Monday, 10 November 2014

Rewind & Fast Forward

As a 32 year-old thinking back to my high school days at Oakridge Secondary School, I admit that I'm conflicted as to how I feel about the whole thing. I wasn't popular, but I wasn't an unknown either. My circle of friends was large, but close-knit, predominantly female and consisted of girls who were and weren't popular, but were incredible (at least in my mind).

 Semi-formal, Grade 10 (1997-98)
Lounging in the halls...Grade 9, I think (1996-97)
A few us joined up for a quick pic before entering the auditorium to collect our diplomas.

High school didn't start off too well for me, lol! I struggled with the academic transition (although I'd earned the highest marks among my elementary school peers). I was out of place among the mostly rich students who were also blessed with beauty, athleticism, brains and the gift of being outgoing and confident. I was shy, scared and unsure of how to feel comfortable with who I was. Although I wasn't brilliant, I learned the ways of high school academia and my grades hovered in the 80s to low 90s (although Algebra & Geometry would disagree). I wasn't beautiful, but unique since I was one of two female Asians. I wouldn't consider myself athletic, but I was good enough to play mixed doubles on the badminton team. Eventually, I walked my own line.

 Grade 9 yearbook photo (sorry it's blurry!)
Embracing my weirdness at the Red Feather game (American-style football) in grade 10. 
Graduation photo

I was so focused on doing well academically, that, even though I had my fair share of crushes (including one on a geography teacher who was super dreamy!), I refused to let boys sidetrack me. Of course, the irony is that no boys actually paid any attention to me, hahaha! I never had a date or boyfriend from school and trying to find a date for dances and graduation was next to impossible.

Jo directly quoting me in my yearbook about my schoolgirl crush, lol!

Once upon a time (in Canada), high school went from grade 9 to grade 13, or as we fondly called it, OAC. Phys(ical) ed(ucation) was mandatory in grade 9. Now, I loved being active, and in addition to making the badminton team (yeah, you're still laughing from the first time I mentioned that, aren't you?), I also made the cheer leading team...I declined the acceptance, but I was happy that I'd been able to make the cut! Phys ed was always daunting to me because I had asthma (blah!), and I had to change into my gym uniform in front of 40+ girls who were waaay more comfortable with being naked in a public space than I was.

The first day of gym class I didn't realize we'd have to take notes. Lacking paper and pen, and knowing absolutely NOBODY in my class, I tapped on the shoulder of the girl in front of me who jumped at my touch and looked at me with a look of mortification on her face. I apologized and asked for paper and a pen, which she obligingly gave me. I introduced myself to her and gave her my hand which she hesitated to take. She introduced herself, and in no time I called her either Jo (thinking of her as Louisa May Alcott's beloved protagonist in Little Women), or by her Greek name. She's Greek Canadian, born to Greek parents. Eighteen years later, we're still best friends; her friendship has been the most important one of my life.

Jo and I at graduation :)

In spite of our lengthy friendship, I didn't know what her wedding plans were. I don't if this is surprising to people, but we never actually communicated about weddings. Is that odd? I don't even know. We did meet at a time in our lives when infatuation was an every day occurrence and fairy tales could still come true, when daydreaming of Mr. Right at times competed with our attention to Mrs. Wilson's bio class. I know we were both innocent and hopeful, but we only spoke of marriage as something that wouldn't happen for us. Most eligible bachelors ran fast and far. No, that life wasn't meant for us. Then we arrived at UWO (Western University) and smartened up: there were plenty of suitors, but now the issue was how to find that good guy who deserved us, the one we'd fall in love with? Unfortunately, more often than not, it felt like UWO was more like an Oakridge reunion.

