Sunday, 23 December 2012

Caroline vs. CN Tower 360 Restaurant

A while back my boyfriend and I celebrated our first anniversary, so we decided we wanted to do something special.  I talked over the summer about wanting to go to the 360 Restaurant in the CN Tower, so when my boyfriend asked where I wanted to go, I jokingly said I wanted to go there.  He saw right through my jesting tone and knew I secretly wanted to go, so he made reservations.  We were going mid-week so we were confident it wouldn't be too busy, but reservations are always a safe way to guarantee you can get in somewhere.

It had been raining during the day and early evening, but by the time we reached the restaurant, half a kilometre up in the air, the sky was clear and we were able to see for miles.  For visitors to Toronto it might be best to eat at 360 during the day, when it is easier to see various metropolitan landmarks, but my boyfriend and I had both been up the CN Tower a number of times, so the cityscape at night was a magical change of scenery.  I had also forgotten that the restaurant rotated (even though the name "360" pretty much gives that away...), which threw me for a loop at first, but it was great to be able to see so far in all directions.
The view from our table

Because we are both living on student budgets we opted for the prix fixe menu and half a bottle of red wine.  We also had a glass of cava each, because what is a celebration without some bubbly?  The food was very good; I chose a salad, vegetarian pasta, and a decadent chocolate dessert.  Nothing was groundbreakingly delicious, but we both enjoyed our meals.  As we expected the restaurant wasn't too busy, so we were able to take our time, and we made two full rotations, taking in the city lights.  The service was very good, which in my experience can sometimes not be the case in expensive novelty restaurants where business is a given regardless of quality of service.  The food was prepared very quickly, but didn't look like it had been thrown together in a rush, and we both cleared our plates.

We really enjoyed eating at 360, but when the bill came (which we knew would be expensive), we decided that even though the food and service were very good, it was the novelty of eating at the top of the CN Tower for which we were really paying.  The restaurant is great once, but I doubt I'll be back - at least until I have more disposable income.  An upside of eating at 360, however, is that your meal comes with free access to the observation deck, so you can have a walk around and learn about the tower's history before heading home.
As much as I could see of the wine cellar from outside the door

360 is great as a one-time experience, and I would add it to the list of things to do if you are from out of town and have some extra time and cash.  The prix-fixe menus are a good option for those with a lower budget, and the restaurant also has a very extensive wine list for those who enjoy picking out a wine almost as much as drinking it (me.)  Fun fact, 360 is also home to the world's highest wine cellar!  It was really cool to peer in and see the selection they had.

Have you ever been to 360?  What did you think?

xx, C.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Caroline vs. Quill & Tine Launch Party

Last night my fabulously fashionable friend Drydon told me he was modelling at a product launch over in Parkdale and asked if I wanted to go, so of course I enthusiastically replied in the affirmative.  The party was for Quill & Tine, a company that is "bridging the artesanal traditions of the past with the ingenuity of modern innovations."  In other words, they have created a stunning collection of gloves that are not only functional in the sartorial sense, but also work seamlessly with touch screen gadgets.  I'm going into my first Canadian winter with a touch screen phone, and I'm definitely concerned about keeping my fingers warm while also keeping in touch.  Just last week I was looking at gloves that were supposedly compatible with touch screen devices, but none of them worked well enough to merit a purchase.  Last night I tried on a pair of Quill & Tine's gloves and manoeuvred around my phone easily.  I was really impressed, especially after I learned that they test every single pair to make sure they work properly.  I've got my eye on the tartan driving gloves, and hope that either the Birthday Gods or Santa will come through for me this holiday season!  They also have "city gloves" and classic black leather gloves for both men and women looking for the perfect combination of style and functionality.
Extra points for matching up the lines of the tartan on both hands; this really shows the time put into making sure each pair is perfect.  One of my biggest pet peeves is when patterns don't match!
On the left are the Women's City Gloves, and on the right, the Men's Classic Dress Gloves.

