Monday, 19 January 2015

Caroline vs. 2015

Happy New Year!

This update has been a long time coming.  I really enjoyed blogging once I started and was full of ideas, but eventually I lost the motivation to update regularly, and then I just...stopped.  A big part of this was my move back to my hometown of Ottawa after five years in my beloved Toronto.

I couldn't find a job in Toronto (ah, the plight of a 20-something with a Bachelor of Arts) so I packed up and headed home to live with my parents.  This caused a lot of stress since I went to boarding school before moving to Toronto for university, so I hadn't lived with my parents in seven years.  Needless to say, it took a lot of adjusting.  I also didn't know too many people in Ottawa; everyone I knew in high school I had either fallen out of touch with, or they had moved out of town after staying home for undergrad.  I did have one of my good Toronto friends with me (hi Sarah!), but I was pretty lonely for the most part.

I struggled with my mental health in high school and in university, but I think the stress of moving back in with my parents, of starting a new job that was largely independent, of being in a long distance relationship with my boyfriend Clem in Berlin, and of not really knowing anyone in the city snowballed my anxiety.  Last winter was terrible all across Canada, and I just felt awful all the time.  I could barely convince myself to get out of bed in the mornings to go to work, let alone string together enough words to make an interesting blog post.

Early in the Spring, after being back in Ottawa for almost a year, I decided to get some professional help.  I had shunned the idea for years because of the stigma surrounding mental health, especially at such a high-achieving school like U of T, but this year I decided enough was enough.  And, honestly, I wish I could go back to my first year in Toronto and actually make that appointment at the U of T counselling services.

With a trip to visit Clem in Europe in April, the great summer weather, and a very adventurous friend, I slowly started to feel better as the summer wore on.  I published an article that ended up on the front page of the Heritage Ottawa Newsletter, I got back into reading, and I even joined a Running Room clinic and ran my first half marathon in September!  With a clearer mind I started thinking about blogging again, but didn't get around to actually putting together a post until...

I moved to Japan.

My boyfriend is completing the second year of his Master's degree at the University of Tokyo, and I decided to "carpe diem," quit my job, and move halfway around the world to join him.  I don't have a job here yet, so until that happens I'll be spending my time adventuring around the city.  This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and the experience deserves to be recorded and shared.

The famous Shibuya Crossing, on one of my first days in Tokyo.

So, all this to say that I'm back.  Any tips and tricks for Tokyo and Japan would be greatly appreciated!  And if any of you reading this are having trouble with your mental health and want someone to talk to, my ears and e-mail inbox are always open.



Monday, 15 July 2013

Caroline vs. Cities & Typography

I was bitten by the travel bug at a very young age, and since the past few years have been relatively light on the travel front the internet has been great for feeding my wanderlust.  As such, my Tumblr and Pinterest are constantly inundated with photos of faraway places, filling me with nostalgia for places I've been lucky to visit, and giving me a kick in the pants to get my act together so I can discover new places.  A few of my recent favourite travel-oriented photos come from Turkish web designer Gökhun Güneyhan, who has done a really interesting job of marrying photos of European cities and countries with a typographical interpretation of the names of those places.  My hands-down favourite is "Valencia," although I admit to being slightly biased, as the building pictured (the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia) was right across the road from my family's apartment when we lived there.
The Palau is part of the hyper modern City of Arts and Sciences, largely designed by the famed Santiago Calatrava
Some of my other favourites are below, but click through to see the rest!

Prague's distinctive architecture

Saint Mary's Basilica, located in Krakow's Rynek Główny, which is the largest medieval town square in Europe!

View of the Eiffel Tower from Place de la Varsovie

xx, C.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Caroline vs. The Drake Hotel

A few months back I decided I wanted to surprise my boyfriend Clement with a Valentine’s Day staycation, and what better place to do so than the Drake Hotel.  I’d only been to the Drake a couple times, and even then only for drinks, so I was eager to find out what it would be like to actually stay there.
The Drake Hotel, 1150 Queen Street West, Toronto
Thirty minutes after I left my Annex apartment, the Queen streetcar dropped me off right in front of the Drake.  Check-in was quick and easy, and the front desk staff were glad to answer any questions I had.  Because the hotel is in an older building there is no elevator, which was no problem for me and my small overnight bag, but getting up the two flights of stair with a full suitcase would have been difficult had I followed my notorious overpacker instincts.
Our little Crash Pad!  The perfect size for two.
As soon as I opened the door and walked into our assigned Crash Pad (the second smallest offering of rooms at the Drake) I was met with the slightest peppermint scent, which put me at ease right away.  I really enjoyed the fact that the room was scattered with trinkets available for purchase through the Drake General Store, located next door to the hotel entrance, and to which guests receive a voucher for 10% off (I ended up buying a Luckies of London scratch-off map of the world).  The room was by no means palatial, but it was very well organized and not once did we feel cramped.  There was no mini-fridge, but snacks and drinks were displayed neatly on shelves – the constant visibility and the aesthetically-pleasing packaging made the pricy goodies that much harder to resist!  There was a small bag of caramel popcorn beside the bed with a welcome card on it, which sufficed as our snack for the night.
Spoils from Malin+Goetz: cilantro hair conditioner, bergamot body wash, and peppermint shampoo.
I arrived alone, about an hour before Clem did, so I had some time to get myself all made up.  The bathroom lights were bright enough for me to see precisely what I was doing, but they didn’t cast the harsh glow I have come to expect in hotel bathrooms.  The array of wonderfully scented Malin+Goetz toiletries made me feel extra luxurious, and I really wish they had sample sizes so I could take them home without being charged.  In theory, one could pick up some travel-sized bottles from the Shoppers Drugmart down the street and fill them with the products, but unfortunately for me this thought didn’t strike until after we’d left (and shelled out $36 for a bottle of the peppermint shampoo).

