Tuesday, November 22, 2011

And this is why there are no strangers in Winnipeg

We've all heard it expressed before that Winnipeg is one giant overgrown farm town, and that everyone knows everyone, but I just had one of my strangest experiences to date. So while browsing the MLS (as one does. Right? Everybody does that right?? I mean, that's how I found this place, which is still for sale, with a $10,000 price drop from the time of the original post) I came across this charming little place on Selkirk Ave.

After reading the wordy description, which I of course liked, as I have, ahem, been known to be a bit wordy myself, I decided to click through to the pictures to see if it would better jog my memory as to which house this actually was. And what did I find? Well gosh darn it if I didn't find a piece of original "artwork" designed by Winnipeg Girl herself! Seriously. What are the odds of that? Now, of course you're all wondering if I'm actually some sort of high profile artist that you've seen in a gallery (okay, maybe one of you is wondering) and that of course then it wouldn't be odd to come across my works occasionally in Winnipeg homes.

The MLS link will go dead after the house sells so here it is.
What if I told you that it was a piece I decorated back in the day (well, more like the middle of the night actually) when I used to get home from late night restaurant shifts and needed to do something to unwind while watching Law & Order reruns at 2am? What? There were no blogs then. Plus, I lived in a non descript concrete construction apartment block in River Heights so there wasn't really much to blog about. Don't judge.

So, I called (okay, texted) the friend who had bought the chair from me at my yard sale only to find out that she had in turn sold it in a yard sale a few years later. So my admittedly primitive piece of "art" went from a yard sale in the North End to a yard sale in St. James and ended up back in the North end on Selkirk Ave. And then I saw a picture of it on the internet. To think that people actually wonder how it is that everybody knows everybody by three degrees of separation or less.

It also makes me happy that it is nicely displayed and not shoved in a corner :)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Yawwwwwn. Is it summer?

So the other night I was awoken by the sounds of shouting and cursing. I tried to roll over and go back to sleep but the shouting continued - now shouting in the middle of the night isn't exactly uncommon - but it's more of a summer thing as a general rule. So eventually it reached the point where I determined that it didn't seem to be happy shouting so I thought that it was probably best to at least take a peek.

So out of my warm and comfy bed I got. The shouters had moved on down the road to one of the trouble houses and promptly engaged in what seemed like a fistfight. I figured that was as good a time as any to call the boys in blue. As I watched and waited for their arrival, the shouters decided to liberate two of my neighbours of their side mirrors. Thankfully they were only about half a block away when the police showed up, and combined with their footprints in the freshly fallen snow they will be get to visit the revolving door of our justice system. I however simply received a visit from the dark circle, puffy eye fairy.

All things considered, what with kids running around with guns and such these days, I suppose that was a pretty good outcome. Of course colour me devastated that it wasn't actually summer outside; I mean, they were playing football today, that should indicate as well that it's summer (Congratulations Bombers! My fingers are crossed for the fairytale ending next weekend).

Monday, November 14, 2011

Merry Christmas* to me.

Is it wrong that this is the time of year that makes me want to shop - for myself? It's the Winnipegger in me, but I can't seem to pass up all the bonus offers that retailers offer this time of year. I'm not the biggest fan of giving gift cards to other people, most of the time it seems fairly impersonal; however, giving them to myself is just good financial planning.

For example, fude, one of my favourite places to nosh, is having their annual Christmas offer, in fact I think this one is better than usual - if I buy myself a $100 gift card, they will throw in a $50 bonus one. So, if I basically pre-pay for a place that I'm going to eat at anyway, I get myself a free dinner in the process.

All sorts of places do bonus offers this time of year (I'm going to cite examples from previous years), so if you know you're going to eat at McDonald's anyway throughout the year, why not buy the gift card and get the bonus Big Mac. Offers like that are pretty common at fast food places, but you're not limited to fast food - Tony Roma's will throw in a bottle of their signature BBQ sauce, and I think Boston Pizza does something every year as well. Do you watch movies? Well, buy yourself a Cineplex gift card and get yourself their bonus coupons - one of them was a % off coupon for Chapters which you can use on yourself or discount your Christmas present shopping.

As if we don't get enough emails already, but signing up for those weekly ad reminders and such can bring about some pretty great deals as well - bonus airmiles from Safeway for buying things like gift cards can help make it worth it. And if you are extra crazy (like me) then you know that when you buy gift cards at Safeway, not only do you earn airmiles on the total purchase, but if you have an Aerogold Visa you also get 1.5 times the Aeroplan points...

Does anyone else do this? I mean it makes November/December particularly expensive, but the rest of the year benefits.

*It is okay to start talking about Christmas now because Egg Nog is now in store. Has anyone else ever noticed that the French side of Egg Nog basically translates as Chicken Milk?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Love thy neighbour

You know when one of the strangest and most unexpected things totally changes the entire tone of your day? First a little background I guess. I know I tend to harp on the suburbs, and obviously I'm aware that there are all sorts of good people who live in the suburbs and that lots of the things that I love about living in the North End could apply to every part of town. But that wasn't my experience growing up.

