don't mean they are gay, or weird, they are just in tune with a different part of their mind, the most attractive part.

As for women, these rules dictate us to be classy, polite, and to watch how we speak, act or be because women should be perfect and pretty Well, sadly girls, I do kind of agree. I do think women should have poise,  but I also think we should let loose sometimes and crack open a beer in our sweats, watch long re-runs of Gossip Girl, Sex and the City or Californication without really caring what is "proper" or "unproper". We should be comfortable in being who we are, without trying to be something we aren't. To think perfect, always dress perfect, be the perfect friend, perfect girlfriend, always classy, always elegant, always slim, big boobs, small thighs, great hair, long legs, don't fart, don't burp, don't cough or sneeze or breath?! All nonsense. Rules should be guidelines, guidelines we should seldomly follow in order to keep some kind of properness. Too much pressure turns us into anorexics or depressed individuals or just simply unhappy. Yes. Women should be elegant and classy, but still know how to have fun and relax.

Sadly, we do all care what other people think, what other people think of us. Those who say they don't, kinda do really, and since our society has built both genders in stereotypical ways, we frown when someone is out of place, or question their sexuality (usually in men's case). We should think beyond these limits and should question these predisposed thoughts, so we can make our own conclusions without anyone else's influence.

Live and let live I say!

Huh, so much for reading information that was supposed to keep my brain on OFF mode...
N.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Got Goose?

I really dread the winter time, I tell you. I feel it right in October when the sun starts to set earlier and you need to really bundle up at night. I feel it while walking out of my car just to run into the office, that cold wind. I feel it when I need a hot chocolate to keep me warm in the evening, as I sit on my couch curled up with warm socks and my fuschia blanket. I feel it when I can no longer walk around bare foot and need slippers or socks to keep my little toesies warm. But most of all, I feel it on my nose. My nose is the first part of my body that gets cold and then déclenche a whole "cold" front. After my nose, it's my fingers, my toes, and I can even feel it on my face sometimes when those little face hairs (whatever they are called) stick up like when you have a little frisson.

For all Montrealers, we are pretty much the same, we dread this cold weather, except of course for those who love to ski or snowboard or enjoy any snow type activity. Listen, I love a great snowshoeing activity and yes I love to get on the slopes, but if I were to chose between living in a warm climate or here, I would live in a warm climate. How perfect would Montreal be if we were just a little south, I'm thinking a bit more south than Washington, that way, yes we have our 4 seasons, but no silly -29s like we had yesterday. (I thank the inventors of heated seats every day...I also thank my wonderful garage on days like those.)

Anyways, too bad for us, we're stuck here, so what do we do? We stock up on winter gear. Have you noticed the "Winter Uniform"? I can't even tell you how many people I know who wear the same winter uniform... You know what I'm talking about - Oh yes. That CANADA GOOSE! and.... let's not forget.. the SORELS! One can argue that these are the warmest items to get and that no one can think of living without either one of them. I agree. They are quite warm and Im even considering the idea of getting myself one once I have enough moula moula to invest into a great coat. The one I chose is the Mystique - see image below. Canada Goose wearers have become their own community. Got Goose? should be their slogan (unless milk has some kind of trademark on it). But seriously, Goosers (as I like to call them) set themselves a part from the rest of the winter dreading community. You either are part of the gang or you are part of the others. No other winter coat has been able to get to this degree. Great marketing on their behalf. It has become cool to look oversize. Go figure.
The Mystique - Canada Goose - my potential new sleeping bag
As for Sorels, I do not own a pair either, but actually was considering to get a pair, but I'm also looking at other boots on the market like La Canadienne, Amfibio, Aquaitalia, but most of these are quite expensive and it seems that the Sorel boot is decently priced and keeps you damn warm. A part from the fact that your foot may feel a little stiff inside, it keeps your foot dry and warm. BUT. You look like every second person that walks by you. If you don't care much about being different and just care about the wellness of your body, well then, by all means, why think outside the box, convert, be part of the gang and get this uniform. (I might even be one soon myself) I hate to conform and be like everyone else, but there comes a time when my sleeping bag MK coat just doesn't cut it anymore, and my Pajar fur (3 year old) boots that get wet when I spend 2-3 minutes in the snow just don't do their job and just need to be upgraded. Can I probably find something else? Yes maybe! But then again, both companies are Canadian and we are supporting our own economy - Buy Locally is what we are told! So should we just be part of the group? Should be invest the big bucks in a great coat? Maybe. Before it used to be Pajar, now it's Sorel next it will be Blabla, who knows. Trends change but in this climate we need to keep warm and who better to keep us warm than Canadians themselves who know exactly how we feel.