Although I've been unlucky in love (let's face it, I've been unlucky in love my whole life, hehehe!), Jo met a special someone. Mr. S. I was normally happy for Jo when she told me of a new love interest, but Mr. S was different. Maybe it was how she spoke of him, or the fact that she didn't tell me about him right away, but I detested him before I'd met him. I'd prepared tough questions to grill him and my best stone face. Of course, my hatred was short-lived. He was good-natured, kind and funny, but it was how he and Jo interacted together when they thought no one was watching that gave me pause. He quickly proved he wasn't perfect and that he could be daft when it came to women (as most men are), BUT, I also saw a man completely accept and love Jo for all that she was and all that we knew she would be. I watched him show her a love that I'd only dreamed of having waaaay back, once upon a time. Eight years after they'd started dating, Mr. S proposed to my bosom buddy, and next July we'll watch them marry in GREECE!

With less than eight  and a half months to go, we went dress shopping in London (Ontario, Canada) on the weekend. It was quite an experience since I think it was overwhelming for me more than any of my companions (Jo, her mother and her sister). I'm not a fan of the economy of weddings. It's become such a commodity and expense that I feel the sentiments have lost a lot of their meaning. Sorry, I digress!

Jo had seen shoes in the front window of Petrov Bridal and went in to book a dress fitting. We watched her try on beautiful dresses, but it was a Pronovias gown that was the showstopper, or perhaps it was Jo beaming while she was wearing it that was showstopping. That moment for me was the highlight of the day. She was stunning: here was the girl who never thought she'd get to be a bride. When we were younger, we were so determined it wouldn't happen for us (for various different reasons), that we made a small wager: the first girl (between the two of us) to get engaged would treat the other to a grand dinner at a restaurant of the non-betrothed's choice. I lost. Even though I never entered marital "bliss," I was officially the first engaged, and as such, I owe Jo a dinner...Still. That story is for another day though.

 Jo loathes sequence, so this one was very quickly a "no," which is why I can post it ;)
Although it has a Spanish and Mediterranean feel, no one thought this had a "wow" effect. Next! 

Eva (Petrov), the owner of Petrov Bridal (http://petrovbridal.com/) is a long-time acquaintance and is AMAZING! I met her through her son, also an amazing person. Eva has such a beautiful heart and smile. Her patience must be noted and appreciated! We were booked in a private sitting room (it was huge!), and had beverages throughout our FOUR HOUR session. Eva sells European gowns available exclusively at her store! She's a classy, gracious, giving person and she treated us very well. I have only praise for the service we received. I've had friends who have purchased their bridal attire from Garber's Bridal, Balletts Bridal & Formalwear and Nicholas & Elizabeth (all located in London), and they all had the absolute worst customer service! In fact, when I was shopping for my wedding gown, I refused to go to any of these shops. I would never recommend any of them and would encourage you to visit Eva (@ Petrov Bridal), or visit a boutique store such as Leslie's Clothing, Lolita or Elizabeth Noel (all located on Richmond Street). I've made purchases from all stores and the customer service and prices were superior to those bridal stores previously mentioned (except Petrov Bridal).

Back to my best friend's big fat Greek wedding. Jo's sis and I decided to try on bridesmaid gowns (only two different styles), as a test and reference point for the other dresses we know are to come. Both were beautiful, but only one was a stunner! I'd looked at what was available for "maids" at Petrov Bridal. I will freely admit that I cannot stand bridesmaids dresses or the concept of them: overpriced, hideously coloured (I don't enjoy wearing colour or the ridiculous notion that ONE colour is going to suit an array of skin colours since that's almost NEVER the case), one-time wear dresses. It's such a waste of money, time and effort, but those are just my feelings. Anyhooo, I tried on the dress below and loved it, although I know what you're all thinking, "Mik, it's a July wedding in Greece," BUT, it's an evening wedding and we're apparently on a mountain...Or in the mountains, but it's supposedly cooler there. This lace and organza concoction was one I fell in love with immediately. Please forgive the quality of the pictures! They're the only ones I could find. There is a shot of me IN the gown, but because the floor model was too big, it looks comical and wouldn't do the dress justice. It fit Jo's sister like a glove and she looked FABULOUS, but for some reason I don't have a picture of her in it :(

 Lazaro Noir 3378: Front
Hello. I love you, dress: Back

So, it is with great pleasure that I announce the upcoming marriage of Jo and Mr. S! I've always said that I'll never go to Greece without Jo. Now, I'm happy to report that I will do so...Even if it means wearing a hideous, overpriced dress I'll never, ever wear again :) I'd only ever agree to it for my sister...And my beloved Jo, because, if you didn't already guess it, I'm not a supporter of the whole big wedding thing. I don't like weddings in general. However, I'm ridiculously excited for Mr. S and Jo's wedding!!! Greece! With AWESOME people I love...Including my date ;) It's going to be incredible.

