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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Discovering Swap-bot

My snail mail enabler Sheba told me about another great site called  Swap-bot.  She would prefer to be referred to as my muse but my current addiction would dictate otherwise. 

Swap-bot is a wonderful online community where snail mailers like me can go to find out about swaps and participate in sending and receiving mail from strangers around the world. There is usually some sort of creative/arts and crafts/design aspect to each swap.

I joined a swap called "Mail Me a Decorated Envie."  It was a little tricky to figure out how everything works on the site, but I finally figured it out.  This is an international swap where you decorate an envelope for a stranger with a short letter enclosed.  I was lucky enough to be able to send my first swap item to sunshinesuperman in Kansas. 

Here's the front of my decorated envie. 



And here's the back.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Another Snail Mail Tale - Cornelius Post Office

(2010 Vancouver Olympic stamps)

Sheba, another lover of snail mail, told me about this great project taking place at the Cornelius Post Office in Oregon.  She came across this post by Kerry Jeffrey in a Postcrossing forum:

       The Art of the Postcard - I just wanted to invite all Postcrossers to contribute a postcard to an upcoming event: Celebrating the Art of the Postcard.  Help the Cornelius Post Office celebrate the joy of small works of art and personal communication. Cornelius is a small town in Western Oregon, known for hazelnuts, blueberries and vineyards. Here at the local post office we noticed that for visitors there was no way of sending a local postcard to share the cool things about this unique little town. We’re working on that! Share your postcard with us and get one of the ones we are producing!  
Exhibition: Begins January 11, 2010 in the lobby of the Cornelius, OR Post Office. Make sure to include your return address to receive one of our postcards in return and to be included in the list of participants.  Send your postcards to:
Postmaster
1639 Baseline Street
Cornelius, OR 97113
USA

If you love snail mail like I do and want to get some back, consider taking part in this great project!  Below are some custom made postcards that I sent the Cornelius folks. What a great initiative in encouraging communication across the globe through a simple postcard. Your postcard may be featured on their blog as well.

I love the quote below.   Sometimes something as small as flexing a few muscles into a smile can make all the difference.
 
This Gandhi quote reminds me of my parents.  They put loving their family and serving their community above all else.
 
 
This is a postcard I designed for all my Postcrossing adventures.  Did you ever imagine that a postcard could be all of these things?  
 
 
One of my favorite quotes.  Something I see happening every day in my job working with volunteers.
 
 
I first read this quote on my niece Rehaana's Facebook page a couple of years ago.  She loves people and the earth.  It's inspiring that someone as young as her understands what is truly important in life.
 
 
I'm lucky to be able to make a living while making a life in the work that I do.
 
Also got some great pictures in the mail from Karim, Minaz and Kahzmir.  How can you not SMILE?  Another example of why I love snail mail!


Friday, December 25, 2009

Snail Mail Tale - All is Full of Love


I love snail mail!

I love sending letters, postcards and trinkets.  Anything at all.  It is so much fun to think about the journey a piece of mail takes from one place to another.  My family and friends are spread out all over the world.  Of course we already keep in touch over email, Facebook, BBM, texts and the phone, but it is much more fun to put pen, gel pens, highlighters, markers, crayons (whatever really) to paper, decorate an envelope and leave the rest up to the postman.


I fell in love with snail mail when my cousin Tasneem and her family moved to Calgary.  We grew up together in Toronto, wore matching jelly shoes and bubble dresses and were best buddies who saw each other every weekend.  She taught me how to defy gravity and hairspray my bangs so that they reached sky high!  When her family moved to Cowtown, I distinctly remember not going out to the driveway to say good bye to her as they prepared to drive across Canada to their new home.  (She never lets me forget it either.)  I got over it quickly and that same week wrote my first letter to Tasneem.  We used to write lengthy letters back and forth filled with colourful drawings, stickers and juicy stories filled with pre-teen and later teenage tales.  Oh, the drama!
Tasneem and I before she left the 416 for the 403.  
I am pretty sure we have matching white clips in our hair in the shape of butterflies.

My brothers are also lovers of the snail mail!  Aneez, Karim and I are all avid Postcrossers.  We send postcards to strangers all over the world and get many back in return.  Aneez and Vanessa love to travel and never ever forget to send us postcards from wherever they are.