The "COOL" Sorel boots (the ones I want!)

UPDATE! (Jan 19) : I bought the boots! Went into Sports Experts at the Place Vertu (who goes there anyways!) and to my surprise, they had my size left and even gave me a discount, so instead of paying the Browns Shoes price ($180), I paid $140! Woot Woot, Go me!
And you guys think that there is a Canada Goose + Sorel overload? Do you own any? What's your review on the product? Are they actually as warm as they say they are? And if you own something else, what is it and does that keep you warm enough? Let us know. We're cold. We need answers!!!

Hope you're enjoying your winter!!

N.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Brunching : Byblos Le Petit Cafe

Step 1 accomplished! I got my little butt to Byblos le Petit Cafe on Sunday afternoon with my friend Jack (mentioned in the post "Girl Guy Friendships"). Before I chose to do this, I wasn't quite sure what to expect and hadn't really looked at any reviews. After posting my post on Brunching, I decided to actually look the restaurant up and found out it was actually an Iranian place! See, I love trying new restaurants and different types of cuisine. I strive on trying new things and I hope that by the end of my life, I will have tried almost every type of cuisine in the world. I have eaten alligator, kangaroo, fish pancreas, and other unmentionable foods I care not to mention because I don't want to disgust any of you. With all my travels to Asia for work, I was lucky (or unlucky) enough to try all sorts of things you can't usually find in a typical Montreal Chinese restaurant. I digested them and lived to tell the tale. I must say though, I haven't yet tried any domestic animals and to be honest, I don't plan on tasting that at all.

Ok, so back to Byblos..the Iranian restaurant. So even though I might be the one who loves to try new things, my friend, Jack, not so much. Jack is the "Deux oeufs, bacon" type of guy. He loves his General Tao chicken and his spaghetti bolognaise. He loves his steak and fries, and too much outside the box isn't his cup of tea. So, of course I was a little worried to bring him to a place like this. When we walked in, the decor was quite cool, the ambiance was fun, mostly everyone was young, hipster type, plateau residents mostly. We sat at a nice table close to a window. I must say, the service isn't A-1. It took forever for a waitress to come see us. I ordered an Iranian Tea to drink and Jack ordered a cafe au lait in quite the bowl.

My Iranian Tea and Jack's coffee bowl!

For breakfast, the menu doesn't present many options, but I had read that their Combo #4 Omelette with Feta ($9.50) that comes with bread and jam was quite good. So we both ordered that! After eating most of the bread they left for us because we were starving, it arrived. It looked like hummos. Eggs, feta, dill, spices and some scallions. I was like: OMG. We ordered Iranian hummos. To my surprise, this Iranian Hummos, was actually delicious! You eat it with your bread and it tastes very yummy! And to my surprise, Jack, loved it too! But he did mention how "Grano" this place was. Oh Jack.

Feta Omelet / Iranian Hummos!
 So let's just say, this place isn't your typical brunch place, and the service isn't quick quick, but the area is cute, the restaurant has nice decor, the ambiance is refreshing and well as for the food that I had, I was impressed with my Iranian Hummos/Feta Omelet, but I also loved the Iranian tea they served me. Except for maybe my first serving of bread which was a little dry, but if this happens to you, do tell them, I was stupid and didn't say boo, very much unlike me... I give this place a 7/10. I wouldn't have put it on the BEST BRUNCHES of Montreal list, but yes, something interesting to try!