The party itself was also a great success.  Held at Parts & Labour on Queen Street West, we were able to obsess over the gorgeous gloves on display whilst doing a balancing act with prosecco, oysters and charcuterie.  Seriously, the food spread was unbelievable.  There was also an amazingly talented calligrapher at a table writing out quotations on notecards that we were able to take home with us.  They are so beautiful, and I think I'm going to frame mine and use it as home decoration.  I also really enjoyed being at Parts & Labour, which I'd never been to before but am definitely going to return to in the near future.
I ate so much.  As seen on my Instagram.
Thanks to Quill & Tine for an awesome evening, and thanks to Drydon for inviting me!  I had a great night, even though I had school work waiting for me when I got home.  Ah, well...

xx, C.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Caroline vs. Night Time Lapse

Varsity Feature: Night Time Lapse from The Varsity on Vimeo.

U of T's student newspaper The Varsity recently published this awesome time lapse video of campus at night.  While this it definitely doesn't give me any major feelings of Go-Blues-Go school spirit, it reminds me of how lively campus really is at night, and that I am never really alone when I pull an all-nighter.

xx, C.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Caroline vs. Remembrance Day

From my Instagram, taken at the Remembrance Day service at Soldiers' Tower this morning

Today is Remembrance Day, a day we honour and celebrate those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.  The 11:00am minute of silence has come and gone, but I hope that you can take some time out of your day to reflect and remember.

They shall grow not old,
As we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them,
Nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun
And in the morning
We will remember them.

xx, C.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Caroline vs. Winter Coats

Now that we're into November and temperatures in Toronto are firmly below double digits, I've been thinking a lot about winter outerwear.  A winter coat is very important, because not only does it keep you warm, it also is the only thing most people see you in for up to five months of the year.  When I was younger I spent a lot of time in brightly coloured ski jackets, but when I was fifteen I knew it was time for a big-girl coat.  My pick was a classic black wool peacoat, by way of a Boxing Day sale at Fairweather in Yorkdale, which I wore for three winters straight.  I eventually replaced it with another black peacoat, this time from Aritzia, but have since started a collection with various styles and colours.  Even though I will never not love a good black coat, some days just call for something a little different.  Below are some coats from around the web that I'm loving right now.

I love a good neutral coat.  It's easy to mix and match neutrals with accessories and the rest of your outfit, and a neutral colour palette also allows for more focus to be put on little details that can make a coat extra special.
Eva of Miss Renaissance wears a Burberry Prorsum AW12 trench jacket, and Blair of Atlantic-Pacific shows off a Joe Fresh puffer jacket, reminiscent of classic Chanel.  I'm super proud that Joe Fresh is doing so well south of the border!

The red piping really makes Caroline de Maigret's grey number stand out in Phil Oh's photo.

Emma Stone rocks the neutrals, adding some interest with leather pockets, and Vanessa Jackman captures Suzie Bird's amazing outerwear.  That jacket is proof that just because it is neutral does not mean it is boring.

Kelly from The Glamourai shows off her collarless trench: a classic shape shaken up with contrasting textures.  Love!

Two monochromatic jackets found on Tumblr (1, 2).  This just goes to show that the tiniest of details can make all the difference in the shape and style of a jacket.

Something I've learned during my many long Canadian winters is that it is definitely important to play with colourful outerwear.  I am black's number one fan, but sometimes a colourful jacket - I went for  bright red one by Roxy, via Winners a few years ago - can be the one thing to brighten up an otherwise dreary winter day.  Especially when we get into slushy season in January and February (yuck!).
Blue is an easy transition to make from black, and Alexandra Golovanoff and Style Scrapbook's Andy make it look extra fresh.

It's so easy to play with solid colours, the key is just to find the right one!  Two photos from The Locals, showing off a bright red and a blush pink.

Clearly I'm really into Vanessa Jackman's photography, but what can I say.  Valentina Siragusa shows off a pop of kelly green on an otherwise black coat, and my style spirit animal Miroslava Duma goes all out in forest green, making an extra statement with that amazingly giant fur collar.  I actually really want that coat now.

