En amour avec le Québec…

Last week I was lucky enough to get to travel to Québec and spend some time there with my amazing group of co-workers. It was my first time visiting La Belle Province, and it certainly won’t be my last. It was love at first sight (just as I had a feeling it would be…)

I was ecstatic to finally visit the home of my beloved Habs and to have the opportunity to practise my French again. I was shy at first, but after a couple of days (and initially, a couple of drinks) I was rambling on en français to anybody who would listen. (Just like riding a bicyclette…) We spent four gorgeous days in Montréal before jumping in two rental vans and heading to Québec City, which was as charming and beautiful as I’d imagined.

Retail in Québec is on another level- it’s truly an experience. Emphasis is put on perfect merchandising, excellent service and a kind of product selection that I haven’t seen in the rest of Canada. This impeccable attention to detail is demonstrated very well by Simons; a fashion destination which boasts a mix of cheap-chic styles and pricey designer lines in their stunning stores.

It was a week of working, seeing product, talking marketing, visiting retail, exploring two fabulous cities, eating delicious food (poutine, crepes, Montréal smoked meat and maple syrup pie among other delectable delights) and drinking (yummy red wines and pints of Le Cheval Blanc).

An all around fantastic week, indeed and I can’t wait to plan a trip for the summer time with the bf. Now it’s time to get back to real life and return to eating more veggies and less cheese (difficult as it may be…) Here’s a highlight reel from the week:







My Saskatoon Celebrity Sighting

Photo: StarPulse

Exhausted and ready for home, I sat at a table across from Alfred at the Saskatoon airport this morning. As I nibbled on a Tim Horton’s breakfast sandwich and looked up to reach for my cup of tea, I noticed a striking woman walking towards the next table. She caught my eye immediately; tall and voluptuous, dressed in a black t-shirt, faded blue jeans and black Tory Burch flip flops. Her thick, luscious, cascading blonde hair fell below her shoulders and her perfect face looked like it had come right off a magazine cover. She sat down at the next table with a small group of people. I nudged Alfie and lowered my voice to a whisper.

“Hey! Do you watch Gene Simmons Family Jewels?” I asked, my eyes still fixed on the next table.

“The reality show?” Alfie asked, scrunching up his face in confusion.

“Yeah.” I continued whispering, without taking my eyes off her, “That woman over there looks so much like Shannon Tweed…you know, Gene Simmons’ woman? I think it’s her!” I didn’t want to point, nor did I want him to turn around in an obvious fashion to get a look, but I needed confirmation. The more I stared (yes, I have a staring problem…apparently it becomes a more serious problem when celebrities are involved) I became certain that it was indeed the 1982 Playmate of the Year herself. I just knew it was. I watch their show all the time. I love it, and I love her.

Finally Alfie was able to crane his neck around to get a glimpse without drawing any attention. “Yep, it’s her,” he said matter-of-factly as he turned back around to face me. He nodded his head with complete certainty. “She’s Canadian. It’s her.”

Since I never believe Alfie right away, even though he’s usually right, I quickly typed her name into Google on my BlackBerry. I discovered that she was born and raised in Newfoundland and that she graduated from Mount Royal Collegiate in Saskatoon. It had to be her!

A few minutes later an awkward, young girl in a Tim Horton’s uniform approached the glamazon’s table and held out a piece of paper and a pen. I could practically see the poor, young girl’s heart beating out of her chest. Shannon put down her iPhone, which she’d been busy texting on, took the pen and paper from the shaking girl, smiled graciously and signed the autograph. The girl walked away with a huge grin spread across her face.

Alfred dared me to go up and talk to Shannon, or to get my photo taken with her. “Blog material!” he teased. He knows me too well. I wanted to, but I also felt like an idiot. As much as I’m intrigued by certain celebrities, I’m just not one to go up and bother people. I shook my head and the two of us headed off through security.

It seemed that everybody in the airport was buzzing about Shannon Tweed. Even the security guys wanted to get her autograph and talked about what a fox she is as they scanned our bags and waved us through the metal detectors. I wondered if we’d see her again before our flight took off.