Byblos Le Petit Cafe
1499 Laurier Street
Between Fabre and Marquette

STEP 2. Le Reservoir! which I looked up, it's actually a brasserie. See menu here. Also, very outside the box type brunch, no "Deux Oeufs, Bacon" here, let's see who I can convince to come with me...

N.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Brunching

Brunch is my favorite meal of the day. There really isn't anything that can beat a good eggs benedict! Throughout the years I have tried many different brunch places in Montreal and I still continue to discover new ones. Yes I have my favorites and those that I need to go back too.

Another great thing about brunch are the people you spend it with and the mood you're in. Sometimes a little tired, after a long night out, cozy, good conversation and it seems that the light of day shining into the restaurant puts you in a better mood. It's never too loud (well depends where) and when you fall on a great place, that food in your tummy makes everything better. Especially if you had a little bit of a rough night the evening before.

In Montreal, I have fallen on some excellent brunch places. My favorites are Le Cartet in Old Montreal. See my plate below - Eggs, Bacon, Ham, Beans, Potato. Classic. Simple. Delicious.

Classic brekky!

I also tried Griffintown Cafe on Notre-Dame and had their huevos divorciados, which were absolutely delicious. They have "music" nights 3 times a week, 1 on Tuesday (country, bluegrass), 1 on Thursday (jazz) and 1 on Friday (Blues).


Another place I have been going to for years, but I haven't been in a while is Beautys on St-Urbain. Beautys makes some excellent simple breakfasts with mouth-watering shakes. I end up always having the classic - eggs, sausage, bacon with a bagel and cream cheese. The line-up can be somewhat of a pain, but it's a staple in Montreal. You can even go alone, sit at the counter and enjoy your breakfast with a magazine, newspaper! The owner has been the owner forever and still greets you at the door. Priceless.

Found this painting of the place by Carole Spandeau
Another place I want to try is Chien Fumant, I keep on hearing great comments about it and it even placed in the TOP 10 Brunch Places in Montreal by nightlife magazine! See article here (en francais!).
My goal for the 2011, is to try all 10 places, which means to go back to the places I have been to before and actually rate them! First one on my list - Byblos le Petit Cafe. I'm excited for this project! L'Avenue also happens to be a favorite of mine, but if it weren't for those line-ups!!!

So, if you have any other great brunch places that you like, let me know! I'll try them out and review them on this website! Keep your eyes open for a Byblos review soon (hopefully..!)

Have a nice Sunday! And, happy brunching!

N.



Friday, 14 January 2011

"The Other Woman"

You meet someone. They are nice, interesting, smart, good looking/pretty, funny, conversation is at its high, you feel that great chemistry, you are interested in knowing more, so you do, you talk a little more: "So do you have a girlfriend/boyfriend?" It might not come out that straight forward, but something along those lines. And to your disappointment, the answer is yes. So what to do now? Clearly that other person is interested in you, clearly you are interested in that person. So what to do? Tell them off, say listen, I don't do that or do you go along with the flow? The easy answer is to find someone else. But the one we are most inclined on doing is sticking around.

What a bad idea... The chances that this develops into something more are close to 0. Really. I know. It's happened. Yes, I do know of couples that got involved this way, when one of them or even both of them were involved with others and it turned out. But this doesn't happen often. It's hard to be in this type of "relationship" because the risk is high.

But my question is... why? Why would someone in a relationship get involved with someone else? Answers are endless, either a sexual reason, or they need some spice in their life (their relationship is boring), or to see if they still "got it" or they fell into temptation. I think that most people enjoy these types of relationships because they feel they had something more special to offer, that they were somewhat more interesting, sexier, smarter than their current GF or BF. But with time, after being shut down and them going back to their GF, we should realize how this was a ridiculous pleasure because you never really end up winning in the long run. Yes, we may win the battle, but we never win the war. There is excitement and interest, the sneaking around is a thrill, but at one point, he/she might realize what they are doing is wrong, and go back to their spouse, and well leave you, alone.