Not that it's breaking news, but patterns are having a major moment right now!  Winter coats are an especially playful way to amp up an outfit that might otherwise be less than exciting.  I haven't budgeted for a new coat this winter, but if anyone wants to gift me one I'll take a fancy patterned one please!
Valentina di Pinto is R.o.C.k.I.n.G the Canadian tuxedo + zebra print look; no accessories necessary, the coat speaks for itself.  Over on the right we have this amazing plaid coat captured by Vanessa Jackman in New York last February.  I love that she kept the rest of her outfit black and grey; anything else and the look would have been too busy.
So, what do you guys think?  Personally I'm not quite ready yet to stop wearing my autumn jackets, so until Toronto is consistently below zero I'll just be layering like crazy and crying over all the beautiful coats that exist outside my closet.

xx, C.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Caroline vs. Apps

I recently upgraded my phone situation from my beloved BlackBerry to the new Samsung Galaxy S3.  Now that my world has been opened up to the joys of the Google Play Store, I have come to realize that no matter what I want, there really is an app for that.  I thought I'd share two that I downloaded recently.

The first is "Toronto in Time."  I was casually browsing Twitter last week when I noticed a tweet from the Torontoist mentioning this brand new app, and since it was free I thought I would take a look.  Its basic idea is to show points of interest around Toronto; in the app they are marked by little pins on a map, and upon selecting one a page opens up with photos and a short blurb about the history of that particular location.  I was very surprised about how much information there was on the app, and how much I didn't know about the city that has been my home for almost five years.  There are a few things that I have learned about this city that weren't included in the app (such as the Christie Pits Riot, for example), but all in all I'm very impressed with it and am glad that I have something almost productive to do instead of endlessly browsing social media when I'm bored at work or waiting for the streetcar.

The second app is called "Android LCBO," and is helpful for anyone in Ontario looking for a specific alcoholic item.  All you need to do is type whatever it is you're looking for into the app's search bar, and it will point you to a store that has it in stock.  This is not an app for finding LCBO locations near you, but I wouldn't be surprised if that actually existed.  I did a test run on this app, entering "cava" in the product search, picking the first on the list (Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava Sparkling, $14.25 750mL bottle 11.8%), and entering my address, and the app came back to tell me that it was in stock at 20 locations within 3.5km. Once I selected a location, the app pulled up the location on Google Maps.  I haven't actually needed to use the app yet since my neighbourhood LCBOWine Rack, and Beer Store have me covered for my unsophisticated-university-student-on-a-budget needs, but I would definitely use this if I were looking for something a little lot more refined than cheap liquor and Cardboardeaux.

So there you have it, two apps that aren't social media or Angry Birds.  Let me know what you think if you download these, and please let me know if there are more apps I should check out!

App screenshots taken by me.

xx, C.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Caroline vs. The Rocky Horror Picture Show

On Saturday night I went with some friends to see the Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Bloor Cinema.  I'd only attempted to see it with the live show once before, but had to leave pretty early into it due to a devastatingly painful migraine.  Thankfully this time I was feeling just fine, and was able to enjoy everything about the show.

Before the movie started we were treated to a lot of yelling ("slut" and "asshole" were favourites, of course), as well as a costume contest and the regular Virgin shaming ritual; the girl who won the costume contest was a very convincing Ursula from the Little Mermaid, and seven Virgins were brought up on stage and made to show off their best orgasm sounds - very, very hilarious.  The movie followed, with the shadow cast (Excited Mental State) and the requisite audience involvement.  Toilet paper and candy was thrown, water sprayed, and newspapers worn on heads.  I enjoyed every minute of it, but will probably have to re-watch the movie at home without the theatrical distractions.

Aside from the show, I really liked going back to Bloor Cinema.  The only time I had ever been was my failed Rocky Horror experience in 2008, and it was closed for several months as the inside was completely redone.  It is now used primarily for film festivals (most recently the Toronto After Dark Film Festival) and monthly renditions of Rocky Horror, and the inside looks fantastic.  The seats are comfortable, and there is only a glass wall separating the concession stand from the theatre so people can still see the movie should they decide they need a drink or popcorn refill.  Due to a very long line for concessions we decided against, but the fact that they were selling alcohol was definitely bringing in the cash.

Rocky Horror is showing again on Halloween night (only two days away!), with showings at 7:30pm and 10:30pm.  If you miss the Halloween extravaganza, the cast does a show at the Bloor on the last Friday of every month.