To Do:
1.) Search Airbnb for a place to stay
2.) Request a list of official bridesmaid duties
3.) Get started on planning the bachelorette party!
4.) Learn Greek!!!

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Eat, Drink and Be Scary!

Re-adjusting to autumn: level of difficulty for Mik = extremely hard. One day it was sunny, humid and hot. The next day it was overcast, raining and cold. My body shut down and I wanted to stay in bed every day, all day long. After a terrible bout of SAD (seasonal affective disorder: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/basics/definition/con-20021047), I deliberated buying a happy lamp (to help deal with the shift in my mood), but decided against it because I don't want to become dependent on it. It's still tough some days, but things are a bit better. Oddly, a lot of people I know have also admitted to having a tough time adjusting to autumn's arrival this year. Unfortunately, my lack of love for autumn has meant that I haven't really appreciated the beauty that's surrounded me:

 The view from my balcony #1
The view from my balcony #2
Coming home from a walk.

Thanksgiving was a great success...However, I completely forgot to take photos because I was so preoccupied with making a delicious meal. Sorry :(   That being said, I did go out. I went out A LOT, and I feel like there wasn't much worth snapping shots of: went to Crabby Joe's (never impressive), Tony Roma's (I'd decided on a salad because everything else just seemed overwhelmingly HUGE and fatty) and Barakat (but didn't even order because I wasn't hungry that afternoon!). Here are some snap shots of the goodies I got:

 Okay, this is at Icarus. I went with a group of friends and LOVE the Mediterranean lamb meatballs and warm potato salad...AMAZING! I'm not a fan of the AFTER taste of lamb, but these meatballs are to DIE FOR. Londoners: GO. NOW!
Possessed @ Icarus (look at all those red eyes!) and gorgeous smiles! 
 Okay, the Little Beaver is considered a dive, but yet has the most AWESOME desserts! I went out for brunch with a group of acquaintances and friends from high school and although breakfast was OK, this slice of pumpkin pie was the highlight for me. Incredible!!!
 Every Friday, the mosque on Oxford Street west sells fatayer. They have spinach, potato, meat and cheese (like arayas, but as you can see from the pic, A LOT bigger and a lot meatier!), zaatar and zaatar with cheese...OH, MY. They even have western pizza style. It's heavenly when eaten fresh out of the oven!!! 
 There are still days when I'm not sure how I feel about Paramount (on Southdale Road: http://www.paramountfinefoods.com/). Anyhow, my sister suggested we go and-as always-I ordered WAAAAAY too much food! Hummus, falafel, kibbeh, arayes, fattoush, tahini and garlic "mayo" are ALL necessities! Did I eat too much??? YES! I DO have to mention that the falafel, fries and shwarmas at Pita Pita are MUCH better than Paramount's.
Arayes and falafel :)
Fattoush and bread massacred.
I love me some kibbeh!
Last on the docket for food: I went to McGinnis Landing for drinks with my girlfriend and I ordered the peach cobbler and it was disappointing. I'm not a fan of McGinnis Landing or other "family-style" restaurants like Kelsey's, Moxie's, Tony Roma's, Shoeless Joe's, Earl's, Crabby Joe's, etc...  To me, they attempt to offer a bit of every kind of food and rarely end up doing anything amazing-even if they specialize like Boston Pizza and Montana's. Are there exceptions? Of course! East Side Mario's has always done a great job in my humble opinion. Red Lobster can be hit or miss, but when it's a hit, watch out!!! Even though it's on my "I'm-not-a-fan" list, Montana's beef ribs ARE amazing!