The Striploin Maki.  Perfect for sharing.
After primping I glided down the stairs and met the boyfriend for drinks at the bar.  I’d only ever been up to the rooftop Sky Yard, but this time we decided to escape the cold and cozy up in the Lounge.  It was big, but still felt warm and homey; the back wall was filled with books and vinyl and retro record players, which almost made us feel like we were in our own living room.  The Drake has a wide array ofcocktails, so I asked our server which ones he recommended, and I was very pleased with both the Paper Plane and the Paloma (both $13).  Cocktails generally run between $10 and $14, so a bill adds up pretty quickly, but if you’re in the mood for only one or two expertly mixed drinks, the Drake is the place for you.  Clem and I had agreed beforehand that a night at the Drake would stand in lieu of a nice dinner, but we couldn’t pass up ordering an appetizer to go with our drinks.  We ended up with the Striploin Maki ($15.95), which was unbelievable.  I’m not a big fan of seafood and tend to stick with vegetarian sushi, so the beef was a nice change of pace.
Really great touch!
After we had spent some time at the bar, Clem and I left the hotel in search of something more substantial for dinner that would also be easy on the wallet.  We ended up at Poutini’s, just a block away, and immediately chowed down on some poutine.  I HATE gravy (weird, I know.  My family never ate it when I was growing up, so I never got the taste for it), so I opted for the pulled pork, which was saucy enough that my fries and cheese curds weren’t too naked, meanwhile Clem heartily dug into his classic poutine.  The two poutines together came to less than $15, so we left with bellies and wallets totally satisfied.  We then went back to our room, and were greeted with a small plate with two cookies, and a card wishing us goodnight!  One thing I love about boutique hotels is the little touches they have to make guests feel totally at home.  After scarfing down the cookies we changed into the comfy Drake Hotel bathrobes, and settled in for the night with a movie and the clichéd-but-necessary bottle of bubbly – Clem had picked up my favourite, Freixenet Cordon Negro.

I need to eat breakfast in bed more often.
Before we went to bed we decided we would splurge on breakfast in bed.  I mean, why not, right?  We chose the continental breakfast ($26 per person), which was delivered bright and early the next morning.  We had coffee, orange juice, fruit salad, yougurt and pastries.  The coffee was delicious and the juice was freshly pressed, but the rest of the breakfast wasn’t too spectacular.  The fruit salad was very standard, full of melon with very few berries, which was disheartening for me as I don’t care for melon (but LOVE fresh berries).  I mixed the fruit with the yougurt, which I gathered was natural-flavour Greek yougurt; it was good with the fruit, but not so much on its own.  A little honey and I would have been a happy camper.  The pastries were small and almost crunchy, but this was remedied with the cream and jam that accompanied them.  All that aside, however, we got to eat breakfast in bed without cooking it first, which was a special treat.
This little guy from the Drake General Store was so cute!

Check-out was at 11am, and with that the real world beckoned, and our little staycation was over.  We both had a really good time, and even though it's unlikely I'll be able to stay at the hotel again in the near future, it will remain one of my favourite spots in Toronto for eating and drinking.

xx, C.

Credits: First photo from The Drake's Facebook page, all others my own.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Caroline vs. DUY AW13

I wasn't able to attend Toronto Fashion Week this week, but in my perusing of social media I found the above gem from the DUY show on Bianca Venerayan's Instagram...and my jaw dropped.  I've come to love formal-wear, but I'm also a big fan of being comfortable, so this perfect combination of comfort and style is really appealing to me.  With a little sleuthing, I found out that the designer, Vietnam-born Montreal-based Duy Nguyen, was last year's Mercedes Benz Start-Up winner, and boy, did they pick a good one!  The collection has lots of texture, with big knits, fur, and leather, which helps give dimension to the neutral colour palette.  Below are a few of my favourite looks:
Flare's shot of my favourite look.  I'm just waiting for an opportunity to pair a full-length skirt with some soft knits!

I love the skinny silhouette created with the trousers balanced with a super long coat.

Fur and feathers!  The perfect things to spice up any outfit.

Metallic silver is perfect for the holiday season, and it's modern without looking crazy futuristic.

Click through to check out the rest of the collection, as seen through the lens of Flare's George Pimentel.

What were some of your favourite looks and collections this week?

xx, C.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Caroline vs. Drake General Store Warehouse Sale

Today is the first day of the Drake General Store's Warehouse Sale!  They have a great selection of stuff in all their regular outposts, so I can only imagine the loot available at their warehouse sale.  They've also teamed up with Pendleton, who will no doubt be offering some amazing items.  Plus, think of the sale prices!  If you're looking for a way to update your apartment or your wardrobe for Spring, you definitely want to spend some time there this weekend.

442 Dufferin Street, Unit 'I' (North of Queen Street), 416-538-2222
Friday, March 8th: Pre-Sale (invite only), 2pm-8pm
Saturday, March 9th: 11am-5pm
Sunday March 10th: 12pm-4pm

xx, C.