Photos are screen captures, as seen on Pyxurz

xx, C.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Caroline vs. Holt Renfrew Last Call

So...I just discovered the other day that there is a Holt Renfrew Last Call at Vaughan Mills.  Shocking that I didn't know this before because 1) I love Holts, and 2) I love shopping.  Not so shocking because Vaughan is faaaar.  I'm hoping that once I've pocketed some more cash from my new job (more on that soon!) I'll be able to trek up there and pick up some goodies at a very discounted price.  Maybe my roommate (hi Jess!) and I can go together in her car to save the pain of travelling all the way up there by public transit!  Either way, I'm going.  Who wants to go with me?!

Look at all those clothes!
xx, C.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Caroline vs. "Rita Ora Takes Toronto"

Canadian fashion magazine Flare recently took British singer-songwriter and actress Rita Ora out in Toronto, and filmed and photographed the whole thing so we could virtually tag along.  The video shows off some of Rita's awesomely bold style, and highlights one of my favourite parts of town, Ossington and Dundas.  I'm hoping that sometime soon I'll be able to try the Bon Scott!  Anyone want to join me?

See Flare's photos here.

xx, C.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Caroline vs. COTC

Hi there, just a quick update before I get back to posting about the whirlwind that has been the past six weeks!

On September 10th, the anniversary of the day Canada declared war on Germany in 1939, I attended a plaque dedication ceremony to celebrate the University of Toronto's involvement with the Canadian Officers Training Corps (COTC).  The COTC had a home on U of T's campus, at 119 St. George St., now part of Woodsworth College; from 1939 through 1968, the building held the Drill Hall, headquarters and training facilities for students willing to temporarily set their studies aside and step up in defense of their country, both at home and abroad.

Robert Spencer, a former professor at U of T, as well as a commanding officer (1962-1966), current Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the University of Toronto Contingent, COTC, and my awesome grandfather, worked hard with the College and the University to install a plaque, ensuring that students wouldn't forget this important part of U of T's history.  There was a small gathering of former members of the COTC and members of the U of T community to witness the dedication, and we heard from Professor Spencer, U of T's President David Naylor, and Rear Admiral JJ Bennett of the Royal Canadian Navy before JJ and Captain John Larke, former cadet and contingent officer, unveiled the plaque.

I was very please to be able to attend, and hope that, once the plaque has been relocated to its permanent home in front of 119 St. George St., that passers by will take a moment to read it, and appreciate the work done by the COTC to ensure the security of our nation, in times of both war and uneasy peace.

Here are a couple photos I took, and one by the event photographer Jon Horvatin.  More of the official photos right this way.  If you also want to read President Naylor's speech, it was transcribed onto the U of T website here.

Here I am with my Grandfather, with Gary Knopf, Signals Officer (Ret.) in the background (photo by Jon Horvatin)
Unveiling the plaque
The plaque in its temporary home in the garden

The plaque reads:

119 St. George Street

Shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939, this fine 1892 house was purchased by the Board of Governors for the University of Toronto Contingent, Canadian Officers Training Corps (COTC).  Together with the Drill Hall built that summer, it provided accommodation for a headquarters and other facilities where, during six years of war and the uneasy peace which followed, thousands of University of Toronto students and graduated received their initial officer training before serving Canada overseas and at home.

Erected on 10 September 2012 by the COTC Board of Trustees, with the support od the Ontario Heritage Trust

xx, C.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Caroline vs. NYC Attractions

New York has so many amazing things to do, and even though I hadn't really given myself a plan before I got there, by the time I left I felt like I had managed to fill my days pretty well.

My first morning, there my friend and I decided we wanted to take a walk on the High Line since she lived only a short walking distance away from the southernmost entrance.  The High Line is an urban renewal project that transformed an old section of elevated train tracks into a park along part of the West side of Manhattan.  When my family visited New York in February 2011 my parents and my brother had the chance to see part of the High Line, but I was sick in bed and missed it, so I was pretty excited to have my chance, especially since it was a beautiful summer  morning.  It was well worth the wait.  It was beautifully laid out, with lots of greenery growing between the old tracks.  There were some seating areas, a bunch of food stands, and great views.  Dogs aren't allowed, which is a downside for owners, and it was clear that parts of the park could easily get clogged up with people, but the park seems to be appreciated by New Yorkers and tourists alike. In abundance were people running, sunning themselves on the benches and lounge chairs, and children playing in a water feature.  It would be a great place to go for a stroll after a dinner in the Meatpacking district, or to lie down and read on a sunny afternoon.