So, if you do decide to go along with is, this is my advice to you, stand guard. Because I know you probably will give it a try, life is short and you never want to regret not following through with something. And if it's for the sex, well if you really want the sex, then have sex! But keep in mind, that's all that it is, some good entertainment. But have him or her come to you. You really need to stand your mark on this one. Keep the emotions down, and really make an effort to keep a closed heart, because you don't want to end up the really hurt one in the end.

Then again, I really want to emphasise the fact that you are better than that and that you deserve someone who will actually want to spend time with you and get to know you and have that develop into something better. We can never underestimate how great we are and how much we really deserve. Sometimes, that's hard to act on.

Has this happened to you this situation? Were you hurt? Or did you get the guy or girl? And if you succeded, what did you do? Any tips or tricks to dealing with this sticky situation? Im sure a lot of you must have lived through something similar.. and your experiences can help others!

N.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

The Geek In Me...


Case Logic Cable Knit Sleeve
 As promised, I want to give you an overview of some of the coolest gadgets I saw at the CES show (Consumer Electronics Show). I need to admit, I do have quite the tekky side to me. I love gadgets. I have owned over 5 digital cameras, 3 Ipods, 1 IPhone, countless discmans and walkmans and I love to learn more. And, lucky me, I was invited to the Wired Pop-Up Store Opening in NYC a couple months ago to play a little with the great gadgets on hand. So let's just say, I'm quite the fan.

The purpose for my trip to Vegas was to get a glimpse of all the computer/lifestyle bags, see what our competitors were doing. I was quite impressed with Built, Case Logic and Golla which have oriented themselves more towards the young urban professionnal/student. Case Logic seems to have a much larger target market, but with great products.
My favorite product was the Case Logic Cable Knit sleeve. It came in many colors with a great color lining. I even looked online and found it at Wal Mart for $23.99.


PKG Wool Sleeves
Another great sleeve company I came accross was from Toronto, called PKG. So awesome. Very "Indie Rock" type company, trying to develop fun, different computer sleeves. See their wool sleeves! These sleeves are available at Future Shop, Best Buy and are trying to get in to the US market.

So many sleeves, but that didn't even compare to the quantity of tablets out there! I think I might have seen at least 30. Ranging from Sony Tablets, to Samsung Tablets, to Polaroid Tablets to companies I have never even heard of! The IPad still remains my favorite, but I believe the Blackberry Playbook seemed to be one of the most interesting (along with the Olympus Motorola running on Android)

The most popular gadgets at this show, a part from the tablets, were the dual-core phones, the 3D "Anything" and of course Smart TVs. LG's booth was booming with people, to be honest, I wish I knew how much money was spent on these booths. Here is a video I took in the LG booth to show my roomy who works for LG (Michael says Hi to you!). Smart TVs are so cool - they have their own apps, so interactive, and for sure, the technology of the future. haha I love my "Wow!" at the end. But to be honest, I was really really impressed.
video

As silly as this might sound, another great gadget I came upon was a LARGE Bejeweled game. Yes I'm obsessed with this game. So you can imagine...I had to be pulled away.
EXTRA LARGE Bejeweled Game

Another gadget I really enjoyed is called the Bloggie from Sony. It takes videos and still pictures that you can upload directly to your Facebook, Twitter or even send by e-mail to a friend. The quality of the pictures and video on this little gadget are fantastic! I love it!!! (P.S. my birthday is coming up!)


I saw a tons more, like new Polaroid cameras that will be coming out in the next couple years, hand-held projectors, so many 3D cameras, virtual workouts where you can use your treadmill to walk a city with the city's actual surface levels and see exactly where in the city you are running (using Google Maps). Basically our entire world is becoming more interactive and digital. 3D will soon be a thing of the past, and we will be looking at 4D, 5D, who knows!

If you are still interested in learning more about the electronics that were at the show, you can check out the following links:

- CES Top Stories from Wired

What a great show it was!!! And lucky me, I met some really hot chicks...


N.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Viva Las Vegas!