I recently got a treat in the mail from Aneez.  He loves treasure diving in British charity shops.  Lucky for me, he found a Bjork CD with 9 of his favorite songs. He told me to pay special attention to Track 6 - All is Full of Love.   I'm officially adding it to my list of favorite songs.



Here are the lyrics.
All is Full of Love - Bjork
(Written by Bjork)

You'll be given love
You'll be taken care of
You'll be given love
You have to trust it

Maybe not from the sources
You have poured yours
Maybe not from the directions
You are staring at

Trust your head around
It's all around you
All is full of love
All around you

All is full of love
You just ain't receiving
All is full of love
Your phone is off the hook
All is full of love
Your doors are all shut
All is full of love!

All is full of love
All is full of love
All is full of love
All is full of love
All is full of love

Seasons Greetings to you and yours.
May your day be full of love - today and always.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Few of My Favorite Things

Yesterday was a perfect day filled with many of my favorite things...

1.  Started off the day puttering in my pjs puttering while catching up with my friends in Genoa City.  Yes, I love The Young and the Restless.  I can admit it.  Proudly.  Been watching it for 20 years.  Yes, it's a ridiculous show, I'm aware.  Long live Victor Newman!

2.  Also finished off Season One of Being Erica thanks to the great people at zip.ca.
Suzie got me hooked on this show when I visited her this fall in Stuttgart.  Erica Strange is a 30-something Torontonian who time travels back in time to revisit old regrets and make things right where she can.  The music on this show conjures up all kinds of memories for me and I love seeing all the shots of Toronto.

3. Played two online Scrabble games with Munira.  She kicked my butt in both games!

4. Finally turned the TV off and put the computer away to venture outside and have dinner with Suzie and Timo at one of Toronto's best Thai restaurants Salad King.  Had the Thai Islamic Noodle (3 chillies) - yum!

5.  Walked off our delicious dinner at the BMV on Edward Street.  BMV is one of my favorite independent bookstores in Toronto.  The one in the Annex has an amazing children and young adult section.  Remember Sweet Valley High and Babysitters Club?  Suzie and I both came away winners!  Check out our loot:
BMV finds!  (Note to Naaz:  I know what you are thinking.  
Don't say it...Just feel free to borrow any of these books!)

6.  Capped off this perfect day back in front of the TV with Tez.  Everyone's been telling/harassing me to watch Glee.  I finally understand why.  What a wonderful show!  Tez and I made quite the dent into Christmas Eve morning watching the first three episodes of Glee.  I sense a few Glee marathons in the future.

Oh and did I mention I also got a workout and 5 loads of laundry done too!  A perfect, perfect day!

I hope that this holiday season you get to have your perfect day.  I wish you laughter, joy, love and most of all gratitude.



Tuesday, December 22, 2009

You Got the Love

This post is my love letter to three incredible women who have overwhelmed me with love, kindness, respect and kinship in 2009.  Munira, Sheba and Suzie - I love you.

Munira and I - Back in the day when our friendship was blossoming.

The Ramnarine Family - Emil, Indio and Sheba. Lucky me got to take this gorgeous picture!

Suzie Cohen and her smile - We've officially been friends for half our lives!

I'm not one to get down too often.  My glass is always half full.  That being said, sometimes even I need a pick me up, a cheering squad and a high five.  Whether it be an early morning or late night phone call, a text message, a chat on BBM, a game of Scrabble, a late night Dollarama run, a string of emails, looking over our shoulders for Phil Booth, chats over kappa maki or snail mail surprises - I have felt the power of tremendous friendship through countless expressions, actions and words from this trio.

Earlier this year, I visited my brother Aneez in Basingstoke, England.  On our way to Stonehenge he introduced me to the song "You Got the Love" by Florence and the Machine.  When I hear it, it's a love letter set to music and I feel the energy that love can produce.

Munira, Sheba and Suzie - I could never express in words what it is like to be on the receiving end of your love - all I know is that I am grateful for it and I am better because of it.  I'll let this song attempt to express it for me.  Listen to it if you can. (It's the first song you hear on their website.)