After meandering along the High Line, my friend and I decided it was time to head uptown and spend some time in air conditioned museums - this was extra appealing because my friend, as an intern at the Frick Collection, could get us in for free!  First stop was the Guggenheim, which I knew from its distinctive architecture, but not from its collection or exhibitions.  As soon as we entered, I was very, very impressed.  The gallery is set up along a spiral walkway with exhibition galleries on each floor; one can either start and the bottom and walk up, or start at the top and walk down.  We opted for the latter, and started off with part of a special exhibition by Dutch photographer Rineke Dijkstra.  We managed to see every single piece on display, as well as spending some time watching the videos that were part of the Dijkstra exhibition, in just over an hour.  As someone who is just starting to really get into modern art, I found that the Guggenheim was the perfect size, and had a friendly mix of work by artists I was familiar with and artists I had never heard of before.
From the Guggenheim we walked a little down 5th Avenue to the Neue Galerie to take a look at some German and Austrian art and artefacts.  A tiny museum in an old mansion, it felt less like a museum and more like a private collection in someone's home.  On display were some amazing pieces of furniture, but the most stunning piece of all was a Kilmt original: Adele Bloch-Bauer I.  We just stood and looked at it for about a minute, it was absolutely breathtaking.  On the top floor of the Galerie was a special exhibition on early photography by Heinrich Kuehn, which realty captured my interest.  It was amazing to see how even though technology has changed, people have always wanted to take candid pictures of their friends and families at home, on the beach, or doing everyday things like doing the washing up or cooking dinner.
The third and final museum stop of the first day was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  A gargantuan museum filled to the brim, it was a sudden change from the smaller museums we'd already seen.  Because we were able to get in for free there was no pressure to rush through all the exhibits, so we were able go straight to the one that had brought us there in the first place: Schiaparelli and Prada, Impossible Conversations.  I was devastated I didn't make it to the Alexander McQueen exhibition last summer, so I made sure that I made it to the Met for this summer's installation.  I wasn't too familiar with Schiaparelli, but they way the exhibition was set up showed off the best of both designers' work; it was also really interesting to see how two women, working decades apart, had similar approaches to fashion and design as an art form.  After making our way through the crowded exhibition we went up to the roof, to see Tomás Saraceno's Cloud City installation - and also to have a drink at the rooftop bar and admire the view.  We felt very classy, admiring art with our glasses of wine!  The roof was beautiful, well worth a visit on a sunny day.