Photo: The Insider

Sure enough, about 15 minutes later, up the escalator she came with her travel group. They all sat down right at our gate. A few more people approached her for autographs and photos. Others just pointed and whispered and tried to sit near her. She didn’t seem to mind, but hardly put down her iPhone unless somebody came right up.

I sat there across the room star struck. I was tweeting and texting my Dad about my celeb sighting, and then all of a sudden I looked over and she was gone. “Damn it!” I said out loud, ” I missed my chance!”…even though I knew I wouldn’t really have done anything about it anyway.

Photo: Zimbio

Our boarding time was drawing closer, so I figured that I better hit up the ladies’ room before the flight. As I came out of the stall, it just so happened that Ms. Tweed was coming out of the next one at the exact same time. We walked up to the row of sinks and began washing our hands pretty much in unison. I glanced up at her in the mirror and she was already smiling back at me. Nervously I said, “Hi Shannon! I’m a big fan of your show…” or something equally dorky. “It’s a real pleasure to meet you.”

She thanked me and then we chatted back and forth for a few minutes (I’ll be damned if I remember exactly what we said) but I definitely did my nervous laugh at least a couple of times. She was so sweet and friendly and jaw-droppingly beautiful. She’s 52 years old and looks just fabulous. Glamourous…so, so glamourous. Clearly, there was no photo op, as I didn’t think it would be appropriate to whip out my camera in the bathroom, but I was secretly pleased that I got a chance to talk to her without feeling like I was interrupting or being intrusive. I came back to our seats in the waiting area beaming. Alfie didn’t even have to ask.

My real moment of glory came a little later though…
It turned out that she was on our flight. As we were getting ready to board the plane, a couple of people (who obviously didn’t know who Shannon was) tried to cut in front of her and her group in the lineup (we were standing right behind them) so I made a little joke about the “budgers” and Shannon and her whole crew cracked up. You see, it really doesn’t take much more than getting a genuine laugh to make me feel cool for a second. (Which is probably why I still dream of being cast on Saturday Night Live one day…or maybe I should just pitch my own reality show…)

So that, my friends, is the story of my Saskatoon celebrity sighting of the day. Conclusion: Shannon Tweed is one hot mama.

Sunshine And Shopping

Photo: Tostie14 on Flickr

I can’t even tell you how amazing it has been to soak up the California sun for the last couple days. San Diego is such a cool city. Sometimes I fantasize about what it would be like to live here.

Yesterday, we hopped on the trolley and hit up Fashion Valley. It’s unlike any mall that I have ever been to in my entire life. Imagine: Bloomingdales, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and Barneys all in the same place. Not to mention an absolutely massive Victoria’s Secret and Sephora, plus pretty much any other store that you could possibly imagine. We hit every one of them. Despite the current state of the economy down south, shoppers were out in full force. Elbows were flying as people all seemed to be in search of the ultimate deal. The sales and bargains were abundant- from the denim, shoes and handbags in the department stores to Louis Vuitton, Coach and Gucci.

Photo: Senora Cartera

Barneys proved to be my most successful stop of the day. I found the MARC by Marc Jacobs Dr. Q Lil Riz bag that I’ve been lusting after. To my delight, it was marked down to more than 50% off, and so was the matching wallet. Knowing full well that the chances of ever seeing that combo at a price so low again were slim to none, I did what any Marc Jacobs loving girl would do. I bought them. The perma-grin hasn’t left my face since my big purchase.

After a yummy dinner with the girls this evening, we ordered some chocolate covered strawberries to go. Then we put on our pajamas and all got together in one hotel room to watch Britney: For The Record. Not surprisingly, I got totally emotional. I just want to give Britney a big hug.

Photo: Daily Mail

Tomorrow, the “vacation” part of my trip ends and the “business” part begins. Please forgive the lack of updates this week as my time in front of the computer will most definitely be limited.