You Got the Love - Florence and the Machine
(Written by TrueLove/Stevens/Harris)

Sometimes I feel like throwing my hands up in the air
I know I can count on you
Sometimes I feel like saying, "Lord, I just don't care."
But you've got the love I need to see me through

Sometimes it seems that the going is just too rough
And things go wrong no matter what I do
Now and then it seems that life is just too much
But you've got the love I need to see me through

When food is gone, you are my daily meal
When friend's are gone - I know my saviour's love is real
Your love is real

You got the love
You got the love
You got the love
You got the love
You got the love
You got the love

Time after time I think "Oh Lord, what's the use?"
Time after time I think, it's just no good
Sooner or later in life, the things you love you lose
But you've got the love I need to see me through

You got the love
You got the love
You got the love
You got the love
You got the love
You got the love

Sometimes I feel like throwing my hands up in the air
I know I can count on you
Sometimes I feel like saying, "Lord, I just don't care."
But you've got the love I need to see me through

You got the love
You got the love
You got the love
You got the love
You got the love
You got the love

Thank you. Thank you.  Thank you.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Second by Marcia Cummings

I read the poem below last week at The City of Toronto's International Day of People with Disabilities.  It stuck with me and that night, I read it to my friend Sheba.

I love my independence.  Maybe too much?  I don't know, but it is a part of who I am. 

I pride myself on wanting to help others.  It is such a formative part of my identity and guides many of my motivations in life.  I've even made a career based on it.

This poem was a humbling reminder that even with the best of intentions of helping someone, you can be infringing on their independence and second guessing their abilities. I've read and re-read it so many times.

Take a read and let me know what you think. 


The Second by Marcia Cummings

Please, give me back the second!

The second it takes to hear the traffic move at the beginning of a cycle -
why should I trust you more than the traffic patterns?

The second it takes to hear where the nearest subway door is -
yes, I can hear them open and would rather make my own choice!

The second it takes to verify the direction of an escalator -
there is a convenient way to do this - it's not rocket science!

The second it takes to find the beginning of a staricase -
that's what my white cane is for!

The second it takes to turn around after passing that landmark -
then again, maybe I was enjoying the walk!

The second it takes to find the door -
it's often easier if I open my own doors - then I know where the door actually is!

The second it takes to avoid your groping hands -
I often wisdh I could return the favour and grope you, too!

The second it takes to avoid probing questions  -
just why do you need to know where I am going?

The second it takes to be independent -
unless that's too much to ask?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Variety Village - The happiest place in Toronto!

Yesterday the City of Toronto declared December 3, 2009 to be International Day of People with Disabilities.  There was a terrific celebration at Variety Village in Toronto's East end.  If you've ever been there, I dare you to say that it isn't ONE OF THE HAPPIEST PLACES ON EARTH.  Sorry Disney, these folks have you beat without the aid of castles, Magic Kingdoms, princesses, theme parks etc.

As soon as you walk through the doors there is a feeling of positivity. My entire posture changed in response to the wonderful energy.  I was uplifted!  I was so thankful for that moment in my heart and throughout my body.  I encourage you read up on Variety - The Children's Chairty, they do some amazing work for people with disabilities. 


Months ago, I nominated one of my volunteers at Surrey Place Centre for an Unsung Hero Award as part of the International Day of People with Disabilities celebrations.  Rachel Gallone, a woman who inspires me every time we interact, received one of six Unsung Hero Awards yesterday.  Here's what her nomination said:

Rachel’s Story
When Rachel was growing up, she was extremely frustrated most of the time. She found it difficult to accept that a virus she had contracted at a young age - Meningitis Encephalitis - had caused her development to become delayed.

Through the support of family and a wide network of counselors, Rachel’s journey led her to Surrey Place Centre. Her direct involvement with the Centre has provided Rachel the opportunity to learn new coping skills that have enabled her to effectively deal with life’s challenges.

Rachel is a part of the Self-Advocacy Council at Surrey Place Centre. The Surrey Place Centre Self-Advocacy Council was established to ensure that clients have representation with regards to the services the Centre provides. Council members are individuals who have or are receiving the services of Surrey Place Centre and who have a developmental disability. They provide recommendations and feedback on behalf of clients of the Centre and advice on issues, concerns, direct policy and procedures that affect people with developmental disabilities. As a Self-advocate, she has travelled across Ontario delivering the message that people with disabilities have a voice and want to be heard.

Rachel has made new friends and expanded her network of support and participates in a number of Surrey Place Centre fundraising events, including getinline.