On top of all of this eating, I somehow made it out for Halloween...TWICE! Once as a minion and once as a gangster for a Great Gatsby themed party where I got to hit a piƱata for the first time ever!!! It was awesome! 

Halloween Party #1:
At McCulloch's (http://www.mccullochs.on.ca/): my sis helping me find parts for minion goggles...Which hurt my head so much I couldn't wear them (they were "drunk" glasses, so they hurt my eyes, lol!), and kept breaking :( 
My sis and her besties as Snap, Crackle and Pop (Rice Krispies)
Actual characters.
 Minions: 3/5
 I might have cut my jumper a bit too short (which my father was predicting I'd do, lol! I had to wear running shorts over my FANTASTIC yellow tights!!!). Shirt and jumper: Value Village! Goggles: McCullochs and Fabric Land. Tights: Target.
At the final destination we ran into another minion (6 of us in total!) and another Gru!!! We danced all night, and although I was the designated driver, I had a blast being a spectator!
BEST costume for me was Mr. Clean!!!
Actual logo

Halloween #2: 

Hail, hail, the gang's all here!!! I'm blessed to have these AMAZING people in my life. They've saved me a time...Or countless times.
 Flapper girls and me trying to channel my androgynous side as a gangster but failing miserably as I ended up emulating Baz Luhrmann's vision of costumes in the 20s. As always, my obsession with Madonna was never far from my mind. I was inspired by her 1990 'Vogue' music video.
I LOVE laughing! My friend, who I thought really resembled will.i.am, is pretty funny! I don't know WHO took this picture, but I have to say it's one of my favourites from the Halloween festivities!
 Showing Elmo some love before clubbing him to death.
Elmo: The after picture. I've got some evil eyes going on. Don't know what that's about, lol!
Smile! beautiful blondes!!!
Not posing, but showering J with loving looks ;)
The spread! My lipstick consisted of four layers (lip liner x2, lipstick and lip gloss x2), which somehow ended up on my WHITE tank top at the beginning of the evening, BAHAHAHA!!!

As I do a lot of driving for work, I found some pretty great houses dressed up for Halloween. To protect people's privacy, I'll just give the general area of these houses.

Oakridge area: this house was, BY FAR, the best of the bunch I saw. I'm sure kids would have been scared walking up to this place to trick-or-treat!

The FULL view (which was sooo elaborate that I had to take this picture from across the street!)
 That grey thing had red eyes that lit up and it spoke. Freaky.
 Those characters were not people, but were life-size!!! Eeeeek!
 The decor on the front lawn
 This guy TOWERED over me!
 Okay, these things were just creepy! They talked and their eyes moved and they were swinging, and ugh, weirdness and spooky awesomeness combined!
 Zombie alert! Not a person! Seriously, this is still the SAME house!
 This chick was my size and kept crying and singing a lullaby.
 These people are totally into Halloween!!!
 Still more!
And when you left, this skeleton thing crawled after you!!! FANTASTIC!

Byron area: I'm sorry these pictures are fuzzy, but between my flash and the lack of street lighting, they wouldn't focus properly :(  ALL of the following decorations are HAND-MADE, folks!!! I know this because the house belongs to my sister's co-worker.

 Frog eyes (left) and a giant spider on the roof!
Clowns ARE scary! Mike Myers is ALSO scary!!! 
 Pumpkin carving!!! MINION!!!
 The front yard.
 Are kids freaked out by this stuff, because it looks INCREDIBLE to me!
 Trying to imagine myself as a kid approaching this place and I think it would have scared me a bit.
 Home-made!!!
 Look at that GIANT Frankenstein!
 The view from across the street.

Whitehills area: I saw this place while driving and had to turn around to take pictures. I had other, better shots, but I captured the car plates (of the car in the driveway), and decided against adding them.

 Love the effort that people go to for this holiday!
 I wonder what it looked like at night. It was around 3pm.
"Sorry, I'm not home right now. I'm walking into spiderwebs, so leave a message and I'll call you back!"

Lots of pictures for y'all! Hope your Halloween was safe and wonderful! I've missed it for two years, but I certainly got my fill this year :)