Out & About in YUL

Hello friends & Happy New Year!

Contrary to what you might believe, I haven’t been kidnapped or banned from the blogging world. Truth be told, the holiday season was quite hectic and this combined with nursing an injured sacrum that prevented me from sitting down led to my temporary absence. Have no fear – I would never abandon all of you lovely people 😀  That said, as a result of my absence, I’m a little behind with my posts, so I’ll start by publishing this one (see below). I meant to publish this before the holidays so that my fellow Montrealers could pick up some last-minute stocking stuffers but hey, there’s always Valentine’s day! Alright, let’s roll!

With my brother home for the holidays (well, he was home), I thought it would be nice to pick up on our old tradition – hitting the Plateau for some much needed window-shopping. The Plateau is one of Montreal’s most popular neighborhoods and typically known for being the trendy ‘Franco’ part of town. You’ll find plenty of good eateries and unique shops on Mont-Royal and Saint-Denis, but my preference is for the latter.  Here are a few places that I think are worth checking out if you’re in the area:

Lululemon: There’s absolutely nothing special about this location (except perhaps, for the super enthusiastic educator whose name I don’t recall), but given my obsession with all things Lulu, I had to give them a shout-out. So, why Lulu? Their clothes are functional, look/ feel great, and last forever. In addition to this, they offer free yoga classes as a way to give back to their community. Check out  some of my favorite pieces:

Groove pants – these are perfect for low impact sports or for chillaxing around town. Plus, they make your ass look great. Really, what more do you want in a pair of workout pants?

Inspire crops: If you’re a runner, try these on. They’re super lightweight, made of Power Luxtreme and make you feel like you’re running naked. Added bonus? They tighten everything up so your legs look great. I also love the Empower crops, but those aren’t available anymore.

Cuddle Up jacket: I LOVE this jacket. It’s super warm, fitted and very comfortable. Great for those cold winter days!

You can check out their collection online or in your local store. Come back and let me know what you think!

 

Suite 88 Chocolatier: One of my favorite local places for all things chocolate. They have a great selection of very unique flavors that come in various shapes and sizes, ranging from mosaics to shooters (yes, shooters with alcohol!). Some of my favorites include the Limoncello and Grand Marnier mosaics, the Litchee-Ginger and Valencia Orange Caramel domes and the Apple martini dome (aka: the shooter). Their individual bars are fabulous – I’m quite fond of the dark with almonds. You can buy pre-packaged boxes, or individual pieces but these are usually sold by weight. They also serve gelato, real hot chocolate and waffles! Side note: Made in Montreal!

 

Photo: Tourisme-Montreal

Photo: Tourisme-Montreal

Kusmi Tea:  I’m typically not a big fan of regular tea (I prefer herbal), but I stopped in at Kusmi and was blown away by their vast selection of tea. Kusmi’s origins stem from Russia (who knew the Russians were tea connoisseurs?), but the Kousmichoff family later moved to Paris where they established their workshop. They currently have one Montreal location and in my opinion, it’s the place to go if you’re a tea lover – it’s impossible to walk out of there empty-handed. They offer black, green, flavored, decaffeinated and herbal teas in the loose leaf variety, but if you feel overwhelmed by their tea-lined walls, I recommend purchasing their sampler box, which contains 24 muslin tea bags (12 varieties, 2 of each). I’ve made my way through most of the flavors in the box, and find it hard to pick a favorite, so I suspect my next trip will leave me in the poor-house! Thus far, I have found their teas to be wonderfully flavorful and full-bodied – and they smell yummy! In no particular order, here are a few flavors that I recommend:

Prince Vladimir: Citrus fruits, vanilla and spices (and I usually hate vanilla!)

Anastasia: Bergamot, lemon and orange blossom

St. Petersburg: Citrus fruits, red fruits and caramel (and I usually hate caramel too!)

Be Cool: Licorice and peppermint

Sweet Love: Black tea, guarana, spices and pink pepper (I l-o-v-e this combo)

The sampler box sells for $25, which is fairly inexpensive considering that this represents $1.04 per tea bag (we pay more then that at our local coffee shops!). Next time you’re in the area, stop in and ask the knowledgeable Kusmi ladies to assist you with your selection – and don’t forget to report back to tell us about your favs’!

Photo: RAnnDomized

Ten Thousand Villages: I love this place! Their mission is to create opportunities for artisans in developing countries by bringing their products to our markets via long-term fair trading relationships. They work with 35 countries and 130 artisan groups, offering them fair value for their work. Did you also know that store clerks in your local shops typically don’t get paid for their services? You can find some unique gift ideas ranging from jewelry, sculptures, wall hangings etc. like these:

 

Photo: RAnnDomized

Photo: RAnnDomized

Lastly, if you’re a collector of vinyl, as in LP records, there are a few hot spots in the area, notably Beatnick and Primitive, both located on St. Denis, and Le Marché du Disque, located on Mont-Royal.