On my second day in the city another friend from Toronto joined us, and she had never been to New York before so the three of us spent our day doing some of the traditional touristy things.  First up was a trip to Rockefeller Center.  We didn't have time (or money) for a tour of the NBC studios or a trip up to Top of the Rock, so we had a look around the Plaza and then went into the NBC store to see what they had.  We didn't buy anything in the store, but on a whim we went upstairs and had our picture taken as characters from Shrek.  I think we look quite convincing!  Jess as the ogre is definitely the best part.
Next up was the requisite trip to Times Square.  Last time I was there it was February, and the weather was dismal, so there weren't too many people.  This time around, however, it was packed.  We had a look around, took some photos, and continued on our way.  Definitely worth going to see, but once is definitely enough.
From there we took the subway over to Grand Central Terminal, and wandered around, taking it all in. I always love going to old train stations - Ottawa has a gorgeous old terminal that was put out of service years ago, and now the trains operate out of some dismal modern structure; even Union Station in Toronto loses its charm beyond the main hall.  In Grand Central we took some photos and tried to find the whispering corner I read about on Cup of Jo, but with no luck.
Immediately outside Grand Central is the Chrysler Building, which I had wanted to visit on my first trip to New York but had missed out on.  There's no observation deck like in the Rockefeller Center or the Empire State Building, but the art-deco lobby was worth a quick look.  Unfortunately much of the lobby was cordoned off so the angles didn't make for great photos, but it was still amazing to look up and admire all the stone work.
On the subway once more (that 7 day unlimited MetroCard really came in handy!) we headed down to the main branch of the New York Public Library to admire the architecture.  It made me realize why I hate studying at Robarts so much...I mean come on, the concrete turkey just doesn't compare.  I actually went back to the library a couple times to work on an essay while my friend was at work, and it was amazing - I felt so at peace in such an amazing space, and the free WiFi was handy too.  I did get a bit distracted though, people watching as tourists came in and out of the reading room.
Behind the NYPL is Bryant Park, famous for hosting New York Fashion Week before it moved up to the Lincoln Center.  I swear, New York has the best parks!  Not only was there free WiFi in the park, but there was also a children's carousel, some food trucks, bookshelves filled with children's books, and tables laid out with board games.  There were also a couple dining establishments that I would love to go back to sometime.  Once we got to the park we needed to have a little break, so we got some water and ice cream and sat down to play a pretty high stakes round of Candy Land.
The next stop was Central Park, where we just wanted to have a wander around and chill before the sun went down.  We wandered down The Mall, which was very crowded as it was a Saturday afternoon, but it made for great people watching.  We walked all the way up to the Loeb Boathouse, where we saw people renting rowboats.  The prices were cheap($12 for an hour in a boat that holds four), but the line was pretty long and didn't seem to be moving quickly so after waiting for a few minutes we decided to pass and head back downtown for dinner.
Our last sight of a very touristy day was the Gooderham Building, known as the Flatiron, which we actually only found by chance while we were eating at Shake Shack.  Nothing too special, but it's way, way bigger than the flatiron in Toronto, so we took some photos and headed back to the apartment to digest our amazing dinner.
There's just so much to see in New York that it's impossible to do it all in one visit.  I really enjoyed what we were able to pack into our days, and I can't wait to go back and see more, especially in the other boroughs!  For more on my trip to New York, check out some of my favourite photos.

What's your favourite thing to do in New York?

xx, C.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Caroline vs. Shameless Self Promotion

I was pleasantly surprised this morning when I opened my Blogger profile and saw that my pageview count had jumped dramatically, and now I know why!  I've posted about Pretty Freedom twice before, and they saw and mentioned me on their Facebook page!  Yay, thanks for the shout out guys!

xx, C.

Caroline vs. New York Weekend

Sorry for the hiatus!  After spending a wonderful long weekend in New York I pretty much went straight to Ottawa for a dentist appointment and to spend a couple days with my family and away from the internet.

I had the most amazing time in New York and snapped photos like crazy, so here are some of my favourites!

Any Friends fans out there?  Seen at Bedford and Grove, Greenwich Village
View East from the High Line
Water feature on the High Line, popular on a hot day

The High Line Zoo
View up from the ground floor of the Guggenheim
Amazing tip jar at a Sigmund's Pretzels stand in front of the Met
Rooftop installation at the Met: Tomás Saraceno's Cloud City
Sunset over the Hudson River
In the New York Public Library Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
Above the entrance to the Rose Main Reading Room
Seen in Bryant Park
A few tables in Bryant Park were set up with board games, so we (three twenty-somethings) settled into a pretty competitive game of Candy Land
Creeping on a couple having their wedding photos taken at Bethesda Terrace in Central Park
Water lilies in the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park
Ducks and reflected 5th Avenue buildings at the Conservatory Water
Dinner at Shake Shack
Rugs for sale at the Brooklyn Flea in Williamsburg
Brooklyn Flea
This man was part of what seemed like a family gathering, but I just loved the way he took a time out to relax and read the paper.  Everybody has a reading face, but his reading body language was so compelling I had to capture it.
View across the East River to downtown Manhattan
Flea food 
View from Williamsburg
Seen in Williamsburg
Any Mad Men fans?  Apparently Greenwich Village is a popular place to live for the characters of my favourite shows
So there you have it, a quick pictorial overview of my time in New York!  Coming soon, posts on what I saw, where I ate, and what I bought.

xx, C.