Rachel was the Honourary Spokesperson for getinline 2008. When asked what it means to share this responsibility with Andrew this year, she says, “I’m thrilled to be part of this event again and happy to be able to share the responsibilities with my friend Andrew.”

As an active fundraiser for Surrey Place Centre, Rachel wants to help out because of how much she’s been helped.

She says that her fundraising efforts, which include an annual Penny Drive, give her a “sense of accomplishment, because the money raised doesn’t only help one person, it helps lots of people in many ways.”

Basically, Rachel rocks!  Congrats to her and to everyone else who was part of yesterday's fesitivities.  What an inspiring day!


Here's Rachel with The Right Honourable David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario just after the awards ceremony.


Where is the happiest place in Toronto for you?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Spotted...at The Artful Dodger on Isabella Street

Sat under this sign gulping down water, an Oliver Twist salad and some fries before heading to see My Mother's Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding at the Panasonic Theatre.

Emil noticed it once we got up and were ready to leave.   He's the only one of us who had beer with dinner!  He and Sheba are getting ready to celebrate their son's mundan tomorrow.  Clearly this sign does not apply to him.   :)

If you live in Toronto, check out My Mother's Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding.  It's an autobiographical musical about a man whose mom leaves his Dad, falls in love with a witch and rediscovers her Jewish faith.  Everything ends wonderfully in an eclectic wedding!  There was something about the narration that reminded me of Fred Savage in The Wonder Years.  Where else will you hear lyrics that include words like Saskatchewan, port-o-potty, Svend Robinson and IUD?  It's cute, Canadian and quite funny!


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Loveliness

This photo was taken on Riaz's 2nd birthday.  Not sure where but I know it's somewhere in Toronto.

I look at it and it makes me laugh....from my belly...out loud!!!

Every expression is priceless. 

Friday, November 20, 2009

Old School - November 20, 2009

Book club has just wrapped up for November.  This month, we all read Aravind Adiga's The White Tiger.  The ladies have all left and I cannot help but give thanks.
Thank you to the five lovely ladies who I had the pleasure of spending this evening with...

Marta - This woman knows the best desserts in town.  Tonight she brought a Dulce De Leche cake from She Takes the Cake.  It was my first time trying this amazing sweet treat.  Heavenly, heavenly, heavenly.  Apparently she's got an amazing chocolate cake to unleash upon us when it's her turn to host in January.  Can't wait!

Sylvie - She's been making some pretty big decisions lately and I have to applaud the way she's been handling them with logic and patience.  Way to go girl!

Makeda - Next time I see her, I am going to count the minutes in between laughter. I am pretty sure not more than two or three minutes go by without her making you laugh out loud!

Sheba - There are no words.  How do you possibly give thanks for someone who gives you their shoulder, their heart and their unconditional love on a daily basis?

Krista and Naaz - You were missed.

Thank you for the women in my life.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Why I Love Moustaches...in November.

I know I am in the minority when I make the statement "I heart moustaches!"

Hold on now...let me clarify.  I do not dig a Fu Manchu or Handlebar or anything of that sort.  I definitely prefer a clean shaven man.  Something about our cheeks kissing sans razor burn gets me everytime.

Let me further clarify.  It's no secret that I am unhealthily attached to Victor Newman...and his moustache. Just look at it!  It yields power and ruthlessness and deviousness.  I love to hate it - and hate to love it.

As evidenced in the photo below, when his upper lip is bald it's just not the same...

I'm convinced that Eric Braeden's contract demands a stylist and special products for his facial hair.  I like to pretend that that has something to do with his hiatus from The Young and the Restless at the present time.
Then.

                              Now.                      

Back to the topic at hand...we are deep in the midst of Movember and everywhere I look I see men in moustaches awkwardly navigating through their days and I can't help but smile...sometimes I even giggle a bit.  It's not a typo folks, it's Movember indeed.  Simply put, socially conscious men around the world cultivate moustaches throughout the month of November in an effort to raise funds and awareness for men's health issues - usually with a focus on prostate cancer.  I just can't help but feel grateful for the good old moustache.  I think the men who participate are wonderful and I salute them!   A high five to you all!  This month, if you see a pair of lips with a little more of a brow than you are used to, I hope it's because of Movember.