I am not guaranteeing the coherence of this post considering that I'm beyond exhausted and sick. But all I have to say is WOW. For those of you that have been to Las Vegas, well I guess I'm sure you know what I'm talking about, but for those who haven't, well let me tell you it's something else. My first impression...was.. HELLO TACKYVILLE! Women in 2 piece baby blue velour suits - let me mention that these women were about 50 years old, also women wearing 2 piece matching zebra suits. My eyes still hurt from that incidence. The music playing, the lights, the $3.00 buffets, the Hooters Hotel, the All-You-Can-Eat restaurants and not to mention the $9.99 steaks.

To my surprise, all those that work in Vegas are probably the most friendly people ever. A special hand of applause to the cab drivers who always asked me how I was doing and where I was from. I was pleasantly surprised by their friendliness. They scored big points!

As for the city as a whole, I would never survive more than a weekend. Dinner at the Wynn, big partying at Marquee (in the new Cosmopolitan hotel - which is absolutely BEAUTIFUL), meeting all sorts of people, quite the lifestyle, but then again, nothing that someone can do for a long period of time! To most of you men out there, if you haven't been, you'll love it! Party central. And for you women, well, lets just say, you can pack EXTREMELY light if you want to party hard. Less is...really less. I was wearing a long sleeve shirt with my sleeves pulled back, pair of dark jeans and a great pair of black booties I got for Christmas. I also had a jacket, because it was only 8 Celcius at night...I was SUPER underdressed... or overdressed, meaning I was wearing WAY too much. I joked with my group that I could take off my jeans (my shirt barely covered my bum) and that I would fit right in. But note to the ladies, I dont suggest the slutty wear. You attract what you project. Hello Douche. Maybe not as dressed as I was (I was there with work people, as if I was going to put on my black strapless dress....) But pretty dress, great shoes (or booties if it's cold) works perfectly. You can be sexy without having your ass come out of your overly long tube top you chose to wore as your dress.

And when in Vegas, you need to fork out the moula moula. I met a guy who spent $3,000 on a booth at Marquee.. Yes you read right, 3 thousand dollars!!! Vegas is like a playground for all ballers, an exit for all those that always wanted to be someone they couldn't and an escape from all that 9 to 5 stuff.

And of course, the whole purpose for going to that show was for the CES show which was so interesting. Keep your eyes open for a new post about all the great stuff I spotted at the show. I was quite impressed!

Until then, I think I need to sleep for 2 days straight to catch up on all my lost sleep!

If you have been to Vegas and seen something amazing, please let me know in the comments below. I was only there for 24 hours, so Im really not a great source. But if you have, and been to an excellent restaurant or other venue, or show, or anything, let us know!

And in the great words of the great Elvis - thank you very muchhh.

Now, time to sleep.

*Thanks again for all those that joined my Facebook page in the last few days! 40 members! Thats amazing! :) Merci tout le monde. J'adore votre encouragement, ça me fait chaud au coeur! *

N.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Not Leb? That's OK, I'll show you!

From a young age, food has always been an important part of my life. I get excited when I'm about to try a new restaurant, I love trying new kinds of recipes and sitting down and enjoying the food with a good glass of vino. For me, that's priceless.  I have been living on my own for quite some time now and I decided that I would learn to cook my ethnic meals. I'm Lebanese (well half-lebanese...anyways). I'm actually 4th Generation Lebanese, it's actually my great-grandparents who were "off-the-boat". My grandparents were born here and barely speak any Arabic, so you can imagine, my knowledge of the language is basically what I learned at work (owned by a Lebanese family)! So I decided that because I don't know the language or have been to Lebanon, I should learn how to cook lebanese food. Now, I am not some kinda haute-cuisine chef, I don't make many Leb recipes, but there is one that I want to share with you, that you can do at home SUPER EASILY! 

It's actuallly SHISH TAOUK chicken!!! Yes, no need to run to Amir or Basha, you can make your own! But I gotta say Boustan makes the most amazing shish taouk sandwiches in Montreal. So you should try that! You want to impress your guests or your man, or your woman with a new recipe, well give this a try!

The recipe that I use calls for 6 chicken breasts, in my opinion, doesn't really matter how many you use, you will just have extra marinade left.

- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 tsp of salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/2 tsp allspice (you can find this at any grocery store, or Adonis, or whatever!)
- 1/4 lemon juice
- 1/4 cup oil

1. Now you can really do what you want with the chicken, but I like to keep as a filet, but you can cut it up and make a brochette with it if you want. Or cut it up if you want to make sandwiches.

2. Peel and mash garlic with salt. Add other ingredients in small bowl

3. Take out a Ziploc bag or any plastic bag. Put chicken in bag and then pour the marinade in the bag. Usually your chicken should marinate for 4-5 hours or overnight, but if you're in a rush, get home, do this, put the chicken in the fridge and then work on your sides.

4. Turn your oven on to BROIL. Make sure your highest tray in the oven is at the highest level. Put the chicken on a cookie sheet lined with foil, don't pour the entire marinade on the chicken if there is extra, it might catch fire in the oven (it happened to me!). 

5. Cook chicken on BROIL for about 10 min on each side - until the top of the chicken is quite dark. While the chicken is cooking, keep the oven door open to keep a good eye on it. 

6. Then serve, with rice, or veggies - if you want, you can make a FATOUSH salad (you can look it up online) or Hashwat Rice (which is a favorite of mine - Meat and Rice, my grandmother makes the best, I also have a recipe for that one, but I think the shish taouk one is key! You can also pick up some garlic sauce, tomatoes, pita bread, lettuce, and make your own sandwich! You can go to Adonis and get all your stuff! There is also another Leb grocery store I found on Sherbrooke called Akhavan.

If you are interested in more Leb recipes, you can buy this cookbook my Granny bought me - The Lebanese Kitchen. But I can't seem to find it anywhere online, oh well, I have found some great lebanese recipes online before actually getting this book. E-rcps.com  is a good site, and if you have any questions, just ask and I can provide you with any type of recipe.

And if you're too lazy to cook and want to try some yummy leb cooking, here are a few great leb places in and around the city!

CASUAL / FAST FOOD
- Boustan on Crescent is my favorite
- But you also have Sindibad on Cote-Des-Neiges who grills their sandwiches and there's a little hint of "je ne sais quoi" that makes those shish taouk sandwiches DELISH
- Arroush in Laval- you can pick up some killer Zaatar
- Andalos on Lebeau in Ville Saint-Laurent, makes AWESOME Leb sandwiches with flavored pita.
- Antabli - on L'Acadie right in front of Marche Central - serves some excellent fruit cocktails with lots of fruit and real fruit juices, most of them covered with a coat of Ashta (white cheese), honey and nuts. My favorite is the Turbo with extra ashta, so delicious! I use to go in the summer with my friend Gabrielle, play cards, eat fruit and smoke shisha. Didn't get better than that!

ACTUAL RESTAURANTS
- Daou - both locations - Marcel Laurin and on Faillon in Villeray
- La Sirene de la Mer with 3 locations - Laval, on l'Acadie corner Sauve and on Jean-Talon. They also have a take-out counter with the freshest fish! Their fish is AMAZING! 
- EZO on l'Acadie I heard was great - my grandparents have gone and loved it
- Alep et Petit Alep on Jean-Talon, more or less only Leb food, but really Middle Eastern

I suggest you try the Kibbeh Nayeh which is the raw meat with mint and some pita bread. You can also add a little onion to it, just delicious! And if you are new to this, ask your waiter to help you out. He might have some great ideas. I really enjoy the chicken, some tabouleh, with some fries, some fish, (La Sirene makes an excellent salmon), kibbeh nayeh to start and maybe a little baklava at the end. I'm not a fan of rose water, but if you like it, they have some excellent deserts at Daou with the rose water.

I can keep on writing, because I'm seriously bursting with ideas. So if you are interested in making a great leb meal, please let me know, I can help you out and if I don't know the answer, I'll ask my Granny!

As my last words of wisdom, TRY IT! You won't be disappointed. If you have never had Leb food, well WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? Get to Daou with some of your peeps, I'm telling you right now, the decor is super outdated, but the food, mouth watering!

Happy Eating!!!