The Blondes Go South

Photo: Keira-Anne on Flickr

After a Saturday evening of films, facials and fundue, two blondes hit the road before the crack of dawn on Sunday morning, bound for the border. Keira and I had been planning our trip to Seattle for what seemed like forever, so obviously we were beyond excited when the day of our adventure finally arrived.

We stayed at The Moore Hotel, which to our great delight, is a darling little hotel right downtown. We were given fantastic service by a total sweetheart at the front desk, who encouraged us to opt for one of the suites. It ended up being just so much lovelier than we ever could have imagined.

We spent the day walking around the city, taking photos, and exploring the famous Pike Place Market. It was just what we needed; a weekend away filled with shopping, laughing, eating different (yummy and not so healthy) foods, amazing tunes, sightseeing, perfect vodka sodas, an incredible concert courtesy of Miss Jenny Lewis and (if you can believe it) lots and lots of sunshine!

On our way home today, we made a stop at Alderwood Mall for some of the essentials, including Victoria’s Secret and “Hot Dog On A Stick.” It may not yet have been noon, but it certainly wasn’t too early for us to get some meat on a stick. Keira raves about their dogs and cherry lemonade, so I was pretty sure that I was in for a treat. I was definitely not disappointed. Let me just say, it was the best damn hot dog that I’ve ever eaten in my life. We were also treated to complimentary “cheese on a stick” by Anna, the enthusiastic doll working behind the counter. She told us that it would taste just like a grilled cheese sandwich. I thought that she was exaggerating. She wasn’t. I can’t wait to go back.

The two of us had an absolutely awesome weekend. In fact, we’re already planning our next trip (and the “shopping fund” saving starts now!)

Check out Keira’s post and more photos from our trip here.

City Girls In The Rainforest

Photo: Keira-Anne on Flickr

After our incredible surfing experience, Keira and I found ourselves standing in the parking lot at Chesterman Beach, freezing cold in our bathing suits as the rain pounded down on us. We ran to the car in our bare feet, where we had no choice but to pull our jeans and hoodies over our wet swimsuits and jump in. We hadn’t been able to check in at our campsite before our lesson, so now, tired and soaked, it was time for us to go and set up.

When we arrived at the campground, we quickly discovered that many of the sites were at the very least covered in big puddles, if not completely flooded. By this time, it was raining even harder than it had been all day and we were kicking ourselves for not bringing our rain gear, or at least picking up some emergency ponchos at the Co-op.

Still wet from being out in the ocean all afternoon, drying off was, at this point, an impossibility. We managed to set up a couple of tarps and pitch a little tent in areas without puddles. It was clear at this point, that the camping part of this trip was not going to be as we had imagined it. As we tried to start a fire (to no avail)…we both realized that perhaps we were over “roughing it.” While we are indeed proud to be West Coast women, this was a bit much, even for us. We would have done just about anything to have been inside a warm and dry hotel room at that point.

We decided to abandon operation campfire since it didn’t seem to be happening. We hopped in the car and drove back into town, where we picked up the most incredible hot and delicious fish and chips for dinner before heading back to camp with warm, full bellies and smiles on our faces. We were praying that our tarp hadn’t fallen down and sure that we’d both cry if it had.

Thankfully, the tarp was still secure. Relieved, we got into our sleeping bags, ready to hunker down for the night. We slept surprisingly well considering the circumstances. In the morning, when we awoke to the rain still pounding onto our tent, we decided to call it. Warm beds in Courtenay seemed like a much better alternative than another night in our cold, damp campground. Plus, neither of us had any clean or dry clothes left.

We spent that night at the cozy home of Keira’s lovely Mom, Aunt Anne and adorable, little Charley. I finally got to try the Courtenay Quality Foods’ legendary szechuan beef. Let me just say, the hype is well deserved. It was to die for. We washed our dinner down with some yummy local Island pinot…and just because we didn’t get to have a campfire, didn’t mean no sm’ores…we made some in the toaster oven and they were gooood…