PS.  There's a man who sometimes takes the Bay #6 bus at the same time as me.  He's clearly embraced Movember.   I didn't have the heart to tell him that a bit of boscotti had taken up residence in his 'stache this morning...  Maybe tomorrow I'll thank him for making me start my day with a smile and some thanks!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Thank you.

Yesterday, I wrote about asking my friend Ahmed to take a picture of a giraffe while he was at the Metro Toronto Zoo. I was so happy to get a picture from him!  You can read about it and see the photo here.

Then to my complete surprise and delight, today my cousin Fatima sent me this picture from her trip to Mikumi.

My heart literally flutters when I see giraffes. 
Thanks Fatima and Ahmed for your gifts!

Supper Story - Swiss Chalet with Erin and Shafik

Had dinner last night with Shafik and Erin at the bizzaro Swiss Chalet at College and University.

When you first meet Erin, within minutes you are able to answer the question, "Please describe Erin in one word."   Your answer will be - "Brilliant!"

If you were sitting near us you may have overheard Erin passionately declare (with a bit of a glisten in her eyes) "I love McDonalds hashbrowns so much that if I died and you buried me in a gigantic hashbrown, I would wake up from the dead just to eat my way out of it."

So thankful today for good food and great friends!

PS.  Try the Chalet Chopped Salad at Swiss Chalet, it's delicious!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Spotted...at the Metro Toronto Zoo!

Today on Twitter, I found out that my friend Ahmed http://twitter.com/A2BNOW was taking some kids to the zoo today.

I asked him to take a picture of the giraffes for me and .....

Lately, I've been learning that to ask for anything in life - be it help, love, advice, support or a picture of a giraffe - is not a sign of weakness but a sure sign of strength and self worth. 

This picture made my entire Monday (and it's only 3:30pm!) You never know what happiness awaits you, if only you have the courage to ask!

Today I am grateful for you Ahmed!  THANKS!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Dying 6-year-old girl leaves love notes behind

Aneez passed this article on to me today from the Toronto Star. 
Such a strong reminder that love is healing, love is powerful and love is everywhere.
__________________________________________________________________________

Dying 6-year-old girl leaves love notes behind:
Elena Desserich left hundreds of pictures and messages that continue to comfort her family
By Andrea Gordon

Living Reporter Published On Thu Nov 5 2009

Six-year-old Elena Desserich is shown in February 2007 in an unfinished playhouse built by her father, Keith. Elena died of brain cancer later that year but left notes and pictures for her family all over their Cincinnati home, hiding them in bookshelves and drawers. “That’s my favourite picture of her,” her father told the Star.



PHOTO COURTESY OF DESSERICH FAMILY (as published in The Toronto Star)

From the moment she first picked up a crayon, Elena Desserich loved to draw. Even as a preschooler, her favourite gifts were pastels, markers and blank notebooks.

So it wasn't unusual for Keith and Brooke Desserich to find their little girl's trademark purple hearts and "I love you" notes on scraps of paper and stray envelopes all over their suburban Cincinnati home.

But it wasn't until weeks after their 6-year-old died of cancer that they realized she had left hundreds of messages planted in nooks and crannies for her parents and little sister, Grace, to stumble upon after she was gone.

Each one they find – tucked into bookshelves, dishes in the china cabinet, corners of dresser drawers, bags of stored clothing – is like she's sending "a little hug," say her mom and dad.

"She's giving us a little message saying that everything's going to be all right," Keith said in a phone interview Wednesday.

Elena was only 5 years old when doctors diagnosed pediatric brain cancer. They said she had 4 1/2 months to live. But she made it to almost nine months.

Her parents didn't tell her the prognosis; in retrospect they say she must have somehow known as her small body started to fail her.

Since her death more than two years ago, the discoveries of what she left behind have grown fewer and further between. There was nothing for six months. And then last week, there she was again, inside a Strawberry Shortcake notebook in the back of the cupboard tucked behind the game of Candyland.

"I love you Mom, Dad and Grace," she had written inside a heart with arrows.

Keith doesn't remember the first one she left because for awhile, he and Brooke thought her notes were part of the daily household clutter that had accumulated over the years.

"But after you get to 20 or 30 you realize this isn't just scraps," he says. "We don't even know when her notes started. We have three Rubbermaid boxes full." There could be 300, they haven't counted.

Elena left them for her grandmother too, and even a great-aunt's Chihuahua she adored, who stood guard at her bedside until the end.

