Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Spoilt for choice

Maybe it's just me, but I eat a lot of takeout. Like, far more than I should. I blame it on the fact that cooking for one person means tons of leftovers and I have a one portion of leftover maximum threshold. Now, if I'm already out and about I will often pick up my eats, but pickings are pretty slim here in the North End (in terms of variety at least) so I have been known to order in, especially if I've already changed into my pj's or my "let's get some crap around the house done" clothes - What Not to Wear imprinted in my mind that I'm not supposed to go out of the house in these sorts of things...

So although no bribery was really necessary as I have ordered from Skip the Dishes before, the good folk over there are trying to get the word out about their great service and may have enticed me to sit my butt down, stop procrastinating, and write a blog post. I may or may not have been stuffing my face as I wrote this post.

If you haven't used them before, the premise is this, go online, enter your postal code and what time you would like your food (either picked up or delivery) and up pops the options - and we're not just talking your standard pizza and Chinese food delivery options, although of course those are in the mix as well. The food of the world is at your fingertips - Canadian, Japanese, Ethiopian, Chinese, Middle-Eastern, Thai, Vietnamese, Korean, Indian and more; you can even get your sweet tooth on from places like Cake-ology, Goodie's and, drool, Johnnie's Sticky Buns. I opted for Chaise Cafe, which I hadn't yet had a chance to try in person - it was good value and delicious, two of my favourite things! And I'm not just saying that because I'm writing this post :)

A few little details that I like about Skip the Dishes? Well, the delivery fee, which varies from restaurant to restaurant, all goes to the "Food Courier" (aka Delivery Driver) as does any tip you may leave. I like that they're up front about that. They offer local chat help on the website, which goes a long way in my books - I've become quite frustrated with websites offering "help" that is really just a call (typing?) centre that will have the business in question give you a phone call later (all car dealerships please take note of this - this is not useful, if I wanted to talk to someone, I would have called in the first place).

Things I find a little quirky about the site are things like 99 Cent Pizza is a restaurant option, and they have a $5 minimum order and free delivery; this would be great except that the cheapest thing on their available menu is $14.99?? In general I find that the "minimum order" amount is a little strange - I mean, if you're willing to pay the delivery fee, what difference does it make what you order? Most don't seem to have a minimum order though and there are even a few that waive the delivery fee with a fairly small order ($10-$15) - I checked and they (Skip the Dishes) pay the food courier what the delivery fee would have been in those cases, so no need to worry that your desire to be frugal is costing someone else their income :)

Finally, if work or pleasure happens to bring you to Calgary, Saskatoon, Regina or Red Deer, fear not you don't need to blindly navigate your way around those cities trying to find something good to eat as Skip the Dishes will bring some of the best of those cities straight to your hotel room.

*Fear not readers, I'm not going to turn into one of those insincere blogs that is constantly pitching things yada yada yada. It just so happens I love eating and I love Winnipeg so occasionally if some PR person sends something my way and I think that there is a way I can be genuine about telling people about it or if I think people will want to know about it (hello IKEA opening!) then heck ya, this poor two-job working blogger may jump on the bandwagon! That said, I won't hold back my real feelings so if something sucks I will let you know (probably best that PR people realize that before sending me ridiculous things/ideas, I have at least a few morals left!)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

I bought adorable shoes in the North End

...and with one title I alienated almost all of my male readers. But this post isn't really about shoes. It's about the fact that there is now somewhere new that people can buy clothes here in the North End.

I noticed the other day that on Main St. a new little shop seemed to have quietly opened its doors, and when I had a chance I popped in to take a look. "Treasures by Diva - Recycling Boutique" has only been open for 3 weeks, but owner Annette (I'm guessing Treasures by Annette doesn't have the same ring?) is no stranger to the North End; she had a shop on Main at Mountain that closed down two years ago. After a stint in Thompson, she is back in Winnipeg.

Her new shop is a much better space than her old one, and has parking right out front. It feels bright and her merchandise on my visit was a good mix of higher end mall labels (Tommy Hilfiger and such), some special occasion and she even had a little bit of vintage. Throw accessories and hats into the mix and you have a nice little shop. Don't be shy about asking if the furniture is for sale, Annette tells me she wants to get into selling a bit of vintage furniture as well. The 1940s dressers that were in the shop were already spoken for!

She does consignment and will also take donations (I didn't dig deep but I got the sense that the donations were priced lower to help make things even more affordable for those on a budget) and I believe she is looking into giving trade value as well. Overall I found her prices to be mostly quite fair, you will certainly find them reasonable if you are used to paying the highway robbery prices at Value Village.

Hopefully a proper sign will be in place by the time you visit as it can be easy to miss right now.  Treasures by Diva is located a 1404 Main St., just south of Atlantic Ave.

Oh, and those adorable pink polka dot shoes (brand new, had been sold at hoity toity anthropologie) - they went home with me - who said research couldn't involve a little retail therapy?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


You may not know it, but the simple port-a-potty can almost complete sum up why you don't need to automatically be afraid of the North End.

Last week the City started some sort of project on the street next to my house. Despite the fact that in stereotypical fashion there seemed to be one worker for every three guys standing around supervisor, and that actual hours worked didn't seem to be too many, they brought in a port-a-potty, or port-a-john if you prefer (port-a-loo if you're British!)

And then they left it there.

All week and weekend.

Now, much of the bad stuff that happens here in the North End is the result of teenagers with not much else to do. Arguably, some of that could be fixed with increased funding to recreation programs, family programs, housing allowances (so that they actually have a space of their own wherever they are living - nothing says get me out of the house like sharing a bedroom with your siblings!) and on and on and on.

Of course, sometimes, teenagers are just going to get up to no good because that's what teenagers do. As I've mentioned before, I grew up in a relatively privileged part of town, so much so that new McMansions were built in a former deer-filled meadow across the street from me.

With construction workers on site for months at a time, they needed somewhere to relieve themselves. Enter the port-a-potty.

Watch the bored suburban teenagers burn it down. I did. My bedroom window had a perfect view of it.

Goodness knows this wasn't the only act of vandalism that happened while I grew up in the 'burbs, but to this day I can't see a port-a-potty without thinking of the pile of melted plastic and uh, other stuff, that it turned into.

Moral of the story? Bored, under-supervised youth get into trouble in every part of town; it just doesn't always make the news. Much of what happens here in the North End is "typical" bored teenager stuff, not quake-in-your-boots-lock-your-car-doors-when-driving-through sort of stuff.

*Note - the port-a-potty was gone this morning, and not because anyone burned it down, tipped it over etc. We will chalk that one up in the "win" column :)