Growing up in Charleswood, I got to experience what we're all supposed to want - a nice big yard, we didn't lock the door when we were at home or in the garden, streets that were safe to walk day and night and playgrounds within walking distance. The problem I found is that none of us talked to each other. I mean, that wasn't entirely true, I was the papergirl so I knew everyone (and damned if I didn't curse the people who thought it was no big deal for me to just come back again and again to collect for it, serious child labour there).

I don't know if my parents knew anyone one on the street. In fact most of the neighbours probably hated my parents - if the Neighbourhood Liveability By-Law had existed back then they were probably violating it left right and centre. We can talk about the livestock my parents kept IN THE BASEMENT another time though.

Oh Arborite, what a colourful addiction!
So today was great for two reasons, one, a neighbour with whom I've had many chats about the aforementioned Neighbourhood Liveability By-Law, is getting ready to move and thankfully one time I had mentioned that if she was to ever get rid of her fabulous arborite buffet that I hoped that she would call me first. She did. A biiiiiiiiiiig thanks goes out to her for enabling my hoarding! Now one day when I use my cache of 50's kitchen tables to open a cafe (as there is no other logical option for what a person can do with 7 kitchen tables. I don't want to open a cafe, but I may have no choice) I will have a funky matching buffet, maybe the cash register can sit on top. So I suckered a friend into helping me move it down the street - we didn't quite do it North End style (with a shopping cart) but we did use a borrowed dolly to roll it down the middle of the street.

The second thing was the thing that really tugged at my pride in my neighbourhood (kind of like this post, but no murder tie-in). As we were tucking the buffet into its new home in the corner in the bar what? it's not the 1970's? people don't have bars in their house anymore? shame the doorbell rang. And contrary to every person the media has ever managed to interview in the North End, I went to answer it. Of course it's a full glass door that was unlocked with the main door behind wide open so it would have just seemed silly to try and hide...

So who was at the door? No idea, one of my poorer social skills is that I forget to ask, and then remember peoples names, but they were both neighbours. Turns out they had been meaning to stop by for a while and took advantage of seeing the lights on and door open; they noticed that I have a collection of old leaded and stained glass windows hanging in my sun porch, did I perhaps want to buy another one? The gentleman works in renovations and knows that people like those old windows, so I promptly followed him home to take a look at it. Now of course he didn't pull that window out and keep it just for me, but in their small but tidy little apartment, there it sat, waiting at least in part because he thought his neighbour might be interested in it.

It was both a happy and humbling experience. As much as I love the North End I do see the bad things as well as the good and I sometimes need to be reminded to not pass judgments on people based on appearance; my initial reaction of seeing those folks at my door was not that they were there as some of my "good" neighbours, yet after chatting with them for a bit I'm reminded what happens when we assume.

MY North End has people that I've never met that think about me, just because my house is part of what they associate with their community
MY North End has teenagers that wear their pants half off their butts (and don't commit crimes) just like yours does. Forget hockey gear drives, we need belt drives
MY North End has a recurring cast of characters that may look a bit down and out, but that also deservedly feel that they belong as well (one day I hope to chat with some of them and hear their stories and pass them on)
MY North End has a crazy blogging arborite hoarding chick who is going to try to pay it forward just a little more often

Monday, November 7, 2011

One stop shopping?

*a reminder that I finally joined Twitter (why, I'm still not entirely sure) but follow me to hear random musings that aren't quite exciting enough for their own full blown post (unlike the titillating post you are about to read below)

I sadly do far more shopping at 7-11 than I probably should, but with my love of Slurpee's I'm there anyway... and I suppose by shopping I mostly buy milk to eat with my cereal  (I don't think Sex and the City ever adequately covered the real lives of single women - I wear Sorels not Manolo's as a secondary bone that I have to pick...) and buy the odd scratch ticket. So, two things that the residents of Island Lakes should consider before trying to stop a 7-11 from infiltrating their quiet suburban neighbourhood (which I learned about from Policy Frog).

First, Sev seems to constantly have the best deal in town on Ben & Jerry's ice cream - 2 for like $10 - perfect for a night on the couch with................ a rented movie from their fancy pants new video rental machines! According to the clerk that I spoke with at the Main St. location where I spotted this new addition, they likely will indeed end up at your local Slurpee pit-stop soon.

For those of you like myself who have not joined the Netflix bandwagon or learned how to download these sorts of things for free, it's a welcome addition to the new-release/hollywood blockbuster video market (because of course, if you want something old or something interesting, Movie Village will always remain the place to go). Also, at only $1.99, I dare say worth renting from rather than the red machines that have popped up in the the last year or so at Safeway if only because 7-11 is always open.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Spreading your dollars through the community

I invite you to join me tomorrow morning at the Wild Blueberry Pancake Breakfast in support of LITE. I have gone to this even the past few years and it has always been a really good time. There is entertainment and local craftspeople have booths set up. Something that really makes my day is that they use (or at least they have in the past, I imagine it will also continue this year) environmentally conscious practices. All of the plates/cups/utensils are compostable and they have volunteers to help make sure that it goes into a pile to be composted rather than the regular garbage. They also have tons of recycling bins available for the juice and milk boxes.