While they offer a powerful source of comfort to those who adored her, Elena's family believes they contain a universal message too: cherish the small moments in life; be present for those you love.

The girl with a ladylike fondness for headbands, tights with polka dots and anything lacy or pink was also "a wise soul," says her dad.

"She found grace even in the smallest details."

Her parents hope to carry her message and her example in their newly-published book Notes Left Behind, a series of their journal entries during Elena's last months, written for her sister, along with samples of her messages and artwork.

Proceeds go to the research foundation the Desserichs created called The Cure Starts Now Foundation (www.thecurestartsnow.org).

Keith doesn't know how many bits of paper are still waiting to be found. Each new one is wrenching, but at the same time he never wants them to end.

That's why one letter he found in an envelope inside his briefcase still remains sealed. So too does another that had been slipped into Brooke's backpack.

Keith doesn't believe he'll ever open it, even though to him, this letter is the most important one.

"There's something wonderful about knowing there's always one more message from Elena."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

This Is It


 
For me there is one word to describe this movie...JOY!

If you haven't seen it yet, please do.
Your heart (and your feet) will be so grateful.
Make sure you stay until the very very very VERY end.

If you have seen it, tell me what you thought. 
What was your favorite part?
How did it make you feel?



Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Book Review - The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

The White Tiger The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga


My rating: 2 of 5 stars

People tend to love or not care for this book. I'm sitting on the fence this time around. (Sorry Keke, I know it was your bookclub pick. I still think you are glorious!)

This is a story of an Indian man born into poverty.  (I know, I know...it sounds like a million other books out there already.) The story is told  through letters he writes to a Chinese premier who is scheduled to visit India.  Balram, the main character, who escaped his life, family and responsibilities and graduated to somewhat better conditions, takes a job as a driver to a wealthier Indian businessman.  He wants to tell his story to the Chinese premier in an effort to give him a more realistic view of the "two sides" of India that he lives in.  Balram also confesses to some awful things he's done in order to create a better future for himself.  (I won't get into it to avoid any spoilers.)

The main character is egotistical and annoying. It's difficult to care for him.  The author, Aravind Adiga tries to insert sarcasm and humour throughout the book but it's not done well.  I thought the story had it's interesting moments and I wanted to see what happened to all the characters in the book. I just didn't care much for the way it unfolded over seven days and nights of letter writing. The idea of this story being told through letters, especially with the vivid and lengthy descriptions was a tad unbelievable to me.

Great story telling idea - poorly executed.

Sadly, though I will say I enjoyed watching the ego of Balram/Munna inflate over time, I don't think this book stood a chance only because I recently devoured Gregory David Roberts' Shantaram.

So I'll end this brief review with a recommendation that you pick up Shantaram and give it a try.

View all my reviews >>

Friday, October 23, 2009

Rain Songs



It's been raining in Toronto. 

Not the kind of rain that beats down so hard
that it creates its own soundtrack to your day. 
Not the kind that makes you giggle and feel
like you've made a great escape once you're back indoors. 
Not the kind that is the topic of conversation.
 It's been a constant, dull, chilly type of rain.

I love the rain.  I admit that I also love to hate the rain. 
I love the sound of the rain - always.  It's calming even when it's forceful. 

The rain is humbling.  We run from it and we want to stay out of it.  It's just water and we can't live without it.

One of the things I love about the rain is on my iPod - it's the playlist I call Rain Songs.  Here it is:
  • Adele - Right as Rain - Adele makes light of an imperfect life with this upbeat song.  What I love more than anything is her voice and cheekiness.
  • Eurythmics - Here Comes the Rain Again - This is the kind of rain song that makes you wanna crawl under the covers, wrap yourself in heartbreak and never come out. 
  • Jamie Cullum - London Skies - I can't help but pick up my step when I listen to this song.  I think I read or heard somewhere that it's Cullum's love letter to London and it's pesky weather.  I loved listening to this song earlier this month when I was on a train pulling into London - in the rain.
  • Jamie Cullum - Singin' in the Rain - I love this version of this song.  The way Jamie sings it so gently fills me up with hope and promise and makes me feel like I can achieve anything.
  • Prince - Purple Rain - Prince can break your heart sinigng any lyric or melody any time.  Genius. 
  • Maroon 5 - Sunday Morning - Love the lazy pulse of this song espeically the lyrics:     
"Sunday morning rain is falling
Steal some covers share some skin (I like that)
Clouds are shrouding us in moments unforgettable
You twist to fit the mold that I am in."        
  • New Edition - Can You Stand the Rain - I love the way this song starts out with a rush of rain and birds chirping and ends with gentle rolling thunder. I also love Rick's solo (especially when he hits that high note and sings "And I LOOOOOOOOOOOOVE you.") More than that it is a song about unconditional love - I hope you have someone in your life who loves you that way. I'm so blessed to have friends and family who love me just as I am.
Thank goodness for the rain.  Do you have any Rain Songs that you can share with me?  Don't forget to tell me why.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I Heart Stuttgart