Have a favorite spot in Montreal?  Let us in on it!


Top 10s and What-Nots

Oi!

Who turned off my Zen? I’m feeling frazzled at my wavering Zenitude and realize that my inability to practice yoga or do any other fitness activity in the last week has made me totally grumptastic. I suppose it’s to be expected – I’m accustomed to stepping onto my mat every other day and hitting the gym or power walking whenever the urge strikes me. This is how I release stress, not to mention that the more active I am, the more inspired I feel to write. Being unable to do these things has left me feeling rather poopy (are you cringing CB?) – even though I know I need to ‘nurse’ my injuries before getting back to the fitness grind. My poopiness is also compounded by the fact that I feel guilty for not working out.  This is definitely a chick thing. Men never feel guilty about not working out.  I feel like I’ve already complained about this in a previous post… Have I? Oh great – now old age is starting to affect me as well. In any case, now I’m sick. Guess the fitness gods are still conspiring against me.

Right, so rather then complain about sore knees and arms and other assorted body parts, I’ve decided to make a list of my top 10 favorite things to do (for cheap)!

1- Power walking; You can do this on your own, or with a group of friends. One of my favorite places to power walk is on Mount Royal because it’s beautiful and challenging. You may need to drop a few coins into a meter if you drive there, but that will cost you $3-4 at most.

2- Doing a fitness class at one of the four Lululemon locations in Montreal. The best part? These classes are free! You can join one of their run clinics, or pop in for a yoga, Zumba or cross-fit class. Check out your local store’s calendar for details – the class schedules change on a regular basis and vary from store-to-store. This is a great way to get initiated to various forms of fitness. Note that Lululemon has locations in the US, Canada, Australia and China!

3- Practicing yoga at home; If you’re not already practicing, you will need to invest in a yoga mat (you can find these at Winners for about $20-25). I really like Lululemon’s Align Ultra Mat because it has embossed guide lines that help maintain proper alignment. This mat retails for $28 CDN. You might also want to invest in a good yoga DVD if you are new to this and unfamiliar with poses and flows. My personal favorites are led by Rodney Yee or Baron Baptiste. Check them out! Their DVDs are also available at Indigo and Amazon, and in some cases, Winners.

4- Relaxing at home, while listening to good tunes and reading a book. The bottle of wine might run you a few bucks, but is highly recommended 🙂 I’m not a wine connoisseur, but I am particularly fond of Fleur du Cap (South African) and Beringer (Californian).

5- Writing; Obviously, I’ve chosen to blog, but you can keep a journal, or write to your friends… or write a book – that’s next on my list of things to do (after this blog has made me famous of course). You can create a free blog using Blogger or WordPress, though I personally prefer WordPress because it’s more user-friendly.

6- People watching; I love to see how people interact with each other, and my favorite place to do this is on the Plateau. I love to  walk around the neighborhood and see what people are up to; there are a host of coffee houses and shops to check out, and interesting people all around! I would suggest taking the subway, and getting off at the Mont Royal stop because parking is scarce.

7- Photography; If I remembered to bring my camera with me every time I left the house, I would have a lot more photos for the blog! In any case, all you need is a camera and you’re all set. You just never know when you’ll come face-to-face with Adam Clayton (sadly, I do know, and I missed that opportunity – but that is a whole other story). All I’ll say is never judge a man by his blue suede shoes!

8- Sitting on my balcony; I love to enjoy a cup of coffee while sitting on my balcony, especially first thing in the morning. Nothing beats the sound of the wind and trees and birds chirping away. The pervert next door pretty much ruined that for me this summer, and it looks like I won’t be enjoying any cool evenings on the balcony either because he’s still perving around. Must find a new #8.

9- Moksha; OK, technically this is not free, but in the grand scheme of things, the $14 I spend per class is nothing in comparison with how amazing I feel afterward. I love Moksha!

10- Running for the Cure; This might not actually count because a) it’s not something I can do on a regularly basis, and b) I paid the registration fee in order to participate in this year’s run. In my defense, I could have waived the registration fee by committing to raising $150, but little did I know that I would end up raising more then this thanks to a few good friends (and my aunt).

The run is coming up in just a few days, and I’m very excited! I’m hoping that our Indian Summer will decide to present itself just in time for the run – will I luck out? We shall see… if you haven’t sponsored me yet and would like to, please check out my Twitter page for the link. All donations help regardless of the amount, and you can sponsor me even if you reside outside of Canada.

What are some of your favorite things to do? And more importantly, are any of you running for the cure this year?

Think Pink!

A