I'm hoping to win those Jets tickets or the West Jet airfare package so I can escape some of the upcoming winter weather!

Since clearly I love supporting anything that has to do with food, another great local option is the Ellice Cafe and Theatre which is a fantastic little non-profit in the West End. What makes it even better is right now they have one of those little deal-y things that I'm such a fan of. For a mere 10 bucks you get $20 worth of dinner and a movie pass for two! Where else can you get dinner and movie for that price? Although I would suspect that by the time all was said and done you'd be looking at about another $10 but still a bargain. I also didn't realize that they show recent movies in their little theatre - can't wait to go!

If eating in is more your thing, look into the Good Food Box offered through North End Food Security Network. At the moment I don't believe they are delivering but if you live or work in the North End they do have multiple pick up points. I've been buying this box since the summer and I always look forward to all the fresh fruits and veggies (including local produce when possible). For $12 I get enough food to fill my beautiful 1948 GE and some great recipes and the spices to go with them. I believe some of the other communites also do something similar, West Broadway being one.

So hopefully I'll see some of you tomorrow morning at the Pancake Breakfast - although, it tends to be a madhouse in there - go early to get a good seat for the entertainment!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

It's an uphill battle

Well, this one isn't as clear cut as some of the other examples, but crime from other parts of town are being attributed to the North End again. The shooting of Mohamed Ali Omar on the weekend apparently happened in the North End. But didn't that happen on McPhillips you ask? McPhillips near Mountain? It sure did. Now, the boundaries of the North End are different depending on who you ask, although I can pretty much guarantee anyone who lives right by where that happened doesn't consider themselves to be living in the North End, for example, almost all real estate listings near there on the MLS attribute it to Shaughnessey Heights. So why don't we use the boundaries that the NORTH END Community Renewal Association uses - seems like they should have an idea of what constitutes the North End. According to a map I found on one of the old newsletters I have kicking around, their work in the North End ends on the East side of McPhillips, so therefore the West side would be another community.

Yes, I am splitting hairs a bit with this one, but it's just so frustrating knowing that if something good had happened there it wouldn't have happened in the North End. I don't think McPhillips Station Casino ever is billed as being in the North End, that wouldn't be good for business, and one could argue that the closer to Selkirk Ave. that you are, the more "North End" it is. So I didn't bother reporting the "error" to the FreeP, because I suppose, in a bit of a stretch it could be considered the North End. Of course I don't think that's where suburbanites would think to be afraid as they head through the city on their way to Highway 8 and the Interlake, so if it's reported as the North End* they can feel safe because goodness knows, they don't go to the North End.

*to be fair, the article does mention the approximate intersection where the Lincoln Hotel is located, but after first mentioning that it was in the North End, which I think is the only part people tune in to since they all know they avoid the North End anyway, doesn't really matter which murder filled intersection it was at.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The things I do for my adoring public...

Well, I've sacrificed myself again, just to bring you some of the latest and greatest that Winnipeg (and the North End in particular) has to offer. *Sarcasm font still in development*. I also joined "the Twitter"(admittedly, I still don't get the point of it - but please feel free to follow me - and it will help me find some of you as well, as all Twitter wants me to follow is dumb celebrities). @lovemelovemywpg

A week or so ago, I tried two places that are newer to the scene here in the North End, Island Flava and Sugar Blooms and Cakes. Now, Jamaican cuisine is not something I expected to find here in the North End, partly because I haven't noticed too many Jamaican folks here and also because sadly they seem to have one of the worst locations a start-up business could hope to have; very little foot traffic and not even on a route that commuters would pass through. Of course, in today's fast moving world, I started this post and saved it to work on later and the FreeP beat me to the punch and did a review in Friday's paper on it, so since Marion Warhaft is actually more of an expert on these sorts of things I'll let her talk it up. I'll summarize with a "get there before it's gone" and also a note that the lovely proprietor may be able to help you with catering your next event - I gave her a budget and she came through with a huge spread that wowed my lunch meeting guests.

Next, I went to the newly opened Sugar Blooms. I was looking for a dessert for that same meeting and was hoping that this new bakery was part of the cupcake craze that seems to have taken North America. Apparently they do indeed make cupcakes (although it does not seem as though it's a specialty of theirs) but they were out when I stopped in so I decided to try something completely different - Brazo de Mercedes, a Filipino dessert described on Wikipedia as "a rolled cake or jelly roll, is made from a sheet of meringue rolled around a custard filling". Reviews by my guests who had also never had it were quite favourable. As well if you've ever had a hankering for Ube Macapuno, or as I tend to call it, Purple Filipino Cake, they of course have that as well. Sugar Blooms is easy to find, just head west on Selkirk, and you will find it just past Arlington.

Two new North End businesses - I wish them both the best of luck! Oh, and for people who are better at this technology thing than I am, could you tell me what thingamajig I'm supposed to install gadget wise to make it easy for folks to click a button over on the side ---> to follow me on Twitter? Much appreciated! (The only one I could find when searching their available gadgets said it was a broken one so it wouldn't let me install it).