Bil hana wish shifa! (arabic translation)

N.


Sunday, 2 January 2011

New Years Resolutions are nonsense

Toilet in the living room
Happy New Year everyone! Hope you all had a good time! I surely did. As I said before, house parties are fabulous. Mine was like a glorified house party with a bar, an oyster bar, a DJ, a dance floor and even heating posts outside! It was great and I thank the hosts for putting on such a great party! I have to say, the toilet bowl in the middle of the living room was the perfect touch. If your NYE didn’t go as planned, that’s OK, no problem. It’s an overrated night anyways. We always have so many expectations and I don’t believe that how you celebrate new years sets the tone for the New Year. You make the best of your year.

I don’t really believe in New Years resolutions, because most of the time along the way, those resolutions are broken and not really followed. But I do believe in giving yourself goals that you would like to achieve in the next year. Whether it is for your career, to buy a new home, to build better relationships with people around you, or to get back into shape. My advice is to start small.  When making new years resolutions we tend to want to change ourselves completely. To become super in shape when we might be really far from that goal, or to always be punctual when we are always late. There is NO way that will work if we give ourselves big goals. So start small. If you believe you need to improve your relationship with your siblings for instance.  First, choose 1 sibling to begin with, and take that sibling for lunch, or try to find an activity that you know that sibling loves.  Try to enjoy it, try to build a good bond.  Or you want to get back into shape, I’m telling you right away that you won’t lose tons of weight in the first few weeks. That is the typical New Year’s Resolution.  It’s crazy how packed gyms become right after New Years.  For some, yes it might work, you might join a gym, get a trainer, change your food intake and BAM lose 20 pounds. For others, it ain’t so easy. For women, I suggest you find a class that interests you. Zumba, Salsa, Step, Kickboxing, whatever! Studio Breath close to the Atwater Market downtown offers all sorts of classes. I suggest you look into it and find a class you can go to 1-2 times a week and start there. Having a schedule and even a partner to go with is motivating and you know you have an obligation to go. 

As for food, it’s really all about portions. For those who don’t know me, since 2004 I have lost over 35 pounds on and off. I have gained some, lost some and now it’s been stable for a while now. And to be honest, the only way I lost this weight was my food intake. I’m not a big fan of the gym, I do love classes though, but that’s not how I lost all the weight. Portion control was what worked for me. Now, I know it probably won’t work for most of you because yes you get hungry and yes being hungry is the WORST. But I eat what I want, I eat poutine when I feel like poutine and I eat chocolate when I want chocolate. But I eat all in moderation and smaller portions. My stomach is smaller and I get full faster.  The trick I found to losing this weight is to go to bed a little hungry. That’s how I started. I would eat small portions for dinner and then I would STAY AWAY from the fridge. If this interests you and need more advice, you know how to reach me!

For those of you that need to make a step in your career, you can hire someone like Gabrielle Vaugeois (“Interview with a Best Friend”) to help put you in the right direction, or you can give yourself a kick in the bum and do something about it.  If you have waited all this time to do something about, maybe you do need someone to help you out.  You know sometimes we need that little extra push to get the move on.

Basically, it’s all in the small steps, because the chances that you do succeed in reaching your goal are much higher if you take it easy and set realistic goals. And if you are content with your life with nothing to change, well then that’s great for you. But I’m sure there is always room for improvement. Whether it be to volunteer more, to be more organized, to spend more quality time with your friends, to learn more about a certain culture, language or cuisine. Ohhh that’s a really interesting one. Learning about a new cuisine! I am such a foodie. I think that will be the subject of my next post. Since I’m Lebanese (well half leb but anyways), I am going to let you in to some of the delicious easy leb cooking and restaurants in and around Montreal that can give you a great taste of Lebanese cooking!

Until then, as my last words of wisdom, I think you got the message. You have goals for the new year? Start small and you will succeed! I hope all of you have a great 2011, that this year will bring you all great success, happiness, love and of course health! I know we always wish each other good health, but seriously, without your health, nothing else seems to matter. So.. I wish you all great great health! J


N.