I recently took a trip to England to visit Aneez and Vanessa and to attend my cousin Faizal's wedding.  Since I was so close - I also took a quick detour to Stuttgart to visit my amazing friend Suzie. 

This was my first time in Germany.  When people ask me what I think about Germany I am tentative in my reply.  I was only there for three days.  I really only spent time in a small part of one city there and so I know I didn't get to fully explore and experience Germans and their culture.  I have to admit that I thought there was a warmth and human touch missing there but I don't think it's fair to judge so quickly - so instead I want to tell you 10 reasons why I HEART STUTTGART.  These pictures and experiences are from a two hour walk I took through the city centre.


1. Clocks, clocks and more clocks!
Everywhere you look in the city centre of Stuttgart, which is it's major shopping hub, you will see beautiful clocks. You also have the pleasure of hearing beautiful old church bells ringing each hour from almost anywhere in the city.  (Anywhere that I went at least.)  Have you ever tried to find a clock at your local mall?  I have, with no success. In North America, the mindset is to have us lose track of time and keep shopping.
This clock not only showed the time of day it also told us the phases of the moon! So cool!

2. Water fountains
There are plenty of gorgeous, creative, eceletic water fountains all over Stuttgart.  Here are a few that I found in the city centre.  Shopping outdoors is heightened by the constant sounds of water falling.  It's such a calming experience.



3. Kid friendly

The city centre is filled with happy well behaved kids.  You can't really walk more than a block or so without seeing some sort of kid friendly contraption. 





Suzie and I enjoy the kid friendly offerings of Stuttgart.

4. Pedestrian zones
Stuttgart is filled with these pedestrian zone signs. The pedestrian zones are filled with large, clean, open spaces many of which sit beneath a canopy of tall, leafy trees.  There are tons of benches of all shapes, colours, configurations and sizes as well. One of the things I loved most about Stuttgart were the green public spaces available to everyone. 

5. SUZIE!
Suzie and I have known each other since seventh grade but we became great friends in grade nine.  We also lived together in our first and fourth years of undergrad at McMaster University in Hamilton.  Suzie is beautiful - inside and out. She's ridiculously smart, compassionate, honest, loyal and FUN!  The only problem I have with Suzie is that she lives so far away!


6. Weber's
If you are ever in Stuttgart, try to visit Weber's.  It's a terrific restaurant that boasts a menu inspired by fusing different cuisines.   The meals are simple enough that you are able to see and taste all the ingredients that have gone into them.  I had an amazing Italian and Thai inspired orichetti pasta dish.  I can still remember what it tastes like...


7. Kost Bar hot chocolate.
The first day I arrived in Stuttgart, Suzie and I stopped off for what she claims is a German tradition which is to have coffee and cake in the afternoon.  I thought she was making it up so that we could have an excuse to have cake but apparently I was wrong.  I'm not a lover of the bean so I had a hot chocolate instead and it was absolutely DELICIOUS! 


8. Achtung!
Okay so you see this word a lot in Stuttgart.  I just like the way it sounds!  Achtung!



9. Outdoor cafes.
There are probably 20 outdoor cafes in the city centre of Stuttgart - maybe more.  At all times of the day, you will see people gathered - I guess for this whole cake and coffee phenomenon that Suzie speaks of.  Many of the cafes also provide blankets or fleece to keep you warm.  The cafes add so much colour and spirit to the city.  They were a great way for me to people watch.
  

10. Fanta Orange
A most refreshing beverage!  Check out the 6 pack of 1.5L Orange Fanta bottles!  I actually giggled when I saw this!